As MC, it’s my pleasure to introduce our after dinner-speaker. Really, a guy like him doesn’t need an introduction, not a man who’s in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, played on four Mann Cup teams, won the Mike Kelly Award as MVP in the 1953 series, won the Tom Longboat Trophy as the outstanding Canadian Indian athlete, not once, but twice, and fathered and coached eight lacrosse players and five statisticians. Talk about putting something back into the game! Ladies and gentlemen, would you welcome the Old Warrior of the game of lacrosse, Ross Powless of the Six Nations Reserve!
Thanks. Gee, it kinda throws a guy off getting applause like that in Fergus. Times sure change. I remember coming up here from Six Nations about forty years ago to play lacrosse. At that time who’d ever thought some day I’d be invited to be a guest speaker at a lacrosse banquet in Fergus? I’ve been booed here as a player, booed here as a coach and tonight I’m likely gonna be booed here as a speaker. I’ve never made any excuses for poor performances in the past and I’m not gonna start tonight. I can’t help it if I’m losing my memory. The other day I told my wife, Wilma, it was the first thing to go on me. She said, Ross are you sure it’s the first thing?
I said I’d come to Fergus on one condition, if I could chew gum while I talked. Coming to Fergus makes me kinda nervous still. How could I forget that one Fergus team I played against? Harry Kazarian from Owen Sound, J.J. Hill from Kitchener, Curly Mason and the Landoni brothers, Gary and Ron and Peter from Fergus. It was always such a joy to play against that team. Like the time I went up for the ball, my shoulder pad slipped and one of them guys slashed me on the way down. Broke my arm. Gave me the opportunity to go hunting since it sure ended my lacrosse season. I decided I needed to get away for awhile, so as soon as I got the cast on, some friends and I went moose hunting north of Hearst over near the town of Kapuskasing. Usually I’m a pretty good shot, but I was having a bad day. Every time one of my friends wanted to connect with me via walkie talkie, I’d hear, Come in Broken Arrow, do you read me?
Nobody seemed to get my name right in them days. I used to get called all kinds of names. Blanketass, Hatchetman, especially when I had a good game in Fergus. After awhile, some folks started calling me Powless. But even that wasn’t quite right.
Ya see, my family was kinda deprived, in a cultural way, because my great-grandfather was such an industrious man. He farmed land on three concessions on Six Nations up to the Grand River near Brantford, now known as the Home of Wayne Gretzky. My great-grandfather worked hard and he expected the same from his sons. It got so bad he wouldn’t even let his boys go to pow wows in the summer or in the fall. Pretty soon people started to feel sorry for the boys. It wasn’t long till they began calling them pow-wow-less. Somehow it got shortened to Powless.
At least that’s how I always thought I got my name. Then one day I was talking to Tom Hill. He’s the curator over at the Woodland Indian Cultural Centre in Brantford, right next to the old Mohawk Institute where I used to go to residential school That Tommy, he’s got lots of culture. He’s a pretty smart young fella, an Echo Hill from Six Nations.
We got so many Hills on our reserve we had to make up new names for some of them to tell them apart. Now we’ve got Squires and Smucks and Git-gits, that’s chicken in Mohawk, and Jackets and Shinnys and Pumpkins and Jeeks. My step-sister was a Jeek Hill and she tells me the Jeeks are dying out.
According to Tommy Hill, one of my ancestores was a fella named Paulis Paulis. Guess our family didn’t have too much imagination giving a guy a name like a repeating rifle. But we were always industrious. Paulis Paulis came up with Joseph Brant after the American Revoulution and settled in the origional Mohawk Village along the Grand River. The other Nations, the Senecas, the Onondagas, the Oneidas, the Tuscaroras and the Cayugas each had their owen places. Tom said the Mohawks were kinda like the aristocracy of the Iroquois Confederacy. They’ve found brass buttons and china and crystan at the orinal Mohawk site. They even know Joseph Brant had black slaves, but nobody really likes to talk about Indians having black slaves. I guess this Paulis Paulis ancestor of mine was a big farmer, a strong Loyalist and probably a member of the Church of England and the Masonic Temple.
