28 March 2016

My autograph book

Prompted by my recent encounter with someone who didn’t know what an autograph book was (though a quick survey of my Facebook friends proved he was very much in the minority!), I went searching for mine, and then took a long delightful meander through time and memories.

My book was a gift from next door neighbour Mrs Brown for my seventh birthday and hers is the nugget of wisdom on the first page. What a lovely lady she was!

The majority of the pages are covered with the usual jottings by friends – some serious, most silly – and pages of signatures that mark the ends of school years. 

There are also some more interesting entries. I remember a running race being held in my home town and being brave enough to ask many of the runners for their autographs, hence these pages showing the names of some of New Zealand’s greatest runners: Peter Snell, Bill Sutcliffe, Arthur Lydiard, Jeff Julian, Murray Halberg and more. This would've been mid 1960s, I think.

I was also fortunate to get the signatures of most members of the New Zealand Empire (now Commonwealth) Games team that competed in Jamaica in 1966. One of my uncles knew the team captain, Don Oliver, so a signature fest was arranged through that connection. I love the signatures here of the fencer and diver.

My book also contains a few signatures snipped and saved from my mother’s autograph book before she tossed it out long ago. The most well known is that of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who visited New Zealand in 1946, so I presume this autograph must date from that time. I don’t remember the circumstances of how mum obtained this, and she’s no longer around to ask. I have no idea who Alan C Baxter was, nor am I sure about Winifred Jordan, though there was a British athlete of this name who competed in the 1940s so she is a possibility.

My favourite entries are the quotations from my former school teachers, seeking to pass on a little life wisdom to their parting student. Many of these sayings I still remember off by heart, and I have very fond memories of these teachers who played a very formative role in my early life. As usual when one takes a trip down memory lane, I can’t help but wonder what happened to these people.

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