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Memoirs of a rink rat

Wayne Vanvolkenburg writes:

I had little to do with the old “rink” until we moved to our new home on Pearce Street, c.1956.  It was hard to ignore the roof-raising noise that emanated from that location during a Trent Valley League game.  During the playoffs the volume was cranked up to a higher level still.  Some of the players that I remember from that era were: Ray Darrah, Earl & Gus Leonard, Bill Jones, Tom Parnuick, “Baldy” Brown, Bert Gray, Gord Holland, Al Killian and Bob Borland.

Unfortunately for me and my friends, we could not cover the admission charge. To overcome this obstacle, we devised a plan to help us gain entry.  One of our gang would enter the arena before the ticket booth was open.  He would then go to one of the back doors, unhook it and let us in.  We would then enter the area under the seats through the access door and wait for the game to begin.  After a quick check, we would emerge from our hiding spot and find a seat to watch the game.  This worked for a while until we found a guard in place when we tried to emerge from our hiding spot.  We decided to make our way, under the seats, to the other end of the arena and make our exit there.  After a somewhat difficult trip through all of the seat bracing, we arrived at the other end, only to find a guard there as well.  There was nothing left to do but endure an uncomfortable wait till the middle of the game when the guards were finally removed.  Needless to say, we abandoned this method.

Not to be defeated so easily, we devised a new plan.  We would simply wait at the door until the players arrived and then offer to carry in some of their equipment.  With a bundle of sticks on your shoulder and your head down, it was often possible get inside.  The success rate was largely dependent on who was at the ticket booth.  Tom Bedore and Leo Auger knew us too well and were not easily fooled!

Tom Bedore and Leo Auger with a Snofest Sales rep between them

When we were a little older there was finally a legal avenue open to us. You could become an official “rink rat” and clean the ice between periods and after the game.  Tom “pung” and Leo would sweep next to the boards while we used scrapers to push the snow in rows. A larger scoop was then used to pick up the snow in the rows.  Only the most senior person was elevated to the “scoop” position.  During my time it was Norm “snee” McFarlane.  Tom and Leo then applied a layer of hot water with the hand drawn flooder.

 Another fringe benefit from this job was the leftover hot dogs at the food booth.  Tom and Leo magically seemed to have enough left over for all of us.  Thinking back, their names were synonymous with the old arena.  Being painters by trade, they could lay down the lines with speed and accuracy.  Their skill was even more evident when they applied the curling circles. 

Eventually school work became more important and the “rink rat” ceased to be.