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Tickets, please!

Readers share stories behind some of their ticket keepsakes


Whether you’re a fan of a music group or singer, a particular sport or team or just a collector of mementoes, the ticket stubs you’ve saved chronicle decades’ worth of memories. The little strips of printed, fading card stock may not be noteworthy from a historical perspective, but they are little personal reminders of fun times gone by.

Some of the purists among us lament the print-at-home tickets available today with online purchases; those tickets, spit out from a bubble jet printer on cheap paper, seem impersonal and downright bland. Most of us would rather see the bright colors and creative artwork that grace the tickets of yesteryear.

Even worse: the tickets that are sent electronically, so all the bearer has to do is wave his smartphone at the ticket attendant holding a scanner. It may be more convenient, but how can you not want a tangible souvenir?

We asked our readers to share some of their favorite ticket stubs and the stories behind them.

Even if you’ve never saved a single stub – or if you have saved them all and they’re stuffed away in a shoebox in the closet – you’ll likely identify with the personal recollections we’ve assembled here.

Melissa Hand:

At 40, I probably should have thrown these ticket stubs away by now, but every time I look at them, I remember so many fun and happy times.

These pieces of paper contain memories of my past with friends and family, with musicians, comedians, actors/actresses, sporting events, and even times I’ve traveled around the world.

I’ve held on to a ticket from 1993, when my husband and I were just friends – who knew we would one day be married! I have a special autographed ticket from a Penn and Teller performance, when magician Penn Jillette looked at me and said I had “pretty hair.”

The most special is an airline ticket from when I took my first plane trip, 17 hours to Japan, to meet my family for the first time. And the list goes on.

Judi Dykema:

In the maddening crowd of Elvis fans pushing and shoving their way in to see “the King,” the ticket taker at the turnstile missed mine. I have treasured this keepsake for 40 years. The concert in Montgomery was exactly six months before Elvis’ death.

That was my third time to see Elvis perform, and no words can describe being there, seeing him in person.

Danny Price:

I won tickets to the iHeart Country Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in 2014 through a radio contest. I took my son, Tyler, with me. (It was the first airplane trip for both.) We got to fly in a helicopter with country music singer Hunter Hayes. We had front row seats at the concert.

Hunter Hayes and his manager, along with the helicopter pilot, were all super nice. Flying over the city of Austin was breathtaking. I would say it was the trip of a lifetime.

Dave Hitchcock:

Our family took a vacation to central Florida to visit Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in their winter home. We drove down in April/May 1990 and spent a couple of weeks on the road.

My wife and I have three kids, and at the time they were aged 5 to 10. It was a wonderful vacation, though the kids don’t remember it as well as I do. I am and always will be a big kid, and when we started home I think I was sadder than the kids were.

James Reed:

Over a period of some 24 years (1980-2004), my son David and I attended a major league baseball game in all 30 major league stadiums. The wonderful adventures came as a result of birthdays, Father’s Day celebrations, church trips, vacation travel, a summer master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and other special trips.

Five years ago, my wife Jane ordered the map in the picture, chose a few pictures from the trips, made a border with the tickets of each game and framed what you see in the picture. She presented both David and me a 46-inch by 34-inch framed gift. His tickets, like mine, form the border of the “Touring The Majors” map.

Today David’s picture hangs in his office in Tuscumbia. My picture is a proud part of my library at home in Dothan.

Marcia Below:

I have seen a lot of talented musicians over the decades. I have saved my ticket stubs since the very first concert I attended – Steppenwolf in 1970. The ticket was a Christmas gift from my oldest brother, which set him back $4. I was hooked after that.

I went to concerts like people go to movies. I grew up in Birmingham, where there are several concert venues, and of course nearby cities like Atlanta offered some wonderful concerts, like Paul McCartney ($8.50 a ticket) and George Harrison with Ringo Starr ($9.50 a ticket). My love of music has only grown over the years, and I support the local musicians who play in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, where I currently live. I still attend as many concerts as possible. And I still save my ticket stubs.

Editor’s note: Marcia listed more than 40 shows, so what follows is just a sample of her concerts: The Rolling Stones, 1972; Bruce Springsteen, sometime in the early 1970s  (free tickets were given away on the radio since no one bought them, she remembers); The Eagles, 1973 and 1995; Hank Williams Jr., 1982 (he gave her a complimentary ticket); John Prine and the Cowboy Junkies, 1992; Van Morrison and B.B. King, 2001; and 30 tickets to Jimmy Buffett, the earliest one dated 1978, and four times in 1998 and 1999.

