We walked up the cracked sidewalk. “It’s nicer up there.” My mom nudged my sister forward and I skipped along.
A new neighborhood full of nice houses had been built up the street from our apartments. The flat pavement sloped as if the hill ahead divided the well-off from my family and our neighbors. I didn’t mind. I marveled at the manicured lawns and shiny cars.
Our street name indulged my imagination: Enchanted Parkway. Anything could happen there. I raced ahead. “Come on!” I shouted when I reached the first house.
Always bold and seeking adventure, I was more excited than my sister. I wasn’t old enough to sell Girl Scout cookies yet, so I had to live vicariously through her.
Born my polar opposite, she hesitated. “What if they say no?”
Mom shook her head. “Then we go to the next house. It’s not hard.”
While my mom and sister argued I ran up to the most inviting looking house and rang the doorbell. A nice man and his wife (or so I presumed) answered the door. He had a cut above his eyebrow but his eyes shined. Both their smiles welcomed me. I asked, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”
The woman gushed over how “cute” I was. The man nodded. “Sure we will.”
I waved my sister over, and we got their order. After that she found the courage to knock on more doors. Along the way I asked my mom, “Why did that man have a cut on his face?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know.” But something in her features told me she thought she had an idea.
When we got home I ran off to play and thought nothing of it. Later my parents had some friends over, and my uncle Wayne told my mom who I had sold cookies to: Brett Hull. An avid hockey fan, he had his ways of knowing these things.
Brett Hull was new to St. Louis, but the Blues were excited to have him. So were the fans. My relationship with sports had been hurting since the Cardinals football team abandoned me. The idea of getting behind a different home sport seemed odd but better than feeling alone.
When the cookies came in, my sister and I were eager to bring Mr. Hull his order. Mom never cared much about sports but even she couldn’t hide her joy. She grabbed us a couple of papers to get autographed.
We trekked out and up the hill. Instead of racing ahead by myself, as usual, my sister tried to keep up.
When we got there, Mr. Hull answered the door as friendly as ever. “Can we have your autograph?” My sister and I said together.
His face turned bright red, but he grinned and indulged us.
The fact that a famous St. Louis Blues player would be nice to a couple of poor kids and buy our cookies gave me a lot of hope in life. That story has stuck with me for many years.
Now an adult with a writing career, I have three children of my own and a house with a not-so-shiny car, but it suits me well-enough.
After the Blues’ big Stanley Cup win Wednesday night, my entire neighborhood went nuts. Fireworks went off everywhere. People were driving up and down the streets honking. Neighbors let their kids run around outside banging spoons against pots.
My husband and I took our children outside. We laughed as they jumped up and down shouting, “Let’s go Blues!” and all I could think was: Somewhere, Brett Hull is celebrating with us.
St. Louisan Jessica Baumgartner is a technical writer and author of two children’s books.