I became 60 years old today. I know, it’s ridiculous. It’s way too old.
If this keeps up, I’ll catch Methuselah, who apparently lived until he was 969.
When I was born, on Oct. 4th, 1950, the Rocket had only played eight seasons with the Canadiens. He’d go on for another ten years after that. Dick Irvin was coaching the Habs when my mom gave birth to me, Gerry McNeil was the goaltender having replaced Bill Durnan, and it was three long years before Jean Beliveau put the sweater on.
I was born five years before the Richard Riot and nine years before Jacques Plante decided to wear a mask for the first time. I’ve been alive for 18 of the 24 Stanley Cups Montreal has won.
I’m really freaking old. But I’ve been told a few times that I have the passion of someone half my age.
World War ll had ended only five years before my birth. Hockey telecasts wouldn’t start until I was a two-year old, in 1952. I’m the same age as Tom Petty and Jay Leno, a year older than Guy Lafleur, and three years older than Bob Gainey.
But I want to confess something. I’m glad I’m this age and wouldn’t trade it for anything younger. I mean this. I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s, in great and exciting times, and among other things, watching the Original Six teams get it on. The first expansion didn’t happen until I was 17, and so my youth was seeing what many of you only read about.
I ate dinner with the Leafs (I know, the Leafs) at their training camp in Peterborough when I was 13. I saw the Rocket play live, as well as Jacques Plante and Doug Harvey and the rest. At one game in Toronto, my dad corralled Toe Blake and had him go into the dressing and get Doug Harvey’s autograph for me.
I saw Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Tim Horton, Stan Mikita, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Esposito, Terry Sawchuk, Dickie Moore and all those old greats play, either live or on TV, and I was a 21 year bartender working in Sudbury when the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series was held. And while in my 30’s I spent an evening drinking beer with an old man named Aurele Joliat.
When I was 13, the Beatles came to America for the first time and played the Ed Sullivan Show. And in the summer of 1966 when I was 15, I saw the Beatles live in Toronto.
I was a teenager when all that classic rock you know the words to was fresh and new. I went to the Atlantic City Pop Festival held two weeks before Woodstock and saw a very similiar lineup as in Woodstock, and I was a 22 year old in the crowd at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum in 1973 enjoying Led Zeppelin.
You’re doing your own thing now, seeing your own players you’ll tell your grandkids about, and singing along to your own music. I say savour everything, because believe me, from the bottom of my heart, you’ll be 60 before you know it.
But don’t despair. Getting older isn’t a bad thing at all. You’ll just have to trust me on this.