Remembering the heyday of ‘Diamond Dave’ and crew

I wish there were a way around this instead of flat out admitting that I don’t have a column for you this week–nothing but excuses! I was never so frustrated in my long and rather convoluted career, but my readers have been faithful and they deserve an explanation:
I had ideas as usual, but one by one they petered out. My muse or some other influence suggests I can always go with the season, and this is baseball season, so what’s the problem here?
The story of Fort Frances baseball would be fascinating all right because we had less of it than most other hotbeds of sports, our athletic inclinations centering much more on hockey.
But hey! If I could just have contacted Dave Brockie, you know the guy I used to call “Diamond Dave” because diamonds came up for him in both sports and business as our favourite jeweller. We kept missing out on our phone calls.
Dave would have told you about our semi-pro team in old Victoria ballpark before the war, and how they played such great exhibition teams as “The House of David” (in beards) and occasionally “donkey ball” on real donkies.
Dave was our pitcher and I remember he relied heavily on red liniment for his arm and Hap Clark behind the plate.
I’m sorry but I can’t recall much more of that lineup which left a Calder in a soldier’s grave in Holland. It also had an Edgett in a U.S. army colonel’s uniform and I believe there was a Makarenko (maybe Weezie).
I should remember more of our “boys of summer” except events were moving so fast those years. I believe the CNR restaurant operator had something to do with team management, maybe even ownership, because there were imported players, same as there were once on our hockey team.
The name Pido Carriveau comes to mind because he stayed on here as a papermill boss and another import, Sammy Gigglotti, was a popular bartender at White Pine Inn when Al Egan was owner and I was the kid “bullcock” there one summer before I left high school.
My memory sometimes is a runaway thing and not always on the money!
Since then, there have been many ball teams for softball or fastball, but baseball has been mostly forgotten and I can’t even give you the team name.
I’m sure there will be letters.
• • •
Yes, there were opportunities for substitute stories, such as perhaps a rare tree in the La Vallee river valley that an MNR speaker discussed the other night at a Fort Frances Horticultural Society meeting convened by Vivian O’Donnell. Only I couldn’t catch up to the speaker.
Seems like the tree is a small stand of silver maples that produce syrup for a Mrs. Fraser who sometimes sells it here, so far away from Quebec where most of our maple syrup comes from. She grew up close by there as a daughter of Cameron McKinnon, the old reeve.
Then there was the veterans’ supper at the Legion on Saturday night. This is an annual event where long-service pins are presented. This time my old air force picture was among the Second World War faces on the wall, much to my surprise because I have to confess I was not in attendance.
The local Clover Valley Farmers’ Market also could have provided a column for me when it opened for the summer on Saturday but they expect it to be much busier this Saturday because of Mother’s Day being Sunday.
• • •
A lady who wants to remain anonymous suggested a column on dogs around town she sees as being mistreated because they are constantly penned up, and this would be a topic I could go on about, dogs having been important in my own life.
But I suppose those owners are doing their best to safeguard their canine friends and I won’t interfere.
• • •
I would rather swing a hatchet at the idea of closing three more schools which, I suppose, comes to the school board through necessity. But this bodes ill for the future of our town and district. It indicates a population setback which should not be happening.
I look on the old high school as an opportunity for the town to create more business and housing, but our local spirit seems dead on this issue. Now we have to take three more steps backward.
This is really rather ridiculous, isn’t it, for a community we’d like to consider progressive?
• • •
Bobby Gillon reports giving up on his co-operative gardening plans for local seniors. Too many problems seemed to be awaiting him in that kind of project.
• • •
The former June Smith notifies us she has inherited files on the old Rainy Lake Golf and Country Club that were left by her late husband, Jack, and maybe they’d make another column for me.
Jack once served as secretary there, as did Major Gordon.
• • •
But the main event this week seems to be our high schoolers’ presentation of “Grease,” the musical about the ’50s. They have it all together for four shows starting Thursday, and I’m dumfounded at this effort.
Imitating John Travolta dancing and Olivia Newton-John singing indicates incredible level of talent and practice, but I learn the young people have prepared everything themselves with little or no adult guidance and, with a granddaughter involved, I’m proud of all of them!

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