Here is my latest effort, sent to my hometown paper after my sister told me some startling news...
I come from a hockey family; my brothers Bobby and Kenny played for the Kings (as Captains at various periods as well) and, like most Canadians, the game was a big part of my childhood and life. You can imagine my surprise then, when just today, I learned about an article about hockey in Dauphin (which mentions my brother Bobby and his teammate and buddy Ron Low) that was written in the illustrious sports magazine Sports Illustrated! It is the February 16 1970 edition and after a little sleuthing, I actually dug it up online. (Not knowing the issue nor the exact date or year, I tried every imaginable combo of keywords in the SI Vault of back-issues but couldn't get a hit on it until I typed in 'Bobby Buchy'. I know this made him smile).
It turned out to be a well-written exposé on small town hockey-mania titled 'The Only Game In Town' by William Johnson, who describes life in Dauphin the way I remembered it as a 9 year old girl who worshiped her big hockey-hero brothers. It transported me home in the blink of an eye, and I could feel the ice cold wooden bleachers and frosted walls of the arena and see the Queen reigning regally above the nose-bleed seats; I could smell the fries that I saved all week to buy and the stifling smoke of the girls bathroom where we all took our first hacking puffs and caught up on the gossip between periods. I'd never confess to ever writing on the stall walls, but I admit to learning about the birds and the bees and other essential life's lessons from them. Our first true-loves wore blades.
And I can't count the number of games that were stopped so the zamboni crew could bring their shovels on the ice to find a needle in a haystack (one of my brothers was forever losing a contact lens) and it was always found! It seemed like my life centered around the arena, but my death almost did as well: I was 11 years old and had scooted down to the players box to be near my brother, when, as I sat down and turned my head to watch the game, I felt a soft whiz past my temple, followed by a deafening crash! A frozen, rock-hard black missile had just missed my head and the crowd gasped. I smiled shakily, not used to having 2500 pairs of eyes glued on me, but the voice of my brother Kenny booming from the ice, screaming "DENISE! MOVE! RIGHT NOW!" shook me out of it and I slunk off to the top row, fingering the place near my hairline where Death had kissed me goodbye. I could see that my brother was furious and probably a little scared. After all, he was the one who'd shot the puck.The names and opinions of the old-timers I knew mostly by name and reputation as a child, like Coots Riehl, Bernie Basaraba and Steve Hawrysh (wasn't he called Boomer?) all are mentioned in the SI write-up, as well as a host of other long-forgotten local hockey makers and shakers. It did me ol' heart good to think about those days and relive my rink-rat lifestyle and the innocence of that era: I was allowed to walk, by myself, the eight or so blocks to and from the games which often ended quite late at night (10 or 11), and being the tough prairie kid I was, I usually only wore my runners...unless it hit -20, then I dug out my boots. These days, I won't let my daughter walk a block to the corner store alone. Yes, Dauphin was a good place to grow up in.
I was going to send the entire SI article to you but it is far too long, so I have added a link where you can find it yourself online. Perhaps you could write for permission to reprint it in your paper for those who are not online. It is well worth the effort for, as I understand from my brother Bobby and sister Rhonda who still live in Dauphin, it is still a big hockey town and the whole community still takes great pride in cheering on their boys.
I am very relieved about that: Where else would the local girls learn about the facts of life?
Here is the link...I hope you enjoy it!
Denise Sevier-Fries (nee Buchy)