Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Obesity Rate in the USA DOWN 43% in Ten Years

Wow... this is a headline in the New York Times today... the implications for the future are spectacular if this trend were to keep up... lower healthcare costs because of the concomitant diseases that often accompany obesity... diabetes, joint disease, heart disease, cancer. If this is combined with education, exercise and other opportunities for more comfortable people, it could develop into new budget opportunities in the USA. One can only hope that this trend will continue and be reflected in Canada and Mexico.

The New York Times |BREAKING NEWS ALERT |Unsubscribe
BREAKING NEWSTuesday, February 25, 2014 4:10 PM EST
Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% Over Past Decade, Federal Survey Finds
Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a stunning 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The drop emerged from a major federal health survey that experts say is the gold standard for evidence on what Americans weigh. The trend came as a welcome surprise to researchers. New evidence has shown that obesity takes hold young: Children who are overweight or obese between age 3 and 5 are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults.

There is more at


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pinching myself again...

I started a blog a couple of years ago with the statement "once in a while, I have to give myself a pinch"...

I went on to thank the folks who had gotten me through my bouts with cancer and my aortic valve surgery. I was at the time celebrating five years cancer free and my heart valve was ten years old.

Today with the pinch, it dawned on me that I am now celebrating my 8th year cancer free, and now I also have a new porcine (pig's) heart valve that replaced the bull's valve I had for eleven years. Now with two open heart surgeries and my cancer surgeries, I have logged a lot of extra sleep to give me the energy to keep going forward. So, here I celebrate and remind myself that there are many, friends, acquaintances, and millions of others travelling these paths with me.

Here we are crossing the Continental Divide after a climb out of 
Yellow Stone's South Entrance. From the Left, Rodney Sallman,
Jason Stoke, Danelle Leslie Titus, me and my cancer surgeon
Chad Robertson.
I am reminded that my friends that rode from Vancouver to Austin, Texas with me just over three years ago were the most healthy people I could imagine... powering up ascents like this one to the left... and screaming down the other side of the divides. And yet Danelle, here in the blue riding jacket, has been battling a cancer challenge, almost since this picture was taken. She is facing it head on, and her family and friends are supporting her in the same way as mine did me during my cancer and heart challenges. It appears no one, no matter what we do, is immune to this and other diseases.

I am hoping that Danny and my friend Jeff Clarke in Ottawa both are able to overcome their individual challenges, mighty as they are, in the coming months and then celebrate over the years. I am reminded that we all have friends that need our encouragements and support. We can reach-out and touch each of them with a phone call, an email and a hug!

Not for me to wonder why, but to celebrate our ongoing lives, and take each challenge as if it were the Continental Divide... and try, try again to be ready.

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My Discovery, My Cancer...

In researching for my cycling and cancer story I went back through some drafts written some time ago and found this un-posted draft. Since friends are being diagnosed with cancer of some sort, almost weekly it seems, I thought I would post this to give some comfort that we all are crushed a little when we get that phone call... there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it doesn't have to be the last one we see... believe me!
When I ride on my own, which when I am training, is almost always... I usually leave home with a couple of things on my mind that I want to think about. There is a lot of empty space on the road and between my ears... since I don't believe in listening to music when I ride, I ask questions of myself, my own Five W's I like to call them... who, what, where, when and especially why. This is about things of the moment, or more arcane... often, I forget and my mind just wanders into a subject... ride-dreams. Often the dreams are about questions or answers I just don't understand. Sometimes I go so far as to 'vicariously' ask friends the same questions, to imagine what they would say. That way, I can be prepared for the answers when I ask them face-to-face. Great fun!

I was about to get a chance to ask lots of questions when the phone rang one Monday morning back in October of 2005. I answered in my normal, cheerful way... then my periodontist said to me, "Bruce, you have cancer!"

In reality, Dr. Stacy Matheson said a lot more than 'that' before she said 'that'... but I don't remember anything but... "Bruce, you have CANCER". That's a pretty short sentence, with a long meaning. Years Long! Sometimes smile to myself when I think about the five Double-U questions of that comment...

There were some answers I quickly recognized... the 'who' was clearly... me! The 'what' was a little more complex... but I quickly got the answer that it was 'squamous cell carcinoma'. I immediately knew that I would be reading a lot about this really weird name, for which I had no clue of a meaning. Sounded bad, it even smelled bad... really squishy!

The 'where' was also pretty simple... at least it started out that way. My cancer was right where the fourteen stitches were in my gums, just above my front, right tooth. My tongue instantly stretched forward, shooting between the upper lip and gum  to touch them... stringy, a couple of strands out of place... no blood taste any more... they were still there though... no swelling remained around them. My teeth were still there as I ran my tongue over them... strong, straight, porcelain, expensive, newish... squishy?

