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Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Death of Paper Tickets and the Stories They Leave Behind

John Burns held season tickets to Xavier basketball games for more than 40 years, in three different Cincinnati arenas, his seats maturing along with him—from raucous baseline in youth, to second level near the beer stand in middle age, to wheelchair-accessible seats when his aging friends required them. They were like The Giving Tree, those tickets, which Burns shared with seven pals. “Eventually, Dad needed the disabled seats himself,” says his daughter, Mary Ann. “I can still see him sitting at the dining room table, dividing the tickets into envelopes. Dad was always The Guy in Charge of the Tickets.”

John Burns died at 78 on April 1, 2010, his spirit ascending skyward in the manner of his seat location. In his casket his family placed objects he esteemed: a thoroughbred racing form, a pencil to pick the winners and a can of Cincy’s own Hudepohl beer. “But the thing he loved most in life was Xavier basketball,” says Mary Ann. And so Burns wore his season tickets into eternity, tucked into his funeral blazer like a pocket square. They were fanned out for St. Peter, expediting him through heaven’s gate, a reminder that the cheap seats high up in English theaters and soccer stadiums are called “the gods.”

Like the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the letters of transit in Casablanca, tickets almost always provide passage to a better place. They are redeemable, like our souls; and like our souls they may be sold on the secondary market. As with the afterlife, tickets promise a better future. They don’t always deliver on that promise, but tickets—be they baseball or raffle or lottery—provide hope before the reckoning.

“I grew up outside L.A., was a huge Dodgers fan as a kid, and to get tickets you had to go to a little department store called Holbrook’s that sold gym clothes and Boy Scout stuff and had a ticket service to Dodger Stadium,” says Russ Havens, who at 54 is old enough to remember a time—the mid ‘70s, in his case—when there were still department stores with their own box offices that sold tickets made of thin cardboard to Boy Scouts. “I’d buy tickets weeks in advance, pin them up in my bedroom, and those tickets would remind me every day: Hey, you’re gonna see the Dodgers. I held onto those stubs.” And those stubs held on to him.

Not purely on baseball, I admit (though baseball clearly appears here)- but an interesting article to ponder, especially to those of us who handled physical tickets just last night and the night before.

 

QLE Posted: September 12, 2019 at 11:59 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: going digital, physical objects, tickets

 

 

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