I found this phone in a secondhand store in St. Petersburg, Russia about a decade ago and paid about $10 for it, or whatever the equivalent in rubles was at the time.
I’d like to give a quick shout-out to someone who’s been part of this blog since the beginning, but in the past few years has been rarely seen and is now mostly forgotten.
Gaston was made by a friend of my dad’s. I don’t know how many the man made, but he gave two to my dad, who promptly painted them in Habs uniforms, gave them faces, and handed one to me and one to my brother. I named mine Gaston because it thought it was a solid French-Canadian name.
I used Gaston often. I often took him on trips with me, and on these pages showed him outside of San Quentin Penitentiary, at the corner of Haight-Ashbury and at the site of the Woodstock Festival and various other places, all the while explaining that although he was a great Habs fan, he was also quite an asshole with a checkered past.
Gaston doesn’t make an appearance very much anymore. I think he wore out his welcome. But there’s a bunch of stories involving him over in the Categories section if you feel so inclined.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to recognize and say thank you to Gaston. He was a major player on this site for a long time and he deserves it.
Under the well-used heading of “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, are two things I found during my recent trip to Woodstock (Bethel) and Cooperstown.
First, from the dairy farm of Max Yasgur, the man who let organizers use his land for the 1969 Woodstock festival, is this Yasgur milk bottle.
It’s not an original 1950s/60s bottle, those sell for about $500. Mine came later, I’m not sure when, and I paid $8 for it. But it’s a real Yasgur milk bottle, I’m sure there was milk in it at one point, and it looks just dandy on my shelf.
From Cooperstown, I found this. In the 1960s, Yankee Stadium sold popcorn in these and when one removed the cap, it became a megaphone! It’s perfect for my vintage popcorn box collection.
I showed some of the photos below on Facebook recently, so basically, these are for folks who aren’t on Facebook. The rest of you, just go for a beer. There some different ones, though.
Festival organizers were truly lucky to find Yasgur’s land after previous sites near the villages of Woodstock and Wallkill fell through. The site is huge, with a nice sloping hill down to the stage area, it has a nearby forest to go to the bathroom or get frisky in, and White Lake is just down the road to go skinny dipping.
It’s also been called a natural amphitheater. Just perfect, and Max Yasgur loved the kids who invaded. Many of the Bethel townsfolk didn’t though.
Lucy and I spent several hours there and came back again the next day. There’s also a beautiful museum on the site.
Below, Lucy’s video.
The peace sign at Woodstock, done with some sort of grass cutter, reminds of one I did behind my backyard in Calgary years ago. I got shit from the city for that because it was on municipal property.
The other day a package arrived from Luci’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, Russia, full of cool stuff including a couple of Russian hats, some shirts, some candies and chocolate, and this 9-inch ceramic Homer Simpson that Denis and his daughter Anastasia hand painted for me.
Gaston’s probably not going to be happy about this.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, a safe and happy New Year, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for coming here, bearing with me as I write about tidbits of my life, and helping negotiate with me all those turns, construction, and detours on that wild and wacky Montreal Canadiens highway.
With love from Dennis, Luci, Teesha the cat, and the angel Gaston.
Photo from my scrapbook of a peach-fuzzed rookie Yvan Cournoyer during the 1964-65 campaign, with Dickie Moore (as a Leaf), Jean Beliveau, Jean Guy Talbot, Bob Pulford, Ted Harris, Ron Stewart, and Charlie Hodge.
And below, although I never scrambled for a foul ball or flying puck, I did manage (very quietly) to get a Cournoyer goal puck through a trade, a goal he scored on Oct. 26, 1972, only a month after the ’72 Summit Series in which Roadrunner played a major role.
Yvan would retire at 35 after 15 seasons, all with the Habs, and 10 Stanley Cups.
“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”
And then there was that time he played on a line with Gaston.
These cufflinks were made by Swank in the 1950s for the Canadiens players. I know because Classic Auctions had sold them in the past. I have no reason not to believe that this set didn’t belong to a Hab from then. Maybe they belonged to Moore or Harvey or Plante or Beliveau. Maybe even the Rocket!
Maybe it was the stick boy.
I’ll never know. I found them on eBay recently, and they weren’t expensive. Not by a long shot. I couldn’t help myself, and Luci, if you’re reading this, I got them pretty darn cheap. Seriously.
Swank also made coloured brooches in the form of the “CH”for the players’ wives back then. I saw one at work recently and they’re beautiful.
Seeing Gaston with something so classy just doesn’t jive. He’s always been such a little asshole.
Wow, it was busy on the notorious Highway 401 in Toronto and then the QEW that took us to Niagara Falls.