Dr. Matheson had put those stitches in on the Thursday before the phone call. I was scheduled to visit her later in that next week to get the stitches out. After all, she had just taken out a little tissue. I couldn't see what she took. The hole was sewn up, and I didn't get a look at what was on the tray where she had the silver tools. I did see a scalpel, and the thread and curved stitching needle. I wished I had looked at what came out! I did know she was sending it for pathology testing, but that was routine. Next time, I thought now, I will ask!

This Monday morning phone call had disturbed my peaceful coffee and Yahoo reading. I knew that the perio work I had had done was more extensive than I had anticipated, but nothing to worry about. I mean that fourteen stitches was right where I had had a red and occasional bleeding spot at the gum line, for about four years. My dentist had never shown any concern about it, only cutting it out a couple of times and just a stitch or two. He had recommended I see a dentist in Nova Scotia when we moved there. He wrote a referral, and so I ended up with Stacy who did exactly the right things. She removed the suspect tissue and had it sent for pathology tests. But all looked like it was routine, so "No worry" was what I had told Lynnda when I got home... as I took some pain killers... I mean it was only nine stitches!

Original Nine Stitches, October, 2005
Stacy went on to tell me that she had taken the liberty of making an appointment with a new oral surgeon at the QE II hospital in Halifax. He was available, and could see me later in the week. This didn't sound good.... she wasn't fooling around with it, surgeon, a couple of days later, wow, I searched for a pen and then some paper... panic had set in, but I realized that I was sitting at my computer, I didn't need a pen, or paper for that matter... as she started giving me details... Dr. Chad Robertson, Thursday, October.... 2005.

All of that had taken a matter of five minutes... She asked me if I had any questions, and I was so stunned that I said, "No". As I said no, already I realized that that was not the right answer... the silence on her end of the line confirmed her surprise... "right after you see Dr. Robertson, come and see me, I will take out the stitches" she said into my fog. I wrote that down...

It would be the last time I would be saying "no questions" for about five years. Lynnda was out when the call had come in, so I was alone in my fogged hole of disbelief. I don't remember what I first thought about the news...  it took some time to regain my thoughts that merged with the reality of my crash course in squamous cell carcinoma based on this new thing called Google... there was a lot of information... thousands of pages!

All of this conversation was taking place in our winterized cottage which we had moved into just a couple of months before. We were living in Oyster Pond, which is located on Jeddore Harbor in Nova Scotia. It is on the most easterly coast of mainland Canada. Lynnda and I had moved there from Colorado Springs in the summer so we could be closer to my Mother who was suffering many late life frailties and illnesses. On that Monday morning it was cold, foggy, a little rainy... I mean, it was a normal day down that way...

Charlie and I would have to go for a walk... that's where Lynnda was, walking with a couple of the neighbors. They did several miles every morning, quick time... then tea and coffee somewhere. I would have lots of time to myself before I would confront her and them, with my news. In fact, Charlie and I did take a long walk... in the other direction, down the shore road to where we could see the Loons and maybe some seals. I walked with Charlie, but I talked with me. I don't think I could have been sadder, some moments tears would mix with the fog, the fog in the air. On that walk, I never did get out of my fog... I never did figure out what to do... and I always know what to do... this was to be the new me... fogged!

Looking into the mid-day fog from the
Oyster Pond Cottage Deck, 2005.

On the walk, I talked with me about the 'when'... the initial discussion didn't go well! It was the first time I thought about 'when' I had the CANCER in the first place. I didn't know the answer to that during the walk. Certainly Charlie was no help, although he had been around for all the times I had had that red spot treated in the past, in Colorado Springs. But he was keeping mum about how he felt. I resolved to leave the 'when' alone for that walk... but also to call my dentist back in Colorado to find out what he thought about my diagnosis.

We continued to walk and I got to the 'why'. Wow, that question is a Pandora's box. Any time a person gets CANCER, I recommend that they not ask that question! Self-loathing is such a debilitating mind function that one shouldn't get into it. I know... now, that that walk was the beginning of my narcissistic search for a cause of my CANCER. It lasted for a few years, and I read hundreds of pages of opinion, research and social data. In the end, I came up with several reasons to believe that I had brought on my CANCER... but the real answer to that didn't arrive for five years, so I will leave the 'why' until later. Suffice to say, it is much better to bypass this question, since there is little that can be done about it... unless one is considering doing it again!

When I got back to the cottage, our renovation and construction crew was there. We were having a two car garage built, and even though it was fogging, the guys apparently decided to work... they weren't there when I left, but they had arrived. I guess when you live on the Eastern Shore, they would loose so many days if they didn't work on fog days, that they just decided to get wet. That's why the folks on the Eastern Shore sometimes complain of having moss between their toes... in the rest of the world we call it Athletes Foot!

