Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Bed-Tick Six ....... Pokiok's Olympic Hopefuls !!

Pictures: Top left ... Lower Pond, top right ...John Ferris ,Art McGuire in Bed Tick  sweater , John Sherwood , Tom MacDonald,Don McGuire, Lowerleft...John Ferris ,Dave Ferris, Clarence Welpley , Tommy MacDonald, Art McGuire with guitar. Lower right... Don McGuire on "Crick" , photo which also appeared in the excellent book "Saint John's North End" by Harold E.Wright and Paul James.                                                                   

Most of us youngsters in Pokiok .... whether boys or girls .... learned how to skate either out at the Twin Ponds , on Robertson's Lake or down on "The Crick" and your choice of ice surface pretty much depended on where you lived in Pokiok. As for myself I strutted , strode ,glided and bounced my early stuff at the Ponds since we lived up  the hill in Upper Pokiok alongside such NHL and Olympic hopefuls as Tommy MacDonald , the McCoy boys (Gerry , Larry and Bobby) , Margy and Harry Cross , the Earles (Raymond , Verna and Doreen) , Helen and Eileen Estey. Although they were much older than we I remember Joan Earle, Joy Estey and Katherine Johnston skating there with us now and then .... and Charlotte Johnston , our goaltender , tending net during our hockey games with a shovel ..... which she also used to lean on for support to steady herself on her skates.

As for Robertson's Lake ....... well , we usually went there once or twice a year given the distance .... especially following the first big freeze up of winter .......  7-to-10-day subzero  weather, baby-bum-smoothe surface  with no snow ..... allowing for 3-inch-thick ice to form that creaked , cracked and resonated  when walked on..... joyous music to our youthful ears back then. Through the crystal-clear ice we could see the bottom of the lake so clearly.... old stumps , trees , rocks of all sizes , grass etc. There were folks from Lower Pokiok too ... the McCormicks , McGuires , Baileys , Williams , Blizzards , Sherwoods , Morrows , Dunns , Webbers , Meades , Kyles , Goulds ,Wallaces , McGoueys , etc ........ and it was here that I saw "tublers" or speed-skates for the first time. What a thrill it was to watch Billy and Ozzie Stewart swish their way so gracefully and quickly as they circled the lake !!

And now for "The Crick"! While the outer or Spar Cove part did not freeze over due to the rise and fall of tides , the inner or Newman's Brook section did ! .... all this area being filled in nowadays to cover over the Natural Gas Pipeline. My friend , Tommy MacDonald , and I often came here back in the mid to late 1940s to chase a puck and skate a while since his grandparents' house sat right on the edge of "The Crick" and we could lace up our skates in their warm kitchen and step straight out onto the ice ... ideal for us on cold , blustery days and hot chocolate was never too far away! However , "The Crick" was mainly home to the kids from the immediate neighbourhood ....... the McGuire Boys (both families) , Kyles , Kileys , Baileys , Williams , McCormicks , Higgins , etc as well as a few players from across the bridge in nearby Indiantown. It was this same group of young men that would make up Pokiok's pride and joy in 1956 when  Pokiok's very own hockey team was born.... the Bed Tick Six. In 1998 my good friend , Art McGuire, wrote a warmly nostalgic "epic poem" literally brimming over with iambic pentameter about the team of which he was a founding member-player, the players and that moment in time...... so I'll step back and let Art tell the rest of the story ............. 

PS: Post Scriptum: Another bunch of guys from around town got together and founded a rival team which they appropriately and jokingly named "The Exterminators" whose specialty consisted in eliminating "Bed Ticks" which , according to Art McGuire, made for great friendly competition and many rough and tumble games. Following the example of professional hockey clubs the Bed Ticks went beyond Pokiok and imported a few players from the far off Greater Saint John area ..... the Ferris boys  not considered "foreigners" though since they lived just across "The Crick" on the Indiantown side. However , there were four other "imports" ... Galen Paul and Pat Lynch from Rockland Road , Greg Boyle from Metcalf Street and the Borje Salming of the gang , Harold Holland , from the far away East End.  


  1. Cynthia Trott That all sounds like so much fun. I think everything in the 50's was fun. I have never skated on ice. Was loving roller skating and the skating rinks in the 50's.
    I am trying to picture the ice being that clear. Never thought of it being ...that way.
    Good story.

  2. Hi,
    I have been away for a bit so enjoyed the last two postings. I remember Robertson's Lake, such a big deal to go there after the Twin Ponds. We walked everywhere and we had a great life in Pokiok, too. I wonder if the kids in that area are allowed to go off in the woods like we did, or, for concern in what can happen these days, are kept within earshot.
    We were the lucky generation, NO DOUBT about it, for which I am so thankful.
    Keep up the great writings and am so happy to know that you and Artie are having great get-togethers. I did not know him well as he was an adult in my teenage world with Irene. I loved his Mom, Hazel...she was like a second Mom always welcoming me for supper, sleep overs, visits for tea and a donut from her wonderful donut jar that stayed on the kitchen table filled. I loved McGuireville...worked in Art McGuire's store so he could do his runs in the morning. This is why I love your gets me thinking of my younger years, great years and I love reading about your life there. Keep your memories and any history coming...we benefit so from your efforts.

