Peter, The Stick, and a Can of Paint

Many of my friends and classmates played organized hockey growing up. While I was happy for them, I somehow just knew that I wouldn’t be able to do so myself, as it would be unfair of me to expect Mum and Dad to buy me hockey equipment every couple of years as I grew. I accepted it as one of the “hazards” of being a member of a large family. Anyway, I got everything that I really needed at home, I was fed, sheltered, clothed, supported and most importantly, loved!

As there was nothing to prevent me from playing road hockey, I pursued that option. The street I grew up on, Franklin Street a), was divided by Forest Avenue. The part I lived on had four lads of roughly the same age, and we decided to establish a road hockey team in order to defend the honour of our beloved street from all challengers, real and imaginary. The other three said that they would play as forwards or defence. Of course, any hockey team needs a goaltender, so I had to firmly grasp that nettle by process of elimination.
At that time, road hockey was normally played using a tennis ball, so I had no need for the “Michelin Man” padding of an ice hockey goalie. Some gear was required however. I needed a catching glove. a stick hand glove and a goalie stick per se. The first two were easy to acquire, I could use my baseball glove for catching and a regular hockey glove for my stick hand b). However, I would need to acquire a goalie stick. It’s much like a regular hockey stick, except it has a thickened shaft to facilitate stopping whatever gets shot at you.
The next day I was uptown at McNab’s (sp?) Hardware, when I fell in love. I saw her across the aisle and moved to her side swiftly. She was a real beauty, a fibreglass wrapped “Sherwood” goalie stick, and my hands trembled as I took her off the rack. She was light, but strong, and her lie c) was perfect for me, I crouched in the middle of the aisle and handled her like I knew what I was doing. I noticed a little nick on her shaft, like a fingerprint, obviously a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Putting her back into the rack, I noticed something else. She cost $3.25! My heart sank. With my current cashflow, the decimal point may as well have been moved 3 places to the right., I left the store feeling very gloomy. Yet I was determined to obtain her…but how?
I walked home, to save the bus fare, went to my room and checked my money. Hmm, I had 27 cents, 37 when I added my purloined bus fare. I began to think. Now I would need $2.88 to acquire this beauty. This was an odd time of year, no more lawns needed to be cut, it was too cold to wash cars and too early to shovel snow. All the leaves had bqeen raked as well, so my usual methods of earning money  were simply damp squibs at this time. I considered and discarded several “fundraising” efforts and started to feel depressed d). I began to imagine a boy buying MY goalie stick. With my luck, he would be my worst enemy, and he’d take her home and leave her in the backyard to be rained on.
I needed $2.88. How to get it? Suddenly I had an idea. I went to the kitchen, where my mother was making dinner.  “Mum’, I ventured ‘ do we have 144 pop bottles I can have ?” e) Not unnaturally, she asked the reason for this request, so I told her. f) She didn’t have 144 empty pop bottles, but told me to just do my best, and things might turn out well in the long run.
The next week was pure hell, although I did find a dime on the street. My goal now was $2.78.
I figured that I was getting obsessed one fine afternoon when the teacher caught me “wool gathering ” and asked “Peter, what’s the answer?” and I replied “$2.78.” g)
That night, at dinner, Dad unwittingly underscored the “Herculean ” nature of my quest when he mentioned a purchase which he made, and added “Imagine, Helen, $24.99 plus tax!”
I let out a strangled groan. I had forgotten about the sales tax! I was back to needing $2.88!
That night I envisioned my stick in the hands of another, and I barely slept, miserable and heartbroken.
When I came home from school the next night, Mum smiled at me and told me that she had won a contest on CFOR h). The prize was a 25 dollar gift certificate… McNab’s Hardware!
She told me that she needed a pint of paint, and if I went to pick it up on Friday night, I could get my goalie stick! Happy? I was pretty much as happy as a young swain whose girl has just told him that her parents had gone away for the weekend and that her father had given her the key to the liquor cabinet just in case the young man came by. i)
Thursday dragged by, Friday was absolutely glacial. I imagined some lesser luminary purchasing my stick, taking it home and abusing it.  I really couldn’t call the store and put a hold on my stick. I just had to wait and take my chances.
Friday night, instructions memorized and precious gift certificate in my hand, I found myself at the end of the great journey. I carefully selected the correct paint, as I didn’t want to forget it.
Racing to the hockey stick rack, my heart pounded! There she was!!! Yes, there was that little nick. I reverently took her down and crouched, as we faced down unseen attacking players together.
I suddenly noticed a classmate of mine standing in the aisle, smirking at my “performance”. Sheepishly I gathered in my stick and picked up the paint. ( Don’t want to forget that !)
On the way home, I thought feverishly. Maybe I should give it a name, much as Roland j) had named his sword. In any case, I would have to tape the blade and build up a knob at the end of the handle.
I raced up the driveway of 328 Franklin Street; in the front door and found my mother sitting in the living room.  I poured out all my 9 year old expertise about goalie sticks, but when I stopped to draw breath, Mum had only one question.
“Where’s my paint?'”
These were much simpler times, Loyal Reader, and fortuitously I was able to recover the missing item by retracing my steps and regain my place in my mother’s heart k).
She was relieved that I had retrieved her paint and I was happy that she hadn’t put my stick into the fireplace.
In future, I will chronicle some of my adventures with said stick.
See you soon.
a) Franklin Street will be the subject of a future column.
b) Blocker? Isn’t he that guy on “Bonanza”?
c) The angle at which the shaft joins the blade. Too sharp an angle would make it uncomfortable for you to crouch with the stick. This one was great!
d) This was pre “Go Fund Me”.
e) Each pop bottle had a two cent deposit.
f) Just to be clear, I am not talking about a “Mama’s Bank Account ” situation. Mum and Dad took great care of their family and exercised necessary prudence when considering certain outlays of money.
g) The fact that we were currently in history class only added to his bemusement.
h) For many years the Orillia radio station.  I remember that Mum always had it on and it seemed that everybody else’s mom did too.
i) Okay, maybe not THAT happy, but I was pretty happy.
j) Ancient French hero.
k) Truth be told, I was in no danger of falling out of favour with her, but I sure am glad that I was able to retrieve the paint!

