of School Daze
When I was about eight years old, I joined a hockey team at my local community club. In the early 1960s there was no such thing as an indoor arena, unless you included the old Winnipeg Arena. The parents in my generation didn’t believe in giving their kids rides to their hockey games and practices. We had to walk to the community club even if it was 30° below zero. It was a good six block walk to the clubhouse from my house. By the time I arrived there my face, and hands were usually frozen.
I remember one Saturday morning when a man in a car saw the white blotches on my face that were the first signs of frostbite. Even though my parents would not have approved, I gladly accepted the offer of a ride to the clubhouse.
The smell inside the Norwood Community Club was something I will never forget. The air inside reeked of sweat, body order, old leather and musk. I came to love this smell as it signalled that I was out of the freezing cold weather. The downside was that my chilled to the bone body was about to thaw out.
The thawing out process started to take place as soon as I closed the old wooden front door of the clubhouse. As my body began to warm up the pain started. The white splotches on my face started to turn red. The same thing happened to the white spots on my fingers and toes. The splotchy colouring on my frozen body parts all gradually changed from white to red in colour. This was the start of the painful burning process. How I didn’t lose any fingers or toes to amputation during these years of playing outdoor minor-league hockey was an absolute miracle.