Now we get to the part I found the most interesting. Tommy Hill can’t say for sure, but it’s more than likely my ancestors, and maybe Paulis Paulis himself, played lacrosse in the original Mohawk Village at Six Nations. Hell, I said to Tommy, that doesn’t surprise me one bit. If Paulis Paulis was anything at all like my grandfather Peter Powless or my dad Chauncey or my uncles Sam and Dick Powless and Cec and Titus Van Every, he was a lacrosse player even before the Powless family left the Mohawk Village in the 1840’s and moved over to Sour Springs Road.
I remember my dad and my uncles playing lacrosse down at the old Mohawk Stars Grounds about half a mile from Herb Martin’s place. Herb Martin’s Special, now there was a lacrosse stick, couldn’t nobody match Herb’s craftmanship, it was famous all over the country. And Martin’s Corner Brass Band, I can hear it now, and I can still see Freddie Martin’s boys, Pat on drums, Wilbur on coronet and Linwood on trombone. People would walk in from miles around in them days to see lacrosse. Between periods us kids would pick up the lacrosse sticks and race out onto the field to play. The referee would have a heck of a time getting the playing area cleared. Didn’t matter none. It helped the booth and nobody ever wanted those games to end anyway.
Six Nations had about five good teams in them days. Somebody was always trying to recruit a good player away from his old team! It was the Mohawk Stars who played off the reserve. They used to go places like Salamanca, New York to the Allegheny Indian Reserve near the Pennsylvania border. Them Mohawk Stars were tough. I seen Judy Punch Garlow in goal down at the Mohawk Stars Grounds. Never had no mask on, no shin pads on, no throat guard. Looked like a leopard sometimes, with all them black and blue bruises on him. I don’t know how he got so brave. Maybe from having a girl’s name. See, Punch’s mother was real tired of having boys. Before Punch was born she decided she was gonna have a girl. Even picked out the name Judy. After he was born everybody just called him Judy Punch after them puppets in England.
Old Punch is getting close to eighty now. He’s the only one living from the 1932 Atlantic City team. You should hear him laugh about those midgets he seen down in Atlantic City, the little bakers with big chef hats and little wee loaves of bread. I was about six years old when my Uncle Cec and Judy Punch and the Smith boys, Beef and Harry and Don and Sid, and the other Six Nations boys went down there to introduce box lacrosse.
See, quite a few of the boys had been working and playing lacrosse in Buffalo. In Atlantic City, it was sort of the World Championship of Lacrosse with the boys representing Atlantic City and playing off for six weeks against five other teams from Montreal and Toronto and Boston, the top teams in lacrosse in them days.
The first week went okay. Everything was new and the boys had never been to a place like Atlantic City before. But after that they started getting tired of the fancy hotel, tired of the beach and even tired of the movies they went to every afternoon to pass the time. The boys from Six Nations were used to working hard and always having something to do. So there they were, in the Playground of the World, bored to death. The only time they were happy was when they were out playing lacrosse. They never lost one game down at Atlantic City.
But who woulda thought Harry Smith would be up on the big screen himself in just a few years? He was as bored with the movies in Atlantic City as all the others. Yet it wasn’t long till Harry became Jay Silverheels and the Lone Ranger started calling him Tonto.
I’m very proud of Harry Smith and so is everyone on Six Nations. Not only was he a fine lacrosse player, but he was a Golden Gloves champion in boxing and a wrestler, and after he got to Hollywood he helped a lot of Indian people get into the movies. This was quite a son and quite a family A.G.E. Smith and Mabel Smith raised. People always want to know about Harry Smith. One time a writer asked me, How was Jay Silverheels seen on the Six Nations Reserve? Hardly ever, I told her.
I wasn’t lying. After Joe E. Brown, the comedian, met Harry out in Hollywood, he didn’t come home too often. No jets in them days. If Harry hadn’t gone to Hollywood to play lacrosse, Joe E. Brown would have never met him and convinced him to go into the movies. I seen Harry a few times after he was famous and I used to check out the Brantford Expositor for his movies. I seen Drums Along the Mohawk, Broken Arrow and Saskatchewan and lots of others. I used to get a kick out of Harry speaking Mohawk, especially when it didn’t go with the story line. Us Mohawk would be sitting in the Brantford movie house laughing and all the other people would by wondering what was so funny.
Judy Punch Garlow told me how Harry got the name Silverheels. One time the boys won new white lacrosse shoes for playing good and Harry ran so fast in them new white shoes, all you could see was flashes of white at his heels. I guess they couldn’t very well call him Whiteheels, him being Mohawk and all, so they called him Silverheels.