It was great, having the guys there to talk to... it took my mind off the 'me' part of the cancer. I didn't say anything to Kim, Gary and Thomas about the call I had gotten. I got back on the computer and I just read, and printed what seemed like the important things. A lot would depend on what stage the cancer was when it was found. I didn't know that answer. I learned that morning, if there were  metastasis it could be in the lungs or brain... that wouldn't be good. There was a lot of data, but I wan't certain what to believe... there was conflicting information. I retained those pages... they are still on the Google Pages, too.

Lynnda came back at around eleven and we had a cup of tea with Kim. Kim Aaboe is a Danish boat builder; come post-and-beam home builder; come sailor and expert knot tyer. He is also a dry philosopher who could discuss practically anything with a matter-of-fact manner, that we had come to really enjoy. While he was building the garage, he was also helping us design and build out the kitchen, the down-stairs laundry room and practically everything else in the cottage on the point. He would become one of our strongest support partners, like his big beams, he was already keeping our minds off our problems with the cottage, and my Mother. I knew, even then, that I would be able do depend on Kim when the going got tough.

After tea, Kim went back to the building of the garage, and I had a chance to face-to-face with Lynnda. I put my best one on, and 'mentioned' that "Dr. Matheson called". I don' know if it was the look on my face, or the fact that there was an unexpected call from my periodontist... but I could see steel forming in her back, at the same time as her eyes searched mine. I went over the conversation I'd had with Stacy, and with Lynnda's lead, I put some steel in my upper lip. We had a discussion around the fact that we really had no information. What I had found on the internet really had no basis in fact... it needed to be vetted... and I didn't go over it with her. In retrospect, I suspect that she was on the computer within minutes of our conversation... lots of wasted paper!

It was amazing, the pressure was off, I'd had the discussion with Lynnda and everything was OK. At least it would be, so there was no reason to over-react. We would wait for the meeting with Chad Robertson before we over-reacted. Already we were smiling at our own fake bravado...but that's CANCER.

I decided to hit the books. I had signed up at Saint Mary's University for the EMBA program that started in August. I was doing very well and my papers were getting very high marks. I knew however, that if I did't do my reading assignments, I couldn't rely on my experience. Everyone in the class it seemed had great experience, and I knew I needed to be prepared for the discussion groups and to work on the team  for which I had been chosen. The rest of the day went quickly...

Lynnda and I had dinner early... even though it seemed late. The sun goes down early in Nova Scotia the later into the fall we get. It had been cloudy all day, even though the fog had lifted by noon. We washed the dishes... and went back into the office to do more reading. At around 8:30, I mosied over to Ron and Bev Smith's. Ron always had his thinking cap on, and I had already grown to rely on him for great arguments about politics, business, life and the English language. Ron had retired from teaching English when he was about 55, and Bev had also retired from teaching... but she had grown tired of Ron's and my enthusiasm for discussing things over glasses of red wine, till the wee hours.

It wasn't long before I brought up the appointment with Dr. Robertson. I remember Ron's words so well, as if it was yesterday... "fuck... life's not fair".

So, we had another glass of red, and whined about the fairness of life...

Un-copywritten, pass it on...

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Special Treatment for Seniors and Prisoners... hmmm

I was sent this commentary by John and Chris Gurin. It does give one pause for thought about the way we treat our seniors... and our prisoners. Here in Mexico we would probably get an interesting reaction from seniors were we to put them into jails. I sense this applies to the USA and Canadian jails, thanx to the ALCUs...

Here's the way it should be:
Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.
This would correct two things in one motion:
Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical
Treatment, wheel chairs, etc.
They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly... If they fell or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.
All meals and snacks would be brought to them.
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.
Simple clothing - i.e.. Shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be free, upon request.
There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.
Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.
They would receive daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.
The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.
As for the criminals:
They would receive cold food.
They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.
They would have no hope of ever getting out.
"Sounds like justice to me!" 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stories From Truro, Nova Scotia

