As told to: Dave BidiniI grew up 20 miles south of Melville in Neudorf, Saskatchewan. My dad was a Lutheran minister and we led a simple life. Most of my youth was spent on a pond or in a rink– natural ice only– and because our community was so small, you were lucky if you could get six or seven other kids to play with you. When my parents were busy, I had to rely on others to get me to and from the games. I didn’t have my license when I played for the Melville Millionaires, so sometimes I’d meet a guy from Grenfell at a crossroads halfway to town and he’d take me to the rink. Some days, I’d be standing out on the road in the winter waiting to be picked up. I did whatever I had to do. I had to play because it was all there was and it’s what I loved to do. We grew up in a farming community. We had a shared phone system where every house had a different ring.
“Most of my youth was spent on a pond or in a rink”
It was a party line and sometimes you’d pick up the phone and one of your neighbours would be talking. It was hard to keep whatever was happening in your house from everyone else. It was a community and we were all pretty close. My dad loved hockey. He played until he was 80 years old. He had a good hipcheck and didn’t think twice about hitting, but because he was the town’s minister, word was put in his ear to maybe tone it down a bit. I didn’t watch a lot of hockey on tv growing up because Saturday night at the rink was a huge social time. Because farmers worked so hard and were so busy in the summer, they made the most of their social time in the winter, and that didn’t involve sitting around watching tv. During school, there was a pond between the buildings that separated grades 1-6 and 7-12, and I remember seeing the farmers out there playing, and eating lunch with the rest of us. In wide open spaces you need this closeness. The rink brought us together.
DAVE BIDINI is the co-creator of ‘Slapshot Diaries’ as well as a writer/musician/columnist from Toronto and the author of 12 books.
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