52 Ancestors – #41 – It’s Hockey for Us!!

“Sports” is the topic for Week 41 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog challenge. There is only one sport I can write about: HOCKEY.
Hockey is the only sport I really know anything about. I can fake my way through baseball – after all, it’s just guys hitting a ball and running. But – nine innings? Really? Football is just too flippin’ long to hold my attention. What the heck is a “down”, anyway? Basketball? Eh. Curling might do it for me – except I’m morally opposed to sweeping. (As well as all other forms of housework…)
Alfie, during a game at the New Haven Coliseum.
Date unknown
The New Haven Arena
Date unknown

 I didn’t even know hockey existed before Al Falcone came into my life. Sundays in the late 1960s and early 70s were all about visiting family in West Haven, eating pasta (yea!), and attending the Blades’ games at the New Haven Arena.

I didn’t go to the games as often as my siblings and step-siblings but often enough to have memories of big-haired women in fur coats and the acrid smell of cigarette smoke. The games were exciting! The Blades were akin to that team profiled in the movie “Slapshot.” Fights were frequent and intense. I’m generally a peaceful person but I found the fights fascinating. Maybe I need therapy around that…
I wrote about Alfie’s life-long love affair with hockey in an earlier post. While he enjoyed many sports, he was quoted as saying, “Nothing beats hockey.” And, so it was for us kids. Alfie’s bio kids have hockey in their blood. 
As a kid, Mark played hockey throughout high school and into his college years. Brother Dean played on a youth league. I don’t remember ever going to a single one of his games. I suck. But, in my defense, maybe I was working?
Hamden Youth Hockey. Dean is the first kid on the left, first row. Date unknown.
Alfie adjusting Dean’s helmet. 1976
Alfie’s daughter, Laura recently asked me if I get a certain sports channel before she committed to visiting me during the playoffs. Son Mark attends multiple live games every year, including the “Frozen Four”, the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Sandy, who, as an adult, moved to a rural area, suffered missing games for years until cable television finally came to her rescue.
My youngest sister Betsy was pretty much raised by Alfie since she was only about a year old when he met our mother. So, it stands to reason she is now a HUGE hockey fan. It doesn’t hurt that her husband is also a big sports enthusiast.
My mom and Alfie. Around 2000.
My mother, Doris Lichtenthal Falcone, enjoyed attending the hockey games in the early years. I remember them going away for weekends to attend hockey games as far away as Canada. My mother stopped attending the games after a fan lost an eye after being hit in the face by a flying Russian hockey puck.
My husband’s family also enjoyed hockey. Three of his nephews played the game. I remember one game in particular, in East Haven, CT. Brother-in-law Gerry, usually one of the calmest, quietest, well-mannered men I ever met, became so enraged after a certain play, he almost came to blows with another fan! That’s hockey!!
However, my proudest connection with hockey is our daughter, Caitlin. In high school, Caitlin took up lacrosse. She soon was plagued with shin splints
and decided to join the girl’s ice hockey club that was just forming. Her thinking was that hockey was similar in form to lacrosse. Gliding across the ice might be easier on her legs as well. Just one teeny, tiny problem. She didn’t know how to skate. 
Caitlin is not easily put off by a challenge. In fact, that seems to energize her. She most certainly rose to this one. I remember her first goal. Barely able to skate the length of the rink, and apparently forgetting how ice and skates interact, she fell after jumping up and down in her excitement. Being a “hockey family” is a memorable experience – early morning ice times and smelly equipment (Driving home in a freezing cold car because you HAD to keep the windows open!) create serious bonding!
Caitlin proudly sporting her #10!
I keep this picture EXACTLY as it was found in Alfie’s wallet after his passing.
He was so immensely proud of her!
I don’t really follow hockey anymore. But, I still feel a connection when a student tells me they play. A friend of ours has a very talented granddaughter who may go far in the world of women’s hockey.  Hockey will always have a place in my heart. (Sorry West Haveners – I can’t get over our high school rivalry!)
Our grandchildren are a bit too young right now, (all younger than 4) but perhaps one day they will carry on the legacy!

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