Pat Connolly Interview, Part One -- April 24, 2009
I want to go on record publicly and thank my friend Ian Robinson for helping me set up this interview. Thanks, Ian!
Ian gave me Pat's email address. I nervously wrote him. He wrote back, and asked to talk to me on the phone. Gulping, I called. Pat wanted to know why I would want to talk to him. I told him why, and he graciously agreed to meet Patricia and me for lunch at the Swiss Chalet in Dartmouth Crossing.
We made our way there. Pat showed up on time, greeted us warmly. We sat down, ordered some food, and began to talk. For more than 2 hours. For the first 30 minutes, I addressed him as, "Mr. Connolly". He finally ordered me to call him Pat, for which I am grateful. Easier to type.
We met again on August 10th to go over this long, long interview and to record yet more material. I have made an executive decision to transcribe those pieces separately. They will run as an addendum to this interview in the next few days. Look for it.
Pull up a chair, have a glass of your favourite tasty beverage, and say hello to Pat Connolly!
1. How did you get your start in radio?
PC: Quite by accident. It's quite an interesting story, I think. I graduated from Sydney Academy, and went directly from school to work in the newspaper business. I had apprenticed as a high school student in the Halifax Herald bureau in Sydney. I worked with one of the great journalists of all time, Sean MacDonald; he is the father of Morris MacDonald, who is now the sports editor of the Herald.
This would have been 1944. A long time ago. I started in the Circulation Department. The office was in the Canadian Pacific Telegram Office, where you filed the copy and transmitted it to Halifax by Morse Code!
In 1945, I went to the Post. It was then the Sydney Post Record. Now, it's the Cape Breton Post. I started in Circulation, then went to the News Room. I transferred to the Glace Bay bureau and came back to Sydney. I was there until 1948.
I was walking along Charlotte Street in Sydney one day; the CJCB studios were located along Charlotte Street at Prince. There was this long line up of people queued at the entrance of the radio station up the street. I didn't know what was going on, but they had advertised for an announcer. That's the way they did business in those days. I saw this fellow who was a friend of mine by the name of Larry MacNeil. He was standing in the queue. He was getting ready to go audition.
I said, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm going up to audition for this announcing job upstairs. I'm getting cold feet. Would you mind hanging with me? I'd love to have some company. I'm very nervous about this."
Having nothing else better to do, I said, "OK."
We eventually got to the point where we got on the stairs and got up to and into the station, in the hallway, It was now getting to be about 4:30 in the afternoon. The station manager came out and said, "Mr. Nathanson can only see four more people. I'm randomly going to select four people from the queue here". He just pointed. "You". "You". "You". And me!
I started to say, "Look: I'm not here for this. I'm just keeping my friend company". But my friend said, "No, no, no. You go ahead. I don't want to go in".
The manager walked away, and I couldn't get back and say, "I'm not here for this job".
I stood there for a while and said, "Well, I'm here. I may as well find out. I'm curious".
I wound up in the owner's office. I had had some theater experience, so I wasn't a stranger to public speaking. We got talking, and he said, "I want you to do an audition and an air check". I went all through this.
I got a call back about a week later. "Mr. Nathanson wants to see you again". I was 19. The station's staff was quite an elderly crew compared to me. I went back a second time and did a second audition. Then, I was brought in and [told], "Look: We're very impressed with what you're doing. But Mr. Nathanson thinks you're a little young, and that your voice is probably going to change again, and he doesn't want to catch you in the middle of this transition. So, we're going to put this off a little while".
This was fine. I had my own job. They said, "Maybe in a year or two we'll ask you to come back."
Less than two months later, I got a call from the station asking me to come back in, whereupon they [offered me] the job. They had hired somebody, but they had another opening that they I guess, and asked, "Would you like this job?", and I said, "Wonderful".
BB: And you were 19?
PC: I was 19. I was making $120 a month at the newspaper, and this job paid 80. But... the hype and grandeur of the radio industry, and so on.
I took the job, and the 40 dollar a month cut in pay, And, it's been downhill financially ever since. [chuckles].
BB: What did you do at CJCB?
PC: I did everything. In those days, there were no specialists. We wrote commercials. We solicited advertising. You had to go out and see the client. You had to write it, record it, and then do a regular on air shift duty. It was the "short handle broom" routine.
BB: What kind of on air duties did you have?
PC: I was given a show. I did an afternoon run to begin with, in company with one of the veterans, and then left to my own devices after about a month. I worked with some very skilled, very talented people.
I went to work for them on November the first, 1948. I was very into the hockey business, because I had been writing about hockey for the Herald. This was in the era when the Cape Breton Senior Hockey League was in its heyday. In any event, things went along well, and we were all hockey fans at the station. The station had not been broadcasting any live hockey for about fifteen years. They had a veteran announcer who had since passed through the portals and was gone.
There was hockey fever in Cape Breton. They came to me in March. There was a playoff series in Sydney and Glace Bay. The station manager said, "You ever think about doing this hockey broadcast? We have nobody here who has ever done any play-by-play or anything. Do you think you would like to try it?"
I was a big fan of Danny Gallivan's. Danny was at CJFX in Antigonish at the time. I listened to him faithfully, and he was a friend of mine, too, from Sydney. I said, "Holy Cow! I can handle that".
We launched it, and I had the benefit of a wonderful broadcaster by the name of Robbie Robertson, Thomas Clark Robertson, who was one of my great heroes. He was the operator/engineer. He guided me through. We got through this first game, and everything was going on pretty well, and I felt reasonably good about what I had done. The second game was a little better.
Sydney won the series and went on to play Halifax St. Mary's. I was sent to cover the Halifax-Sydney series, and got through that one. Danny Gallivan was doing it for Halifax St. Mary's.
We beat Halifax and played Moncton. We beat Moncton. We played Penbrook Ontario for a series that was played in both Sydney and Ottawa. I was sent off to do this, and we wound up beating Penbrook. About six weeks from the day of my first broadcast, I was on to Toronto to Foster Hewitt's gondola between the Sydney Millionaires and the ________ Marlboro's for the Canada Allen Cup Finals.
I was given instructions on what to do when I left Toronto and went to Ottawa. I was to see Mr. Foster Hewitt, who was in charge of all broadcasting rights of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. You had to go through him.
My instruction was, "You go to Toronto. You go to Mapleleaf Gardens on a Saturday afternoon and meet Mr. Hewitt in his nationally-famous gondola. He will tell you where to go from there".
So, I went up, and he was on the air. I made my way up to his gondola. He was on the air doing an Ontario Junior B League game involving Upper Canada College and some other team. His son Billy was playing for Upper Canada College. By this time he had his own radio station, CKFH. The reason he was doing it, of course, was because Bill (who later succeeded him as the play-by-play man for the Leafs) was playing.
