Writing conversation

Even in Portsmouth
John McKenty

Part two

It would be the summer of 1960 that the Harold Harvey Arena was constructed at 42 Church Street, directly across from where my family lived. Being close at hand, it wasn’t long before my two brothers and I became “rink-rats” at the venerable old arena which began life as an open-air affair, before eventually being closed in.

As rink rats our job was to sign the teams in and out and collect their rental fee and then at the end of the day to clear the ice of snow and put on a fresh flood for the next day’s activities. When there was public skating, we were to don the official rink sweaters and go out on the ice in a bid to impress the girls and to discourage the boys from playing tag.

In exchange for our meagre efforts we were given free ice time and a bit of money. With the money I made, I saved up to buy my first set of CCM “Tacks”, the skate of the pros, the skate of my dreams. Unfortunately, the price of my dreams was always greater than the size of my savings and, as a result, my first pair of “Tacks” turned out to be a used set. They were beat-up and far too small, but it didn’t matter. They were “Tacks” and I was going to cram my feet into them no matter what.

Back in those days, everyone in Portsmouth had their skates sharpened at Baiden’s Hardware, a retail operation overseen by Henry Baiden and his younger brother Bill. The only problem, according to the villagers, was that Bill knew how to sharpen skates correctly, but Henry, on the hand, didn’t. Thus, before anyone took their skates in to be done, they peered cautiously around the corner of the store’s front window to ensure that Henry was busy, while Bill wasn’t.

It was a ritual I followed faithfully for I didn’t want just anyone messing around with my “Tacks.” That’s the way it was back then. Little did I know back then that my infatuation with my skates would eventually lead me to write a history of the CCM company. But life can be like that. You just never know what will happen when you follow your passion. Even in Portsmouth.


The writing conversation: a poem

Every Tuesday we try to put something on the blog about writing. This week we have a poem from Ireland.

Poem by Briege Maguire Ederney Co. Fermanagh
Aged 10

the sun will go down
While everyone is laid to rest
It is night
Sleep tight.

First published on May 21, 2013

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