Completely inspired by the last two posts. Thank you gents. Your memories of family help remind me of mine.
So here it goes.
Sanford Shumway, my grandfather played for the Gophers in the late 30's and early 40's. He was a Swedish immigrant, son of a Doctor/Lawyer and they loved nothing more than a good day on the ice together.
He meet my grandmother, Grace, at one of his games. They married. Then left for WWII. Why? Because that's what men did back then.
Fast forward to 1977.
My mother washed his old wool jersey in hot water. I became a proud owner of a Gophers Jersey at the age of 3.
There begins the first memories of my Grandfather. He would take me out to the pond on skates. Spending the day hitting rocks over a frozen NJ pond in Wall Township. We'd have hot chocolate. Warm up next to a fire place and cuddle on the coach. That's where the hockey lessons began. That's where the passion for the New York Rangers started for me.
Every member of my family would be there. It was always a family event.
We'd drive to Milford on the weekends to watch Rangers games with PopPop and Grandma.
At 6, I thought the Rangers won the "Panly Cup" every year. Everyone around me said they were the best.
By 8 I understood how to hate the Islanders and why hating them was the right thing to do as a Rangers fan.
PopPop hated them. So I hated them. Grandma, mom, dad, Uncles and Aunts all said the same. The Islanders never stood a chance.
Sanford passed when I was 10. The lessons never stopped because my grandmother was right there to take over his roll.
Once, when I was 10 years old, I had some money in my pocket that my grandmother had given me for my birthday. And as we all know, at that age money in a kids pocket is no different from a fire in a kid’s pocket. I bought a hat a K-mart with it. A red baseball hat. As far as I was concerned it was just a red hat. But when I got home, wearing a NJ Devils hat, you would have thought the world was going to end. My mother, standing at the top of the stairs glaring down at me as if I was an evil little devil that wanted to break the hearts and tear out the souls of everyone that loved me. We grabbed my arms, lead me out back, through the hat on the grill and burn that hat just minutes after I bought it.
She told me how hurt everyone would be if they had seen me wearing it. That I wasn't thinking. That I was dishonoring my family. The guilt trip from hell. A half an hour later, at the same K-mart she bought me a RED NYR's hat. It's a secret we kept for years. Just a funny family ribbing now. It's brought up every time we're together and the Rangers are playing the Devils.
Anyway back to grandma...
When I tell you this woman didn't miss a game from 1984 through 2000 it's the god's honest truth. She loved Brian Leetch. She wrote him letters correcting the things he did wrong and wrote him letter detailing the things he did right. One year she got a letter back from Brian Leetch and it was something she'd brag about until she passed. He thanked her for her honestly and being a fan. He thanked her for watching and said at the end he'd hope to meet her someday.
Oh, boy did she brag about that letter.
She also did this with the Yankees... but that's for another blog.
In 94 I was in college. Working, studying, working. Grace would call every game with updates. Especially after Leetch would score. Messages were endless some nights. Explain this family love affair with the Rangers to friends was difficult at times.
I made it home for the final series vs. Van.
Everyone came home for that series. It was wonderful. Happy.
Mom wasn't any different. Dad was die hard too. Many nights outside with Dad learning to shoot high. Dad helped me and my brothers with every league. He coached. He'd scream and curse, but he'd be there. My brothers and sister as well. It's just something that brought us all together and still does. The Rangers help brake the ice during difficult family times. They bring us together without a holiday being involved. They keep us in touch with each other.
10 years in the Navy and it was years of letters and emails. Not a one came that didn't mention the Rangers. Expecially moms care packages. Ranger shield C.Chip cookies!!! love you mom.
Well, let's wrap this up...
One family turned into 2. From two families into 6 families.
Gatherings are big huge affairs now. Lots of planning. Lots of food. Lots of cleaning. But to see a family of Rangers fans like mine is something to see indeed. We have screamers, (me) and laughers (sister). We have bitchers and whinners and a few "they can do no wrong-ers". He have defensemen and wingers. A goalie (my son). We have the in-laws in awe of the fever, we have in-laws learning the game. We have kids pretending to be Colton Orr. We have kids pretending to be The Great Gabby. We have girls practicing their cheers. Old grumpies, young grumpies.
We even have an"I missed it" brother. Even when he's sitting and watching the same game in the same room.
We live in MD now. I have an 8 year old boy and a 1 year old daughter. We wear our jerseys on game day. Make weekend trips home to their grandmothers and PopPops. My son has lessons on the coach with his PopPop. We meet my brother’s family in the city on weekend game days. My sister throws on one party evey year- Ranger themed!
I only prey that our sons will continue keeping the Rangers a family tradition. I hope that Gophers jersey can survive another generation of children.
I hope you enjoyed this. Now it's time to call mom.