The Colchester Forum on Queen Street… circa 1963

This story is about an indoor ice rink called the Colchester Forum. It was at the center of skating and hockey for the people living in and around Truro, Nova Scotia from the 1930’s until early in 1963. As an impressionable young boy to whom the likes of Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard,  and of course the Rocket, Maurice Richard were un-seeable Gods, I became engrossed in the life of the Colchester Forum, and the hockey played there. In the early 1960’s I was well on the way to becoming a hockey player and a life long fan. In addition to the Montreal Canadians, I could recite the names of local hockey players from the Truro and District Hockey League as well as each of the schools in the area. I learned how to decipher all the sports stories and stats in the Truro Daily News and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. I could not recite the Periodic Table, but I knew if Gordie Howe had more goals than Bobby Hull or more penalty minutes than Eddie Shack.
I played Peewee and later Midget hockey in the Forum, but I may as well have been on the open ice of the flooded stone quarries that were around Truro. This because the Forum was not heated, and was really just an artificial ice rink built into an existing barn. The barn and its fields was originally owned by Bill Fleming. His new ice surface was located on the north side of Queen Street, near to downtown.
The new rink, and was destined to become one of the best known hockey centers in the Maritimes. Truro proper was never known as Hockeyville, but games played there included future NHL players. Allan Cup playoff teams developed from the players who called it their home. Initially it was named the Fleming Arena. Subsequent owners were Willard Cox who called it the Truro Forum and then in the late 50’s it was owned by George McCharles and Larry Hadfield who renamed it the Colchester Forum.
I retain vivid memories of the Forum, and many instances that occurred there, real and some imagined. The Forum as a building was awesome to me, and I suspect many of my age peers in Truro and Colchester County. It was one of the first artificial ice plants in the Maritimes. It was among the first to have the Blue Lines painted on the ice. Years later, it was among the first to have a center Red Line that made a pass from the defensive zone behind the Blue Line, to over the center Red Line, an off-side hockey rule. This was done to slow down the fastest hockey teams who could get break-aways several times a game with the long centering pass, down ice.
In many ways I am who I am today because of the Forum… I learned to wonder and wander; imagine and observe; strive and achieve or fail; respect, celebrate, grieve and so on at the Forum. Perhaps not my DNA, but definitely my hardware and software were developed from the beginnings that were centered in life at the Truro Forum.
I did a little research for this story, and received willing help from several folks. I want to acknowledge them ahead of the story; just in case you think my story and writing unworthy of completion… Lyle Carter, one of the Goalie Gods of my early hockey memories and a historian, writer, and just all-round-good-guy, has provided me with verbal, scanned and emailed notes… including some pictures of the forum. Johnny Hutcheson provided Lyle with some of his printed information including some pictures. My brother Harold Ross reminded me of several incidents that took place at the old Forum. I did find some information on the internet, but searches there made me glad that I have a brain, and grey matter that is intact, so as not to have to depend on the lack of uploads from the various news entities of the day. An article in the Truro Daily news, and an editorial from the same News was helpful in understanding some details for this story.
Here is my experience and the Forum’s impact on my memories…  