[Foster Hewitt] looked at me when I walked into the booth. I was 19 years old. I was scared to death. I was skinny as a rake. He thought I was the guy from the telegraph office, that I was some kid delivering a telegram. I introduced myself. He said, "Oh, yes. How long have you been doing this?"
The gondola was a long, elevated edifice above the ice surface, near the roof. He had his own niche, right at the corner. That was Foster's Sanctum Sanctorum, and nobody but nobody ever got into Foster's booth. For whatever reason, he said, "Look: I have to be away the weekend, starting on Sunday. I'm doing a game in New York, between the Leafs and the Rangers. I want you to use my booth".
He brought the engineer in. He said, "You look after this guy. I'll be back on Monday. "
The series got underway. I got through the thing. He came back on Monday night and on Monday I did another game. He came up to the booth and sat outside, listening to me doing my play-by-play. At the end of the first period he came up to me and said, "Hey, you're doing a great job. Just a couple of little things that might help you. For instance: Anticipation. Don't try to follow the puck because it will drive you crazy. You'll be all over the place trying to follow the puck. Learn to anticipate what's going to happen. " Little pointers like that.
I really became his short-term protege.
The series was sensational. We went to three out of five series. Four of the five went to overtime. Two of the four went into sudden death overtime. Toronto beat us in five games.
That was my opening experience with play-by-play.
BB: That's amazing!
2. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received, and who provided it?
PC: I guess I just answered that question.
BB: With Foster Hewett, yeah. Was there anything you wanted to add to that?
PC: I got a lot of advice from a lot of people, a lot of help along the way. There was so much to learn about the industry.
3. Who were your influences in radio when you were growing up?
PC: Danny Gallivan, of course, was my hero, for many reasons. Danny was an outstanding baseball player. He was ten years older than I was. Growing up in Sydney, we were in St Theresa's Parish. His brother was the Parish Priest there, Monsignor Bill Gallivan. They were both great baseball fans, great baseball players. Danny was a great pitcher. He pitched for the St. Theresa's baseball team. He was a great right hander. Later, at the New York Giants training camp, he threw his arm out and embarked on a hockey career.
I was a fan of Danny's first as a baseball player. He was a great pitcher. Then, later, as a great broadcaster. He worked at CJFX at Antigonish. I listened to all those games while still going to school. Danny and Foster were two great broadcasters.
BB: I heard two stories about Danny Gallivan. Back when he was announcing for the Maple Leafs...
PC: Nope. The Montreal Canadiens.
BB: Oops! I'm so sorry. Montreal. I beg your pardon.
People from Cape Breton would visit him at home, or call him, and he would give them "free" tickets. After he died, it was revealed that he would have to buy those tickets himself and then give them away.
PC: He did. As a matter of fact, he only got two tickets for the Montreal Forum. As a broadcaster, you were given two [tickets]. They were very frugal at the Montreal Forum. They wouldn't just hand out tickets. So, Danny had two, which Eileen his wife usually used, and young Danny.
But Cape Bretoners would arrive, and they would call him and say, "We're going to be in Montreal. Can you get a couple of tickets?" He would go out and buy two tickets and expect that they were going to reimburse him. They would say, "Thank you very much", assuming that they he was getting them complementary. Danny wouldn't say anything.
There was a ticket scalper in Montreal by the name of Jocky Flemming. He would work off of St. Catherine's Street. He was a nationally famous guy. If you knew about the business, you knew about Jocky. Jocky always had tickets for everything going on in Montreal. Danny on occasion would have to go down and get a couple from Jocky! [chuckles]
BB: [laughter] And then give the tickets away!
PC: [Gallivan] eventually solved it by saying, "I will order the tickets, and you can pick them up at Montreal Forum Box Office. That ended it. People began to get the message.
BB: People thought he was a cheapskate after that!
PC: I don't think so, no.
BB: Good story.
How Don Tremaine became known as "Trigger" Tremaine
PC: He worked for CHNS. That's where he got it. He was doing a Country and Western show. There was "Hayseed" Parsons, Gerry Parson on CHNS. "Trigger" followed him.
BB: But who gave him that nickname, "Trigger"?
PC: They made it up themselves. The audience, maybe, helped out a bit. I think Gerry started that out himself, called himself "Hayseed". They needed something to fit the program.
BB: CHNS didn't have a country format, but they had a country show?
PC: They had a country show. That's where Hank Snow got his start.
BB: We'll talk about that a little bit later on. Looking forward to hearing about Hank Snow!
4. Of all the stations you have worked at, do you have a favourite, and why?
PC: I had an affection for all of them, for different reasons. CJCB for Sydney for providing me with the opportunity which I really enjoyed. It was so exciting, those years, because I was doing everything and learning the business. Besides the hockey, which I have talked at length about, I also had the opportunity in 1951 to do the live broadcast of the Queen's visit. I think they were then the Prince and Princess.
BB: Yes. She became Queen in 1952.
PC: I shared the honour of broadcasting it live on location when I was from here to you, five feet away from the Queen. I did it with Anne Terry, who was a wonderful broadcaster. She was an original, a great, great broadcaster. We're talking about the early 1950's. Remember that radio only came into being in 1926 or so. It wasn't that far removed. It was a male-dominated thing.
P: That was one of the questions I was going to ask. What women existed in that era?
PC: Each station would have a woman doing things, and reading recipes and that kind of thing. Nothing of a serious nature. Betty Brown in Sydney. Joan Marshall in Moncton was another one. There were a few. But Anne Terry was the first major breakthrough of women in broadcasting in Atlantic Canada. Her real name was Terry MacLellan. She was the first woman I knew who "manned" her own controls. She managed her own board.
So, she and I did the Royal Visit in 1951. Some of the things you remember of that visit are that we were doing some coverage from the Sydney waterfront. I was very close to them. The Princess was walking ahead, and Phillip was behind. The protocol, the obligatory five feet. He observed something. I heard him call out to her. "Betty!" Nobody had ever known what he called her. She was "Betty" to Phillip.
BB: You may have been the first person in the world to know what Phillip called his wife.
PC: At least he did at that time! God knows what he called her after that.
BB, P: [laughter]
PC: I don't think it was anything other than very affectionate, very loving.
5. How did you get the job as announcer of the Halifax Mooseheads games?
PC: Oh, my gosh. We're skipping a lot of ground here.
BB: We're going to jump around a lot today.
PC: I was the original when the place [The Metro Center] opened in 1978. I have a picture, as a matter of fact, taken that night of the opening of the Halifax Metro Center, the first night hockey was played there. They imported the incredible Roger Doucette from Montreal to do the national anthem. We got together in the afternoon, and he insisted that I sing it with him. I have this picture at home of Roger and I singing the national anthem. [chuckles]
P: How was your voice?
