July 21, 2015
Ken Dryden, Dandelions And Elementary School Memories
This is Ken Dryden.
Dryden is quite possibly the most interesting person in all of hockey history. Not only was he arguably the best goalie in hockey, at least of his era, but the Cornell educated puckstopper was also a lawyer, a best selling author, a business executive and a successful politician who once launched a bid to become Prime Minister of Canada.
But did you know his very first job was plucking dandelions?
When Ken was 10 years old his parents offered to pay him two pennies for every dandelion - roots and all - he picked out of the family's yard. A few days later he presented several baskets full of the weeds to his parents. After much counting, Mr. and Mrs. Dryden paid their son an amazing $81.68.
Ken used the money to buy a globe and an encyclopedia set.
I had completely forgotten about this story, though chances are I knew it off by heart back in elementary school. You see, this story came out of Fred McFadden's 1976 paperback called "Ken Dryden." It is a biography aimed at youth, and undoubtedly planted the seeds of hockey bios that I have come to love. This was one of the very few hockey books Uplands Elementary school had back in those days. I checked it out regularly, even though I had read many times before.
The funny thing is I had not seen that since exiting the school way back when. That is funny, because I have since become an aficionado of hockey books, with over 1200 in my collection. That really is amazing, given the book's significance in my life as a hockey fan. I wanted to see it again.
Yet, this forgotten Ken Dryden masterpiece somehow has escaped my grasp for all of these years. I haven't seen it on eBay, Amazon or AbeBooks. I have been looking, and was willing to over pay to the amount of fifty bucks to see the book once again.
I found the book in an obscure Jasper, Alberta store this past week while on a hiking, camping, and trail running vacation. Embarrassingly, I don't even know the name of the store. It's an eclectic collectibles store in the basement of a local dollar store. And best of all - I got it for just five bucks!
Take a look inside the book.
McFadden had at least one other similar book devoted to Bobby Clarke. I do not know if there are others in the series. I would certainly hope there was - they are fantastic.