Busy, busy, busy.
It’s a good thing I’m from Orillia, where men drive cars well and women crazy.
It’s so busy it reminds me of Joyce Ave. in Powell River on a Friday night.
It’ll be a fine day and evening here in Niagara. Warm, with a clear blue sky. I thought I could hear the roar of the falls from our hotel room but it’s possible it’s just my stomach.
I can’t stop thinking about Orillia.
I walked the main drag past the pool hall, which unfortunately burned down years ago, and past the Shangri-La, which is no longer the Shangri-La.
I rounded the corner and looked at the Geneva Theatre, where I saw The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, and which is now a bingo hall, just across from the Top Hat pool hall, which was condemned decades ago.
I headed up to the arena, which was locked and is about to be torn down, and across the way, the Oval ballpark, where my peewee team shone, and is now a school.
Up the hill to my high school, which is closed and will be torn down this summer. The lady in the office let us walk around, and I wondered where my locker, where I kept all my cheat sheets, used to be.
Over to the church, which was locked, but which brought back fond memories of when I was an altar boy and set the back of my clothes on fire while lighting candles.
Down at the park, another ballpark where I probably almost hit several triples, has vanished, replaced by nothing. And I couldn’t bear to see the empty lot that was once the Club Pavalon dance hall.
The dock where I fished must have sunk. The change room where I stood on my bike and saw my first set of boobs is now a big fancy deal that you can’t see in, even on a bicycle.
Down I walked to the West Ward, where I grew up, and I gazed at the ballpark where one of future Maple Leaf Rick Ley’s fastballs knocked my front tooth out, and I wondered why home plate is now in the outfield and vice versa. And the outdoor rink with the wood stove in the old shack is now an old field with too many weeds.
Onward to the Moose Lodge, which is now an old folk’s home. Over to my house, which was bought by someone who decided to leave my dad’s artwork on the garage door, which isn’t far from the Dominion store where I played ball hockey and is now a medical centre.
Up to the hospital where I was born, and it’s still there. I didn’t recognize it, but it’s where my hospital was so it must be it. Across the street, West Ward school, where I went from grades one to three, is now the hospital parking lot. My catholic school was torn down and replaced by another, although they kept the same name.
Down West St. to Otaco, the factory I worked in, and it’s now a field, and back up to P&M, another factory where I assembled toilet doors and Gulf signs, and I see it’s now a building full of offices.
I’ve missed Orillia. And other than a few things, it’s still the same old place.
Puck Daddy reports that Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet has gotten wind of a leak that says P.K.Subban has won the Norris Trophy, beating out worthy foes Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.
As suggested in the article, leaks help to get winners to the award shows. Makes sense to me I guess. It’s the NHL after all.
Of course P.K. deserves it. He was dominant. I think he’ll win it next year too. Even with Erik Karlsson in the mix.
I can’t stay long here. We’ve stopped for the night in Princeton, B.C., and maybe because it’s in the middle of nowhere that the internet was terrible at our $60 motel room. So I’ve brought my laptop to the local pub where I’m having a couple of pints and hoping the battery doesn’t go dead.
What a scenic yet pain in the ass highway from Hope to Princeton. Lots of curves and bends and gravel trucks going ten miles an hour..
There’s a big table beside us of about 20 really old people in town for some sort of convention, and I really wanted to ask them if I could take a picture of them with Gaston but I decided they might not see the humour in it and call the cops.
When I’m that age, I hope to go to conventions too. Just not in Princeton.
Princeton seems nice though. Clean. Although if I was a teenager here, I have a crystal meth habit in no time.
I’d better sign off here while the computer still works. Tomorrow it’s Nelson to see my daughter and Ryan and my four grandkids. My daughter just recently drove out of their driveway and ran over their rottweiler.
Titan is now in rottweiler heaven.
Except for the basic stuff like couch and chairs and such, everything’s safely in the car or in storage, family members are in our house, and Luci, Gaston, and I are about to drive across the country to Montreal where I’ll begin work for Classic Auctions.
It takes five hours to get down to Vancouver, which means Chilliwack or Hope will probably be the first overnight stop. Then Nelson, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Northern Ontario, Orillia, and onward to Montreal. We hope and expect to include Niagara Falls and Ottawa in there too.
I love road trips. Always have. And I’ve wanted to show Luci this big old country since we first got together.
This is a huge event in our lives. For me, it’s never too late to take chances and try something completely different. I think it keeps me sort of young.
The one big downside – it seems like I’ve said goodbye to family and friends way too many times in my life. Now I’m doing it again, and it’s put a lump in my throat that won’t go away.