During the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies, my two older brothers, my boyfriend and myself set out on a Flyer's Fan Fantasy. We were headed to Toronto to see the Flyer's play the Maple Leafs in the semi finals with guaranteed tickets waiting for us via this kid whose mother was dating Ed Snider. There is possibly a lot of kids whose mother was dating Ed Snider, so no need to change the names to protect the innocent, I suppose.
Arriving at the border late in the evening, there wasn't that much to see and we still had a few more miles to go to reach our first destination, Niagara Falls. We had an older cousin, my parents age, who not only lived in Toronto but was actually in Niagara Falls for a convention that first night, so we met up with him. I don't even remember if we needed passports back then. Canucks and the States seemed to have always had a familial relationship with the exception of when the hockey game is on, eh. Americans always seem to be welcome in Canada and Canadians welcome in the U.S.
Uncle Eddie who was really a second cousin, wasn't much into hockey but was more than pleased to have us stay with him and Auntie Jean while we were in Toronto. Fast forward........we need those tickets. Cell phones were not the norm, so how we got in touch with this kid in Toronto has escaped my memory. What did one do in a world without cell phones? You need connections! Somehow we found out the Flyers were staying at the Royal York. Maybe this kid had told us to meet him there. It was a fancy upscale hotel.
As any old school Flyers Fans knows, it doesn't get any better than Gene Hart as a source. We met him by chance in a elevator. He could not provide us with tickets but he had an idea for us...Fred Shero. He gave us the room number to Fred Shero and we knocked on his door. After several knocks, Fred sheepishly opened the door. We pleaded our case to Fred about a guy, whose mother dates Ed Snider and he was suppose to get us tickets and it fell through. He may have had company, we were not invited in, but he did kindly say, no tickets and sorry no pictures or autographs. Okay so head coach, Fred was an important guy possibly the next best contact to Mr. Snider, himself, we were working it.
As a last ditch effort we went to the lobby of the Royal York several hours before game time and look what we found!
Let's go Flyers...Bill Barber, Ed Van Impe, nicknamed Eddie and Rick MacLeish, nickname Dopey was my favorite player. He, number 19, probably scored the most goals, always tripping and tying his skates. Do you remember that? I had a t-shirt with his face on it. There were interesting fashion designs back in the 70's and hair lengths. Check them out. If hair wasn't long, the sideburns were.
Also visible in the lobby were Jimmy Watson and I believe that is Barry Ashbee. Slide your eyes to the right, this is important. See the two guys standing over there? That is Macalarkey and Dave Schultz having a conversation. Checkered pants are being worn by Dave Schultz. I don't know what there were talking about. I was at a bit of a distance but...
The next picture I took looks so shaky because Mr. Shultz looked me straight in the viewfinder and offered up his middle finger. Slowly or maybe it was abruptly, I put the camera down, no more pictures of any players in the lobby. I am sure most if not all players were there in the lobby but once "The Hammer" comes down on you, it is cease and de..sit down. It was intimidating.
Yes, we got tickets to the game but not by way of any gift. We got scalped heavily, but we were not going to travel all the way to Toronto and not see a game so we bit the bullet. It was my first ever hockey game experience. Only season ticket holders could get tickets in Philadelphia. My one brother was a season ticket holder in Philly, up in the nosebleed section. Years later I went to the Spectrum for a whole game. Rarely were tickets available even if you were blood related.
You probably were not allowed to take pictures inside Maple Leaf Gardens but I had my little 110 camera and I was snapping away. You had to be selective back in the day of film, you either had a roll of 12 or 24. I took a warm-up shot and later you will see......
One of the ushers from Maple Leaf Gardens noticed I was enthusiastically taking pictures and he came over. I thought I might be in trouble and he would confiscate my camera and film. Instead he said why don't you go down by the rail and try a picture from there and I did. This is Ralph Cunningham, I realize that is the name of the kid on Happy Days but I actually wrote this guys name on the back of my picture, so that was his name. Thank you, Mr. Cunningham, besides family, I have always had a favorable opinion of Canadians since that trip.
He shoots, he scores! I have no idea who "he" was but the referee verifies, mission accomplished. My money is on MacLeish, after all, he was my favorite.
Traveling back to the United States, we had a more eventful crossing of the border, the Peace Bridge as it is called. My brother had a fancy painted van, they were popular back in the 70's too. We were not detained entering back into the United States because we were popular. The van was a clear indication that we were hippies and smuggling drugs into the country, so pulled off to the side, we were asked to get out of the vehicle, while the agents searched through the inside for evidence,which there was none. We were sports fans, nothing more.
The rest of my Ed Snider story is the Flyers win the Stanley Cup Parade in 1974. Here is a sampling of the pictures I could find. It is probably the reason Philadelphia fans are so hopeful in all sports. It was an exciting time.
Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, Only the Lord Saves More than Bernie Parent, remember that? If it were the 70's, Mr. Sanders would be a shoe in with Philadelphia fans for name only.
Guess who is not sitting outside on the top of the car? Yes, that would have been Mr. Schultz himself, the Broad Street Bully. Keep your hands and fingers inside the car please. The fans just loved him and wanted to touch him. Me? I knew better.
Here you see fans climbing the pole to cut down the Flyers flag. I wonder if it is for sale on Ebay now?
I have one other short story of a Philadelphia Flyers player. Mr Don Saleski, was a customer of mine at my very first job at Kay Bee Toy and Hobby Shop at the Springfield Mall. It was a quiet afternoon with not many customers and I was just straightening up the front of the store. I see this large gentleman descend the steps and flip off his sunglasses in Hollywood style, and enter my store. My heart starts to pound, in my youth I was easily star struck. I knew it was Big Bird, the nickname for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey player, Don Saleski. I asked if I could help him and I can't remember what his interest was but I directed him to the toy and maybe I peeked down the aisle to watch him, just a little bit. He was making a purchase, being I was the only other person in the store, we met again. He was paying with a credit card. During those days it was custom to have the person add their address and phone number on the back of the store copy. He refused and I tried to explain, it is store policy. He said, do you know who I am? Okay yeah, everyone in a thousand mile radius knows everyone of the Philadelphia Flyers. I said, yes sir. I wanted to say Big Bird, but I restrained myself. He said , I don't give out my address, you know where to find me. Apparently, he thought I could be a potential stalker or something. Not of you sir, but if you could tell me where Dopey lives, we could have been better friends. Don Saleski lived in Media during that time, if anyone wants to know, I know exactly where, everyone in the area knew. I don't know what big secret he was trying to keep. The Flyers did have big celebrity status, some more than others. If I had a cellphone at the time I may have asked for a selfie.
I also knew someone who was interviewed and hired by Ed Snider but that would be his story to tell.