PC: He was a wonderful guy who had a Nova Scotian background. His mother was from Arachat, Cape Breton.
BB: OK. When the Mooseheads started in 1994, it was natural of them to think of you. Correct?
PC: I had been for the Voyageurs, for the Oilers, for the Citadels. When the Mooseheads came in in '94, yeah.
BB: They wanted continuity, I guess.
PC: Whatever, yes. But that was then. The job was divided, when Ian [Robinson] came in. The music changed; it went from the organ to the recorded music, so it required a full-time guy upstairs doing just music and announcing. They separated the two: Game announcer, and P.A. announcer.
BB: From what Ian told me, he's working pretty hard up there.
PC: Oh, yes. It's a big job at night.
BB: He's done over 500 games. You've covered pretty much all of the Mooseheads games, Voyageurs games, Oilers games, Citadels games. How many games have you covered?
PC: Well, I was 23 years in the American Hockey League.
BB: It's too big a number to comprehend, is it? 10 000 games?
PC: Well, here's something. I did all the Maritime Major Hockey League with the Halifax Atlantics. After Sydney, it went West because I wanted to do a full-time job just doing hockey broadcasting. I'll get to that in a second, but the number of games... thousands. It would be thousands.
P: Was your interest in hockey always in the broadcast aspect? Did you ever play hockey? Were you ever in a league?
PC: I was terrible!
P: But you appreciated the game.
PC: Oh, I love the game. I grew up with it and had a great passion for it, and all sports. I've done not only hockey, but boxing, baseball, football, basketball. I've done it all.
BB: Do you follow boxing now?
BB: All right. Who is Canada' only heavyweight champ?
PC: Tommy Burns.
BB: What was his real name?
PC: Noah Brusso.
BB: Very good! Did you read the book about Tommy Burns that came out a few years ago?
PC: [No] Getting back to the numbers again: I have to set the stage for you and explain to you, just how far reaching this is. After Sydney, I went West. I was working in Winnipeg. There were no sports openings. I got a call one day from a gentleman who was the manager of a radio station in Flin Flon, Manitoba up North. It was owned by the Hudson's Bay Mining and Smelting Company.
I had filed on my resume that I had done hockey. This guy called me and he said, "I'm looking for an announcer to go to Flin Flon". I thought, "Where the Hell is that?" I knew where it was because it always had great hockey teams up there. But I knew it was remote and up in the Bush.
He said, "We have a great hockey team. We're looking to bring an announcer who can do hockey."
I said, "Oh, yes."
He began to spell out the numbers to me. It was about twice as much money as I was getting because of isolation pay. The Hudson Bay Company would pay anything.
I thought about it and said, "I'll go up and give it a whirl". I went up; they were listed in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. I just started the season; this was '53, I guess. I worked all Spring. I worked all Summer. The hockey season started in September. I had done maybe 5 or 10 games.
I got a call one day from Danny Gallivan in Halifax. He said, "It's not out yet, but I've just accepted a job with the Montreal Canadiens". My job is open here in Halifax. Do you want that? Say the word and it's yours".
PC: CJCH. And Finlay MacDonald, who was a friend of mine as well, was the general manager.
BB: He founded the station?
PC: No. It was founded by the Chronicle company. Finlay became perhaps the second manager and eventually owned it.
BB: I see.
PC: At any rate, I came back to Halifax and took Danny's job at CJCH. Through the '60's, I was in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights, The Windsor Spitfires, the Chatham Maroons. I did the University of Western Mustangs.
You put it all together. How many games? I have no idea.
BB: It's a lot of games!
6. You listened to Halifax radio during a period of intense competition between CHNS and CJCH, and worked for both stations. How intense was that competition? How did one station one-up the other?
PC: Great question. It was a daily comeuppance. We didn't like each other very much. If you worked for one, you didn't talk very much to the people who worked for the other one. It was a very intense rivalry. It was a serious rivalry.
Both managements were offering great incentives. CHNS were always ahead [in the ratings]. If you grew up in Halifax, you listened to CHNS because it was there. The other guys were the upstarts.
PC: 1944 for CJ.
BB: 1926 for CHNS.
PC: I didn't think they were on that early. They were formed by the Chronicle. But the great rivalry was that the Chronicle and the Herald were separate papers. The Chronicle Company owned CJCH; that was owned by Senator McCurdy. He established CJCH because CHNS was actually owned by the Herald.
P: Is that what the "CH" stands for? Chronicle Herald?
PC: Well, it could be. They amalgamated in 1948 or 1949. But by this time, both papers were great rivals. Now they had radio stations that were equally intense. For the advertising buck, the chase was ever-lasting. You'd do anything to get ahead, and CJCH's great goal was to get in front, They were always trailing, a little bit, but they were always trailing.
There was an annual thing called the March of Dimes. One of the promotions was a hockey game between CJCH and CHNS,. They'd started this series the year before I got here. CHNS had won the game. They had played in the [Halifax] Forum, and a few thousand had shown up. By early '53, the second game was on. Both stations were hammering this thing; they were promoting the Hell out of this game.
Honour was at stake. Finlay MacDonald put an offer on the bulletin board: Anybody who could score three goals against CHNS, he would pay a bonus of 25 bucks to. We take this very seriously.
Eleven thousand people in the Halifax Forum. Nick Nicholson, the manager at the Forum at the time, said unofficially it was the largest crowd in Halifax ever to watch a hockey game. It had been promoted to that extent.
BB: I didn't know the capacity of the Forum...
PC: It wasn't. The Fire Marshall blinked. He wasn't looking. They were coming up through the coal chutes and everything else. It was an unbelievable scene. The place was on fire. I played in the game; I was in the line with Arnie Patterson. To make a long story short, I scored three goals. Patterson assisted on three goals. And we beat CHNS for the first time in history.
P: And you got a 25 dollar bonus!
PC: I had to chase him. He had a very convenient memory. "I don't recall ever saying that". Eventually, I did get it.
BB: What was the final score?
PC: 5-3, I think. But, [the game] was nasty. You always get hot heads. It got to the point where there were a couple of actual combats on the ice, and they never played another game after that.
BB: And they had to go on the air the next morning and talk about it?
PC WE talked about it, but they didn't. [chuckles]
BB: I love that. [chuckles] So, there was no real history of dj's from one station, jumping to the other one? It was just sort of not done?
PC: Well, Schaef [Clive Schaeffer] would have been one. Gerry Parsons came from CHNS to CJCH.
BB: And then he went to CFDR.
PC: After he left CJCH, yes. But he didn't go right away. I think he had been laid off in kind of a downsizing thing. I think it was a change in formats. A new group of managers had taken over the station.
BB: Let's talk about radio formats, then. I remember one of your columns in the Daily News about ten years ago, you mentioned something called "mumble mumble" music? What the heck is that?