Circa 1963… I am about fourteen years old as I help this story unfold…
Six rink rats on ice hockey skates… each pushing rusted, black-bladed, hickory shafted, snow-plows, circled the chipped-up almost snowy ice of the old Colchester Forum. These were young people who volunteered to scrape the playing surface. Their goal was to end up with two piles of snow, one at each end of the ice. Hundreds of fans looked on from the edges of the boards… it was between the first and second period of the big game… I was intent on making sure I didn’t miss any part of the ice-making process… there wasn’t much else to do during intermissions back in 1963. Making the ice between periods would make a difference in the speed of the hockey in the next period. It could change the outcome of a team’s efforts during the subsequent period.
Curious, besides watching the hockey, I remember watching these Truro rink rats at every game I attended. Yes, I was there to cheer for teams named the Owls, Elks, Lions, Dairymen, Imperials and the Aces, as they played. Hockey in this Forum was like nowhere else in Nova Scotia… it was fast, powerful, exciting hockey. It was that way this night… we were watching the annual Truro District Hockey League All Star Game… Thursday, January 31st, 1963. Events of this evening are seared into my memories like few others.
A few of the fans were actually waiting to see who would bull-doze the big red snow scoop that would ultimately finish the ice cleaning job. I was among that group, leaning over the boards, intently watching. There at one end of the ice stood a very strong looking guy named Denny… one of the most powerful skaters anyone had ever seen… tonight we would see real power at work on the scoop!
Denny watched the human plow-team scraping the chipped ice. Pushed in the plows, the ice looked more like snow, piling up near where the goalie’s net would soon be replaced for the second period. When the piles became too big for the small plows to push, Denny bent over the scoop’s handle bars, and pushed it ahead of him… the leading edge was about four feet across, and had a skid pad on each side at the back. Denny first angled the scoop up, just a little, as he circled the pile that was near the north end of the rink… as he built up speed, leaning on the push-bar, driving his knees, skate blades ripping up ice-chips and snow, gathering speed, coming around for the second time he headed down the ice… more speed, more power… he lowered the leading edge to ice level…
It was heart pumping and then suddenly heart stopping, as the scoop exploded with ice-flakes blowing into the air. It was a direct hit, the scoop was full, but now at a dead stop. A small roar came up from the fans as we looked on… like I said, there wasn’t much to do during intermissions in 1963!
Skating backwards is a technique that’s very special; hard to teach and harder to learn… especially for some defenceman. It takes skill and strength… and for the scoop man, from a dead stop, with a scoop chock-full of heavy, snowy, ice it takes power. Denny, with bent hips and knees, dug into the ice with his skates… wiggling at the back end, pushing back with the knees… the scoop dislodged from the pile. A gaping hole was left in the drift-like pile, and then he stopped going backwards…
At this stage, I was dreaming of one day being able to just move that scoop… or at least pushing one of those steel snow plows. I’d show everyone I could do it, small as I was… and I knew the next stage of the scoop would be the hardest… bigger dreams…
Full of the white stuff, Denny started pumping ahead, driving the heavily loaded scoop ever faster… aiming for the open doors at the end of the rink… he had to get the snow well inside the wood-plank, floored area… where it would be shoveled outside, only to melt or freeze into a huge pile that often accompanied the really cold winter nights… faster, heart thumping fast… and then “BOOM” he hit the end, the scoop stopped dead, and the snow went flying into the back of the building…
Recovering the scoop, Denny rounded again for the next load… and this would go on for about ten minutes… seemed like more, because it was almost as interesting as the game, and getting the ice clean was critical to the quality of the hockey… without good snow and slush removal, the next stage of the process could never work. When Denny finished scooping the last of the large piles of snow, two of the small plows came together cleaning the scoop dregs, and followed him into the open doors… and back to anonymity.
Now came the big, heavy, fifty-gallon red tank, mounted on 14 inch black wheels and tires. It was pushed onto the ice. Steam was spewing from the open filling hole of the tank (hot water makes better ice), and then the real magic show started… the tall, grey headed guy (as I remember him, he was Reg), who would wheel the tank, went to the front of it. He was being careful not to slip and fall as he bent deeply, and opened a screw valve on the tank, just above ice level. Beyond the valve there were three-quarter inch pipes fixed onto the tank’s frame.  Opening the valve allowed the barrel’s hot water to stream into the distribution pipes… onto a well-worn, thick, thatched, hemp-like, rope pad that would disperse the steaming water smoothly onto the cut-up, scraped-up ice… but only if you moved the barrel at just-the-right-speed.
Big Reg was talented to the point where the old Truro Forum was known for its great ice… this was science and magic, combined. I was mesmerized by how smooth the ice could be… unless the home team was behind… then the ice would be made sticky to slow the game, a trick only the best ice-makers like Reg could do. For sure, this was no Zamboni, but the ice was as good as in the Montreal Forum, hockey’s Gold Standard. Tonight, the ice was perfect! The second period would be fast… lots of goals probably… unless the goal tenders were really sharp.
In the fan-stands, during the dead of winter, the wooden bench seats were so cold one would be as likely to choose to stand, rather than sit. Perhaps the winter hockey benches in towns like Truro, and around Canada, were the first to be known as “stands”. Perhaps the name migrated with the weather to the warmer sports of football, baseball and basketball, where the term “stands” seems like an oxymoron. Perhaps this was also the genesis of the term standing ovations… in fact, all ovations were standing in the dead of a hard winter in Truro, Nova Scotia in the early ‘60s.
Parking for most games was at the First United Church, Lorne Street parking lot. Walking to the Forum, in the dead of winter, could be treacherous… there was a narrow, poorly lit driveway, going down a hill, to the barn-like building. There were two levels of entry. The lower entrance took players and fans to the ice level. The upper level doors were opened for important games, when they needed the upper stands to be used, and there were only two very narrow, wooden stairways inside the building, to the upper stands. There was a small canteen near the entrance at the lower level, and a small ticket window by the door.
