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Sports Hall of Fame acceptance speech

Acceptance speech by Jean Taylor and Emma Wells
Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame, October 2003

Fellow Inductees,
Members of the Board,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure and humility that I accept this honour bestowed on my family.
I especially want to thank Carl Penny and the Carbonear Recreation Committee for making all this possible tonight.

My father, Billy Howell, was indeed a builder.
He built houses, schools and churches, and in his spare time, he built rinks.
He saw a need for a rink in Carbonear and he met the challenge.

The Jubilee Rink was opened in 1935.
At a time when bank loans and government grants were unknown.
Our brothers, Roy and Fred, with our brother-in-law, Mark Badcock, worked on the construction of the rink.
They were young men, with one purpose in mind - 
to play hockey on the rink that winter. 
When it opened, it was the only covered rink in Conception Bay.

After the construction ended, we waited for the first big snowfall. 
Snow was needed for the foundation of the ice surface. 
All the family helped - male and female. 
We all took our shovels and started packing in the snow. 
The next stage was the flooding. 
On cold frosty nights, the boys would stay up all night flooding the ice.

Now we would like to share some memories with you.

We were nine in family, and it was an exciting time to be young.
Hockey fever was spreading all over Conception Bay North. 
And I think it was out of control in Carbonear. 
Everybody in the community was caught up in the excitement. 
Hockey was the main topic of conversation in our home. 
There was more hockey played on our kitchen floor than the Maple Leaf Gardens. 
Lionel Conacher's name was used so much in our house that our young nephew thought that it was a bad word and any time he got upset with his mother, he would stamp his foot and say "Conacher on ya!"

Roy and Mark were good, clean hockey players, but Fred was mostly in the penalty box. He always got an earful from our father for his tripping. There was very little money for equipment. Remember, this is during the dirty ‘30's.
We saved the Daily News every day for the boys to use as shin pads.

Our sister Alma organized the knitters of the towns to knit sweaters for the Carbonear team and they did an excellent job. 

The stockings were another thing. How could they ever knit stockings for those long legs, especially the six-footers.
Jack Keneally, a member of our team , said his uncle had a knitting machine and when asked, he said yes he could knit the stockings. When Alma went to pick them up, she discovered that the feet were missing. Mr. Keneally said in his Irish brogue "My dear child, knitting machines don't turn heels." So the knitters picked up their needles again and turned the heels and finished knitting the feet. 

Friday night was hockey night at the rink. There was no end to the competition and there was always a visiting team.
The Bay Roberts Rovers, the Brigus Bruins, Shearstown Tigers, Bell Island, and our old rivals - Harbour Grace, would come to play.

The visiting team was always invited back to our house. The girls were not allowed to go to the rink until we made a mountain of sandwiches, mostly bully beef and mustard, and ham and homemade mayonnaise.
We always had a cow, so there was plenty of milk to serve.

The night would always end with someone at the piano for a great sing-song. 

The first time the Carbonear team wore their sweaters was during the Conception Bay North championships held at the old Prince's Rink. We saw them off at the railway station and wished them lots of luck.
This was before Jack Tobin and his radio broadcasts of the hockey games.

So the next morning, our Uncle harry, who was a bit of a prankster, came to tell us the news of the first game. He came through the door and said "Carbonear won" and we all jumped for joy, but it was short-lived, when he laughed and said "Carbonear 1, Bay Roberts Rovers 14".

We bounced back from that loss and in a few years the Carbonear team was one of the top teams in the league.
Our brother-in-law, Mark Badcock, coached our junior team to the All-Newfoundland Championship and won.

Hockey wasn't the only thing happening on the ice.

Saturday afternoons were always saved for the children's skating.
Every night was general skating.
Dad always made sure there were plenty of Vienna Waltzes for the skaters.
He ordered the records from Ayre's music department in St. John's.

Band number 10 was always the Skater's Waltz and with a little coaxing he would always play it twice.
And then at Christmas time we held the carnivals. The children in the afternoons and the grown-ups at night. The excitement of making a costume and keeping it a secret was pure joy.

Hockey fever spread to the fairer sex and girls teams were organized all around the bay. Now this was in the 1930's and competition was keen. Our girls team on one occasion, was invited to Bay Roberts to play the Rovereens. When they were getting organized, they realized they were one girl short. Fred, being a small framed man, would easily pass as a girl, so they begged him to go with them. They dressed him up in a skirt and sweater and a bandana to cover his head. Then they applied make-up. He was to play on the second line. He played clean for the first period but when he came out during the second period, there were girls' bodies flying everywhere. Someone from the sidelines shouted "Man on the ice!" And then all hell broke loose. But the Rovereens took it all as a big joke and we left the ice as friends. 

Dad never asked how much we took in on the door. If he had enough to pay for the light bill, that was fine with him.
Let me tell you how he ran the rink.
All relatives got in free - we had a long tail family.
All neighbours got in free - We had a big neighbourhood
Dad's Sunday School class got in free - Needless to say, he had the largest Sunday School class.
All rink rats got free - we had more rink rats than the old Montreal Forum. But the rink rats had to work for their free pass.

We imported birch brooms from Victoria, B.C. - behind Carbonear, and everybody took a broom and helped sweep the ice.

This was long before the Zamboni.

Competitions spread further than Conception Bay.
Our boys were invited to Grand Falls and Buchans. That was the year they were sporting their new sweaters. They were on the road a week playing hard and doing lots of sweating.

Now I must tell you this - the sweaters were knit with Beehive pure virgin wool. They left Carbonear with very loose fitting sweaters but arrived home with sweaters that wouldn't fit on a Barbie Doll. But with lots of washing, blocking and pulling, they got the rest of the season out of them. While in Buchans, Roy scored six goals in one game. The Buchans organization wanted him to play on their team and offered him a steady job but he returned home to his beloved Carbonear and continued to play and coach hockey.

After Dad died, Roy carried on the tradition.
If he was a good hockey player, he was a better coach.
I think they cloned dad, because Roy was his spitting image. He had a quiet but strong personality and continued to coach the Carbonear team year after year going to Harbour Grace on the new S.W. Moores rink to play the CeeBees.

When he gave up coaching, his door was always open to anyone who wanted to talk hockey and Carl Penny was a frequent visitor to his home.

Thank you for listening to our memories. We have thousands of them.
We hope it wasn't too boring.

We are no longer nine in family, just five of us remain.
But we are here tonight, with our children and our children's children, our nieces and nephews and their offspring, and we all want to thank the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame for this great distinction.
Thank you for this wonderful night.