Good sign. Just disregard the legend part.
Phyllis’ Lousy Date
Clarence Campbell sure was a lousy date, taking his secretary/fiancee Phyllis King to a game at the Forum on March 17th, just after he suspends the Rocket for the remaining 3 games of the 1954-55 regular season plus the entire playoffs for slugging a linesman.
Folks in Montreal weren’t happy, and it certainly wasn’t a good time for Clarence to be impressing his squeeze. Phyllis ended up with eggs and tomatoes on her coat, tear gas smoke in her eyes and nostrils, and a couple of rubber boots and programs bouncing off her head.
Bad romance call by Clarence.
But all’s well that ends well. Phyllis and Clarence were married in November of 1955, eight months after the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot, so obviously she forgave him for his lack of judgement.
Not the Richard judgement, the going-out-on-a-date judgement.
The following, from my collection of letters, is a rare and original Phyllis King letter from the office of her boyfriend, four years before the lousy date.
Here they are on their romantic date.
Who Were Those Greaseballs At The Richard Riot?
Good old St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer and other green things, leprechauns, jigs, barroom brawls, hangovers, and the Rocket Richard Riot which happened on this day back in 1955, 60 years ago today.
It was also long before taser guns, which might have come in handy that night.
As you know, the Rocket was suspended for the remainder of the season and the entire playoffs after slugging a linesman, and riots and boorish behaviour ensued on Rue Ste- Catherine outside the Forum until the Rocket himself went on radio and pleaded with everyone to stop the madness, which they did.
This hockey lore will continue for another 400 St. Patrick’s Days unless global warming puts an end to everything.
What I want to know is, who were those black-jacketed hoodlums that set it all off, and are they still alive?
Clarence Campbell and his fiancee Phyllis decided to attend the game that night after the suspension was handed down, and they were pelted with eggs and other garbage. Someone went up to Campbell and hit him twice before running off. And another set off a tear-gas bomb.
So who were these greaseballs? Who threw the eggs, who punched Campbell, and who set off the tear-gas bomb? I’d like to know.
I’d like to know if they were busted for any of this. If they felt badly afterwards. If they told their kids and grandkids as the years went by. If they became heroes in their neighbourhoods. If they’re still alive. Or if they kept their embarrassing secrets with them to their graves.
Were these people even hockey fans? And most intriguing, the tear-gas bomb was apparently a Montreal police force item. How did someone get their greasy fingers on a police item?
I know that 37 people were arrested for breaking windows and looting stores that night. But I’d like to know about the handful who got the ball rolling.
If you were where one of the hoodlums, please let me know. Get it off your chest. You’ll feel better.
Bob Hill And His Rocket Richard Tune
From 1955 – Bob Hill and his Canadian Country Boys sing about the Rocket and the events that occurred leading up to and during the Richard Riot in the spring of that year.
This 78 rpm record sells for about $200 now if one could find it, and if you click right here you can listen to it for free on the Museum of Canadian Music site that’s selling it for $3.99 in the Mp3 format. (Just scroll down below the info and you’ll see “tracks.”)
This is a great old tune, and I think it’ll make you smile.
I wonder if my neighbours have heard me singing along.
Saga of Rocket Richard
In this great game of hockey,
To which we do play,
There are heroes near and afar.
But the mightiest name in our national game,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.
When we need a man,
To encourage the fans,
He’ll shatter all records and more.
In fact quite the cream,
Of the Montreal team,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.
One evening in Boston, they struck at his head,
And cut him right over the ear.
With his temper so red and the way that he bled,
His thinking could not have been clear.
In the confusion,
Before they subdued him,
He’d struck an official I fear.
In so doing you know,
He’d trod on the toes,
Of Campbell, the man with no fear.
Says Campbell – young man,
That stick in your hand,
Has put you in trouble, by gar.
Though you needed five stitches,
You’re too big for your britches,
Just who do you think that you are.
Now you’ve done this before,
And you’ve made me quite sore,
And although you are a great star.
You’re through for the year,
Do I make myself clear,
Mr. Maurice the Rocket Richard.
In a terrible plight,
Was our Forum that night,
A riot got into high gear,
And when Campbell appeared,
He was slammed and jeered,
And his danger it soon became clear.
A fan tried to drop him,
The cops couldn’t stop him,
And a bomb made ‘em all shed a tear.
As the president fled,
They cried “off with his head,”
Of Campbell the man with no fear.
Now our town has lost face,
And our team has disgrace,
But those hot-headed actions can’t mar,
Or cast any shame,
On the heroic name,
Of Maurice the Rocket Richard.
For he will return,
And his legend will burn,
In the annals of sport near and far.
There was never a name,
Of such stature and fame,
As Maurice the Rocket Richard.