The rink surface itself was small by current standards… less than 200 feet long, as I remember. The width was also narrow compared to today. The goal posts, like the roof-girders above, were made of steel, but unlike the roof-girders, they had a tendency to come loose at critical times of games… with assists from the defending goal tenders. The netting was made of hemp rope, similar to that thatch on the watering tank. It had a tendency to break when a particularly hard shot got passed a goaltender… and had to be checked by the referee regularly… a tradition still in place today.
There were thick wooden boards that had absolutely no give, around the perimeter of the ice hockey surface. Today there are several inches of ‘give’ to the modern rinks… back then, the wooden boards seemed to jump toward you, rather than give, when a player checked another into them.
Straight up from the side boards, every eighteen feet, there were open structural beams; 12 inch, rough-hewn posts, soaring to the rafters. Defensemen used these beams as the extra man… squeezing smaller, rushing puck-carrying forwards into them… occasionally crushing a head or shoulder into them. In the days of the Truro Forum there were leather helmets, but few if any players used them… these pillar-like posts should have gotten danger-pay for unsuspecting, head-down, forwards! The posts could also block the perfect view of a crushing check, or a goal, for the unfortunate fan who was situated near a beam.
The Forum’s four corners were tight, not much more than square. They were friendly to the defense; they made it hard for the offence’s forwards to fore-check, without being slammed by a big defenseman. I can remember some of those, seeming, giants that were able to range from the goalie to the corner, without fear of a centering pass getting through… although I don’t remember if it was size or the smallness of the corners that was the limiting factor.
 In this undated photo one can see the upstairs area for fans; the tight corners; small size of the ice surface; large structural posts on the side boards; the goalie's crease was square;  the downstairs areas where the wire mesh protected fans; a cigarette advertisement, and a Coke ad with the same logo as today. (Photographer and date unknown, sourced from Lyle Carter) 
At the ends of the rink, and in the corners and behind the nets, there was chain link fencing that protected the fans and goal judges from the shots that missed the net. This chain link would allow clear vision of the puck coming, right at your head… it was only macho thinking that allowed one to try not to blink or alternatively jump-out-of-the-way, as the puck ricocheted off the metal of the fencing!
The chain link was rougher than the palms of a defenseman’s glove when getting rubbed or worse, checked into the end of the rink… it was when a player’s jersey or head got caught in the metal that a fan could sense and see the pain of a tear or the blood of a cut. We watched the offensive players who fore-checked, with respect reserved for MMA Octagon Fighters in more modern times… as defensemen lured forwards closer to their pending demise.
The Forum also had dressing rooms. The same two rooms that were used for the home and away teams to dress and plan strategies, were used as dressing rooms for the public skating sessions. During public skating days, one was for boys, the other for girls. The dressing rooms were also unheated. Wooden planked floors had openings to the ground, some so wide a skate blade could go through and trip up the unlucky wearer of the skate. Each dressing room had one toilet and they both had a long trough for boys and men to urinate… those that were shy, if they went outside, where it cold be so cold a urine stream might freeze in mid-air, might be stuck for a while.
Although it may seem like this was a den of horrors, the Truro Forum was actually a magnet to the residents of Truro and District, all the way out to villages like Brookfield, Middle Stewiacke, Debert and Tatamagouche. It wasn’t just hockey that engendered participation and fans. The public skating on Sunday afternoons at the Forum drew hundreds of skaters, young and not so. For the first hour the participants would go clockwise with the music. The music stopped, and all would reverse course, moving together in some sort of harmony. Some days they even cleaned the ice between direction changes.
There was usually some classical skating music, and couples would turn the ice loop, arm-in-arm, with long, smooth strides to the beat. At the same time, there were individuals on figure and hockey skates going in the same general direction, but not in unison. Every week there were a few really smooth skaters on the long, racing blades that could make it end to end and around the corners with just a few strides… smoothly pushing and gliding around the ice. These skaters were reflections of the population in Truro that still had their roots in Holland. The combination of all of these forms of skating made for interesting sessions with youngsters racing, adults skating to music and the long blades taking wide corners… organized chaos.
On any given open skate, I would pay my twenty-five cents (if I couldn’t sneak in) and meet many of my friends from Willow, Douglas and Alice Street schools, along with Saint Mary’s school. As I grew older, I started meeting each of my new-found girl-friends, as well as their many friends.  Being a very good skater was a great way to earn time with the girls, and not being reliant on having a hockey stick in one’s hand for balance, got allowed me to hold hands with favorites. I got to meet girls from all over Truro, and from Onslow and Brookfield, simply by being a good skater.
So the Truro Forum had become my social hub, as well as where I learned how to play my chippy style of hockey. It also became my escape place… to get away from home when I wasn’t getting along; and from school when I was bored. I would just go to the Forum and watch Truro live.
During this time my brother Harold was also becoming a strong hockey player. He was in his last year of peewee hockey in the winter of 1962/3. He had become tall and strong for his age and was becoming a leading defenseman for Willow Street School. I can remember that watching his games became another reason to be at the forum. I had started being the recorder for games and did a little refereeing around this time. I don’t remember if I ever gave him a penalty, but probably I sh/could have…