PC: The mumble club. Mumbly music.
BB: Mumbly music. I beg your pardon.
PC: There was a disk jockey in New York by the name of Alan Freed.
BB: Yes. He coined the term, "rock and roll", at WINS.
PC: Exactly. The forerunner to that was called mumbly music, before rock and roll. Baz Russell was a disk jockey at CJCH. He had been at CHNS, too. He did the 4-7 show each day; he did the drive home show, as they would call it today. But he was a great musician, too. He was an actor. He played Rob Gillan on the CBC series "The Gillans" for years and years. It ran for 25 years or so on a daily basis. It was a farm-based show directed to the rural areas.
Anyway, Baz was a big fan of Alan Freed's. He was one of the few musicians of that time making the switch from the classical like Guy Lombardo to cross the line to this awful-sounding Beatles music. He sort of edged into the Alan Freed thing. Alan Freed formed this mumbly club. Baz established a mumbly club at CJCH.
I can remember that he put on a great show at the Halifax Armouries, and brought Alan Freed in from New York. I think there were seven or eight thousand people there. That was really the cross over from the Guy Lombardo era to something more progressive in terms of music.
BB: Alan Freed was in Halifax. He worked at WINS for years. I still listen to that station. It's all news now.
So, the radio format was whatever was popular at that time. And CHNS ...
PC: Well, everybody had pretty much the same standard, up until that breakthrough. I'm not sure what year that would be. Late '50's.
BB: You mentioned there was a program called "Open Mike"..
PC: That was Mike MacNeil.
BB: Mike MacNeil. And, this was on CHNS? There was a talk show on Halifax radio before CJCH ever had the Hotline?
PC: Yes. Open line radio started on CHNS.
BB: With that program?
PC: With Mike MacNeil.
BB: It was just issues of the day, or...
PC: Yes. It was very controversial. It was another step in the development of the industry.
BB: Can you think of one really controversial subject they discussed on the program?
PC: No, I can't.
PC: They wouldn't be controversial issues to the degree of intensity that you get today. Haligonians traditionally were very reluctant to call radio stations. There was kind of a battle to get people to call in because ... I don't know what the fear was except that they might be recognized by their neighbours. They didn't want to express opinions. I think there is still a certain reluctance. I think there are more people listening than calling.
7. I will list the names of people you know, knew, or worked with. Please say something about them.
Norm "Pearshape" Riley
Norm "Pearshape" Riley
PC: Didn't work with him. Only knew him by reputation.
BB: He did a late night show at the Green Lantern restaurant...
PC: The first ever.
BB: The first ever where?
PC: In Atlantic Canada. At least in Atlantic Canada. It was an over night show. That was shortly after CJCH had become a 24 hour a day station. I'm not sure if it was the Green Lantern. The Green Lantern was a long-established restaurant downtown. But I think there was another one, and I can't think of the name of it. It was owned by Victor Oland's sister; I know that.
But [Riley] did live, on stage interviews, celebrities, that sort of thing. Kind of like the Jay Leno Show today.
BB: What kind of celebrities were in Halifax back then?
PC: There were lots of celebrities. You had all of these big bands coming all the time. You had Lombardo; you had Count Basie; you had Armstrong. You had all these Big Bands that played the Forum.
BB: And Norm Riley would be able to get them all to come this restaurant? I thought it was The Green Lantern.
PC: Well, I'd have to double check that. It was a downtown restaurant. I wasn't here.
BB: Fair enough.
PC: He also had a music store, you know.
BB: Yes. You mentioned that to me over the phone. That was on Spring Garden Road, roughly where?
PC: It was across the street from the Lord Nelson Hotel. We were in the penthouse of the Lord Nelson Hotel. We were broadcasting out of there when I first came.
BB: Can you tell me where his store was?
PC: Well, it was at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park.
BB: Where the Dairy Queen is?
PC: Well, there are so many changes there...
BB: Of course. There was a restaurant that had a fire there a year or so ago.
PC: It was in that area.
BB: And there's a bookstore there called the Book Mark there, too.
PC: That may be it. It was called Riley's Book Store. The stories about the way he ran it were legendary because he kept all the money in his pocket. There were clerks who had to run upstairs to make change when they sold a record, to get the change out of his pocket. I think it's a little exaggerated, but it was like that.
BB: After he left CJCH, you mentioned to me over the phone that he went on to manage Hank Snow.
PC: He went on to manage Hank Snow, but that was some years after he had been here. He became a show business manager.
BB: Was he a little shady?
PC: I think so, yes. He and Snow came to a parting of the ways. I know Snow hated him for making off with his money.
BB: He never got the money back?
PC: Legend has it that he went through a trap door in some Iowa town with the money.
P: He was never heard of since?
BB: He may have changed his name for all we know.
I took a picture on my digital camera of Norm Riley. You mentioned that Robert Chambers may have drawn it. I don't know who did. This Norm Riley guy must have been pretty popular and highly thought of when he was here...
PC: Oh, he had a tremendous following.
BB: Did he?
PC: Well, he was unique. He was new. He was different. He was very appealing.
BB: All right. Well, someday I want to talk to someone who actually listened to that show. I realize that you're not one of those people.
PC: Clive Schaeffer would have, if you can get to him.
BB: I'd love to talk to Clive Schaeffer.
PC: I'm trying to think of who else would have been around to hear Riley, but there are people.
PC: Oh, Arnold. One of my dearest and oldest friends. We still, all those years later, have lunch at least once a week. We had lunch yesterday, as a matter of fact.
BB: Where do you go?
PC: We go to a little pub in Bedford. He spends six months a year in Florida now.
BB: Isle del Sol, or something? He used to write columns for the Daily News from abroad, in Florida.
PC: St. Petersburg.
BB: I hear he's working on a book about the history of Halifax radio. Is that true?
PC: I think he started. He had that idea a couple of years ago, but I don't know if he ever got down to work seriously on it.
BB: I would love to meet Arnie Patterson.
PC. Oh, you must meet him.
BB: Well, if you could facilitate that for me, I'd appreciate it. I'd love to talk about old radio stories.
PC: Well, he'd love that. He likes nothing better.
BB: Well, I can record 138 hours on this [recorder] here, and I have spare batteries. You two started together at CJCH?
PC: I was doing the play-by-play for baseball, hockey, boxing. Arnie was my sidekick, my colour commentator. He spend most of his time trying to throw me off air, by doing little things: Comments, and that sort of thing. He was at the Herald at the time. He was a writer there. He left in '53 and went to work for the Toronto Telegram. He switched there to p.r., and then went to Falconbridge Nickle, to Dosco in Montreal. He had a terrific career, and came back here and with Jack Cruickshank and Vince Currey, they applied for a new [radio] license for Dartmouth. They established CFDR.
BB: Where were their first studios in Dartmouth?
