Class of '51 turned out pretty good
By Ross Brewitt
It's the time of year for looking backward, or forward. It all depends on your age.
Most young people haven’t accumulated the time to gather the multitude of valuable moments they will live with over their lifetime. Those remembrances are instantly triggered by a quick glance over a lost list, a note that still remains in file folder, a surprise picture, a crested blazer or jacket under wraps in a storage closet. It doesn’t take much to open old floodgates.
They say we never stray far away from our memoirs, and for me those thoughts were triggered yesterday by a forgotten Times-Journal item buried in a large envelope in a dog-eared file folder.
It was acquired on a trip back to Thunder Bay in 2008 when I had invested a few hours in the library looking for mementos of teenage baseball and hockey days.
Back in that era, items like this one were carried in the local papers. It was print data, a permanent black-and-white record, something to fall back on, a cut-and-paste resource for the years to come. Rarely does this happen today. In today’s pecking order, minor hockey and sports organizations have their own websites. For the most part the Internet age leaves the locals behind.
Don’t believe me? Try digging up things pre-1990s without going to microfilm.
Back in my tour of duty from pee-wee, through bantam, midget and juvenile, these snippets of typeset words and numbers allow all of us to trace our beginnings. Believe me, these little blurbs were news.
This particular column, the official list of the final midget hockey scoring statistics, was dated Feb. 22, 1951. Many of the faces and uniforms from the five-team division were clear as a bell to me, but after all this time, a few of the first names had me baffled.
My East End teammate Bill Addouno finished first and another, Tony Kaplanis, was tied in second with Ralph Webb of the Hurricanes, the league’s leading goalscorer.
The names following them were like a trip down memory lane.
The next 11 in the standings with double-digit totals over the 15-game outdoor schedule were relatively easy.
In order they were; Joe Glowacki, Floyd Romano, Jim Stewart, Ed Kruppa, Steve Drabit, a "Hogan" I can’t identify, Ken LaPointe, Pat Murro, Mills Paton, Johnny Soychak and Leo Levesque.
Skimming down the list, tied in 14th place, were two stellar defencemen along with three forwards. One stellar was Pete Vanderway, and the other was R. Brewitt. The three forwards were another teammate, Len (Bullet) Addouno, plus Ed Kaleta, and Benjie Bucick.
That East End team would go on to win the intercity and district championship that season and would repeat the following year.
In that 15-16-year old bracket, obviously youngsters becoming young men, much is put on the players to assume accountability within the team concept. Work ethics are defined, skills begin to fall into categories and qualities are obliged to be performed in the best interest of the team.
It’s called growing up.
I realize there are restrictions in sports, not the least of which is the cost. But in my talks to groups, I encourage adults to put the learning curve of team sports against other forms of instruction for what is surely to come in any teenager’s life moving forward.
It’s called responsibility.
In recent conversations with teammates from those East End days, we all arrive at remarking on our days with coach Walter Shurget, what he wanted from us, what he expected of us, and how his conduct and leadership influenced our formative years. To this day I adhere to his teachings.
And, looking down that list of my hometown peers, I note that only one, Lou Marcon, made it to the NHL.
But the quality comes shining through. Teammates and opponents, to my knowledge, we all became reliable, responsible citizens.
Happy New Year, boys.
I wish I had room to print all the names.
(Ross Brewitt is an author/columnist and his column appears on Fridays. You can reach Ross by going to the contact page on his website at rossbrewitt.ca)