Have you ever collected Autographs? No, I don't mean those of classmates and family, in a book made for that purpose, thought I have two of those from my teen years. I'm thinking more of signatures from celebreties or famous people that have made their way into your presence.
When I was cleaning out a box one day, I discovered a few slips of paper which bore the names of Roy Scheider, Robert Morse, and Paul McCartney. Mr. Scheider was an actor, best known for his role in the movie "Jaws". Robert Morse is an actor who's been on Broadway, TV and in movies. Most everyone knows who Paul McCartney is, and since he is the most famous, and my favorite autograph giver, I'll share the story of how I obtained his signature.
It was 1978, I believe. I had my 4 year old, Amy, with me. Since she was the only one of my five children who were with me, I'm thinking we might have been to her eye doctor appointment. On the way home from whereever we'd been, we stopped at a department store, Woolco, in the Bridgehampton shopping center. As we approached the entrance of the store, there was a crowd of people there, and one of them told me that Paul McCartney, and his wife, Linda were in the store. I didn't believe it! They pointed out a wood-sided station wagon which was parked in the fire zone and I was told it was the singers' car.
Amy and I went into the store, and spotted Paul and Linda in the check out line, with a large orange foot locker. I took Amy's hand, and we went back outside as I told her that he was a famous singer and that we had some of his music at home. She knew who the Beatles were, even at the young age. I asked her to watch the door, and when she saw the man with the big 'orange suitcase' come out, to yell, "Hi Paul McCartney!" (oh! the things that mothers put their kids up to at times!) So, being my good little girl, she did just that when the couple came outside.
Paul decided he'd play this game with Amy. He walked toward us, in the direction of his car, as he turned his head from side to side, pretending to look for the little voice who had said his name. As he did, he said, "Paul McCart-en-eee, Paul McCart-en-eee, WHERE'S Paul McCart-en-eee?" saying it just the way Amy had. He bent down low, so he was eye to eye with Amy, as she hid behind my legs and looked over her glasses at Paul. He said, "Are youuuuuuuuu Paul McCart-en-eee?" She continued to look over her glasses at him, while she shook her head and pointed to him. He stood up, and stood in front of me smiling. I stammered, "I used to be one of your biggest fans" (meaning when he was a Beatle...I hadn't gotten into the music of his current group, "Wings".) DUH...how dumb did I look?! He grinned, understanding my nervousness, and he joked, " Used to be? USED to be?! Well, don't stop NOW!" I said something like, "of course I won't!" and he handed me his autograph! Siiiiiiigh....what a sweet memory!
I once asked Alan Alda for his signature. He was shopping in the IGA in Bridgehampton when I saw him that day. I'd let two other opportunities pass when I'd seen him earlier that year, and I wasn't going to let this one go with a try. So, when he was standing in the aisle, reading the ingredients on a box of cereal, I approached him, shyly and respectfully asked, "Excuse me, Mr. Alda, I wonder if I might have your autograph?" He looked down his nose, over his half-lensed glasses, and said, "I'm sorry, I don't give autographs, but I will shake your hand." Well, ok, I thought, I'll take what I can get. I had seen many of his movies and liked watching him on tv on "Mash" and I was somewhat disappointed that I couldn't get that little slip of paper with his name on it.
But, I also understand that these are just regular people are doing a job which makes them famous. They may want to live as normally as other people do, but they're often hounded by fans or photographers. It must get annoying at times. On the other hand, they make a good deal of money at what they do, and it is because of the fans that they are paid so well for their work. So, they must expect this following of theirs and not expect to live peacefully when they're 'big name' people.
Ah well, I've not seen a famous person in many years, and even when I did while I lived in the resort area where many would vacation or reside, I left them alone. I suppose I'd outgrown the desire to collect signatures, or maybe I felt that I'd reached the ultimate in the procurring of Paul McCartney's autograph! I still treasure it, but one day it will find it's way into Amy's scrapbook with the written memory I have of that day. She knows, today, who he is, but does not remember that afternoon.