The rest of my life was moving along in a direction in which not everyone was happy. My teachers and parents seemed to be contriving to make me do only the things they wanted me to do. Of course, I was willing to fight the system and as a result, started failing in my school grades. At the time, hockey, skating and girls had become my focus, anything other than school.
In 1962, I had been held back a year after failing with Ms. Croft in Truro Junior High School. I was hanging out at the rink more and more. I had started smoking cigarettes, and acting out. The only positive influences I had seemed to be a couple of teachers and my hockey gods. The Physical Education teacher Bill Gatchel was also my Midget Hockey Coach. I liked history, English literature and geography, but not much else about school interested me.
While I was keeping a lid on most of my life, my memories are wrapped in the Truro forum and hockey… and it seems that many of us were going through the same thing. There was little else to do in the smallness that was Truro… small in many more ways than size, it was a time where I was bursting to get to the rest of my future.
All of this life experience was continuing as I stood and watched that All-Star game that Thursday night. It was brutally cold outside. Temperatures hovered near the low of zero degrees Fahrenheit, for the evening. It was an exciting game, with Bible Hill, the previous year’s championship team, playing the all-stars. But the cold caused the end of the game to be a relief, and most, if not all the fans headed, hurriedly, back to their parked vehicles. If the battery was frozen and the car didn’t start, the passengers joined the rest of the fans in trudging home in the sub-zero cold. No church in the morning, so cars were left in the parking lot.
I remember getting home having some hot chocolate with Mom, and getting to bed which was by far, the warmest place in the house. My brother Harold was playing his peewee hockey game in the morning and had gone to bed early. His game would be played at 8 AM… and he would be walking to the rink, hockey gear on with his skates and a hockey stick over his shoulder. Sleep came early for him.
Soon after I went to bed, the Truro Fire Alarm, which sounded like a loud horn, started to blare. It was not unusual to hear the alarm ringing from the top of the fire hall, in Truro’s center, at Prince and Young Streets. In the crisp winter air, it sounded like it was next door. I paid it little mind and settled into sleep. My dreams were of the game earlier in the evening, and how on Saturday I would be playing center on the second line of a Midget league game. I am sure I was dreaming of scoring goals and winning the game.
When the second alarm rang just 30 minutes after the first, it actually woke me. A second alarm was indeed, unusual. The town of 12,000 people had an all-volunteer fire department, so good that it often placed high in the Nova Scotia Firemen’s Competition at the Provincial Exhibition Grounds. A second alarm would likely pull everyone from bed, phones ringing, dreading fighting a fire in the biting cold of late January. We lived a mile or so from down town, and I could hear fire-engines’ sirens again, in the distance. But they didn’t sound for long… that meant the fire must be downtown I thought, but drifted off to sleep. No point in getting up, it was too cold to watch a fire, and at that hour, I wouldn’t have been allowed to go, anyway.
In just a few minutes I was sleeping soundly again… only to be awaken by a third alarm. This time I was up and looking out my bedroom window… the frost at the corners and edges of the windows couldn’t mask a glow in the sky. It was so bright, I didn’t notice that the cover over the three holes in the storm windows were open, that’s why I could hear the sirens and horns so clearly… and why my room was so cold. I slammed the cover over the holes and the inside window shut.
My parents were up already… we all wondered what building was burning. It was still too cold to head out… it was unlikely that the green Simca V8 car that my parents owned would start anyway. The car was made in France and was modeled after the Fiat… neither were intended for the Canadian winters of the 60’s. Even plugged in, it likely wouldn’t start. And, there was no way one should walk a mile, just to see a fire, in the cold frost of the night.
So, the speculation was on, as I crawled back into bed. Again, sleep came quickly.
In the dark of the early morning I wakened to my alarm. I would be walking with Harold to the Forum for his game. We needed to leave at 6:30, so I had set the alarm for 6AM. I could hear some voices in the kitchen, which was unusual for that time of the morning. I could smell coffee, and breakfast… and the voices were excited.
My parents had not gone back to bed after the third alarm… the bright glow in the sky to the east of our home was too much for my step-father to resist. He was not a fireman, but he knew many of the members of the Fire Hall, and he likely thought that this was a big fire, so perhaps he should go downtown. Perhaps it was his workplace on fire… Margolian’s was in an older building, and it would be a disaster for him were he to lose his job. The glow was apparently so bright and massive that he couldn’t pinpoint the location, so off he went.
He had come home at around 5:30AM to warm up and to talk to Mother about how to break the news to her two boys. The Colchester Forum was gone…
In its place was a skeleton of twisted steel beams, just the front wall and door would indicate what had stood prior to the disaster. Amazingly, no one was hurt in the three alarm fire. Apparently there was no saving the building from the first alarm… the Fire Chief indicated the fire started in the compressor room. There was an ammonia explosion, and a 250 gallon fuel tank burned like a torch according to the Truro Daily News report the afternoon of February 1st, 1963. The building was a total loss. The owners of the Forum estimated the financial loss from the fire to be around $30,000 and it was only insured for half that value. They indicated they had no intention of rebuilding the facility.
As I wakened to the news, I was in denial, as was my brother. He was determined to head down to the rink to play his peewee hockey game. This, in spite of Radio Station AM600, CKCL reporting non-stop on the loss of the building in the still smoldering, overnight fire. We sat, mostly in wonder of what we would do now… there were games to be played; time to be spent; whole lives seemed to hang in the balance of what would happen. Charles Archibald, the President of the Truro Minor Hockey Association reported there were over 1,000 children in the leagues of the association… they would be meeting soon, to plan for the future of hockey in Truro and its surrounding district.

