By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Mar. 30) — Thowback Thursday’s and Flashback Friday’s, so popular among the Facebook crowd, have nothing on me. Particularly when I open the Berger Vault — decorative name for a metal–plated trunk with cedar–wood lining that I purchased at an Army surplus store on Queen St. in 1992. “Vault” sounds better then “trunk,” doesn’t it?
This glorified container sits in a massive walk–in closet off my apartment bedroom — a space that turned into a hell hole over the past six months. Bachelorhood allows for the disarray that marriage usually doesn’t. As such, piles of this and that formed in the enclosure, turning it into a crawl–in closet. What better time, said I, than the on–set of spring to finally restore order? After several days of sweat and toil, my vault and the immediate vicinity are pristine once again. The trunk contains the most coveted (and valuable) items in my sports collection — primarily hockey card sets that date from 1954 to 1992. I also have the first 17 Toronto Blue Jays media guides (1977–1993); Toronto Argonauts media guides (1959–1998); Hockey Illustrated magazines (1962–1968); roughly a dozen issues of TV Guide Magazine from the 60’s and 70’s; old CHUM Charts (top 30 rock hits each week) from 1970 to 1975 and a number of unopened hockey card boxes. Things that need a place to be.
A RARE PEEK INSIDE THE NORMALLY CLASSIFIED BERGER VAULT.
While rummaging through the sundry items this week, I fetched my trusty NIKON and took photos. I therefore present to you, here, a rather thorough cross–section of the newly–organized vault. Please enjoy.
1970’s CHUM CHARTS
I remember the names like yesterday: Roger Ashby… “Jungle” Jay Nelson… John Majhor… Brian Henderson… John Rode (pronounced “Road–ee”)… Scott Carpenter… Terry Steele… and even my long–time pal Jim Van Horne. Today, we would call them hosts or announcers. In the early–1970’s, they were D-J’s (short for disc–jockeys). Spinning the old 45–RPM vinyl records at 1050–CHUM — Toronto’s legendary spot on the radio dial for the most popular rock–and–roll songs. The AM–1050 frequency is now an all–sports production owned by Bell Canada Enterprises and part of the TSN empire. Among the 50–something crowd in this city, however, it will always be remembered as a place for music.
A popular adjunct to the format was the CHUM Chart (four such items, above). From May 27, 1957 to June 14, 1986, CHUM published a weekly list of songs ranked 1–50 (until August 1968) and then 1–30. The colorful, two–sided print–outs featured images of DJ’s and a categorizing of the most popular rock–and–roll tunes. They were distributed to record stores throughout the city and placed next to large box–dividers that contained 45–RPM vinyl discs corresponding to that week’s countdown. I think I remember buying the individual records for 65 cents in the early–70?s. The folding charts were free and they became quite a collector’s item.
IN MY FINAL YEARS AS A REPORTER AT THE FAN–590, CHUCK McCOY (ABOVE) WAS A HIGH–RANKING RADIO EXECUTIVE WITH ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS… AND A REALLY GOOD FELLOW. BUT, I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW HIS REAL NAME WAS MERVYN VIDLER. DID YOU?
Pack–rat that I am, I kept roughly 50 charts from May 1970 to July 1975 when I was 11 to 16 years old — the prime age for any CHUM listener. Of course, you didn’t have to live in Toronto to recognize the songs–of–the–day, which were played on radio music outlets in Canada and the United States. But, the CHUM Chart association made listening even more enjoyable and we looked forward to the weekly rankings. Here are five CHUM Chart lists (May 1970–January 1975). Any music fan of my vintage (mid–50’s) should remember the overwhelming majority these songs:
Long before high–def, digital boxes and PVR capability, there was a magazine. In fact, there still is a magazine. It’s been circulated throughout North America since Apr. 3, 1953 — or, roughly, the advent of television. But, I can’t imagine TV Guide being as popular or essential today as it was in the 1960’s and 70’s, when roof–top aerials and portable “rabbit ears” enabled viewers to watch six or seven channels.
Here in Toronto, we had CBLT Channel 6; CFTO Channel 9 and Hamilton’s CHCH Channel 11. A strong northwesterly wind would augment ghostly images from stations across the lake in Buffalo, N.Y. — WGR Channel 2; WBEN Channel 4 and WKBW Channel 7. These became fixtures upon the advent of cable–TV in the late–60’s, which eventually spawned CITY (Channel 79) and Global (Channel 3). Ontario stations in Kitchener (CKCO) and Barrie (CKVR) were also available through cable. But, that was pretty much it until the early–1980’s when Pay–TV (First Choice, SuperChannel, TSN) and international cable (CNN) started up.
