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Sometimes the unexpected
generosity of people around you completely catches you off
guard. And itís not always big moments. It is often the
simple acts of kindness that mean the most. Such was the
case when I recently met up with Brad Anderson.
Brad dropped by a show George
South was running on a late November evening in Mooresville,
NC. He was visiting friends and also brought his Dadís
maroon-and-gold wrestling boots and maroon ring jacket for
me to photograph for the Minnesota Wrecking Crew website.
Brad is constantly uncovering buried treasure when sifting
through his Dadís belongings. This time he had found an old
metal key ring made by the Zippo Manufacturing Company, the maker of classic lighters going back to the 1930s. The key
ring was embossed with the full color Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
logo. Equally cool was the felt-lined Zippo box that
contained the key ring, a throw back to an earlier time,
with the Zippo logo from over 30 years ago.
Zippo began making lighters in
Pennsylvania in the early 1930s and branched out to other products in the
mid-1950s, mainly in support of their promotional
products division. These included pocket knives, golf greenskeepers, pen-and-pencil sets, and pocket flashlights.
And key rings.
Brad said he didnít know the
story on this item as it related to wrestling, only that it
belonged to his father. We laughed as we speculated that
there were probably at one time stacks of these things
sitting around Jim Crockettís office. Perhaps it was a
gift that Big Jim gave the office employees, maybe even all
the wrestlers. Whatever the case, this was one cool
artifact, and a vestige of a simpler time and better days.
I marked out over it, of
course. Anything with the Mid-Atlantic logo gets my
attention to begin with, much less a genuine item over thirty years old that belonged to Gene Anderson. It was
something he had bothered to hang on to and now it was his sonís. I
held it and looked at it for awhile, imagining that Gene
Anderson might have briefly thought about using it, but then
maybe he decided it was a little too nice to get all scuffed
up and left it in the box, tucked away for years in some drawer in an old
chest at the house.
Later that evening Brad was
getting ready to leave, saying his goodbyes to a few folks.
As we shook hands, he held out the Zippo box. ďThis is for
you,Ē he said. ďI could tell how much you liked it.Ē
Since that night, I have
reflected back a time or two on that moment and canít decide
what about Bradís gift meant more to me; that it was
something that once belonged to his Dad, the great Gene
Anderson, or that the great Gene Andersonís son had been nice
enough to give it to me. Either way, it was more precious
than any present I would find under the Christmas tree later
that December. Santa Claus had snuck by a few weeks early
and brought me the most special gift of all.
- Dick Bourne
December 28, 2006
Key ring image by Dick Bourne,
from an original photograph by Blake Arledge
November 20, 2006,
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