PC: The first studios were above Leahy's Paintshop, which is now the scene for a new facility, on Ochterloney Street. It's up from the Belmont Hotel.
BB: The building still exists?
BB: I have to get a picture of that.
PC: I was in there, too, briefly, before they moved to Queen Square. We talked about [Gerry] Parsons and his humour. The station was hanging on. It was not a big money maker. It was trying to crash the Big Guys, and they were both owned by corporates. CHUM were operating CJCH at the time; and Maritime Broadcasting owned CHNS. They were a little independant station, holding on, but they did. There wasn't a lot of money to spend on things like washing the windows.
The big picture window in the front of the studio was pretty dowdy. It had rained, and there was a lot of crap and dust and dirt on it. They never got around to cleaning it. So, Parsons got to work one morning, and somebody had washed the window. Parsons came in, and looked across the street. He had that slow drawl, and he said, "Oh, my God. They painted all the houses across the street!" [chuckles]
BB: That's a good one. And CHNS was on Tobin Street at that time. They were there for decades.
PC: They called it the Broadcast House.
BB: I remember the building. They had moved to Barrington Street when I moved to Halifax.
PC: Rats were running around.
BB: Maritime Business College moved into that space. She went out of business and they razed the building.
And CJCH? They were on Macara Street back then? They were there for a long, long time.
PC: That was an old milk plant. MacKenzie's Milk Plant. We went from the penthouse at the Lord Nelson to Macara Street.
BB: Yes. And from there to the Pink Palace on Agricola Street.
PC: Great broadcaster. Very professional.
BB: Everyone looks up to Brian Phillips.
PC: Brian was top dog. He was untouchable. He had a lot of challengers. But he beat them all back. Brian was a classic broadcaster.
BB: He makes it look easy.
PC: Yes. And he's a good guy, a great guy. I'm very fond of him; he's a great friend.
BB: We're friends on facebook. I don't know if you use it or if you know what it is.
PC: I know what it is, yes.
BB: I've asked him for an interview, and he hasn't got back to me. So, if you could put in a good word for me.
PC: Out of fairness to Brian, there may be some issues he doesn't want to get into.
BB: I wouldn't ask him those questions. I just want to talk about the work and the career.
PC: In the art of hockey broadcasting, Foster Hewett established the procedure and the style. And Danny Gallivan refined the art. He was the classic hockey sportscaster.
BB: Who in your opinion is a classic practitioner of sports broadcasting? Who will be looked at in 15 or 20 years and have people say about them, "Boy, he or she was good!"?
PC: There are a lot of great ones out there. But the whole industry has changed to the point where you've got people specializing in different areas now. I look at a guy like Bob McCowan; I have a lot of respect for McCowan. He has very powerful views; he's not afraid to express them. He's usually right. He's very, very knowledgeable. He doesn't pop off on subjects he doesn't know anything about. He's a great communicator and a great broadcaster.
BB: I listen to his show on News 95.7 every week night at 7 when I'm out driving around. I don't really get into sports that much, but I enjoy listening to him because he ...
PC: He's upfront. There's nothing phony or contrived. He lets it all hang out.
BB: He doesn't mince words.
BB: I appreciate that in a person.
PC: There are so many other great ones out there. If you look at hockey, it's an unusual story. From my perspective, at least, it's that Bob Cole to me is still the best hockey broadcaster in the business, and he's 75 years old. He's still the best, and I don't know what that says about the industry or what it says about the guys coming behind him. There doesn't seem to be anybody who stands out in that particular area. In my point of view, I can't say they're bad. I'm just saying there is a lot of sameness in what they do.
PC: Well, I don't know him.
PC: Only that he was at CJCH while we were in the Lord Nelson Hotel, but shortly before my time, doing midnight to dawn, I think.
BB: It was a music show?
PC: I don't think at that time he was a stand out. I didn't hear too many people say, "I really miss this guy". That part of his life didn't come into prominence until after he became an international figure with "Macneil-Lehrer". And then you look back and say, "Oh, yeah! He's ours. He used to work here".
BB: Well, he wrote the book about the Halifax explosion [Burden of Desire].
PC: His father was the commander or admiral of the navy here. Robert MacNeil's nephew is married to Gerald Regan's daughter.
BB: Which daughter would that be?
PC: Miriam. And [the nephew's] father was in the navy, too. I think he's a retired rear admiral.
BB: But you've never actually met Robert MacNeil?
BB: I've heard that he summers here in Nova Scotia.
PC: I understand that he does. I think he spends a fair amount of time here.
BB: If I could ever meet him, that would be wonderful.
PC: Wouldn't that be something?
BB: It would be.
PC: Al is a very knowledgeable guy. He has done great jobs in the assignments he has had over the years. The Dartmouth Free Press. He was one of the originals at the Halifax Daily News. He did a great job, and recruited a lot of young reporters. Al is a good friend, and he has been very involved in all aspects of hockey for God knows how many years. He is always a presence, a contributor; he's a good guy.
BB: He's still busy. He is doing a column or...
PC A blog.
BB: A blog or something for Halifax Live Dot Com. He updates that two or three times a week with comments about what government is doing. He takes no prisoners. I know he's a Liberal, but he thinks nothing of criticising Liberals if he wants to. I read [his column] quite regularly. And, of course, his son Paul is on television.
PC: Paul is a great broadcaster, an outstanding broadcaster.
BB: He was an intern [at CTV].
PC: He was a long time getting on the air. When they finally let him on the air... he's outstanding. He gets to the heart of the issue, and asks pertinent questions relevant to the issue and elicits a lot of answers.
8. How would you compare radio as a medium today with what it was 50 years ago?
PC: Unfortunately, it has lost its focus. Radio was always a very personal link between the listener and the carrier. You could turn on your radio and know what was going on in your community, your town. Stations paid attention to these things. Unfortunately, that personality is gone. There is no personality left in the business. It is very clinical.
I have a hard job listening for any length of time to radio. And, I love the medium. But it's been torn asunder. [Pause]
BB: When I'm driving to work in the morning, I'll listen to 7 or 8 different radio stations.
PC: But you're not fixed on one? Even the CBC, you could count on for steady performance...
BB: Well, it's been eviscerated to the point where too few people are expected to do too much work, and it's getting spread too thin.
PC: Well, the CBC is one of the great institutions of the nation, one of the national treasures that we have. But it's been hopelessly mismanaged as far as I am concerned. Every time they run out of money, the product that suffers is the on air product. They're inundated with middle management ...
BB: OK. We have talked about the rivalry between CHNS and CJCH. Did you ever acknowledge CBC radio as any kind of competition? As a public broadcaster, they weren't going after advertising dollars, but they were fighting for market share along with you.
