Phone Book Families, Like the Orrs

Years ago my dad had this old 1959 Orillia and area telephone book hanging around the house which he was planning on tossing out until I asked him if I could have it because I knew Gordon Lightfoot’s family home is listed in the pages.

There are others too.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., and young Gordon, who would be about 20 when this phone book came out, had moved out of the house the year before. I used to have a couple of buddies who also lived on Harvey St, and my dad worked for a while at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

On the same page as Lightfoot is Norman Ley at 47 Wyandotte. Norman was the dad of Rick Ley, who went on to fame and fortune in both the NHL and WhA.

The book also has listings of the area surrounding Orillia, which includes Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home which you can see at Doug Orr, (his dad) on 21 Great North Road. Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr, is listed at 67 River.

Bobby would be about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into Sundridge and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930s and 40s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, and the family home of another respected Canadian writer, Roy MacGregor in Huntsville (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team).

Marlene Geoffrion

Marlene Geoffrion, wife of the late, great Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion, is the daughter of Howie Morenz, and she was just three when her famous father died. But after Morenz passed away in hospital from something related to a broken leg or broken heart, his wife Mary, Marlene’s mom, quickly blew through the insurance money she received and eventually the Canadiens had to hold a benefit night for her at the Forum just so she could buy groceries and pay the rent.

Marlene, still a very young girl, was placed in an orphanage with her brothers Howie Jr and Donald, for three long years.

Eventually, Mary married a millionaire, George Pratte (or Pratt), just nine days after six-year old Donald died of pleurisy, and Marlene and Howie Jr came home. But Mary died at forty-one of alcoholism as she continued to suffer from the death of her beloved Howie.

Morenz

I avoided joggers and bike riders along the trails at Mount Royal Cemetery, and visited the grave of Howie Morenz and his son Donald a few years back when I was living in Montreal.

It took a while, but I found the site.

Howie and little Donald are buried with Mary Morenz’s mom and dad, Herbert McKay and Wilhelmina Stewart.

Howie

I’m not sure where Howie’s wife Mary is buried. She doesn’t seem to be there with the rest of the gang.

 

Mighty Fine Tattoos

John Perry, Saint John NB

John Kircoff, Chateauguay, Quebec

Alison Sandor, Dollar-Des-Ormeaux, Quebec

Josh Logan, Cambridge, Ontario

Mitch Grisham, Seattle, Washington

Bryce Fontaine, Brockville, Ontario

Matt Lynch, Chateauguay, Quebec

Brian Singleton, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Craig Smith, Nanaimo, BC

Eddie Evans, Sault. Ste. Marie, Ontario

Mathieu Roy, St. Raomi (?), Quebec

Paul Dube

Mathew Johnson, Vancouver, BC

Jean-Guy Ducharme, Ottawa, Ontario

Alexandra, St. Lin, Quebec

Tanya Griffin, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation

Peter St. Maurice, Toronto, Ontario

Mike Pelkonen

Dustin Gustafson

Paul Dube

Valley Hab Girl

Dan Bigras

Bruce

And my little one that I got done in Los Angeles.

“Oops” He Probably Said

Craig Conroy, now the assistant GM of the Calgary Flames, played 1009 games in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, Calgary, and L.A. (13 total games with the Habs).

He broke into the league with the Canadiens in 1994, and during his first practice with the team he drilled a shot that smashed into Patrick Roy’s mask.

Several Habs jumped him and Patrick Roy punched him in the face.

Oops.

In a Good Old Newspaper

The things you find in a January 6, 1940 Toronto Daily Star.

There’s an ad for a game at 8.30 between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens, with good tickets available at 75 cents, $1.50, $2.00, and $2.50.

There’s a nice photo of star left winger for the Canadiens, Toe Blake, and in the accompanying article, it says, “Last time Canadiens and Leafs met in Montreal it was a delirious donnybrook. If the boys resume where they left off it will be a show no fight fan can afford to miss.”

And last but not least – ‘The Letter Box’, which features some interesting letters, including this from Harry Donnelly in Toronto.

“If you would make a survey of hockey fans here in Toronto or anywhere else in the NHL you will find it 12 to one in favour of a more open game, meaning bigger score and less whistle blowing. After all, it’s the fans who keep the NHL in existence and it seems it is high time they were taken into consideration. Even if it is only to the extent of finding out if they want less whistle blowing and a more open game with more scoring. After all you must remember the sports writer’s opinions and the fan who pays are often of opposite views.
“I don’t say go back to the old seven man hockey but before the blue line was brought into effect there was some wonderful hockey played. Not all whistle blowing. Did you ever hear of a fan leaving a game that finished in a scoreless tie that felt he got his money’s worth?
Yours for whatever it’s worth.
Harry Donnelly

And then there’s this, from R.O.L.