4 Responses to “Peter, The Stick, and a Can of Paint”

  1. Juliana Spasojevich Says:

    Nice story Peter

  2. June Olimer Pollard Says:

    Hi Peter! Another GREAT column from you!!! Loved this story of your fibre glass wrapped goalie stick! It reminded me of a Christmas when I was about 7 years old. My older brother played hockey with all the neighbourhood kids & Dad always built a big ice rink in our side yard for us – Christmas was only a couple of weeks away & I knew that Bill wanted a new hockey stick & that was what I was going to buy him for Christmas. I had saved my pennies from returning pop bottles & also my birthday money. I knew it would be enough for Bill’s hockey stick but I would not have enough left over for Mom & Dad’s gifts. I remember buying the stick at the Renfrew Hardware Store! Holy Smokes was I ever excited – it was the best one & cost just over two dollars! – in the 50’s that was BIG money!) When I got it home, I wrapped it in sheets & towels & hid it in a new place every day. I could hardly contain myself, I was so excited to give him this present. I knew that Bill would likely be looking for it, so it made it that more exciting to come home from school & hide it again each day. For Christmas morning, I wrapped the stick in lots of newspapers & hid it behind the Christmas Tree. I could hardly wait for the morning. Bill loved it & was playing hockey with his friends on our rink a couple hours later. I think it is one of the best memories I have of a really special Christmas gift that I gave to a family member. Oh, by-the-way – when Bill found out that I had spent all my money on his gift, (probably Mom or Dad had told him) he decided to take me shopping & pool my little bit of money with his & we would buy our Christmas gifts for Mom & Dad together. But, that is another story of one more wonderful Christmas memory of a gift we gave to our Mother! june/x0 ❤

    • Peter Montreuil Says:

      Thank you, June! I am glad that I rekindled a pleasant memory for you. That’s one of the reasons why I write.

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