Rocket Richard sent me this Christmas card when I was seven years old. I brought it to school several times and to friends’ houses. I showed everyone I could.
I was as proud as can be.
It’s the cornerstone of my Montreal Canadiens scrapbook.
Rocket sent this to me when I was very young, maybe about seven years old, after I had written him a fan letter. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to me, a reply from Montreal, and my dad put it in this black frame and hung it on my bedroom wall. Over the years it’s mostly gone wherever I’ve gone, although there were a few party houses I lived in where it never saw the light of day, or stayed safe back at the family home in Orillia.
I used to study this picture – his gloves, the way he taped his stick, how he cradled the puck, and of course that beautiful writing by the man himself, with my name there for me to feel so proud of, because in my young mind it was like he almost knew me.
Originally this had the Dow Brewery name and logo at the bottom, which my dad cut off for some reason. Maybe he thought the advertisement would look tacky. No matter, I have another one which came sometime later, also signed by the great man, with the Dow part of it intact.
I just hope that someday one of my grandkids will treasure this old picture and never let it go.
The Rocket wasn’t just a hockey player, as he once said of himself. He was also a beer rep, doing public relations work for Dow Breweries, which was owned by Carling-O’Keefe when Rocket was involved. I wonder how Molsons felt about that.
Dow would eventually become owned by Molsons in the mid-sixties, but closed shop after several dozen people who had been drinking at least 24 Dows a day suddenly died from heart failure. It was found that Dow contained cobalt sulfate, which apparently isn’t good for your health.
My thinking is, anyone who drinks 24 beers a day, regardless of the brand, might suffer heart failure at some point. I’ve come to this conclusion even though I’m not a doctor.