Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's 1991 - A 25 Year Flashback

It was the Christmas break of my first full year of teaching in Canada.  I was a 24 year old single guy who had just finished celebrating Christmas with my family in Toronto.  I was living in the small and friendly town of Norwood, ON.  At that time Toronto did not have an NBA team and my favorite team was the Celtics.  This was back in the glory years of Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, etc.  Long before the internet, I got a travel book and found a place on Comm Ave. called the College Club, booked a room, a flight, and off I went from Dec. 28th until Jan 3rd to explore Boston on my own.

The main goal of my trip was to try and see a Celtics game at the Garden (the old one!).  So the day after I arrived I took the T up to the Garden and tried to buy my first scalped ticket.  I still don't know why the scalper wouldn't take the traveler's check.  I had to head into a pizzeria, get a slice with a $50 check, and pay him with the change.  I can't remember how much the ticket cost, but I found out what "obstructed view" meant.  It wasn't what the scalper had said!

Well there was neat group of fans standing in an area behind some seats and they invited me to stand with them.  We had a great view right at center court.  I explained I had come from Canada to watch them play and we had a really great time. This was my first exposure to the AMAZING SPORTS fans of Boston.  Just as the game ended (the Celtics CRUSHED the Knicks - with Patrick Ewing) one of the guys (I just remember he was from Providence) said he had a ticket to a game a few days later against the Suns (with Barkley) and he couldn't use it.  He also asked me if I would be interested in heading to Hellenic College to watch a Celtics practice.  I said sure.  So I told this total stranger where I was staying and the next day he drove to Comm Ave. and I got in and off we went to Hellenic College.

What a great experience!  I got into the practice and got to meet Parish, McHale, Ed Pinkney, and Brian Shaw.  I took pics from a distance of Bird and Reggie Lewis but didn't dare approach them.  I even said "Hello" to Red Auerbach,

When the practice ended we headed back to Boston and I bought my new friend some lunch at the Boston waterfront.  I just remember we ate at huge fish market type place and the fish I had was amazing.

Now comes New Year's Eve (25 years ago TONIGHT).  I had asked one of the employees where I was staying where a great place for a New Year's Eve party would be.  She mentioned the Four Seasons had a big bash.  I had brought my nice suit and so off I went to get a ticket.  I can't remember the cost, but it was pretty expensive.

The party itself was a lot of fun.  Some drinking and dancing (with total strangers of course) but the highlight of the night came when I felt someone tap my shoulder and when I turned around, I had to look up, WAY UP, to see both Robert Parish and Ed Pinkney standing there.  They had remembered me from the practice.  Robert asked me if I would like a drink.  Of course I said "YES, please." I sat with them for a bit, but soon realized I was the third wheel as both of them had 3 or 4 lady friends draped off of them.  I said thanks again and quietly moved away.

I waited until midnight, sang Auld Lang Syne, had a sip of champagne and called it a night.

I think it was the next day when the Celtics played the Suns and crushed them as well.  It was always fun to watch Charles Barkley lose.

I headed back to Canada after having a great trip to the area of the world I would move to 12 years later with Sue and Owen.

Happy New Year!!!

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