PC: That wasn't my experience when I was at the CBC. I went to the CBC in... 1954. I was doing radio, and getting ready for television. I was doing two shows of AM radio, sports shows. And then television opened, just before Christmas of 1954. The aim was to get on the air by Christmas.
BB: That was the name of the book.
PC: That was Bill Harper's book. "A Picture Before Christmas". A great book.
BB: I wish I had it.
PC: You don't have it?
BB: I"ll look around for it.
PC: It is by Bill Harper, who was my producer and a dear friend. He'd be another guy to talk to.
BB: I'd love to talk to Bill Harper!
PC: It's a fascinating story. The CBC wasn't in the numbers game then. The CBC was an entity unto itself and held itself above the private radio chase for the buck. It was very well supplied with money.
BB: Was it a music-intensive program [format]?
PC: No. It was classical music. There were a lot of conversation bits. There were a lot of shows, information shows on radio.
BB: This was locally-produced Halifax radio giving spoken-word programming in the 1950's?
PC: It was not a commerically-oriented operation at that time. And it still isn't, I guess, because they are still not selling commercials on it. It was television that got into the dollar chase for obvious reasons, to generate some revenues and so on. But that was a fascinating period in my life.
BB: How so? Career wise?
PC: Oh, yes. It was a new animal. I knew nothing about it. I had agreed to go over there with them and become part of it. But I had no idea what the Hell I was going to do except I would be doing sports on television. They hadn't designated what that duty was; and I was a "contract player" as they called it. I wasn't employed by the CBC.
BB: Even back then, were they separated?
PC: They were exactly where they are. No, we opened the television at the old College Street school, which had been closed for years. It was a rickety old building on College Street that was rat infested, and that's another story, but you can read about it in the book.
BB: OK. When did they move to Bell Road?
PC: Bell Road? '55.
BB: And has the CBC radio building always been Sackville at South Park Street?
PC: Yes. It's always been right there.
BB: There must be a lot of stories in that building!
PC: Ah! Remember that they were sending technicians off to courses in Toronto. But the contract players were not, so you had no initiation, you had no training, you had nothing. I think I had been in New York a couple of times and I think I had seen Arthur Godfrey's show in a hotel room. That's all I knew about television: Zilch!
I was told I was going to do a half hour show on a Saturday night. It was going to be a combination of interviews and ... there was no video. There was no such thing. There were stills, and there were freelance guys around shooting stuff.
So, anyway, I was told that my producer was going to be a guy named Robert Alban. Peter Donkin was a local guy, but his stage name was Robert Alban. He was very... theatrical.
BB: Are you saying he was gay?
PC: Ha ha. Well, I don't know. He was a very artsy guy. Going along with this show: I don't know what the Hell I'm doing. Peter is off doing other things more in keeping with his own skills and talents. He came to me one day and said, "Dear boy, you're on your own. I don't know anything about sports stuff at all!" So, I'm on my own.
We finally got a show together. I was never so terrified in my life. I thought, "How am I going to fill a half hour on television?"
I thought that part of it has to be an interview because I've got to get someone in there who can answer some questions. I thought that Dick Donahue (R.A. Donahue) , then the recently-elected mayor of the city, and I think the president of the Canadian Curling Association would be a great talker. I called him up and said, "How about being my first guest?" "Yes!", he said. All you had to do was ask Richard the time and he'd tell you how to wind a watch, or how to make a watch.
He came in, and somehow we stumbled through that first weekend. It became a little bit easier after that because you had some experience; but then we established "Gazette", which was the supper time show. Rube Hornstein was doing the weather.
P: Rube Hornstein. I was going to ask you about him.
PC: Rube was the weather god. God rest his soul. He was one of the nicest guys I ever knew in my life. Max Ferguson ("Rawhide") was doing the interviews. [Don] Tremaine was doing the news, and I was doing the sports.
BB: What year was this?
BB: 1955. "A Picture Before Christmas".
PC: Yes. "A Picture Before Christmas".
P: Because when I was growing up, CBC was the only station we really got out in the Boonies, [in] Pictou County. We always counted on Rube Hornstein to give us the weather.
PC: It was a passion with Rube. You didn't make jokes about the weather. It was serious, serious business. He didn't abide weather jokes.
BB: They named a room at the Weather Office in Dartmouth after Rube Hornstein
PC: Wonderful man; wonderful individual.
P: Anybody I know who knew him always said that he was a salt of the earth kind of man. I really wish I had had the opportunity to meet him.
PC: Rube had that familiar greeting every night ("Good evening, friends!"). He wore the bow ties.
BB: His last major interview was with Frank Magazine. Every once in a while, Frank Magazine gets legit and interviews people.
PC: Did they do Rube?
BB: I think I may still have that issue somewhere. If I find it, I'll let you know.
Now, was it HornSTEEN or HornSTEIN?
PC: HornSTEIN. As a matter of fact, Betty and I went to his 90th birthday party, out at the Saraguay Club, out in Purcell's Cove Road. [It's] One of those high level places that we can't afford to belong to.
P: You must know Frank Cameron as well?
PC: Oh, yes. Very well. "Frankie"!
BB: Let's talk about Frank Cameron a little bit, then. You worked with him, where and when?
PC: I never worked with Frank. We were in the business together, working in different places. Frank was younger than I was, by probably 10 years or so. We had a mutual friend, that we still talk about: Sandy Hoyt. Sandy was a jock at CJCH and then he went to Toronto. There was an exodus, a mass exodus because we went over to CJCH Television to open that station in '61. We had a general manager by the name of Don Hildebrand and our long-time radio general manager was Clare Chambers. Maclean-Hunter wanted to get into the radio business. So Hildebrand and Chambers collaborated with MacLean-Hunter and they bought a radio station in Chatham, Ontario and recruited a lot of people to go up there with them. There were 14 of us who left CJCH and went to Chatham, including Sandy and myself. That was another era.
BB: So, you helped open CJCH TV, which we would call CTV Atlantic now. Were they always in that spot at Robie and Macara?
BB: Since 1961 or whatever?
PC: That's where it opened. It was an extension of the radio station.
BB: They weren't always a CTV affiliate. Were they an independent?
BB: What type of programming did they fill their hours with?
PC: They were buying hour long programs. They were buying comedy shows and that sort of thing. There was a whole raft of material that was available for sale. They were churning it out Terrible shows! But there was lots of it. And they were cheap.
They did quite a bit of local programming.
BB: Local documentaries and things? And there was CJCB Television in Sydney?
PC: Yes. I was there, too!
BB: You helped open that?
PC: No, I didn't open it. I was there briefly: One year.
BB: Because Bill Jessome was the news anchor there.
PC: Yes. I worked with Bill.
BB: They were all independent television stations?
PC: They were absolutely independents, until they eventually amalgamated and merged into what eventually became ATV [now CTV Atlantic]. But they weren't carrying any national programs.
