1963 – John Peach
No history of hockey in Clinton would be complete without referencing the backyard rinks and pond hockey games. In the 60s, we were fortunate to have parents that believed kids belonged outside playing pick-up hockey as well as other sports. As soon as the ground froze and the first heavy snow hit—generally early December in those days—the call would go out to all the neighborhood kids to come to our house and start stomping down the snow. Over the backyards would emerge Burns, Hamelines, Hunts, Dockerells, Eckersons, and many more willing participants. Once the snow was packed down, my Dad, Bob Peach Sr., would arrive to start spraying the water on the snow from a hose that we pulled out a cellar window. Within a night or two we had a playable rink!
What fun we had as kids. Most of us started using magazines for shin pads, and slowly accumulated better gear as Christmas presents and through hand-me-downs. The rink was “lighted” with floodlights we borrowed from Dad’s photo flood lamps. I think there were many occasions when our homework suffered due to good ice conditions, but our parents seemed to accept this as a reasonable trade-off.
A few Sundays of each season were special, as Hamilton Coach Greg Batt would invite a bunch of us, along with our fathers, up to Sage Rink for Sunday morning pick-up games. Quite often those inside games were followed by Sunday afternoon games with the same crew at Hayes pond, hosted by Gordon and Betty Hayes. I think the Dads kept a flask in the snow banks, and after-game warming parties in the Hayes kitchen with hot chocolate and popcorn are among my favorite memories of growing up in Clinton.
Now that my wife, Pat, and I live up on Norton Farm, I still have a dream to catch the weather right and recreate a backyard rink on the tennis court – if only for a weekend.
Happy skating, old friends.
– John Peach