I just got back from a family reunion, and seeing my father and his three brothers together has inspired this post. I remembered seeing this old picture and realized that it would be a great starting point for an article:
So, behind the net is my uncle Joe, and from left to right are my father Bob and my uncles Terry and Jim. I "interviewed" Joe & Dad for this story, so Terry and Jim: any errors or omissions are their fault.
This picture was taken on Shaw Lake in Golden Grove, East Saint John N.B. (click on the aerial photo to enlarge). It was taken in the winter of 1959 (they think) by their father, at which point Joe was (or was on his way to becoming) a star player for Simonds High School. Yes, Terry, he actually was a star...I've seen the newspaper clippings. Apparently they talked Terry into putting the goalie pads on, most likely with the threat of violence if he didn't. At the very least, he should have been beaten up for wearing that sweater.
The best story about this picture might actually be about the boards in the background. They were in 4 by 8 foot sections and were made by the neighbourhood fathers while drinking a batch of beet wine from a bathtub. (I wonder if Walter Gretzky ever did that?) The boards were put on the ice as soon as it was possible to do so. In the spring, they were laid flat on the ground and used as a "floor" for ball hockey until the roads and driveways were dry enough to play on.
I'm sure lots of Canadian families have memories of skating on lakes many years ago, and I'm glad my grandfather took this picture of his sons so that one day they could be the focus of an entry in my little blog about skating outdoors.
Of course, skating wasn't only restricted to Shaw Lake. One winter, there was an ice storm that covered the roads with ice and closed the schools. Joe and my father took advantage of the long skating rink and skated to Exhibition Park, at least 4 miles away from their house. During this time, the sun came out and melted the ice on the road, so Joe and Dad got home the only way possible...they walked in their sock feet. I guess Joe got blamed for this because he was the oldest, just like he got blamed the first time Jim swore at their mother...where else is he gonna hear that kind of language?