I remember one time when Harry did come home to Six Nations. He seen Judy Punch at a distance and Judy Punch seen him too. Harry got a big smile on his face and he came running and gave Judy Punch such a big hug it almost brought tears to Old Punch.
My step-sister Myrtle Smith knew Harry when they were still young. She’s the one who was a Jeek Hill and she married into the Smith family. Not Harry’s family. She married Beef Smith, Harry’s first cousin. That Beef was a heck of a lacrosse player too. He didn’t care. He’d run into them all, big or small. Beef went to Atlantic City in ’32 with his brother Sid and Harry’s brother Don. Harry’s father was a brother to Beef’s mother, see, because Beef’s mother was a Smith before she married a Smith. No relation, of course. At least that’s how I got it from Myrtle.
And she should know. She’s a clan mother of the Turtle Clan and she knows these things. That’s my clan too. Anyway, Myrtle and the other girls used to see Harry at dances and I guess he was so good-looking and had so much of that charisma that all the girls were just wild about Harry Smith.
I knew all Harry’s brothers. But I knew Chubbie best. He wasn’t big and stout like his cousin Beef. Chubbie was tall and lean and comical like all his brothers. In 1945, when I was nineteen, Chubby and me were playing lacrosse out on the west coast with Andy Paull’s North Shore team. One day I had a date with a real beautiful girl. I’d just bought myself a new suit and a nice sports shirt, had the collar out over my suit real nice and everything, had my shoes shined up just right. There were lots of Indian people waiting for the ferry to Vancouver that day. Just as the girl and I stepped aboard, Chubbie hollers from the shore, Hey Ross! I’ll need my suit tomorrow so make sure you bring it home early. And Del Powless will need his socks too. That Chubbie! I felt like about two cents standing beside that girl, me trying to impress her and everything.
I had the chance to meet lots of interesting people out at the Coast. When Jimmy Martin and I got there, who should be standing at the train to meet us but Chief Mathias Joe of Capilano and his son. Both of them dressed in full Indian regalia. Boy, they had some good lacrosse players out there. The Baker boys, Stan Joseph Sr. and Stan Joseph Jr., Joe Johnson.
The man I really learned a lot about life from was Andy Paull. He’d been recruiting players from Six Nations since the thirties. And he was a respected man all across Canada. I stayed with Andy and his family my first time out there. I remember he had poor eyesight and he used to like to smoke roll-your-owns. He’d be at the typewriter, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, nose pretty much touching the page, averaging about seven and a half words per minute. Maybe he couldn’t type, but he really had a legal mind. An Indian person would get into some kind of trouble upcoast or downcoast and he’d be right there getting information and feeding it into the lawyers. He saved a lot of Indian people from prison. He cleared up misunderstandings between Indian and non-Indian people. At one time he was the President of the North American Indian Brotherhood and it was Andy Paull who first got me interested in politics. Course in them days, my mind was mostly on lacrosse.
After I met the Paulls, I visited them every time I got the chance to go to B.C. Last time I seen Andy’s wife, she was in an old age home out there. We had our usual conversation. She always asked the same questions: How is your family? How is your son Gaylord? Your wife’s name is Wilma, isn’t it? Oh yes, I’d always tell her, it’s still Wilma, it’s still the same wife. Good, she’d giggle, Mrs. Paull still had that little giggle of hers. The Paulls had the belief, once you married, you stayed married. They were Squamish and they had respect for the eagle; eagles, of course, mate for life.
I’ve had the same wife for more than forty years now. After I had come back from the west coast I had gone to Buffalo to look for work. I still had a few dollars in my pocket yet. I guess I got too many drinks in me one night and it ended up two girls took me by cab to the safety of my brother’s home. Later, I found out it was Wilma who’d helped me so the next time I seen her, I went and thanked her for it and we got talking and we’re still talking.
After we had Gaylord, and Wilma was with child the second time, my dad laid down the law. He told me, If you think enough of her, you should marry her. My dad thought I’d found myself a real nice lady, a beautiful lady, and so, using his judgment and mine, I asked Wilma to marry me. I thought she’d probably say yes. Wilma’s a Bomberry. And, in my opinion, all the Bomberrys are social climbers. By marrying a Powless, Wilma would definitely be marrying up. Course, if you ask Wilma about it, she’d tell you I’m the one who married up. I have to hope it’s just a joke between our two families.