BB: They would just buy whatever they could afford to buy and run it to death.
PC: That's it.
BB: Do you know at what point ATV combined new broadcasts from three provinces into one broadcast.
BB: [Before that], Bill Jessome did the one out of Sydney. Who was the first person to do a news broadcast out of Halifax?
PC: Initially? Jack Pineo. From Kentville. Jack had worked for NBC out of New York. Great voice, great newscaster. Jack was the original, but they hadn't reached the point in Jack Pineo's career that they were combining news [broadcasts]. They were operating absolutely separately.
He started with Willard Bishop.
BB: Oh, Annapolis Valley Radio?
PC: Yes. Wonderful tone, great pipes. He went to St. John after that, [to] CHSJ, and died up there.
BB: So, he's buried in St. John?
PC: I would think so, yes.
BB: I am from the Valley and I know some Pineo's.
That's quite a career path: To start in Kentville, to Halifax, to NBC, and back to New Brunswick!
9. Tell me one thing about Pat Connolly that would surprise people who know you.
PC: That he was shy.
BB: You're shy.
P: Think you'll grow out of it sometime soon?
PC: I guess so.
BB: At the Halifax Mooseheads games, are you always nervous before you crack the mic?
PC: No. I am well past that stage.
BB: In what way do you feel you're shy? Meeting me today?
PC: No. I am putting you on.
BB: All right. What would surprise your friends about you?
PC: I don't know. His life is a pretty open book. I don't think there's much left to the imagination. I think it's all out there.
10. Is there something in radio you have not done, that you would like to do?
PC: You know, I had that question that you sent me in advance, and I thought about it. I don't think there is. I think it's all done. I can't imagine anything that I wanted to do, that I didn't get to do.
BB: Were you ever the host of an open line talk show?
PC: Yes. I did an open line sport show, on CFDR.
BB: How about a non-sports talk show?
PC: No, but I'd have loved to have done that, maybe. My two great passions in life were sports and politics. I would have really enjoyed that part of it. I never thought in terms of doing that kind of a show, but yes, I would have enjoyed that. But I got to do everything it was possible to do, from [being] on air doing regular shows, doing sports stuff. I got to live exactly as I wanted to be. I think I could probably have made a lot more money, but money was never important to me. What was important was the quality of life and being where I was and with my friends and being happy in my job.
BB: So, it's been a good life, Pat Connolly?
PC: Great life. I'm blessed with a wonderful wife and a great family. And what else is left? I'm still here! And I'm still able to work. There are a lot of things I might have done better. There are things I would have done differently. But not much. Everything I did seemed to do worked out well.
BB: You've had a lot of fun?
PC: Yes. That was the big thing: I had a lot of fun.
BB: Worked with some great people?
PC: Wonderful people. And made life-long friends. I'm still getting calls from my sports association in the middle of the night. I'll get a call from Vancouver or the Okinagan Valley or Winnipeg or somewhere. [It's] just old friends calling to say hello.
If I was to look back, one highlight of my career would be [something that] happened in television. It was in 1956. The Montreal Canadiens had retired their head coach Dick Irving Senior. He had run long in the tooth, and they figured they needed a change in Montreal. They parceled him off, and pensioned him off to Chicago. The coaching job in Montreal was wide open.
There was a lot of speculation in Montreal who was going to get it, but I have to preface that story by giving you the background of a guy named Toe Blake. Toe Blake was coaching the Valleyfield Braves in the Quebec Senior Hockey League and had been exiled. He was one of the greatest Canadiens of all time. He played in a line with Rocket Richard and Elmer Lach. He was "The Old Lamplighter". He was a great player.
He retired because he had broken a leg. The Canadiens wanted to keep him in the organization, and they sent him to coach in Buffalo, New York. There was a general manager there by the name of Art Chapman. Toe did not get along very well with Chapman. They had many differences of opinion, culminating one day in Blake saying, "I don't need this job." And he walked out and he went back to Montreal.
The Canadiens were furious. They just exiled him. They said, "You don't walk out on the Montreal Canadiens. You're finished." He became persona non grata, one of the great players of all time. He had a tavern in Montreal on St. Catherine's Street, called Toe Blake Tavern.
He had to coach the Valleyfield Braves to pay the bills. He had to buy a ticket to get into the Montreal Forum. They didn't want to see him.
Anyway, fast forward. I got to know him very well because we had played Valleyfield in a playoff series when I was in Sydney, the Sydney Millionaires. Blake was a friend of the coach, Mark Chamberlin. We formed a social thing over the years. When I was in Montreal, I always dropped into Blake's Tavern and we'd sit around.
In '55, Rocket Richard was in Halifax as a referee at a wrestling show. He was still playing in Montreal. This was the height of the speculation as to who the next coach of the Montreal Canadiens would be. The two names that were mentioned were Billy Reay and Roger Leger, which wouldn't mean anything to you. One of those two was going to get the job.
I arranged to interview the Rocket on CBC Television on a Saturday night. The Rocket had tremendous influence over things in Montreal. We got talking about different things, and I said, "There is speculation on whether's going to be Billy Reay or Roger Leger, and do you have a preference?"
The Rocket said, "I have nothing against either one of them, but they shouldn't be the next coach of the Montreal Canadiens. I said, "Oh? Who should be?" He said, "Toe Blake".
It was like a bombshell. Toe Blake! The Canadian Press picked up the story, and they ran it in the Montreal papers on Monday. "Rocket Richard in Halifax Says Toe Blake Should Be The Next Coach of the Montreal Canadiens". By Thursday, Toe Blake was the coach of the Montreal Canadiens!
P, BB: Oh, my gosh!
PC: He went on to set one of the all time coaching records in the National Hockey League. Smashed, seven, eight Stanley Cups. And that's where it started, on that show. "Whom does the Rocket want? The Rocket wants Toe Blake. I guess we'll have to suck it up and hire Toe Blake."
P: Could that happen today [with another player]?
PC: It wouldn't happen today.
On Pat's Lifelong love of sports, and especially Boxing!
PC: There are a million stories. I have done more than anybody could hope to. I think I have interviewed seven former heavy weight Boxing champions.
BB: All right. Who are they?
PC: Jack Dempsey. Primo Carnera. Jack Sharkey. Joe Louis. Jersey Joe Walcott. Muhammed Ali. Rocky Marciano.
BB: I quizzed you a little while ago about the only Canadian heavy weight boxing champ, Tommy Burns. You've not read the book about him. The consensus about him was that he was a bum, but the book argues that he was anything but. And he still holds records a hundred years later.
PC: Why was he a bum?
BB: Because of the racist press of the time. He had the audacity to lose to a black man, Jack Johnson.
PC: And Jack Johnson was ostracized because he had the audacity to beat a white man.
