Friday, March 04, 2005
I grew up in a working class subdivision just outside of Pontiac, MI. There were seven lakes within 2 miles of my house, and every subdivision had it's own beach. In the winter, there was always plenty of opportunity to skate. What's more. there was a vacant lot next door to our house, and it sat about 6 inches lower than our house and our nearest neighbor to the south. The ground was mostly clay, and at the start of the winter, you could easily flood it and the water would stay and freeze.
Like I said, it was a working class neighborhood. Our fathers were short on cash but long on ingenuity. One of the neighbors rigged up a home made zamboni machine. This consisted of a 50 gallon drum strapped to a hand truck. At the bottom of the barrel was spigot attached to a long piece of copper tubing with holes drilled in it. When you opened the spigot, it would soak a heavy sheet of roofing felt that was tied to the contraption. As you pulled the hand truck along, the wet felt would lay down a thin layer of water which would freeze very quickly. My dad got the bright idea for curling stones. He cut the tops off six Clorox bottles, filled them with sackrete, and stuck doubled up coat hangers in for handles. He spray painted three of the bottles red, and voile! Curling stones.
We knew the basic idea of the sport from watching CROSS CANADA CURLING on channel 9 in Windsor. And we quickly learned a few tricks. Like Turtle Wax on the bottom of a Clorox bottle makes it slide much better. By the time my sister and her friends were of age, WD-40 had been invented and they REALLY SLID WELL with a quick spray!
So there we'd be, out on the ice after school. We'd steal our mothers brooms and beat the hell out of the ice with them. Still not sure if we were actually doing any good sweeping, but we expended a hell of a lot of energy trying. I can still hear one of the neighbor ladies screaming from four blocks away, "TONY POULAS, YOU BRING MY BROOM BACK HERE....NOW! Tony also had the most distinctive shooting style. He would stand way back, get a running start, do a belly flopper, then push the stone towards its target. It was hilarious to watch. He looked ridiculous. He was also the best shooter in the neighborhood.
When my dad's health began to fail, they moved from the subdivision to a townhouse. In the process of moving them, I found the long unused curling bottles in the garage and threw them out. God, I wish now I had kept them!
I love reading about childhood memories like that. After I got into hockey I heard of all the players whose fathers spent hours a week maintaing a backyard rink, and thought that would have been so cool. Of course, Chicago is too warm most of the winter for that :(
I would have to say I have stories like that bellyflop, and I was in a curling club with real stone! LOL
Calgary, Alberta Canada
(formerly New Brunswick!)