Consider this part one in a two and possibly three part series on the treasures of the Si Miller Arena.
In late March, I ventured over to the old arena and watched and captured the last three hours of ice time. You may recall the story I wrote and many of you have mentioned it to me. That night, as I walked about dreaming of the hundreds of thousands of memories, one very stubborn thought hit me. This place is a museum, sure, it can’t be saved now, that dream ended many years ago. But parts of the rink could be saved.
Within a week, Parks and Recreation boss, Christine Lefebvre ordered parts of the arena to be carefully removed and brought over to the "New Place" for a tribute display in the front lobby. A few days after the tastefully done display was set up, I got a call from Janice Robinson, as assistant to the boss, Janice needed some artifacts to add to the display. Parts of the Bob Turner arena are also on display and I was more than happy to rush over a few items I have collected over the years from both of the aging arenas.
As I helped them with the artifact dispersal, that stubborn thought popped back into my head. If they can rebuild a small portion of the arenas in a tasteful fashion, like they did in the lobby here, I surely should be able to do the same at the Hall of Fame in the basement of the Complex. I asked for and got permission to enter the Arena on Water Street for a little archeological snooping, sort of a scouting trip.
The scars of abandonment were already visible. Sections, devoid of their backboards and seating. I did not bring the tools required to take the wooden seats and carve up a section for the Hall of Fame on this trip, I was after something else, something that I knew had to exist and could be in abundance if I picked the right spot. That something would literally expose our generation to a window on the past. I wasn’t after the seats, I wanted what might be under them. The garbage of yesteryear. I know what you are thinking and you are wrong, I do have a life, but I love searching for history and when an opportunity to salvage it comes about, I think it is important to make the effort. The rush end as it was known in the day, was my starting point. I scaled the steep steps and removed the backboards for seats 129 and 130.
As I had hoped a cavity existed beneath the north ends yellow painted pine structure. Not big enough to crawl into, but accessible. It was like opening an old tomb, cob webs, seventy years of dust and about two inches of peanut shells from when peanuts were more popular than popcorn.
The first item of interest was a soiled piece of paper, numerous spilled coffee’s and cokes had drained across this old remnant. I brought it to daylight and was instantly impressed. It was a line up sheet for a benefit hockey game between the OPP and City police circa late fifties. The OPP roster was readable, unfortunately the locals side, was not. Still, my first find was police related, what were the chances of that?
More peanut shells to wade through and then, a sense of time. The discovery of an old penny, King George was on the reverse dating the coin back to the thirties. I could not make out the exact year. Wading through a few old Coca Cola paper cups and more peanuts, another old treasure surfaced. A ticket stub to an event at the Community Arena for seat 152 in section P. I had hoped to find old stubs as I knew they might fall through the cracks.
As I got set to leave that day, I found the last of the real historical treasures the Si has to hold. I smiled, because I can see every grandparent in town picking up the phone and telling their grandchildren, “I told you when I was your age, chocolate bars were only ten cents.” The Cadbury Caramilk wrapper was from the sixties and was very well preserved. If only it could talk.
If they let me back inside before the arena disappears, I am sure more treasures will be found.