Jennifer Zornes:

This 2010 ticket was used by my son, Levi, to attend the first Enterprise High School football game in the new Wildcat Stadium. (The former stadium was destroyed in the tornado of March 1, 2007; Wildcat Stadium opened in 2010.) The only info I have is written on the back of the ticket, that he went with family friends.

James Marbut:

This is a ticket from Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 315th win. I was ushering at the game when an Auburn friend gave me the ticket because he knew I collected memorabilia like this.

I was working in Bessemer at the time. A friend from church got me into ushering at Legion Field. We were not paid, but got into the games. We did get to see some great, great games.

I also have the program from this game, and from Bryant’s last post-season game in the Liberty Bowl in 1982. And I’m an Auburn fan; I graduated from Auburn in 1972.

Ronald Morgan:

Miami hosted Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969, while I was serving in the U.S. Navy on the only Navy ship home ported in Port Everglades, Fla.

As University of Alabama graduates, both my wife, Sheila, and I were excited that we would be able to see Joe Namath play if I could arrange to take leave. I was able to convince my commanding officer that I could take some much needed leave and catch back up with the ship when it docked for a one-day port call in Key West.

Adding to the thrill: Some good friends said they would love to come down for the game if we could get tickets.

My leave request was approved, and as incredible as it seems today, my wife purchased four tickets at the corner drugstore in Fort Lauderdale for $6 each!

But the best was yet to come. Not only did we have a great time with our friends, but we were treated to one of, if not the most, memorable Super Bowls ever played. The underdog New York Jets seemed to make matters worse for themselves when the brash Namath “guaranteed” a win. But he defied the experts and led his team to an improbable victory over the Baltimore Colts, 16-7.

William Dent:

This is a stub from the dedication game of Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. My grandmother attended that game as a freshman in 1929 when Yale played Georgia. She gave the ticket stub to me for my birthday in 1988. I’m a die-hard UGA fan but never attended; I inherited it the old-fashioned way. This ticket is the corner piece of my collection of UGA materials.

Cary Hatcher:

We are quite proud of our Auburn-Alabama tickets from 1989. It was the first year the game wasn’t played in Birmingham and played in Auburn! Everyone said it wouldn’t work and traffic would be horrible, but the world didn’t end and traffic moved along – and Auburn won the game!

I couldn’t talk for three days afterward. It is my No. 1 favorite game of all time, including the national championship game in 2011. We had the tickets framed with a photo from the scoreboard that my husband took after the game.

Erin Gilbert:

Last summer I went to an estate sale in Fairhope. I was getting married in November, so I was looking for decorations (specifically old books). I found some pretty neat books at the sale, but the true gem was a Cotton Bowl program from 1954, stuffed between two old books on a shelf. My fiancé is a huge Alabama fan, so I figured I would buy it for him! (And it was only $1.)

While he flipped through the program, two ticket stubs from the Cotton Bowl fell out. He was so surprised and so was I! Excited about the neat discovery, we told his family. His grandfather told us how memorable that game was not only to him, but to millions of Americans.

(Editor’s note: The game featured a play that became known as the “12th man tackle.” Alabama fullback Tommy Lewis left the sideline and tackled All-American halfback Dicky Moegle of Rice near midfield. Moegle was on his way to a 95-yard touchdown when Lewis brought him down. Moegle was credited with a touchdown. Rice went on to win, 28-6.)

My husband’s grandfather also mentioned that it was the very first football game he ever watched on television.

After learning how historical the game was, we had the ticket stubs and program framed. It was the best dollar I have ever spent!

Greg Gentry:

I have been blessed to have attended more than 500 Alabama football games, and I have stubs from each game I attended. I have collected numerous Bama artifacts over the years, but probably my favorite item is a ticket stub from an Alabama game against the University of Pennsylvania (not Penn State) played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on Nov. 4, 1922.

Penn was a powerful eastern team from the Ivy League coached by John Heisman during this time, and they had beaten a strong Navy outfit the week before. The Alabama coach was Xen Scott, who in four years carried Alabama to a record of 29-9-3. But during the 1922 season he was diagnosed with oral cancer and was advised not to make the trip to Philly (he resigned due to health reasons at the year end.)

Though a heavy underdog, Alabama prevailed that afternoon, 9-7. This game is often heralded as one of the first major wins of national prominence for the Crimson Tide.