Now, here’s a picture that I can remember just a little bit, since almost every weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) from September to April I was playing hockey. There were times that we’d travel to some far-off Massachusetts town and I’d play three times in a single day, then come home. I played my youth hockey for Leominster, not Lancaster. Leominster was closer to us and it is where I first started skating, because my dad ran the Orchard Hills Ice Arena. Lots of people don’t remember this place as an ice arena, because it is now a big obnoxious purple roller skating rink. But back in the mid-to-late 1970s, Orchard Hills was a two-building complex, the ice arena at the top of the hill and a simple tennis club at the bottom. If I remember correctly, it was run by Frank Montolio. My dad can confirm that if he’s reading.
Anyway, the tennis club is now a HUGE gym/fitness club and the ice arena on the hill was sold and converted to “Roll On America.” I only went in there once after the ice arena closed. It didn’t feel right. And it wouldn’t feel right today if I walked in there. The few memories I have of the ice arena are too vivid and treasured. I can remember like yesterday the first time I skated. I scored my first goal in a youth hockey game there – a rebound down at the far end of the rink. I was wearing #6, my powder blue Leominster Youth Hockey uniform with the Franco-American sponsorship logo on the front. Never forget it. I remember playing in the mother-father-son game -the only time I’ve played against my mother in hockey. Funny.
Anyway, this picture had to be taken at some tournament we went to. For some reason, I think it’s the rink up in Northborough, but I can’t be sure. It seemed whenever we played in a tournament, we got some minor, silly gift. Usually it was a towel. Sometimes it was a puck. Other times, it was sunglasses. So we all wore them out of the locker room and somebody snapped this picture. That’s me on the far left, again holding up the wall. I have my hockey bag in my hand and I’m still dressed in my hockey gear from the waist down, which was common as a kid. I will never get the spelling right, but to my immediate left is Mike Dellichiae, the resident clown on the team. In the middle is my sister, who probably had no choice but to come with us! She looks pretty happy, though. Next to her is Mike Motta. He was our goalie and he wasn’t a very good one. Next to him – I am not sure. I think it might a kid named Mike Barone, but that’s just a stab in the dark.
This was my LIFE on weekends. Ice rinks. Sometimes it was my hockey games, other times it was my sister’s ice skating competitions. But know this – it was every weekend. EVERY weekend. And it is a treasured memory.