On a chilly winter evening in 1962, fourteen year old Pat Fournier walks the two mile trek to Morgan’s Rink for a night of skating that doesn’t quite go as planned. Ice Time is the twenty-third installment of his memoir, Memories of a Boy Growing Up in Blackville.
Written by Pat Fournier
February 1962 – fourteen years old
“Morgan’s Rink” was across the road from Holy Trinity Anglican Church, where Reverend Morgan served as pastor. The church and rink were about a mile below the mill bridge, in an area of Blackville called Underhills.
While I was never into sports and playing hockey, I did have a good pair of skates, and tonight Morgan’s rink was open for free skating on one half of the rink, with a moccasin dance on the other side. So I decided to walk the two miles from home down to the rink to enjoy some skating. I didn’t mind the walk. I used to walk the same distance the other way, after our house burned down years ago, when I had to walk from our rented house in Underhills up to school, and all the way up to church at St. Raphael’s on Sundays. And it was a nice clear night, and I was dressed up warm in my winter coat, boots, and mittens.
The outdoor rink was brightly lit by bare light bulbs hanging from the electric wires strung overhead. The hockey nets had been removed from the ice, and the hinged rink boards at the end of the ice nearest to the church hall were swung wide open. So with just a few steps you could walk from the top of the basement steps right onto the ice surface. A half dozen cement steps led downstairs, where rubber mats were spread around to protect skate blades from the concrete floor. Wooden benches were set along the walls for skaters to change into or out of their winter footwear. A roaring fire in the wood stove in the middle of the room provided a warm refuge for skaters who wanted to take a break from the outdoor cold, and to sit and chat with friends.
When I got there, music was blaring from speakers hung high above the rink boards, and a number of couples were dancing to the music on one side of the ice. While a few people actually did wear moccasins over thick winter socks, most simply danced on the ice with their winter boots on. There were a few adult couples there, but most of the couples who were dancing were teenagers who were older than me, and ‘going together’. And most of the skaters on the other roped off side of the rink were my age, and some were even younger.
After I changed into my skates and pushed my boots under one of the benches, I left the warmth of the basement and climbed the rubber-matted cement steps to the rink. Some of the smaller kids who couldn’t skate very well, or were wobbling along on two-bladed bob skates, were skating in tight circles in the middle of the roped off skating area. So that allowed the better skaters to skate around the perimeter to avoid bumping into them.
Although I wasn’t a very good skater myself, I did skate around the perimeter as well, but always kept close to the boards so I could readily pull myself aside and get out of the way of skaters who were better than me, as they went speeding by. At one point, I skated over to the thick rope that was strung across the rink at the red line that marked center ice for hockey games, and watched as the dancers jived to the music. But as I held the rope in my mittened hands and leaned against the rope, which was about waist high on me, I tilted forward – and spun headfirst onto the ice!
Then everything went black!
The next thing I remembered, I was seated on the bench downstairs, and was waking up to someone holding a cloth against my face. People were looking at me and worrying over me, and telling me to hold the cloth tight against my mouth and nose, both of which hurt like crazy. And the cloth was soaked red with blood!
Someone unlaced my skates and put my boots on for me. Then with the laces of my skates knotted together and swung over my shoulder, I began the long lonely two mile walk back home in the chilly night air. Once or twice I took the cloth away from my mouth, and found that I could actually blow air out of my mouth through a hole under my bottom lip! Then I realized that my two upper front teeth had actually punched a hole into the flesh under my bottom lip!
When I got home, Mom and Dad looked at the cut under my mouth, and saw that while my nose had bled quite a bit, it wasn’t broken. And by then the bleeding had stopped, so there wasn’t much to be done.
I told Mom it was Tommy Washburn who was so helpful to me at the rink, and had provided the clean handkerchief for me to hold against my face. The next day, Mom gave his handkerchief a good washing, and ironed and folded it nice. Then I walked down to the Washburn’s house, which wasn’t far from Jenny’s store on the Station Road, and gave it to Mrs. Washburn to pass on to Tommy, with my thanks.
As a result of that fall on the ice, my two upper front teeth ended up being slightly crooked, and I bore a small faint ‘X’ shaped scar under my lower lip, for the rest of my life.
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