TV Guide served as a bible for viewers. In my vault, I have a dozen back–issues from the late–60’s and early–70’s. Here are several of them:
WEEK OF JAN. 25–31, 1964.
THE WIZARD OF OZ WAS A SUNDAY–NIGHT FIXTURE IN THE 60’s. WITH COLOR TELEVISION STILL IN ITS INFANCY, PROGRAMS NOT TELEVISED IN BLACK–AND–WHITE WERE DULY NOTED.
WEEK OF OCT. 1–7, 1966.
ON THE LAST SATURDAY OF OCTOBER 1967, THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS HOSTED THE CALIFORNIA SEALS — ONE OF SIX NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE EXPANSION TEAMS BEGINNING PLAY THAT MONTH. HERE WERE THE TV GUIDE LISTINGS ?? FOR THE GAME.
WEEK OF JULY 19–25, 1969.
ON SUNDAY NIGHT, JULY 20, 1969, AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS NEIL ARMSTRONG AND BUZZ ALDRIN BECAME THE FIRST HUMAN BEINGS TO WALK ON THE MOON. I WAS 10 YEARS OLD AND I’LL NEVER FORGET THE NIGHT AS LONG AS I LIVE. THE ACTUAL MOON–WALK BEGAN EARLIER THAN ANTICIPATED — AT 10:56 P.M. EASTERN, MOVED UP FROM 2:15 A.M. MONDAY. ARMSTRONG AND ALDRIN PRANCED ABOUT THE LUNAR SURFACE FOR 2½ HOURS. APOLLO 11 FEATURE FROM TV GUIDE (ABOVE) AND JULY 20, 1969 LATE–NIGHT REMINDER (BELOW).
WEEK OF NOV. 20–26, 1971.
THE AFTERNOON OF NOV. 20, 1971 WAS EXHILARATING FOR SPORTS FANS IN TORONTO AS THE ARGONAUTS (COACHED BY LEO CAHILL AND QUARTERBACKED BY JOE THEISMANN) TIED HAMILTON 17–17 AT OLD CNE STADIUM IN GAME 2 OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE’S EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL (TV GUIDE LISTING ABOVE; CLOSE–UP BELOW). TORONTO HAD WON THE FIRST GAME 24-8 THE PREVIOUS SUNDAY AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM IN HAMILTON AND TOOK THE SERIES 40–25 IN TOTAL POINTS, THEREBY ADVANCING TO THE GREY CUP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 19 YEARS. I WAS AT THE CNE ON THAT COLD, DARK SATURDAY AND I STILL REMEMBER HOW FANS SWARMED THE FIELD AFTERWARD TO MOB THE TORONTO PLAYERS, WHO OBLIGED BY HANGING AROUND FOR MORE THAN 20 MINUTES.
NHL OFFICIAL GUIDE AND RECORD BOOKS FROM THE MID–60’s.
POCKETBOOK-SIZED MAGAZINES FROM THE SAME TWO SEASONS.
CHECK OUT THE YEAR THIS POCKETBOOK ITEM WAS PUBLISHED (ABOVE). AND THE EIGHT–TEAM NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE DIRECTORY (BELOW) FROM THAT SEASON.
This monthly hockey magazine in the 60’s and 70’s was known for its four–page middle–section of color photographs, which were uncommon at the time. I have every issue from 1963–64 to 1974–75. Several here:
FEBRUARY 1967 (LEFT) AND MARCH 1967.
DECEMBER 1967 (LEFT) AND JANUARY 1968.
PLASTIC LEAF OF TOPPS NHL CARDS FROM 1954–55 — THE FIRST HOCKEY ISSUE BY THE CHEWING–GUM COMPANY IN BROOKLYN, N.Y.
PLASTIC LEAF OF TOPPS NHL CARDS FROM 1963–64.
THE UNIQUE TOPPS ISSUE OF HOCKEY CARDS FROM 1964–65 (ABOVE) — KNOWN AS THE “TALL–BOYS” FOR THEIR ELONGATED HEIGHT (4½ INCHES). A COMPARISON (BELOW) OF BOB BAUN’S 1964–65 AND 1965–66 CARDS.
SAWCHUK AND BOWER IN THEIR FIRST SEASON WITH THE LEAFS, 1964–65.
FROM MY CFL COLLECTION: 1966 (ABOVE) AND 1970 (BELOW).
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
INAUGURAL BLUE JAYS MEDIA GUIDE.
BLUE JAYS MEDIA GUIDES FROM THE SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH SEASONS.
FROM THE BACK–TO–BACK WORLD SERIES YEARS.
FACEBOOK: HOWARD BERGER [HUMBER COLLEGE]
LINKEDIN: HOWARD BERGER [BROADCAST MEDIA]