Monday, 30 July 2012

Day 23

I'm trying hard to keep this post about the book, but it has been such a dream come true day, I think I may just write what is on my mind tonight.

To get the full story, we need to go back a few years....

When I was in grades 11 & 12, my mom and I had seasons tickets to the Windsor Spitfires (just a few years ago). It was the Habs winning the Cup in 86 that got me into hockey. We weren't really a hockey family. I didn't know who Peter Puck was. I was behind, but quickly caught up, thanks to Ken Dryden's books.

The Spitfires went to my high school. Adam Graves, Peter Ing, Darryl and Darren Shannon, Glen Featherstone...They won the OHL championship in 88 and just missed winning the CHL. Brilliant team.  My favourite team they played was the Peterborough Petes (Corey Stillman still my favourite defenseman who played for them).

I went to Trent U in Peterborough. My treat to myself was seasons tickets to the Petes. Great players on those teams, too - Jassen Cullimore (about a foot taller compared to Corey Stillman), Chris Pronger.

My birthday treats during my 4 years there were game worn jerseys of Stillman (#3) and Cullimore (#22). My prized possessions.

During my years in Peterborough, I went Trent with a few players (one also hit me with a puck at a game - thanks, Jamie). I also developed my own stat sheet to keep me busy during the games. I was not a 'puck bunny'. I was competely a fan of the game. My stat sheet kept track of not just the usual goals and penalties, but also lines and face-offs (everything except how many times Pronger touched his helmet, as my seat neighbours said). I wish I could remember what it looked like. I could have made a fortune.

I also auditioned to sing the US National Anthem at a game. I won. You see, I wanted to prove myself at that game against the Detroit jr team. I knew the coaches - Paul Maurice and Pete Deboer. I went to school with them. Pete was a great guy. Paul was, too, but I just knew Pete better.

My mom booked time off to come and see me sing. I bought her ticket. The day before, I called the Pete's head office and was told that they forgot about me and gave the game to someone else. I was brokenhearted. They gave my mom tickets to another game (I ended up singing 2X that year), but not for Pete and Paul. But, I did sing the game Cullimore came back from the World Juniors one year - a year they didn't place. A real tragedy for Canadian hockey fans that year.

I loved hockey with a passion then. When I wasn't doing school work, I was reading about hockey (my final paper for a 4th year history class was how the '72 series helped to heal the relations in our country and helped us to be united). I could name starting line ups for NHL teams, including naming what junior team they played for). Then I got married and had children. I didn't have time or money to put into hockey anymore. But I had my jerseys.

My jerseys stayed with me always. They were the most treasured items I owned. I wore them in all pregnancies. I wore them out and about. I guess because of my love for the Petes, and the years I lived in Peterborough, these jerseys became my comfort items.

I didn't realize until I started writing this blog that I lost Stillman's jersey when I lost Cullimore's in the house fire. Honestly, they are the only items I miss that I lost. It still makes my heart sad.

There's the background which makes today seem so surreal.

I asked for and was given the assignment by SNAP Haldimand-Norfolk to photograph the Stanley Cup celebrations in Simcoe (John Stevens, assistant coach) and Nelson Emerson (player development) both of the LA Kings. The Waterford event was awesome, in the true sense of the word. In Simcoe - I was Press and got into a press conference - one of the first few to see the beloved Stanley Cup on our hometurf.

Jassen Cullimore was there (he won a Cup with Tampa a while back - and dang, he is TALL without his skates). I finally introduced myself after all these years. Who would have thought that my love of hockey, my love of the Petes, would have culminated in ME covering a press conference with the Stanley Cup? Rob Blake was also there, and the formidable Red Kelly who won 8 Cups, including 4 with the Red Wings. He told a story of how his newborn child left a load in the Cup when he had it! Hilarious.

I introduced myself to Nelson Emerson by apologizing for burning his old house down. Yep - the house we lost, we were told, he used to live in. He said no, but it belonged to his sister. I asked him to send my apologies to her then (but I did it myself when I arrived in Waterford - beautiful sisters he has). I didn't have the heart to tell anyone about Stillman or Cullimore's jerseys.

Waterford had things so well arranged, so well prepared and had a fantastic turnout - more than Simcoe did, actually. The looks in those kids eyes were beautiful. I took some great pictures...better pictures than I did in Simcoe, actually. The camera was acting up there (it wasn't me, I swear). But Waterford was where the real action was, anyway.

I did get my picture with the Cup. We got our family pictures with the puck - we could TOUCH it! It felt sacreligious, almost.

Maybe it's because I'm older now, maybe it's because of my lookout on life because of our past year, but I can't say that what I did today was a 'dream come true'. It was incredible, amazing, something I couldn't have EVER dreamed would happen to me...but maybe the fact that I never did dream it, I can't say it's a dream come true. Who would have thought I'd become a photographer, anyway?

The question is now, how to relate it to Mr. Plummer's book. I think it is more of a dream come true that I get to attend Stratford, that I've been backstage at 2 of their theatres. My kids are in a promo video for them. I'm in a promo video for them (to be released). I've met Mr. Plummer, seen him on stage. I've met other actors/actresses - my favourite males and females (except one who shall remain my secret). I love this town!

Did my dreams just change? My love of theatre has always been there, since I was a wee girl. My mom raised me telling me about Stratford stories, sharing our love for Mercutio...

Nelson Emerson is the first player to play in the NHL from Waterford (coincidentally, he played jr B in Stratford - go figure). Then he received a scholarship to Bowling Green, from where he was drafted. No OHL experience. As his sister told him, it is every Canadian's dream to bring the Cup home. The pics of these hockey children (and their parents) were of total bliss. The local supermarket gave out free hotdogs and drinks. Breyers ice cream gave out free ice cream (as Breyers did in Simcoe's festivities).

He brought it home. I told one of my kids that it was like Paul Nolan, from a little town off 500 in Saskatchewan (if I remember correctly) and starred in a Tony-nominated musical. Who would have thought? I do think starring in a show equals winning the Cut, by the way - if you have to win by ballot, getting nominated IS like winning the Cup.

And what about Mr. Plummer? He won his Oscar (finally). A boy from a Montreal (ok, not such a small town), a principal actor at Stratford (small town) - he brought his Oscar home (well, maybe his Florida or Connecticut home). But, he will always be Oscar winning actor in his bio.

What did I learn tonight? Photojournalism is cut-throat. Jeepers.I got pushed aside by other photographers who completely ignored me. I must needs becomre more aggressive.  The volunteers in Simcoe, and especially Waterford, were open and kind (and pointed out great shots to me). I can't live with tunnel vision. I probably missed at least a couple of shots because I refused to stand in someone's way. In the end - it was the pictures of the kids waiting, looking, and touching the Cup that I wanted to capture. In that, I was a success. When they are posted on-line, I'll post the link. Two pictures in particular stands out above the rest. The light in their eyes - their hockey dreams in their eyes....it was an honour to be able to save those moments.

I was with the family from 1130-7:00 tonight taking pictures and hanging out.

It was a great day. No complaints (except the other journalists). I just wish I could have worn my Cullimore jersey (it even had a skate cut mark on it...and fighting straps...sigh).

But who would have thought that my love of the Petes from Windsor days, prepared me for the Cup today? It IS surreal. I wouln't have belived it if someone told me 20 years ago.

Nya:weh for my paths in life meeting up today. I even met someone who was in Stratford over the weekend (a teacher from Brantford). It's becoming that Stratford people are finding me as much as I'm finding pregnant or breastfeeding or midwifery women. You attract what you love in life, I suppose.


And I still love hockey - and miss my jerseys...c'est la vie.