  3. Once again , dear Sylvia, I thank you for your warm comments and encouragement...... and yes , I too often wonder about the number of youngsters who find their way in to Robertson's Lake nowadays... at least once in their youth !! I must say though that I have not noticed many youthful faces up that way ... could be that the population has either "aged" or is "aging" ? You mention Art's Mom , Hazel .... you know maybe that she once lived across the road from you up in Pokiok , long before you were born though , of course ...... in the house where her brother , Cecil Estey and his family (later King Bailey)lived.King's widow is still living there today. And yes , I do remember Hazel's cheerfully warm and kindly disposition .... she was so good to us kids and we always took the shortcut up the steps behind the Snow Flake Lime office where she worked .... with the door often open she would wave to us and warn us of the ill effects resulting from eating too many green apples since there were a couple of apple trees just beside the office..... and there is still one big one there today !! So keep dropping by , Sylvia, and I'll try to dig up a few more memories from the depths of past experiences .... dust them off to make them presentable ... and write them up.My heartfelt thanks to you once more for your kind words and input ..... build it and they will come !! .... we hope....

  4. In answer to Cindy\s comment above.....We sure did have oodles of fun back then , Cindy...and yes , the early ice is extremely clear .... not cloudy at all as is older ice once skated on for a while ..... and I would imagine that walking out on some frozen ponds around here nowadays one might look down and find a few supermarket carts , old tires or rejected desk top monitors staring back up at us !!!Thanks for reading and commenting... please come by often

  5. Just like to say it was a lot of good fun,We played a few games,then Iam quite sure it was Bob McGuires idea to go to Thornes on the bottom of king st,and obtain the sweaters,and have the crest made,and he was the one that came up with the design, of the big bedbug and crossed hockey sticks.One has to remember, in those days there was only one indoor rink,an that was the old Forum in north end, all other rinks were out doors.We played for two years,that was over fifty years ago..........and it seems like like only yesterday.......Art McG....

  6. Right you are , Art... and playing at the Old Forum was a big notch up from shinny on the "Crick". Once on the ice we could imagine ourselves decked out in Beaver uniforms playing side by side with Gordy Drillon , etc I organized schoolboy hockey for Saint Peter's Boys from grade 6 through grade 8 and the highlight of my young career was to score a goal on Lorne School , look up to see my Dad standing just in from the Main Street entrance clapping for me.
    You guys were truly a motely crew , Art ... but never forget that your Benjamin, Tommy MacDonald, did his basic training on the Twin Ponds under my captainship !!
    You'll notice that Rebekah has simplified commenting in here by posting a few simple rules on the righthand side above.

  7. Why have I not read anything about the champion Black speed skaters Bill & Ozzie Stewart.

    They seem to have been forgotten by even the black community.

    Two very fine and friendly gentlemen that I am proud to once call my friends.

    Norm Murr
    Richmond Hill, Ontario

  8. Dear Norm,
    Thank you for dropping by and commenting. You must realize that I cannot possibly mention everyone from my past in this wee walk down memory lane ... a rather personal stroll for me as I try to recall certain events ,,, but mainly friends and acquaintances from my youth in Pokiok with whom I played and interacted.I am not writing the official history of Pokiok. However , I did make warm mention of both Bill and Ozzie Stewart .. as well as Bill's son , Yummy who was my childhood friend .... in my blog entry for April 12 , 2010 entitled !" Two of my Childhood Beacons ... the Farms and Boar's Head ". I spoke to two elderly black ladies at the supermarket the other day about Bill and Ozzie ... but they replied that the names sounded familiar but simply drew a blank otherwise. These ladies grew up in the South End though.
    Did you grow up in Pokiok , Norm ? I can remember the Marrs , everet , etc but cannot recall the name Murr. Please drop by again ...

  9. I was born and raised in Toronto but I lived in Saint John for 15 years (1958 to 1973).
    I met Bill and Ozzie at the Fuseliers Club where their band played at the dance every Saturday night.
    As we, my fiance and I got to know them we eventually visited them often at their home on Black River Rd where they kept a horse that loved eating cigarettes (not lite ones).
    It is during these visits that we learned of their speed skating and that they were champions in that spot at one time.
    We also met and were friends with Ozzies daughter Rose and her husband.
    After we married we kind of drifted apart but my wife Sandra and I did go to Bill's funeral and that was about the last contact I had with the Stewarts as we no longer partied but concentrated on married life.

    Norm Murr