BB: I know. That's what this is all about. Jack London, who wrote, "The Call of the Wild" was a sports writer as well, and wrote the most nasty things about Tommy Burns. These rumours, these columns, changed people's perception of Tommy Burns. If Tommy Burns is known today at all it is that he was no good. The book I read a few ago by Daniel McCaffery argues that he was an amazing fighter. He was inclusive; he was the first white boxer who agreed to fight a black boxer. He should be perceived as a Canadian...
BB: Yes. And when he died, I think four people went to his funeral.
BB: It's a really good book.
PC: That's an incredible story. I didn't realize that.
BB: It's a very interesting story. I am not one to read books about sports people. But it's an astonishing book. It's on my boss's desk. I'll try to get it to you if you want to read it.
So, you've always had this interest in sports. I guess if you had had to cover sports, and didn't like it, it would have come across as disingenous or bored. Obvously you have this passion for sports. It's been there your whole life, has it?
PC: Yes. And there are so many stories, you forget them. I can remember one story you'll get a kick out of.
When I was with Maclean Hunter Broadcasting, part of my job was covering the Detroit Red Wings from 1963 to 1968, I guess. A lot of the Red Wings lived in Windsor, Ontario. I got to know them personally. I'd pop into a joint occasionally and have a brew under a bridge in Detroit. Memo's, we called it.
Anyway, Detroit had a character player by the name of Howard Young. He was a handsome beast. Great hockey player, with a very, very serious alcohol problem. By his own admission, he played half the time under the influence. But they put up with him because he was good and he was a character. The tolerance level in the 1950's and 1960's was higher than it would be today; they don't put up with that stuff now.
Eventually, they had to trade him to Chicago. He had the same kind of problems in Chicago. Marcel Provonost was playing for Detroit, defensive. We were all in this bar after a game; and Howard arrived from Chicago, having been released by the Blackhawks. They had assigned him to San Francisco of the Western Hockey League, a minor league. Marcel Provonost began to kid him when he came in. "You're heading to San Francisco. Why don't you hold out for Los Angeles? That would be the place for you to go, Howie. With your great looks and personality, you would be in the movies in no time."
Howie said, "Yeah! I guess so".
Eventually, he goes to the phone and calls Tommy Ivin. He says, "I want to go to Los Angeles. I don't want to go to San Francisco."
Ivin says, "I can arrange that". He calls a guy in Los Angeles, Murray Patrick.
To cut the story short, Howie does end up in Hollywood. He does wind up in the movies. He is befriended by none other than Frank Sinatra. Sinatra is making a movie called "None But the Brave"; they're doing it in Honolulu, Hawaii. Howie is cast as a U.S. Marine. It's a non-speaking part. When the movie's over, Sinatra brings them all back to Los Angeles to his Bevery Hills mansion and has a farewell party. Whereupon, Howie gets drunk and throws Sinatra into the swimming pool fully clothed.
PC: End of movie career!
BB: What year would this have been?
BB: That's hysterical. I love this. This has been a great interview.
11. Final question: In 1948, you accompanied your friend to the CJCB studio to keep him company, and you were chosen at random [for an audition]. Do you ever wonder how your life would have turned out had you not accompanied your friend and had you not been chosen at random that day?
PC: You know, I have never thought about that. I have never given that question any thought, but it's interesting to think about it. I would have wound up in the newspaper business. I would have pursued that. I always loved the newspapers and continued to write even though I was in radio. I have written for MacLean's. I've written for various international publications. I never stopped writing. And then I went back to it on a full-time basis.
The first hockey game I ever did was at the Sydney Forum in March of 1949. Forty years later, 1989, I did my last hockey game from exactly the same site, from Centre 200 in Sydney where they had torn the Forum down and built Centre 200. It was my last year in the American Hockey League. It was the last game of the season, and that's where I finished. I was commuting back and forth [from Dartmouth], That was the last hockey, but of course not the last radio [I did].
BB: Pat Connolly, thank you so much for the last two hours.
PC: Has it been that long?
BB: We got here at noon..
PC: And how it's half past three! It flew by.
BB: I thank you so much.
PC: Thanks for lunch!
BB: You're welcome for lunch. It's the least I could do. I do ask you to tell your friends about my Blog. I would love to meet Arnie Patterson, and Trigger Tremaine, and Bill Harper.
PC: I"ll see Trigger. Sound him out, and see if he's interested. And Arnie, I know. I can speak for him. He's interested!
BB: I would love to meet those friends of yours.
P: I wonder if Trigger will recognize me, because the last time he saw me I was ten years old.
PC: Oh, you know him down in Toney River? They spend five or six months a year there.
P: Up on Long Beach. Walking along the Sunrise Trail. He's always walking with a walking stick.
PC: He's walking very slowly these days.
BB: Maybe we can rendezvous with him at the cottage this summer.
P: Well, that would be nice.
PC: Well, wouldn't that be nice. I know they'd enjoy that. I'll give you his phone number.
BB: Well, thank you once again. Thank you for letting me call you by your first name.
PC: Oh, absolutely.
BB: We appreciate your time, Pat.
PC: Thank you very much, Bev. It was a pleasure.
I went up to pay the bill. Pat kissed Patricia. Outside, by his car, I set up some outdoor photos. Pat wanted to keep talking. I whipped out my Olympus Digital Voice Recorder, model WS-311M, and recorded the following:
BB: You met Jack Dempsey, 1949 or '50?
PC: He was a guest referee on the wrestling tour. He happened to be in Sydney, and I got this interview with him. Fascinating interview, and a wonderful guy. He had a restaurant on Broadway in New York at the time.
BB: What was it called?
PC: Jack Dempsey's Bar. It was at Times Square, right around the corner from Madison Square Garden. He said, "If you're ever in New York, I'd like to see you."
Fast forward about three years. I happened to be in New York to see some baseball games. I said, "I'd like to see Dempsey's Bar, to see the inside of this famous restaurant".
We went in. It was eleven o'clock in the morning. He was sitting in the front booth, busy doing business with somebody. He looked up and glanced [at me] and goes back to talking to this guy. We took a booth. When he finished the business he came to us and said, "I know you. Radio. Nova Scotia. I can't remember your name, but you're on radio from Nova Scotia." This was three years later! He was great to me, wonderful.
P: See, you have to write your memoirs.
BB: Let me ghost write them for you!
PC: [chuckles] That would be interesting.
P: You have so many rich stories that have to be told.
PC: They're wonderful stories. It's been a great life.
P: I have never spoken to someone who spoke to Jack Dempsey.
PC: Oh, really.
P: I feel I have a connection now, because I often heard of Jack Dempsey stories, my father often talked of him.
PC: "The Manassa Mauler".
P: So, you have to write your memoirs.
PC: [Chuckles] Patricia, we'll take that under advisement!!