1940 – Barbara Starnes

Any story on Clinton-Hamilton hockey should include more than a passing mention of kids’ hockey rivalries in the 1940s. What may appear at first blush as one more manifestation of the “town-gown” rivalry was far more than that. At the outset of World War II, kids in Clinton and on the Hill organized any activities they could, often using athletic facilities in Clinton and at Hamilton. Three teams developed around hockey: The Clinton Devil Dogs, College Hill Killers, and the Wildcats. These young people ranged in age from 6 to 14 years. It was war time, and there was a shortage of kids, 7 or 8 in total, so teams were co-ed. Ice time seemed to materialize both in Clinton and on the Hill. Mox Webber, then Hamilton’s Athletic Director, had a hand in making the Sage Rink available to kids from the area. Some of the kids playing were Eric Weber, and Mike and David Swenson (sons of the football or hockey coach). In Clinton, play was on an outdoor rink located on Meadow Street, where MacDonald’s and the shopping area is today.

Sheila Burns played for the Clinton Devil Dogs, and Barbara “Boo” Graves played for the Killers. By all reports, both girls acquitted themselves admirably, and up to the level of the boys. Certainly, it was an historic decade for hockey, and women hockey players. These were two of the precedent-setting women who laid the ground work for those ladies we have grown proud to include in the ranks of the best hockey the world can offer.

Hockey in Clinton and on the Hill continues to include young people of all ages and sexes. Greg Batt taught kids how to skate long before “Power Skating” became a byword for great skating at all levels. In the 1960s, Greg offered local children free classes on skating. The classes may not have been in regular intervals, but he got a new group of youngsters started on their way. One memory includes Greg’s method of teaching: all the children collected in the center ice face-off circle; most were laughing and few (if any) were paying attention. Greg, in his quiet way, asked them to “walk” along the blue line defining the circle. As parents watched from the stands, these little children did as told, and surprised us all as to how quickly they spread their wings and, one at a time, left the circle to take a skate around the entire rink. I have never forgotten how gently and quickly this happened.

– Barbara Starnes

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For more information, contact:
Andrew Burns Hamilton ’78; Clinton High School ’74andrewcburns@yahoo.com
Ted Molloy Hamilton ’78; Hamilton Hockey Captaine.molloy@cox.net.