I got to be good friends with Wilma’s Uncle Sam Bomberry. When Gaylord was a kid, we stayed with Uncle Sam while we were doing seasonal work picking peaches in Jordan. We got a lacrosse team going and it was made up of Japanese boys, Jordan Station boys and a few strays like me. We went over to Ohsweken at Six Nations to play lacrosse. We brought Andy Bomberry with us and, by golly, if they didn’t get him to put on an Ohsweken Six Nations sweater. That was heresy! It wasn’t long till I got one of our sweaters on Del Powless. We ended up beating Ohsweken, so we wouldn’t give Andy a ride back to Jordan. I don’t know how he got home. Or if he ever got home.
Lacrosse was lots of fun in them days. I have to thank my dad for setting me straight on that. When I was a junior player I thought there was just as much glory knocking a man down as scoring a goal. I remember one game George Bomberry and Jum Martin took a couple of lines of us Six Nations boys over to help Port Dover out. They had a redheaded coach named Rev. Hare, and Red Kelly, the hockey player played on that team. My dad watched me play and after the game took me aside. I’d been knocking guys over left and right, a real tough guy, I thought, and my dad told me, Rules are made to be enforced. You’re not out there to injure people, you’re out there to play your best and enjoy the game. If you keep playing this way, all the teams in the league are gonna get even with you, and if you get hurt, your own teammates are gonna laugh at you.
I was past the age where my dad could put the wood to me, but what he said went. He loved the game so much he couldn’t stand to see me abuse it in that way. From that time on I started to become a different kind of player. I continued to do a lot of running and training in the spring when there was still snow on the ground. I loved running long distance, just as my father and my uncles did. When others were starting to tire in the third period, I was still going strong. I know it’s hard to believe, the way I’ve ballooned up these past few years, but in them days I could run like a deer. With conditioning like that and my dad’s good attitude, people seemed to want me on their team.
Like in 1949, I was playing with Brantford against Huntsvile. After the game, a guy comes up to me and asks if I’d be interested in playing the next season for Huntsville. I said I’d think about it and the guy writes my name and address down on a Turret cigarette package. I didn’t think nothing more of it. Lots of teams had been showing interest in me, Fergus and Brampton to name two. I don’t know, maybe, I was used to getting booed in Fergus, I wouldn’t have known what to do if the people in Fergus started cheering.
Before I knew it, the Huntsville people had set up a meeting over in Hagersville. That was my address, but really I lived over on Sour Springs Road near Ohsweken. But those people way up north in Huntsville didn’t know nothing about that. So I went over to Hagersville and we talked about the contract. I wanted to know about the fringe benefits. I didn’t know much about negotiating, except what I’d picked up from a few players. But I knew enough to ask for insurance, transportation there and back, permission to go into work late after a long road game, say ten a.m. or noon, a place to live, that sort of thing. And, by golly, if they didn’t go for it. Wasn’t long till Wilma and the kids and I were living up in Huntsville in a tent on Fairy Lake.
Gaylord really started taking to lacrosse up in Huntsville. Some kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Not Gaylord. Seems like he was born with a lacrosse stick in his hand and a coontail cap on his head. That’s how I remember when he was four years old in Huntsville. When I played lacrosse Gaylord and I used to put on a little show for the fans in-between the periods. I’d stand with my back to the net and he’d put a little shift on me and go in for the goal. Beat me every time!
Jack Bionda didn’t seem much older than Gaylord when I played with him on that Hunstsville team. Bionda must have been all of sixteen years old and weighed about a hundred and twenty-five. I was a grownup man of twenty-four with a wife and family, must have weighed two fifteen. If you meet Bionda today, he’ll tell you, if it wasn’t for him, I never woulda gotten started in lacrosse. I still remember Jack Bionda running down the arena with his tongue hanging out. He never bit it off but maybe he shoulda, some of the things he says now. The truth is, I taught Jack Bionda all he knows.
After setting Jack on the right track I moved on to Peterborough. I knew it was gonna be tough jumping from intermediate to senior, but a couple of referees had passed my name on and I thought I’d take my chances with the Peterborough Timbermen.
