Thursday, May 3, 2012

Remembering Junior Seau

san diego chargers
San Diego Chargers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yesterday I read with sadness about the passing of Junior Seau. I didn't know Seau, but I was born and raised in San Diego and the San Diego Chargers have always been my hometown team. Please, don't think for one second that I am an avid football fan, but I do have fond memories of the Chargers moving to San Diego in 1961. Yes, I am that old.

Today I thought I would tell you a story of how our oldest son came to be one of the Chargers' biggest fans as the 1994 AFC West Division Champions played in the 1995 Super Bowl.

A little background...

As I said, San Diego is my hometown. I remember my parents taking us to see the Chargers play in their first few seasons. They played in Balboa Stadium (sometimes called City Stadium). I remember team members that were handsome and to me and my two older sisters that was probably the most important topic of conversation. Players like Lance Alworth, Jack Kemp and Ernie Ladd were San Diego Chargers' heroes in the early days. The year I graduated from high school the Chargers moved to the new San Diego Stadium in the Mission Valley section of San Diego. In 1970 I was working for Wells Fargo and was assigned to their new Mission Valley branch. Wells Fargo proudly became the Chargers' bank, but young tellers weren't told that we could cash visiting team members' travel expense checks. I will let your imagination fill in the details!

November 1994...

The Helfands- Dec 1994
From December 1986 through October 1997, we owned and operated Cranmore Mountain Lodge in North Conway, NH. Our children were really very young when we first bought the inn. They grew accustomed to meeting our guests and interacting with them. In November 1994 we had a guest drive-in (sans reservation) and during the check-in process Dennis discovered that the gentleman was a line official for the San Diego Chargers. He was in New England (traveling with his wife) because the Chargers played the New England Patriots (the last team Junior Seau played for in 2009) in Boston on November 20, 1994. Knowing that Aaron was following the Chargers that season Dennis found Aaron and introduced him to this gentleman.

I recall that Aaron (just shy of turning 14) and this gentleman had a number of conversations during his stay and he promised Aaron he would keep him abreast of the Chargers' news and game results completing the 1994 season and post season marching towards Super Bowl XXIX.  To Aaron's surprise, a few weeks later the gentleman sent Aaron autographed football cards and programs and in December 1995 he followed up by sending Aaron the 1996 Chargers' Calendar signed by all the players, of course including Junior Seau's autograph.


So as I said, this is a sad time. A sad time for Seau's family, friends, team mates, San Diegans, long time fans...and I just wanted to say that many years ago a young New England teen-ager met a nice gentleman who shared some San Diego Chargers' memorabilia. He made Aaron smile and feel special. And somewhere these cherished keepsakes are carefully packed away in a storage box or footlocker.

Good-bye Junior...  

May you be at peace.
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