The heck with hockey…. I’m going outside

The Flames have fizzled, my Leafs just about made the playoffs, the Oilers are rebuilding for next season and a new arena, the Senators can’t wait for the golf courses to open, and Winnipeg would really love to have their NHL team back. As true Canadians I guess we should cheer for the Habs, while my brother informs me that everyone on the west coast has gone ‘Canuck crazy!’

My days of getting fanatical about the Stanley Cup playoffs have mellowed quite a bit, but I still watch some of the games, as well as cheering for the Red Deer Rebels to win the Memorial Cup. My buddies and I really enjoyed watching the rugged Bentley Generals and Fort St. John Flyers going head to head to see who would represent Alberta and B.C. in the Senior AAA Allan Cup. You couldn’t help but get caught up and admire the fabulous spirit and support that the community of Bentley extends to their hockey teams. It was thrilling they launched at a chance to win the annual Kraft Hockeyville national competition.

I may try to catch a few Blue Jays games, but as I gaze out at the blazing sunshine and miracles of melting, I am going to dig out my old runners and head outside to enjoy what has to finally be spring — showers or shine.

Memories of the old phone on the wall

In these fast-paced days of cellphones, answering machines and all the rest of those electronic gizmos in just about every room, those of us who can proudly call ourselves seniors will try to figure out the new way but likely will still fondly remember that magnificent and noisy crank phone on the kitchen wall. As you will recall, as youngsters we weren’t allowed to use that phone very much, could only give out our number to a few friends, and were forbidden to get on the ‘party line’ with the girls.

Here’s a neat little story about those miracle-making angels called ‘information operators’

When Wayne was quite young, his father had one of the first telephones in the neighbourhood, and he always remembered that polished old case fastened to the wall. A shiny receiver hung on the side of the box, and while he was too little to reach the phone, he always used to listen with fascination when the adults were chatting. It was then he discovered that somewhere inside that wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was ‘Information Please’, and there was nothing she did not know, including everyone else’s number and the correct time!

His personal experience with the ‘genie-in-a-bottle’ occurred one-day while his mother was visiting a neighbour. Amusing himself at the tool bench in the basement, he whacked his finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give any sympathy. He walked around the house sucking his throbbing finger, and finally arrived at the stairway next to the telephone.

Quickly, he ran for the footstool in the parlour, dragged it to the landing, climbed up, unhooked the receiver and held it to his ear for the very first time.

‘Information, please,’ he said into the mouthpiece just above his head, and after a click or two a small clear voice spoke into his ear: ‘Information…how can I help you?’

‘I hurt my finger,’ Wayne wailed into the phone, and then the tears came automatically now that he had an audience. ‘Isn’t your mother home?’ came the polite question. ‘Nobody’s home but me,’ he blubbered.

‘Are you bleeding?’ the voice asked, and he replied again, ‘No, but it sure hurts!’ ‘Can you open the icebox?’ she asked, and he said he could. ‘Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it on your finger,’ urged the kindly voice.

Little Wayne did what she asked and it really worked, so on many occasions in his younger years he would phone her with many wild and wonderful requests, including: help with his geography, what to feed his backyard chipmunk, and how to spell certain tough words, and she always politely and patiently helped him.

Then there was the day when ‘Petey’ the pet canary died, and when he phoned told her the sad story, she listened and consoled him. But he was still not happy and he asked her, ‘Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?’

She sensed his deep concern and explained quietly, ‘Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.’

He felt much better, and would never forget that secret and caring lifesaver on the other end of the phone.

Have a great week, all of you!