“Well, here we are at the end of another sports year. Living as I do in “Hogtown” I glance back through the months to count the renowned trophies that are now being displayed in Hogtown. But I seem to have lost track of some of them, “or sumpin”!
“Can you help me out? Where is the Mann Cup, the Minto Cup, the Grey Cup, the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup, the Memorial Cup, the Connaught cup, the Little League World Series trophy.
“Where, oh, where can they be?”

Well R.O.L., they just won the Grey Cup, that should be enough!

That LeBois

Today I’d like to present another star from days gone by, Gaston LeBois.

Looking back now, Gaston LeBois admits it was his father who was mostly responsible for his hockey career.

The senior LeBois would flood the backyard for hours on end, alone and in the dark, and it was unfortunate that he chose July and August to do this. Young Gaston would play and play on this homemade rink, but after coming close to drowning, eventually abandoned it for an arena in winter.

His dad never forgave him, but Gaston found that he enjoyed frozen water over unfrozen water.

In 1962 Gaston was finally called up to the big team and never looked back. He became one of the finest mediocre benchwarmers in the history of the game, and it’s something he’s proud of, even to this day. “It was just nice to be dry after playing on my dad’s rink,” he admitted in a recent interview.

But he wasn’t always a bench warmer. During the 1972 series against the Bulgarians and with the team desperately needing a goal, LeBois jumped over the boards when coach Sinders wasn’t looking, called for a pass but missed, but carried on. Big Bill Esponosa grabbed the puck and threw it out to LeBois, and with just 34 seconds left in the game and a nation holding its collective breath, LeBois fanned on it, punched out the referee, and because his team lost, a riot ensued outside Rue Ste. Carla as thousands of angry fans wanted to find Gaston and kick him in the balls.

They say no one was better inside the blueline and I agree. I’ve been to the Blueline Tavern and to this day, oldtimers gather round and drink and spit and tell stories about how Gaston could chug-a-lug and womanize for days on end and still be a mediocre bench warmer when called upon.

LeBois also scored six times in one game. Their names were Lola, Brigitte, Gloria, Xaviera, Penelope, and Sophia. Gaston has always said that this feat ranks up there as one of the biggest moments in his career.

Yes, he was a beauty, all right. Part of a dying breed. He’d kick and punch and take on all comers to get what he was after. Of course, the team wished he had this much spirit and drive playing hockey as he did with bartenders.

Gaston’s retired now and living a simple life on the west coast. But many fans and teammates still remember him, and they all agree on one thing…… that he was such an asshole back then.

 

 

Maroon Money Matters

That other Montreal hockey team, the Maroons, which folded in 1938, was as colourful a team as any, and it really is a shame they’re no longer with us. But in the 1930s, the city of Montreal could only support one team, and so the Maroons bowed out.

They had some good stories, though, while they were in business, (although I don’t remember where I got these stories).

Maroon defenceman Dunc Munro was given the largest three-year contract ever offered a player at that time, and in his contract, Munro demanded that he have the rights to print and distribute all the programs for Forum events. He later told Frank Selke that he netted $50,000 profit on the programs per season.

$50,000 in the 1930s works out to more than $400,000 in today’s money.

The Canadiens and Maroons had such an intense rivalry that after one night when the Maroons beat the Canadiens, one of the team directors was so happy he gave Maroons’ star Hooley Smith (in the photo) a fully-equipped farm in Quebec.

Maroons players were big on playing the stock market, and they did really well with the help of fans who gave them tips. The stock market became so important to the players that at one practice, only two showed up because the rest were downtown counting their riches from a rising market.

These guys lived high and mighty with their new wealth until one day in 1929, the stock market crashed and everyone lost their shirts. But it turned out to be a good thing because after the shock had subsided, they settled down and became a fine and dangerous team after they began concentrating on sticks, not stocks.

Stars of the World’s Fastest Game

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. And the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal and collecting 31 penalty minutes.

The father was Jack Dyte, one of my coaches when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers juveniles. Jack played those 27 games with the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1943-44 campaign.

Jack was a quiet, no-nonsense, tobacco-chewing coach and I think he wasn’t crazy about my lack of focus and my humming of Beatles songs as I skated around the ice. But I guess he liked me enough to drive Ron Clarke and I to Barrie one day to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Americans, who had a defenceman on the team named Don Cherry.

Ron and I watched the game from the Bisons bench as sort of unofficial stick boys, and we were given autographed sticks afterward.

I’m guessing Jack stayed and partied with his old hockey buddies because Ron and I had to take the bus back to Orillia. And I had forgotten that Jack had driven us there until Ron reminded me a couple of years ago.

The newspaper article also mentions John French, who would eventually play pro in the WHA, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scoring for the Imperials in the squirt division.

Here’s Jack!

And here’s the lineups for the Bisons-Americans game that Ron and I were at.

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