One night during the tryouts some of the Timbermen and me went over to the Montreal House in Peterborough for some ale. We’d had a hard practice and we wanted to restore some of them lost body fluids. That’s what we used to say in them days anyway. Pretty soon the tap man starts talking to the waiter and the waiter walks over and asks me if I’ve got my blue card. The blue card showed enfranchisement and only people who’d given up their Indian status and become enfranchised could drink legally. I told the waiter I didn’t have one and he said he couldn’t serve me. Right away the Timbermen stood up and said, If he’s not good enough, we’re not good enough neither. When they walked out of the Montreal House for me, it made my season. Shortly after that, I made the team and it wasn’t long till I was drinking ale with my teammates in the Montreal House.
Peterborough was the place to play in them days. In 1951, my first year there, we played outside in Miller Bowl. You couldn’t get any more people in there, 4,500. One series went eight games and we just got out to the west coast by a whisker. That year we were the first eastern club to win the Mann Cup on the west coast in eleven years. In 1952 we won again in Maple Leaf Gardens and in ’53 I met up with my young friend Jack Bionda.
Jack was playing for the Victoria Shamrocks and he’d grown a lot since Huntsville. He was big and lanky and he could really barrel down the floor. In Victoria there was a loose ball and we both went up for it. Jack stuck out his rear end which was considerably bigger than it used to be and hit me in the stomache. He knocked the wind out of me and I dropped the ball. Jack’s standing there looking at me with terror in his eyes. Jesus Christ, Jack, I said, I didn’t teach you that. Caught Jack off guard and I raced away with the ball.
We won that year too. I remember standing in line after the game. I didn’t have the finesse of some of the players in that time. I just worked hard and I’d learned to shift. I used to make a lot of assists by shifting and beating one man and making another one come to me. I’d studied the goaltenders and learned their weaknesses and I’d try to pick up everything I could from my teammates. So, when I heard my name called, I didn’t think I heard it right, thought there must be something wrong with the microphone. When I heard my name again, I didn’t believe it. Rusty or Moon or one of the Timbermen had to push me out of the line to go get the Mike Kelly Award as MVP for the series.
When I won that award, well, I didn’t win it, my teammates won it for me, we seemed to be killing penalties all night. Rusty Slater, Harry Wipper, Nip A’Hearne, Curly Mason. The other team wanted the ball so much they made mistakes and we got some of our most important goals a man short. I guess they had to give the MVP award to someone other than our goalie, Moon Wooton. Moon, he helped me out in so many ways, but he’d already won it many times than a man has a right to.
To be on one Mann Cup team would have been all a guy could ask for in this world. But to be on four was just wonderful. The fourth year I wasn’t playing during the season with the Timbermen but they picked me up for the playoffs. A lot of their players had to go to professional hockey or football camp and the team was short. It was a real honour to be asked to help them out.
I’d been playing in St. Catharines that fourth year because some of the kids were in school at Six Nations and I had a growing family to support. I decided I wasn’t gonna spend my life doing seasonal work, picking berries here, working in tobacco fields there. Through lacrosse I got into the carpenter’s union, Hamilton Local 18. From there I never looked back. I worked with a very smart man named Sid Needham. Sid taught me a lot. He never wanted to be a supervisor, though, he said he didn’t want to take the job home with him. I was a different sort, I wanted to take it on. I dont’ know, maybe having all those kids at home, I figured I could eventually handle two dozen carpenters on the job. It wasn’t long till I became a foreman. I might have been the tenth or twelfth choice after guys like Sid, but I always said yes when a job was offered to me. After I made a few mistakes and learned from them, I was on supervisory all the time. And in them days there was lots of work sub-contracting at Stelco and Dofasco and Pigott Construction in Hamilton. One of the things I’m proudest of is I worked on the Burlington Skyway Bridge in 1956 and my son Gary worked on the twinning bridge in 1986.
It was pretty lively in them years the family was growing up. When I started being a carpenter I was playing for and coaching Lefty Jordan’s Hamilton Lincoln Burners, and later I helped get the Brantford Warriors going. When the boys started playing organized lacrosse it really got hectic. I remember in the sixties when Gaylord was living in Oshawa and playing for the Green Gaels and Gary was playing for Long Branch. One game I’d go watch Gary at Long Branch and Wilma would drive on to Oshawa to watch Gaylord. The next game we might switch cities. It wasn’t long till Greg and Harry began playing for Port Credit. And then there were the hockey games and all the practices on top of that.
