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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Harry Pellow recalls enthusiasm at 'critical pitch' during Chapleau road hockey games of the Fifties

Butch at CHS Reunion 2012
By Harry "Butch" Pellow

I only recall the famous strip between Birch and Cedar but I did play on the pond on the back river once or twice. Both times I froze my toes and fingers and decided that it was too cold for me.

But on Aberdeen Street it was warmer and much closer to home to play road hockey. Frequently, snow piles were pretty high; often stained with dog urine and rarely without many deep holes in them where the pucks had been lost and had been recovered either by probing sticks or urgent kicks from various team players.

Players were randomly gathered either by purposeful visits to the destination or picked up on the way by. The skill level was indeterminate but the enthusiasm was always at a critical pitch.

Frequently the more proficient and sometimes the more senior amongst us effected a team selection process which created a lop-sided weighting of skill and ability resulting in long periods hen goals were only scored from one direction. By the way, I was not one of the more senior amongst us if you know what I mean.

Sometimes the call of nature shortened the attention span but then there was always the back of Schroeder's porch, Evan's barn or Mcleod's hedge available for relief. Not infrequently if the call was more urgent there would be knocks on adjacent doors (usually Evans or Schroeder’s) asking for use of the facilities but this was rare because it could have called an end to the game if dinner was seen to be on the table.

There were several constants including Mike Morris, Bill McLeod, Ken Schroeder, Jim Evans, Butch Pellow, Charlie White and Buddy Swanson. Down the block and around the corner players would be attracted by the shouting or previously having been invited to bolster a losing run. They included Tony Telik, Joey Steen, Mansel Riley, Mark Boulard, Tommy Jordan, Tim Goodwin (yes even that far away), and Gunner Collins and and and………………

Games usually started immediately after school and lingered well after the merchant families parents arrived home from work. Some evenings that was quite late. Generally speaking though darkness imposed a limitation and there were very few lights on the street to create a safe level of illumination. Especially low in fact as I remember because once the puck was lost, it remained lost until the next morning. In the absence of a puck there were alternative missiles however including a half size can of Carnation milk, Klick or Spam cans, other similar sized items from the nearest garbage bin, frozen ice balls, horse dung in various states of compression (frozen or not) and now and then, even gloves, shoes or rubbers.

Skates were never worn, we were generally wearing pretty warm jackets and they became sweaty, only the goalies wore pads, many wore hockey gloves and as often as not the sticks were retreads or broken.

I recall MIlton Schroeder often calling ".. Kinny, get in here for dinner", Zita arranging for communication to Jim for the same purpose and I was always under threat of 'no dinner' if I didn't know enough to come in from the cold.

Mcleod, Evans, Schroeder and I even think Mike Morris took turns in net. Mike later took up officiating as we know. The rest of us barrelled along the snow tracks left by the sleighs and the infrequent car or truck and now and then would do our best to shovel a somewhat level playing surface that would quickly become snowed over or covered in disturbed snow bank residue after searches were made for lost pucks. To say there was no contact would be an untruth. The reality was that all of us endured pain masked by the cold, many bruises, black eyes and very sore fingers. It was fun but it was rough and it was dangerous.

Once inside of course it wasn't easy to get back out again on school nights although it was different story on weekends when the games started immediately after hockey practice on Saturday mornings and continued until it was Hockey Night in Canada. Sundays were generally a replay of Saturday with the added flare of one or other of us posing as a "best player" from last night's game or attempting to interpret Foster Hewitt's description of a play that until the late fifty's was as exciting as it could get without a picture. Even when TV arrived it was grey and snowy on Doctor Young's cable line or and we relied on Foster Hewitt or Danny Gallivan to bring it all to life.

Note: Harry "Butch" Pellow, was born and raised in Chapleau, Ontario, a member of one of the community's pioneer families. He founded Pellow + Associates Architects Inc., of Toronto, in 1978. Harry was the architect for the Chapleau General Hospital, Chapleau Recreation Centre, Chapleau Civic Centre, Cedar Grove Lodge for Senior Citizens and the golf club house in Chapleau.

2 comments:

vern Petry said...

Hello all
I also was born in Chapleau in 1946.
Im trying to find people that might have known my father Michael Vernon Petry(Petrunka) He and his brother Bill and family were on the CPR railway.Any info would be awesome. My first couson Shirley was a daughter of Bill.
Thanks
vernPetry

Joel Vinge said...

Hi Michael
While you were playing in Chapeau I was playing in Camrose. I well remember similar makeshift gear and equipment. Our uniforms had the same practical and serviceable appearance (you probably couldn’t even discern our team identity as being any different from yours). Forming a league would have been next to impossible. Yes, those were the days! Thanks for the memory!
Joel

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