Saturday, July 7, 2012
1951 Topps Ringside Boxing #47 Bob Montgomery
I recently knocked an item off my 'bucket list' by returning to Brooklyn and visiting the house my parents and I lived in when I was very young. We lived with my paternal grandparents who had been there since the 1920's and who had raised my dad and his sisters in it. I spent a lot of time there even after my family moved to New Jersey. My grandparents moved out in 1967 or so and both passed away within a couple of years.
I easily recognized the block but the fronts of the homes had all been redone over the years. It was as quiet and neat a little Brooklyn neighborhood as I remembered it to be. I have tons of memories of the place and especially my grandfather who I was very close to.
'Pop' was a tough little Portuguese pipefitter/boilermaker, born in the Azores, who had stowed away on a ship to get to the States at the age of about 14. He worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and loved three things, his family, TV's Mitch Miller and 'the fights' which for him included both 'pro' wrestling and boxing. I spent a lot of time watching all of the above with him.
I no longer follow boxing, haven't for a long time, but I do pick up the occasional vintage boxing related item here and there. The card I've posted is from the 1951 Topps Ringside set. 96 cards, issued in two series, and featuring popular boxers and wrestlers of the day. Glancing through the checklist I recognize a lot of the fighters and even a lot of the wrestlers. In Brooklyn (where Bob Montgomery won his first bout, btw) Friday nights was boxing's fight night on TV while Thursday, IIRC, was wrestling night.
The Topps set is a lot of fun and very popular among collectors. The cards are all over eBay with some pretty serious bidding wars over some graded cards but in general very affordable. The Rocky Marciano card is key. I own a handful and won't ever even try to finish the set. Some of the cards feature a specific fight and others, like the Montgomery, have his name under a championship 'belt'. Other feature fighters with a gold champion's crown that reminds me of the Topps rookie awards cards they've done in other sports.
In this shot in my aunt, my grandparents and my father (circa 1942) standing in front of their Brooklyn row-house.
Same house, earlier this week. It was hard for me to recognize. But I knew the house number.
And finally, my father, mother (holding me), aunts, and Pop. He'd be glad to see that his house was looking nice, still. But he'd hate the state of 'the fights'.