Wilma and I racked up a lot of miles in them years. And a lot of stats. I still got stats lying around the house from every game we watched. I could tell you who played a good game on any given day in any given year way back, how many draws he got, who he lost a draw to and who was the best centreman to watch. My daughter Gail got really good at keeping stats for me and I really depended on her when I was coaching.
Wilma’s no slouch with stats either. I don’t know which one of them it was, coulda been the Landoni brothers or Jack Bionda or Tony Damico. I coached Tony in Hamilton, named one of the boys after him. Whoever it was he asked Wilma why she stopped having kids after we had thirteen. Wilma told him she’d been reading a Statistics Canada report about the time our youngest child Jacqueline was born. She said she knew she had to stop after she read that every fourteenth child born in Canada was Italian.
It’s nice having a big family and we’re proud of every one of our kids. At first, thought, I gotta admit I was kinda worried about Gaylord not that he started out on the wrong foot exactly more like in the wrong net. Gaylord was five years old and he was playing in this first lacrosse game, thrilled as could be. He got the ball in front of his owen net and somebody hollered, Shoot! Even then, Gaylord scored goals.
Too bad it has to be on his own goalie.
I never had Gaylord’s finesse as a player. A lot of people think I coached him a lot but I only coached him one year, in Rochester in 1969, after he’d become an established player. The coach who really brought him along was Jimmy Bishop. Actually, Bishop had to bring him a long ways, all along the Lakeshore to be exact.
At that time you had to get a release form if you wanted to play for any junior team other than the one closest to your home. In Gaylord’s case, Bishop had to get ten release forms, one from Guelph, one from St.Catharines and eight from Toronto area teams to get Gaylord to Oshawa.I guess Bishop found some sort of loophole in the constitution after one of his players broke a leg during the season.
Gaylord was only seventeen at the time and he’d never even seen a junior game. I took him to Long Branch and he seen a game against Oshawa During the game I asked him if he thought he could play in that league. When he said, Sure, I can play in this league, that settled it. We talked to Bishop and two hours later Gaylord was on his way to Oshawa. After Gaylord started proving himself, the ten teams said they’d never be another Powless waved across the Lakeshore.
It was an honour and a priviledge for Gaylord to play for Bishop on four Minto Cup teams. Bishop created a dynasty. He recruited the best young players in small towns in Ontario and he taught them discipline and conditioning. And respect. Had them riding in buses instead of cars, wearing team jackets and ties. It was high class stuff for Gaylord.
But it could still get rough on the floor, One year in the Minto Cup playoffs in New Westminster, Gaylord tangled with three of them Salmonbellies. One guy cut him for ten stiches in the mouth. Cross-checked him but good. It was deliberate, the guy was trying to put him out of the game. Blood’s pouring from Gaylord’s mouth when two more Salmonbellies attack him from behind. Gaylord turned around and spit blood in their faces. Then the fight was really on! Them Salmonbellies were gone for the game and Gaylord got a total of seven minutes. Oshawa won the game by one goal. And the Minto Cup.
Gaylord met some fine people through lacrosse. Like in 1968, the year he played pro lacrosse with Bill and Jim Squires down in Detroit, he met Gordie Howe. Gaylord skated with Gordie when the ice was in, and when it was out, Gaylord taught him how to play lacrosse. Gordie was an amazing athlete and a fine man. He told Gaylord he’d seen lacrosse out in Saskatchewan but he’d never had the chance to play the game. The first week Gordie started off a right-handed player. By the second week he was switching hands as if he’d been doing it for years. After a month he could throw the ball from one end of the floor to the other and hit the net with either hand.
Geordie Howe and I are both lucky guys in one respect. We were still playing the games we loved when our sons were grown up and playing too. I only played against Gaylord once. It was in 1967. Gaylord had played at Expo that year when a Canadian Indian team defeated an American Indian team. He was twenty-one and I was forty-one. I was playing for the Hagersville Warriors and Gaylord was playing a few games with the Oshawa Steelers. The game was in Whitby. There was a loose ball behind the Hagersville net. Gaylord went for the ball and I stepped in and checked him with my shoulder, right into his midsection. Some people say I knocked him out, I don’t know. I heard him say once, it was the hardest hit he remembers. All I know is I thought he was going to hit me and it was better him than me. I figured if he he’d knocked me flying, I’d never live it down and I couldn’t have that.
