Hockey card col­lec­tion do­nated

Woodrow Bessey, orig­i­nally of Main Brook, do­nated over 17,000 cards to stu­dents at C.C. Loughlin

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE WESTERN STAR Ni­cholas Mercer is the on­line editor with The Western Star. He lives in Cor­ner Brook and can be reached at ni­cholas.mercer@thewest­ern­star.com

Sun­day nights were hockey night for Woodrow Bessey.

Grow­ing up in Main Point on the North­ern Penin­sula in the early 1960s, the 67-year-old Bessey lis­tened to the games on the ra­dio.

There was no ref cam, in­stant re­play or Bob Cole bark­ing out “Oh, Baby!” after an im­pres­sive play.

So, when he lis­tened, he had to use his imag­i­na­tion to see the likes of Toronto Maple Leafs stand out for­ward Ed­die Shack bar­rel­ing down the ice.

“Clear the track cause here comes Shack” he’d hear the great Foster He­witt bel­low, but he couldn’t put a face to the name.

That was un­til a man from Bowa­ter who was work­ing in Main Brook gave him his first hockey card.

That sent him col­lect­ing. Per­haps more im­por­tantly, it al­lowed him to see the faces of the play­ers he heard about through the ra­dio.

Decades later, the one card given to him prompted a life­time of col­lect­ing.

That life­time saw Bessey amass a col­lec­tion of more than 17,000 cards through var­i­ous means.

“I got them ev­ery which way,” he said re­fer­ring how he built the size­able com­pi­la­tion of sport­ing mem­o­ra­bilia.

When Tim Hor­tons put out a new set of NHL cards, Bessey made sure to get as many as he could.

Last week, Bessey be­came the man from Bowa­ter as he do­nated his im­pres­sive col­lec­tion to the stu­dents of C.C. Loughlin.

On May 9, Bessey sur­prised stu­dents with a small bag filled with cards. In­side these makeshift card packs, each one of the more than 400 stu­dents re­ceived 42 dif­fer­ent cards.

Since Jan­uary Bessey metic­u­lously sorted each of the bags. He made sure there were no du­pli­cates and that each pack had an as­sort­ment of cards.

Not ev­ery­thing was hockey. There were some base­ball cards as well.

With a fresh pack in front of them, the stu­dents thumbed through the cards, smiled as they saw which card came next and then they did as any group of kids faced with the prospect of dis­cov­ery what was in their hands.

They traded cards with their friends in hopes of build­ing what they be­lieved to be the best col­lec­tion they could.

The stu­dents who sought Maple Leaf cards of­fered what they could to make the deal hap­pen. Oth­ers wanted the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers be­cause that was their favourite team.

One kid pulled a Mark Messier card from the pack and mar­velled. The Moose was his grand­fa­ther’s favourite.

It must have been rem­i­nis­cent of how Bessey treated cards when he was a kid. Then, he’d sit for hours and make sure his col­lec­tion was just right.

He had of­fers for the cards. He re­ceived vis­i­tors that wanted to give him money or trade. Maybe they saw went to see the room in Bessey’s Cor­ner Brook home that housed the col­lec­tion or just called him to gauge his in­ter­est, but ei­ther way, Bessey de­cided he wasn’t go­ing to part with his col­lec­tion that way.

He never had it priced but fig­ured the best thing to do would be to do­nate them. His wife teaches at C.C. Loughlin, mak­ing it the log­i­cal fit.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Bessey.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Woodrow Bessey is shown with chil­dren from C.C. Loughlin.

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