Tag Archives: Hespeler Green Flash

Kid Stuff

Practicing my quick draw in Orillia.

American author Bill Bryson wrote a tender and funny book about growing up in the 1950s called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I read it, and I was amazed by this guy’s talent (I’ve since read several more of his books).

I also saw how he and I have a couple of things in common.

We’re almost the same age (I’m a year older), we both lived in towns with great main streets, we wore Davy Crockett coonskin hats, we practiced our quick draw like Roy Rogers, we delivered newspapers, and occasionally we came across naughty skin magazines.

Both our dads were creative, his being a sports writer and mine a sign painter, although his dad got to go to baseball games in New York and Chicago, while my dad stayed in Orillia and painted letters on store windows.

Bill almost saw a naked girl once when he was about eight years old while playing doctor, but she backed out because she had a crush on him. I made sure I didn’t miss my chance because all I had to do was stand on my bike outside the window of the women’s change room at Couchiching beach and look in the window. I was doing great too, until one of my classmates from school, Carol Montgomery, saw me and gave me shit. But I’m pretty sure I rode away on my bike with eyes wide open.

Bill’s big job back then was his paper route, and it was mine too. I won a red transistor radio once for getting the most new customers, and sometimes on winter nights I’d pick up Habs games from Chicago where the homer announcer called the Hawks players by their first names as they moved about the ice.

I would tie my radio to my bike’s handlebars and listen to rock and roll as I made my paper route rounds, and it became the beginning of the end of my world as I knew it, because as soon as I heard Elvis and Roy Orbison and the rest, I began to grow up a little. Music was sure better than just about everything except maybe hockey and baseball, it was way better than school, and through it I began to learn more about girls.

Like Bill, I used to go to movie matinees and whip popcorn boxes like deadly frisbees at the screen and around the room. It was one of life’s great pleasures for me. If you’ve ever fired off a popcorn box missile and clunked some guy in the head who was making out with his girlfriend, you know what I mean.

Life then seemed to have only a small wrinkles, like hoping my classmate  Carol didn’t squeal on me about looking at naked women in the change room. Or trying to decide whether to spend money at the new Dairy Queen which had just opened around the corner, or pinball at the The Hub nearby, or maybe a new fishing rod or Hespeler Green Flash hockey stick at the tiny Canadian Tire next door to the movie theatre.

Back then the Antarctica wasn’t melting, the NHL only had six teams, Mickey Mantle was reaching the upper decks, and doctors recommended smoking for fun and relaxation.

It was great to be young. That’s for sure.

The Little Store In Orillia

Canadian Tire Orillia

I’ve often thought about this store, but I never figured I’d see a picture.

I found it on a Facebook page called “If you grew up in Orillia…you remember…“, a photo of the Canadian Tire I knew when I was a kid in the 1950s through to the mid-’60s. It was where I’d stop on my way to the arena and buy a stick, usually a Hespeler Green Flash. It was where I got my skates sharpened, and where I bought tape and laces and pucks and probably most of my equipment.

It was also where I saw my first white Habs sweater for sale. I think catalogs and local department stores usually stuck to red Habs and blue Leafs sweaters, so seeing a white one was cool. To this day I remember it on display in the window.

As you can see, it’s slightly smaller than the usual Canadian Tire you might shop at. This is the entire store, not just a department.

Orillia And Galt Battle Hard


I saw this picture the other day, and in keeping with sometimes being all over the map and straying from the Habs, I thought it important to show, especially if you’re from the Orillia or Cambridge areas, some good old senior hockey action.

It’s a 1970 Senior A playoff game between the Orillia Terriers and Galt Hornets, and although it looks to me like it might be the Orillia arena, it very well could be in Galt. I have a helmet sort of like the Orillia guy, which now sits on Giant Gaston’s head. (the helmet, not the Orillia guy).

Galt and three other neighboring towns, Hespeler, Preston, and Blair, amalgamated in 1973 and became Cambridge. Hespeler used to make fine hockey sticks, including Hespeler Green Flash, which was my stick of choice. Not that it did any good.

The Galt Hornets were Allan Cup champs for 1968-69 and 1970-71, while Orillia would win it all in 1972-73.



Makers Of Fine Hockey Stuff

I worked way too hard one Orillia summer, a 15 year old with my buddy Ron Clarke, hauling creosote-soaked railway ties a hundred feet to the shoreline so these evil things could be pounded into place to make some sort of breakwater. The job paid $1.75 an hour, and by the end of August I’d saved enough money to buy a pair of C.C.M. Tackaberrys, the skate, along with Bauer Supreme, that the pros wore.

I remember taking a bus to Toronto to the C.C.M factory because I’d heard that if you went to the factory, they would sell skates fitted to your feet. And I was disappointed when the man simply pulled out a normal box and found me a normal pair, which could’ve been done in Orillia. But I still felt like a million bucks as I swooped and swirved with my shiny new blades. And eventually the creosote burns would heal.

The Habs and Leafs used C.C.M Custom Pro sticks, while players from the four American teams went with Northland. My main weapon of choice wasn’t C.C.M., it was Hespeler Green Flash, although I would use C.C.M. sticks often along the way. Unfortunately, there was no stick from any company that would improve my shot.

And no matter how great any of the C.C.M. (from “Canada Cycle and Motor Co.”) equipment was, it didn’t help, and I wound up a truck driver instead of the new Ralph Backstrom.

I’ll Take Three Pairs Of Skates Please


It’s been a while since I’ve had to shell out for any kind of hockey equipment, so I was fairly surprised when I looked at prices of skates in the catalogue of Vancouver-based Cyclone Taylor Sports and saw $699.99 for a pair of C.C.M. UCrazyLight’s. and $549.99 for the Easton EB50.

I had no idea that skates can cost $700.00. I’ll bet they’re nice, though. Even nicer than those C.C.M. Tacks I bought when I was a teenager and which was one of the big reasons I was a reasonably speedy and shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers Bantams and Midgets.

Sticks aren’t as much as skates of course, but it’s still $259.99 for an Easton EQ50 Grip Sr. Composite stick, and from what I see on a regular basis through my TV screen, these composite sticks break often, and at crucial times. Like blasts from the point where part of the stick travels further and faster than the puck. Maybe sticks are designed now at NASA, I don’t know, but they still seem to shatter much more than a good old Hespeler Green Flash.

Helmets aren’t cheap either. An Easton 519Z Shock can set you back $149.99 and a Reebok 7K just $129.99. But players seem to get concussions no matter what they have on their head.

Shoulder pads, those big honkin get-ups that hurt when bounced off a head and which Don Cherry holds up as a major injury culprit, should be done away with and replaced by the smaller, less-hard variety. I don’t see why not. Why would a player want to carry around so much weight anyway?

Today’s suits of armor on the shoulders can cost upwards of $150.00, like the Bauer Pro Series do and I don’t really understand it. If I was a player, I wouldn’t want to wear so much padding that I look like a member of a prison riot squad.

Shin pads are $119.99 for the Bauer Pro Series Sr, and elbow pads, again from the Bauer Pro Series Sr., sell for $89.99. Elbow pads also should be toned down too. They’re for protecting the elbow, not for making a guy see stars.

It’s all around $1500 if you want to do it up like the pros, but you’re not a pro so why bother? I’m sure you can get by with something just a little less ridiculous. The pros should be able to too.

No wonder soccer is the globe’s biggest sport. All you need is a ball.