That was my last season as a player. But I still coached for a number of years. I was never to liberal with praise as a coach. If a player did somthing right, I might muss up his hair or something when he came back to the bench, but the only time I’d say much if he did something wrong. Maybe my boys never knew it, but one of my biggest thrills was coaching six of them on one team at a North American Indian Lacrosse tournament.
I’m not doing anything in lacrosse these days, just going and wathching my grandchildren. Got tweny of them now and I’m just thankful to be here to watch them grow up. I hurt myself at work a few years ago, slipped down some stairs and hit my lumbar disc three times on the way down. I went to a rehab. centre in Toronto and after what I seen there I’m grateful I only wear a leg brace to keep my foot straight when I walk.
I have to do a fair bit of walking as the housing inspector on Six Nations. I like this job. It’s a lot better than getting ulcers being a band administrator. Every year I’d just get used to the new forms and Indian Affairs would change them on me. And them meetings day and night were getting to be too much.
As housing inspector I start early in the winter and suggest to people who want to build that they get hydro permits and field layouts for their septic systems first. After they decide where they’re gonna build, I suggest they keep their lane away from the fence lines because in the winter the lines act as a snowfence and every little wind comes up, you’ve got youself a plugged lane to deal with. I suggest where to put their well to get good drinking water and we talk about the elevation of the house, that’s always important. I always suggest to the womenfolks that they have their kitchen in the east and their living room in the south to make the best use of solar power. And as for the wommenfolk and bay windows, well, I tell them the only advantage to a lady having a bay window is so she can run and see who drove by. They get a kick out of that, but the truth is some people just don’t use common sense. You lose so much heat with them bay windows.
It’s worth working all week just so I can go hunting on the weekend with my sons and my sons-in-law and my neighbours. Gives the women some time to themselves too. It’s about the only exercise Gaylord gets, seeing he’s on compensation right now for his bad back. The thing is when Gaylord and I get out hunting we don’t think about those kinds of things. It’s not till we’re home on the couch or in a comfortable chair ya know how tired and stiff ya are.
I got two bird dogs, Lady and George. I just love Lady. She’s an eleven-year-old Springer and George is a young Brittany. Every six days Lady seems to know we’ve been resting long enough and I’m gonna be opening the trunk of the car and putting in the guns and the thermos. The dogs go so wild when they hear them bells I put on their collars. They seem like little kids and it kinda makes me feel a bit younger too. But the main reason I take Lady is when I come in early, I can always tell the boys it was because Lady got tuckered out.
I like hunting because you have to use a lot of common sense. Like when you’re looking for a rabbit, you know when it’s just left the hole, it takes short hops while it watches for owls and hawks. Then when it gets its belly full and hears something, a rabbit bounds to safety with powerful jumps. I like hunting birds best. Percentage-wise you don’t get as many birds as you do animals on the ground. Birds are so fast and they have so many ways of eluding you. It’s more of a challenge to hit a partridge than a rabbit.
One day this winter I shot a bird and knocked a rooster down. George, that’s my Brittany, not one of my sons, went and got it with Lady hot on his tail. George got overeager and dropped the bird. Lady, she’s kinda possessive and likes to please me so much, she tried to pick it up . Well, George wasn’t gonna have none of that. He grabbed it again. Seemed like the two of them talked it over a bit. Finally, I seen the two of them come up from the little creek bed over the bank with the bird in their mouths. What a team! Them dogs taught me a valueble lesson that day, one I’d like to pass on to everyone in Fergus: a bird in the mouth of two dogs is better than a bird in the bush.
Wilma told me I’d know when to stop this here speech. She said the banquet guests would start reaching for stale dinner buns. I’m not gonna push my luck in Fergus. What’s that? Who was the geatest lacrosse player I ever played with or against? Well, first of all, there is no best lacrosse player. But if it was possible to get a team of just one type of player, and not wanting to hurt Gaylord’s feelings or to make Johnny Davis feel bad or Donny McPhail or Ikey Hildebrandt or Roger Smith, Roger’d be right at the top for sure, or Willie Logan, I’d have to pick Jack Bionda. Of course, that’s a much different era from today, and us old lacrosse warriors, every time we get together, the older we get the better we was