That’s how it was as 11 former Truro District Hockey League players gathered recently at Fletcher‘s Restaurant. The excitement and enthusiasm was something as greetings were exchanged followed by comments such as “How are you?”
Seated by 10 a.m., outstanding service followed. Enjoying cinnamon buns, toast and coffee, for the next hour and a half a lot of hockey history was hashed over and memories from yesteryear flowed freely.
More senior ex-District Leaguers included Art Weatherby, Gerry McLeod, Ron MacCormack, Dick Huggard and Terry Henderson. Others from the once popular local league were Eric Lynds, Johnny Hutchinson, Jim MacKinnon, Donnie Dennis, Carson MacLeod and I.
A hockey stick autographed by the 1954-55 T.D.H.L. champion Bible Hill Dairymen was passed around the table. Names on the stick, Hughie Hutchinson, Bus Kuhn, Charlie Rutherford, Doug Pender, Gerry Pender, Ron MacCormack and others, quickly drew attention.
“Do you remember signing the stick MacCormack?” Mackinnon asked the former Dairymen forward.
A 1950s era Truro Forum action photo, borrowed from the office wall of Dr. David Blair, was also examined. Showing one corner of the old forum, fans upstairs and downstairs were noticeable and large signs in the background advertised Coca Cola and Sweet Capital Cigarettes. The once modern electric clock, with light bulbs above and below the numbers one to 11, was also featured.
On the ice, four players battled for the puck and a goaltender crouched in front of his net. Where the end boards and the sideboards met, brought back a memory to one of the former players.
“That’s right where Terry Henderson always banged me into the boards,” McLeod said as everyone laughed.
McLeod played his first hockey with the Lower Truro Maple Leafs in the mid-1940s as a 16 year old. He would later suit up for Hilden, Onslow and North River.
“That was a good lunch and a real good time,” McLeod, 86, of Lower Truro, said. “It was something out of this world seeing all the guys from the District Hockey League again.”
McLeod said he always loved hockey and recalled joining the Canadian Navy in 1948.
“There was one winter I traveled up on my motorcycle for every game. Right in the dead of winter, it was blistering cold. I had a flight suit I wore to keep warm. Some nights I’d go back after the game, other nights I’d stay up. In those days I spent all my time checking guys. I should have spent more time scoring goals.”
Henderson shared a strong memory of McLeod.
“Gerry was as hard as nails,” the longtime Brookfield Elks forward and defenceman said. “They would often call Gerry ‘The Rocket’ after Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard. Gerry could really skate. Gerry would be all over the ice just flying.”
Weatherby was the oldest player present.
“I played all my District League hockey with the North River Aces,” Weatherby, 87, of Truro, said. “We had an awful lot of fun playing in the old Truro Forum but things could get pretty serious at times.”
Dick Huggard, a native of Norton, New Brunswick, arrived at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 1954.
“These old Truro District Hockey Leaguers are all my heroes you know,” Huggard, 79, of Truro, said. “This is all pretty special to me and it is all so positive. I played ‘54-55 and ‘55-56 with the Aggies. After being away I returned with the Department of Agriculture and taught a number of years at the college. Beginning in 1958-59 I played for NSAC up until the Truro Forum burned in early 1963.”
MacKinnon, who played several seasons with the Hilden Owls, carried a broad smile.
“This has all been really, really good,” MacKinnon, 74, of Lower Onslow, said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm being shown towards organizing a possible Truro District Hockey League reunion.”
Henderson jumped right in.
“I think a reunion would be great. It’s been a long time since the league last operated. It would be great to see former players after all these years. God bless them all, it’s great there are so many still living.”
With the help of Henderson, MacKinnon, Hutchinson and the others, 87 living former players names have been listed.
For more on a possible Truro District Hockey League reunion – tune in next week.
Note: Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.