Gloria Steinem, Boss Hogg, etc.

Hanging in my closet, wrapped in plastic, is a Montreal Canadiens jersey signed by famed Habs (and later Avalanche) goaltender Patrick Roy. I have the certificate of authenticity, too. Someday I’ll get that jersey up on eBay.

I acquired it when I was 15 and a huge hockey fan. Patrick and a handful of other big sports stars appeared at a fundraiser at Boston College High School. My friend Andrea and I scrounged up fifty bucks for admission. Then, somehow, we convinced my sister Annie, who lived in Boston, to drive one hour west to Worcester; pick us up along with Andrea’s little brother and sister; drive us all to Dorchester; wait around for hours in the crowded, sweaty gymnasium while we stood in Patrick’s line; and drive us all back to Worcester. (How cool is that? Props to big sisters everywhere.)

Stacked in the same closet is the book Revolution From Within, signed by its author, Gloria Steinem, who visited Bryn Mawr College when I worked there. When I reached the front of the line and passed her my copy, I opened my mouth with the intention of saying something fun and bold. But no words came out. I just stood there and grinned while she scribbled her name. So much for my revolution from within.

My friend Shelly has the autograph of Sorrell Booke, who played Boss Hogg on the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, which I watched religiously growing up. (Via Wikipedia, I was fascinated to learn that Sorrell was fluent in five languages, had degrees from both Columbia and Yale, and served as counter-intell in Korea.)

About ten years ago, Shelly was in an airport and saw Scott Hamilton signing autographs in her terminal. Remembering how our friend Mary hung posters of figure skaters in her dorm room, Shelly dug scrap paper out of her carry-on, joined the mob of adoring fans, and got Scott’s autograph to give to Mary. And that’s one of the many reasons I love Shelly.

Please share your autograph stories below!

~Alicia Bessette

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15 thoughts on “Gloria Steinem, Boss Hogg, etc.

  1. I have Ian Mckellan’s signature on a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel–He played Chauvelin in the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version. (And I’m sure I’ve misspelled a name or two in there).

  2. When I was in grade school(somewhere around 1955) I got the autograph of the Cisco Kid (played by Duncan Renaldo). It was my favorite TV show at the time. For those of you too young to remember the Cisco Kid – about 15 years ago I spent a couple days escorting Michael Palin and his film crew down the Amazon River. I didn’t ask him for his autograph, though.
    Even better, I have signed copies of the books by Alicia Bessette and Matthew Quick.

  3. While at the Floridian in Disney World eating breakfast in 1980 something, the manager came back and asked us to please respect the privacy of the family he was bringing back. In walked A young, extremely beautiful Meryl Streep with husband, two well behaved kids and nanny. Sat right next to me. I did as the manager asked….after I turned my video camera on, sat it unconspicuously on the table, and got her on film. I mean really…all knowing me would not believe I saw and did not speak… so needed proof. Just met John Stossel last month….had him sign three books…he did not have much to say…GIVE ME A BREAK!

  4. Lots to share on this topic!

    Though publishing certainly doesn’t pay well, it has given me the good fortune of getting lots of books signed: “High Lonesome,” by Joyce Carol Oates, “I am Charlotte Simmons” by Tom Wolfe, and of course, “The Silver Linings Playbook” by Q! They all sit prominently on my book shelf, and I’m quick to show them off to friends who stop by. There’s also an antique book store that I pass by on my way to work, and after many months of scouting out good deals, I managed to score a rare edition of Catch-22 signed by Joseph Heller. It’s one of my Dad’s favorite books, and made for a great Christmas present last year. (Dad’s are so hard to buy for, so I was stoked).

    Last spring I volunteered at a program called, “Young Author’s Club.” I was told that it was a special program for underprivileged kids who expressed interest in writing, but it ended up being a glorified after school program. Nonetheless, each week we gave the kids a different writing topic. At the end of the semester we published a “literary journal” that consisted of samples of each kid’s work. I asked each of the kids to autograph my copy. It was clear no one had ever asked any of the kids for their autographs before. Each student took the time to meticulously write their name in (just-learned) cursive (and one kid even added a drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog). They all bubbled over with pride. It was a special day. Sometimes the experience of being the autographer trumps receiving an autograph. (And btw, the literary journal sits next to my other, signed & published novels).

  5. When I was in high school, I had an obsession with Kevin Smith. One of my sister’s friends, Sean, knew this about me and told me that Mr. Smith would be shooting his new movie (Jersey Girl) in Paulsboro, NJ. So Sean, being a good guy, drove his friend’s little sister and my friend to Paulsboro where we literally ran into Ben Affleck signing autographs, then scouted out Kevin Smith. We couldn’t get to him because he was behind some caution tape put up to keep people away from the area they were shooting. So, not wanting to waste the moment, Sean yells “Hey, Kevin!” and sure enough, Kevin turns around and comes toward us to sign out papers. My pen died mid-signing, but I had my camera on me and so we took a picture together. I don’t think I would have been able to know how ridiculously happy I was to have met a hero of mine; now I can look at the picture and see it all over my face. Even though my enthusiasm has waned a little since then, I still hold that photo as a prized possession.

  6. When I was working at breathe books, an older woman came in and we got to chatting about writers and writing and what I was doing working in a book store when my heart belonged to the page. She was so sweet. She told me that Toni Morrison (one of my favorite contemporary writers) was speaking at a famous bookstore in DC the next day, and I was so upset that I had to work and couldn’t go. After looking at the store’s website, I saw that the event was sold out anyway (it WAS Toni Morrison!), which made me a feel a little better but not by much. She said she didn’t yet have a ticket, but she was going to go anyway; she frequented the bookstore and she knew she would get in. A few days later, on a day I wasn’t working, I get a call from my boss saying that a nice lady left a gift for me at the store. Excited, I went into work and saw a flowery gift bag, inside, a signed copy of A MERCY along with the ticket stub for seat no. 599. Also in the bag, a newspaper clipping on Morrison from The Washington Post and another clipping from the Erickson Tribune (ironically, the paper I now write for) with a portion highlighted by her…no doubt a message from me: “When McSweeny’s, a hip new publishing company called to tell him they’d like to publish his book…” She had told me when we talked in the store that she just knew she’d be reading my novel someday, and she reiterated this by her pink highlighted statement.

    I have other autographs that I actually got myself, mostly from members of metal bands, but this one meant a lot to me, even more so probably if I had gotten the signature myself.

    I’ve since begun acquiring signatures from authors…. Originally I had a separate section on my bookshelf just for these books, but being separated out, they seemed disconnected somehow, so I’ve since integrated them.

    One of my favorite persoanlized signatures, of course, is from Q, and I promise, Q, one day soon, you will!!!

  7. I got one from Matthew Quick. Top THAT!

    Also, weirdly enough as I was never really a huge fan, Kate Bush. My girlfriend at the time was into her, so I went, stood in line and figured, “Hey, might as well have her sign this journal” or whatever it was I was carrying around with me.

  8. At a raffle designed to benefit our kids’ school, someone donated a jersey signed by every member of the Washington Nationals baseball team. The guy who won it wasn’t a fan of baseball – so I offered to donate money to the school in exchange for the jersey. Everyone ended up happy – especially my husband, when I surprised him with the jersey, signed by his beloved hometown team.

  9. I have an autographed CD from one of my favorite musicians, Bruce Cockburn. I got to meet him backstage once, and was rendered mute by the fact that I was so disgustingly starstruck. Everyone else was chatting him up about politics and music, and I couldn’t come up with anything more clever than, “uh, would you sign this?”

    Tawna

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