When I was a kid, I don't remember my exact age at the time, but I would estimate somewhere between 6 and 10 years old;
my mother brought me to a ground breaking ceremony for a tennis club that was being built in New Jersey close to where we were living.
I'm pretty sure the event took place in North Brunswick. Pancho Gonzales was involved with the new club in some way, perhaps a sponsor, or investor.
At this event he was photographed as he scooped out the first shovel load of dirt where the tennis club building was being built.
Before he did that, my mother gave me a covered tennis racket and a marker and told me to go up to a man she was pointing out to me.
She told me to just hand him the items and he will know what to do. I went to the man and reached out, handing him the covered racket and marker.
I was interrupting his conversation with 3 or 4 other men standing there. He looked me in the eyes for about 2 seconds,
then took the covered racket and marker, quickly wrote something on the racket cover, handed the items back to me, and went on with his conversation.
Nothing was said between us and we were both emotionless.
I brought the items back to my mother and she seemed very pleased with what had happened. I asked, what was that all about?
She explained that the man is a famous tennis player and he just gave me his autograph.
The racket that the cover was on at the time isn't the one shown in the pictures here. It was a Tad Davis racket which was discarded long ago.
My father had the older Spalding, Pancho Gonzales signature tennis racket shown in these pictures. I paired the cover with this racket many years later.
This racket and cover have been stored in my parents' home, first in New Jersey and then later in Maryland where we moved in 1978.
The cover is made of a cloth material but has dried out and lost it's flexibility. It now has a brittle, crunchy texture and I'm not sure if it will remain intact forever.
The condition appears to have remained stable for the last several years, but I can't be sure that it won't disintegrate as it continues to age.
I recall that the tennis club building was completed and had a grand opening.
I have another memory from that time where there was an exhibition with Pancho Gonzales and Jimmy Connors. Perhaps it was the opening of this tennis club
or maybe I just have two different events mixed up in my memory. What I am more certain of is that the tennis club went out of business in a short time,
maybe one year after opening, and the structure was repurposed for selling used cars.
I'm not sure what I'll do with this item. Maybe I'll offer it for sale on Ebay. Maybe sell it or give it away on Craigslist.
Maybe I'll just put it in the trash.
In any case, I've saved the memory of it here in my virtual home.