These two scanned pic are from the Daily News. Sorry, but it is difficult to scan in JPG, so perhaps a little
explanation is in order... the upper picture shows the inferno with a couple of Truro Firemen in the foreground. The second is the aftermath... just twisted structural steel was all that was left. The article says it best:
It was the editorial the next day in the Daily News that actually captured the real impact of the fire. While many were talking about the cost to rebuild, estimated at $150,000 to $300,000 and the locations of such a facility… Victoria Park, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, TAAC Grounds and so on… the editorial stated among other things “the loss will be keenly felt by the young people. The Forum, such as it was, was of vital importance to them, not only to those resident of Truro, but the surrounding area”.
For me, the editorial was an understatement. It was my world.
Mine was a fragile existence. The Forum had provided what in the popular game of tag was called Home Base. For many reasons, school and family/home were not doing it for me at the time. I suspect that there were many of the 1,000 young people in the same situation. In perspective, it was the time of the Beatles invasion; cigarette smoking; girls; and many other confusing influences. This was the lot for many, we had problems with vision and perspective.
We had the radio… we could get the AM signal from CKCL and CJCH in Halifax. And with the help of signal skips we could on some nights get WCBS (Cousin Brucie), WABC and others, mostly rebroadcasting from Boston. We had the Truro Daily News and the Chronicle Herald and Mail-Star from Halifax. We had CBC TV and Radio and the very new CTV that was getting viewers by 1963. We had our parents and teachers, books and magazines. Stories from families lucky enough to travel to Florida for a few weeks in the winter gave us visions of a horizon… but not much to learn from.
For the next year, putting a hockey league together playing on open ice with rinks at most of the grade schools and the Junior High was helpful. These open rinks did not have artificial ice making, and weather was iffy, at best. For me, I was old enough and played a style that got me onto the Colchester County Academy, Brown and Gold, Hockey Team. It played in 1964 in the Headmaster’s Hockey Championships. The arena in New Glasgow, forty miles away, became our home ice. We played against Kings Academy, Sydney High School and then in the provincial finals, losing to Queen Elizabeth High School at the Halifax Forum.
Physical Education teachers started becoming important to me. The biggest impression was made on me by Bill Gatchel. He got me thinking about the things I could do if I was in shape. In addition, he taught us about healthy living, first aid, and calisthenics… which became my big interest. Hundreds of push, pull and sit-ups became my mantra. While running wasn’t yet a fad, I was starting to ride my Fuji ten-speed bicycle some distances… for example riding to the Wild Life Park in Shubenacadie. In those days I hadn’t even heard of the Tour de France, but that ride in 1964 comes to mind occasionally when I am ascending a difficult hill, on my bike, even today. In ‘64 it took me almost all day to get to Shubie, down and back. Today, it would be a matter of five hours, with time to watch the Otters, the stars of the park.
Absent these side-lines, I don’t know what would have happened to me. Yes, hockey came back with my playing for the Bearcats in Junior Hockey… but it was during these times that we went through our first exposure to American life. John Kennedy was assassinated later in 1963. More music was coming from more liberated writers and bands like the Beatles and Stones from other worlds. And while the boards of trade, city councils and political leaders bantered about the need to build a skating edifice, they forgot that it’s what happens inside those buildings… the institution within, that has the influence on young people. Time wasted…
For me, the lessons of scraping the ice cleanly; removing the snow completely; using hot water to make smooth ice… left a long lasting impression. Seeing a great local hockey player move up the ranks into the pro leagues gave me hope that one day, perhaps I could do the same… whether it be in hockey, or business, or politics. Having a place to go in dark hours, where I could play hockey, or get lost watching it, kept me out of the trouble into which I may easily have fallen, into early in life.
The life of the Colchester Forum as an institution more than just a building, had an impact on the history of Truro, Colchester County, Nova Scotia and at times Canada. When it burned that night in 1963, that all became a memory. Subsequent facilities became cookie cutter buildings with no personalities. They had Zamboni machines to clean the ice… and water them at the same time. These machines could even shave the ice so that games could be played longer into the spring because the ice could be kept just an inch thick, allowing the freezing pipes to keep the ice playable even when the building warms up. But most have no personality, at least not like the Colchester Forum in 1963.
The Editorial in the Daily News got it right… the loss of the forum was keenly felt by the young people of Truro. It is vaguely remembered by people who were not necessarily in its grasp, but clearly it has been a magnet for many a memory, for a very long time.
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Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!