Kids used extra socks to make skates fit

From our March 2012 issue

By George Findlay – Calgary, Alta.

Can’t you just see a Harvey Jackson, Lionel Conacher, or even a Turk Broda in this group? Actually, it’s a photo of the Lemberg Junior Hockey Team around 1938.

Back row: Joyce Featherstone, George Cole, Willey Hennig, Edgar Barker, Gus Gruber, Murray Johnsen, Gus Hennig. Front row: Sadie Else, Agnes Hildebrand, Howard Kennett, George Findlay, Bob Leonard.

Saturday morning was practice time but occasionally we got to go to the next town by team and a grain box on runners or, if too cold, in a caboose. I don’t remember whether we won any games but we sure had a lot of fun.

I spent most of my time skating on my ankles and could only turn in one direction. I should have stuck to the bob skates.

I know that one of these kids was wearing a pair of old straight skates that had holes in them and were tied with binder twine.

Many others had their older brother’s or sister’s skates with extra socks in them to make them fit. Newspapers or magazines were the order of the day for shinpads held on by sealer rings.

You can see the kids who have relatives in Toronto. They all have Maple Leaf sweaters and were fully outfitted.

Rob Leonard’s dad was a pigeon fancier and so was Coach Dick Irvine of the Chicago Black Hawks. Irvine used to come to town now and again to visit with Mr. Leonard and bring Bob a hockey stick.

It’s sad to see those beautiful homing pigeons and tumblers all gone. They were so beautiful to watch.

Sometimes over the years you’d get a pleasant surprise. It was maybe 20 years after this photo was taken that I got a phone call from a person who asked: “Did you buy that candy store yet?”

I replied, “What candy store?”

He then said, “You told me you were going to buy a candy store when you got rich.”

It turns out I was speaking with Murray Johnsen whom I’d chummed with years ago. We visited several times since that year.

I had another surprise a year ago when I got a visit from Howard Kennett, a retired school principal, whom I hadn’t seen for 60 years and he had a copy of the hockey team photo with him.

The photo was taken by my dad, who was our coach that year, and every kid got one.

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