Editor’s note: This is the 92nd of a series about growing up in Marysville during the late 1930s and the 1940s written by Bill Boyd. Each article is a snapshot of the people, businesses and activities during that era as seen through the eyes of a young boy.
Boyd was born in Marysville in 1932, graduated from Marysville High School in 1950, and lived the greater part of his life here.
My first goal
Sometime in the late 1930s, when my sister Maryann was a teenager, she really wanted a pair of ice skates for Christmas. So one day when my dad was shopping, he found a pair that was in her size, so he bought them. My sister was going to get her ice skates for Christmas.
When she unwrapped them on Christmas morning, however, I think she was a little disappointed. They were black hockey skates, the kind that boys wore when they played ice hockey. All of her girlfriends had those high, white, figure skates. I don’t think my dad realized that these were not the kind of skates that girls wore.
In any case, she acted as though she was thrilled to get them, but I don’t think she went skating very often. It wasn’t easy being the only girl wearing boys hockey skates.
So a little later, when I was 10 or 11 years old, I inherited those skates. They may have been just one more hand-me-down from my sister, but I was really thrilled to get them. They were a few sizes too large for me, but I stuffed a bunch of cotton into the toes to take care of the length problem. And I wore two or three pairs of socks to make them fit reasonably well. Wow, my own pair of hockey skates. I was the happiest kid in town.
That winter was a great one for ice-skating. There was a thick surface of ice from the Mill Creek dam all the way upstream for maybe a mile or so. I skated up and down that creek so many times I lost count. In the wide area at Horseshoe Bend there were sometimes a bunch of older boys playing hockey, and I would watch them for a long time.
One of the boys really caught my eye. I think he was the best player, and certainly the one who played the hardest. At the same time, he seemed to be the one who was having the most fun. I mean, he really laughed a lot. I asked another kid who he was, and he said his name was “Red” Grimes.
At dinner that night, I told my parents what a great time I had had that day. And I told them all about that hockey game I had watched. A couple days later, when my dad came home from work, he handed me a hockey stick he had bought for me. From that point on, every time I went ice-skating I took that hockey stick with me.
Then one day during Christmas vacation, I got to Horseshoe Bend just as those older boys were choosing up sides to start a new hockey game. Red Grimes was choosing players for one team, but I didn’t know the boy who was choosing for the other team. After they had chosen all the big kids, they still needed one player. I was the only other kid there, so Red picked me. How great was that? I couldn’t believe it. I was going to play hockey with those big guys. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends at school about this.
When the game started, it was obvious that I was not going to play a major role. I skated around, but no one ever passed the puck to me. I did touch it a few times, and when someone hit it out of bounds, I would retrieve it. Sometimes I even tried to get a shot at their goal, but I just never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
Maybe 45 minutes later, with the score tied, everyone agreed that whoever got the next goal would be the winner. I tried to get in the game as best I could, but I really didn’t have a chance against those big guys.
All of us were in front of our opponent’s goal, swatting at the puck. Some kids were falling down and swinging at the puck at the same time. There was a tangled mass of kids, with arms, legs and hockey sticks flying everywhere. I really couldn’t help my teammates much, so I just kind of stood close to the goal.
Then Red really laid into one. The puck went a little wide, but it hit my hockey stick and ricocheted into the goal. Red let out a yell, and patted me on the back. He said I had just made a great “assist.” I had no idea what that meant, but he told me it meant I had helped him score the goal. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents about this.
As I walked home from the creek, with my skates tied together around my neck, I replayed the whole game in my mind, so I could tell my parents about it at dinner that night. I would explain to them that I was just standing there and Red’s shot hit my hockey stick and went in the goal.
But the longer I thought about it, the clearer it became that I didn’t give Red an assist … he actually gave me an assist. I mean, my hockey stick was the one that knocked the puck into the goal. Of course, I would give Red credit for passing the puck to me. It was a nice assist, and it set me up for my game-winning shot.
Then, little by little, it became clear in my mind that I hadn’t been just standing in front of the goal. I was so close to that pile-up of big kids, with their arms and hockey sticks flailing, that I must have been in a battle with them to get my winning shot. Aha, it was all becoming clear now. That is exactly what happened, and I would tell my parents all about it at dinner.
As we ate dinner, I explained how I had made my game winning shot against those big guys, and my parents listened patiently. Maybe halfway through my story, I saw my dad wink at my mother. They had lived with me long enough to understand that I had a pretty wild imagination and a tendency to exaggerate. Yes, this was clearly another one of Bill’s “Walter Mitty” moments.
(Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can email him at email@example.com)
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