For Terry Rianda of Arroyo Grande, each ticket stub holds special meaning.
One colorful piece of paper reminds him of attending the Indianapolis 500 with a racing fan friend. Another ticket stub recalls a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. An orange-and-purple stub celebrates a spur-of-the-moment trip to watch sprinters at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
“You see all the memories it brings back,” said the 53-year-old, who started collecting ticket stubs in 1970.
Over the years, he’s amassed about 700 stubs by attending concerts, comedy shows, magic shows and sporting events. He displays his collection in poster-sized frames in the section of his suburban home known as “the sports room.”
“I go to a concert and I see people throwing them on the ground and I think, ‘What are you doing?’” said Rianda, a special education teacher for the Orcutt Union School District. “Everybody I show (my collection to) goes, ‘I should have done that.’”
Raised in rural Gonzales near Salinas, Rianda was 13 when he started saving ticket stubs — starting with a wrestling match starring Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens at the Cow Palace in Daly City.
Once he got his driver’s license, the budding collector was free to attend concerts and other events as far away as the Bay Area, Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.
“After that I could really go places,” said the Cal Poly graduate, who has lived on the Central Coast since 1977.
Rianda saw Elton John, Pink Floyd and Supertramp at the height of their popularity in the 1970s. He remembers attending a Mountain View concert featuring Stevie Ray Vaughn just two months before the legendary blues guitarist’s death in 1990, and still raves about seeing Prince perform in Fresno in 2004.
“That was an amazing show,” he said. “It was like the Beatles — all the women screaming. I had never been to a concert like that.”
Rianda has seen his favorite artist, Neil Young, perform “38 or 40 times” in various venues.
“I’d go to see him Monday night in Los Angeles, work the week and then go to San Francisco to see him on Friday,” said Rianda, who spent about $15 on those early concert tickets. His most recent Neil Young concert, a solo show this past October in Oakland, set him back $149.50.
Rianda has also attended his share of sporting events, including the Indianapolis 500 in 1990 and 1991, the Florida Citrus Bowl (now the Capitol One Bowl) in 1993 and 1994, and countless San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders games.
Rianda and his friends even watched part of the 1984 Olympic games on a whim.
“That was pretty cool. We woke up early on a Saturday morning and said, ‘Let’s go to the Olympics,’ ” he recalled. They drove down to Los Angeles, bought tickets from a street scalper and arrived in time to see 10-time Olympic medalist Carl Lewis compete in the 100-meter dash.
In addition to his own selection of stubs, the collector also inherited 20 or so stubs from his father, Gonzales blacksmith Walt Rianda.
“I was going through the closet at one time and found this old box of photos and tickets,” Rianda recalled. “I went, ‘Whoa! I collect (ticket stubs, too).’”
Those colorful souvenirs date from a 1955 bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico, to the 1962 World Series, to Bing Crosby’s National Pro-Am Golf Championship in 1973. There’s even a ticket celebrating the first baseball game ever played at Candlestick Park on April 12, 1960; it cost $2.50 including tax.
According to Rianda, the older tickets tend to be larger and more colorful than their modern-day counterparts. “They’re dull these days, that’s for darn sure,” he said.
Rianda started displaying his trophies around 1988 or 1989. He currently has nine poster frames completed, plus a plastic grocery bag full of ticket stubs ready to be mounted. (Rianda draws the line at movie ticket stubs. “Not worth it,” he said.)
Luckily, his wife doesn’t mind her husband’s obsession with collecting ticket stubs.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Laura Rianda, who has her own, smaller collection of stubs dating back to high school.
“Every concert I’ve read about, he’s been to,” she added, from Yes’s legendary 1995 concert at the Fremont theater in San Luis Obispo to former frontman Jon Anderson’s solo show in December at the Performing Arts Center.
The couple, who married in August, has also attended several concerts together, including performances by Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak. They last saw the blue-eyed crooner play at a Savor the Central Coast event in Avila Beach in October.
Although Rianda can’t count the number of miles he’s driven or flown, he estimates that he’s attended 95 percent of the events chronicled in his collection with other people.
“They’ll come to my house and go, ‘I was with you when you did that,’ or ‘I went with you to that,’ ” he said with a chuckle. Each ticket stub signifies time spent in the company of family and friends, he explained.
Gesturing at his collection, Rianda asked, “Wouldn’t it be a shame to have this in a bag somewhere?”