Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 43 of 47

44 JUNE/JULY 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE BY JIM LEFEBVRE A s a young child battling polio in the early 1950s, Jim Augustine was con- fined to a room in the North- ern Indiana Children's Hos- pital, across the street from the Notre Dame campus. On football Saturdays, he could hear the bands, the roar of the crowd and the public address announcer, and he dreamed of what it would be like to attend a game. On Oct. 1, 1955, that dream was realized, when Jim accom- panied his dad to a victory over Indiana. After the final gun, the 8-year-old was allowed to scour the stands, scooping up scores of ticket stubs. "The family story is that I was so fo- cused on tickets, I passed up binoculars and wallets," he said. So began a lifelong quest to collect bits of Notre Dame football history. Later, at St. Joseph High School, the football teams were using the leather " black cross" helmets handed down from Frank Leahy's Notre Dame teams, and Augus- tine got to keep his. From there, he built a collection that shows the evolution of the helmet, which remains among his most prized possessions. Over the years, his ND items began to fill storage spaces until 2007, when he opened Augie's Locker Room just a few blocks from campus. Augie's has been in its current loca- tion, at 1811 South Bend Avenue, since 2014 — part museum, part memorabilia store, it's a must-visit destination for ND fans and history buffs when they come to South Bend. Augie buys and sells items from all eras of ND football. Yet, there are some pieces he would never consider selling. For him, it is so much more than a business. It's his purpose since retiring as a South Bend teacher — he serves as the unofficial cu- rator of Notre Dame football history. "We want to honor the great tradi- tion and history of how football helped put Notre Dame on the map," he said. "There are things from the Rockne era that are priceless." There are family connections, too. Augie's father and uncles were youngsters hanging around ND in 1929, while the build- ing of Notre Dame Stadium was taking place. During reconstruction in the 1990s, Augie was able to acquire original Stadium items, including seats, turn- stiles, section signs and other signage. "People love every- thing connected to 'the house that Rockne built.'" Customers of Augie's from coast to coast have created "ND shrines" in their homes, featuring treasured items in- cluding helmets, footballs, photos, programs and tick- ets signed by Fighting Irish coaches and players. One of them, Wisconsin physician Sean Quinn '94, got his start in collecting much like Augie himself, searching Notre Dame Stadium for ticket stubs as a youngster while grow- ing up in nearby Mishawaka. From there, his collection "snowballed into collecting as many ND tickets as I could." That now totals nearly every ticket from 1927 to the present, along with pho- tos, programs, matchbooks, figurines, etc. "My favorite items are from the Rockne era," Quinn said. "My most treasured items are the three autographs I have of his." Longtime South Bend attorney Andy Nickle (ND Law '74) is a collector of all types of historical items, so the draw to acquire unique pieces of Notre Dame football history "was ir- resistible, and I became hooked." Nickle's collection in- cludes the only known sur- viving 1888 program for the first two games of football played by Notre Dame, which makes it the oldest piece of Irish mem- orabilia known to exist. He also has Knute Rockne's Notre Dame Collectors Keep Alive The Treasures That Define History Jim Augustine's lifelong quest to collect pieces of Notre Dame football history led him to open Augie's Locker Room — part memorabilia store, part museum. PHOTO COURTESY JIM AUGUSTINE Treasured items held by Notre Dame collectors, from left: a ticket from a 1919 George Gipp game, a charm from the undefeated 1919 team, original leprechaun artwork by Ted Drake and Knute Rockne's watch. PHOTOS COURTESY SEAN QUINN, RICK MASSA, JOSHUA HAMMACK AND ANDY NICKLE COLLECTIONS

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