Tying up some loose ends from last year

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Happy belated new year, folks – even if 2022 is starting to look a lot like 2021. But hopefully we can get rid of coronavirus in 22, or at least find a way to live with it, as we do with colds, allergies, and the Kardashians , Maple Leafs annual plans for Stanley Cup Parades, etc.

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As for year-end promises to do this and not that, win this, lose that – sorry, we no longer deal in Bank of Silly Oaths & Resolutions. The best way to deal with New Year’s resolutions is to let them go in one year and then go out in the other. It’s safer too. As a wise man once remarked, “He who disobeys a decision is weak. He who makes one is a fool.”

Instead, I’ve revisited the more than twenty or so columns I’ve published over the past year to see which ones deserve an update, a footnote, perhaps, a noteworthy anecdote not learned until after deadline.

Program February 27, 1958, the show game played at Napanee between the Detroit Red Wings NHL and the Napanee Comets quarterback A.
Program February 27, 1958, the show game played at Napanee between the Detroit Red Wings NHL and the Napanee Comets quarterback A. The attached photo

Few fit that canon, like the final piece about 90-year-old Detroit Red Wings legend Alex Delvecchio. The story memorialized 81-year-old Mary Ellen North on a long night at the Nappanee Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion when she met Fats and his teammates. The Red Wings, who had just played a show against the Napanee Comets Intermediate A, were in Legion relaxed with a few poker hands and post-game pops.

I’ve heard a lot about hockey over the years but I haven’t given a specific date. So far, that’s thanks to North’s Pink game program, mint condition, which states that it was played on Thursday, February 27, 1958. Imagine the leverage it would take someone to convince Wings with a tight fist, GM Jack Adams, to beat his defense in the regular season pennant winners To little Napanee on a day off between NHL dates. That person turned out to be Helen Adams, Nappanee’s born wife of Jack. Gordy Howe, in Nappanee for a banquet in 1998, recalled the one-sided relationship on a dry note. “Our team didn’t know how to give up,” he said. (Detroit prevailed, 14-1.)

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“I went to a game of hockey with my dad, and then to the Legion afterward,” recalls Mary Ellen, a lifelong signature hound who once chased Jackie Gleeson’s squad leader Ray Block to a New York City bar to get his scribbles. Then-teenage North approached the poker table and handed her autograph board to Delvecchio, who signed it before passing it around the table. “I can’t believe it’s been 65 years,” she said, “because I remember that night as if it was yesterday.”

Lists of nominees for the February 27, 1958 exhibition game played at Napanee between the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the Napanee Comets Intermediate A.
Lists of nominees for the February 27, 1958 exhibition game played at Napanee between the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the Napanee Comets Intermediate A. The attached photo

In a column in September, I interviewed David Caddick, a seasoned local ranger who has lived with ALS for 41 of 58 and at the time was in danger of being uprooted from the Raglan Road rental housing where he and his sister/caregiver, Ina, had lived for more than four decades.

Recently, Kadek’s friend and enthusiastic supporter Dave Kinsella called to give them an update. The Caddicks were still in their house, but they needed two necessities that they knew were unaffordable.

One was a baby cot, to allow Ina to sleep in the same room with her brother, who sometimes needed help during the night. Kinsella contacted members of his old beer league hockey team, the Black Army. Thirteen players paid to buy a cot.

David needed a special lift chair to completely replace the one that had been shot. This challenge proved more difficult and costly. The new chair costs $2,800, a price that Kinsella has been able to cut to $2,000. Kadick’s longtime friend/ally Pat Baldwin donated $200. So, too, is retired Jim Ryan, who didn’t know anyone involved but was influenced by Kadick’s story in the newspaper. That still leaves Kinsella short at $1,600. Enter the area treehouse Brad Normand, owner of Westwood Rustic Living. Norman, who lost his father, Rob, covered the remaining balance. He, too, did not know Kadik, and only met him when Kinsella took him to visit Kadik a few days before Christmas.

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Kinsella explained in simplified terms why beer league hockey players, and now complete strangers, are forced to help the lovable scorekeeper and his selfless, kind-hearted sister. “The Kadexes are amazing people, they are family, and they always will be family,” Kinsella said.

And finally, an update on Whiskey the cat, his destiny. Whiskey was the subject of an April column that ended with the future of the outdoor big cat—a familiar item in the Woodlands neighborhood—in the air. Its owner, Chris Neal, was moving into an apartment on the West End and leaving behind the only neighborhood Whiskey has known since he first walked these streets 17 years ago, after being adopted twice and back twice. At seven months old—the equivalent of a two-legged teenager, albeit with the trademark “disturbing” in the Humane Society’s rap newspaper—the young whiskey wisely embraced life as a pet. On his terms, though, “Freedom in the Outdoors” topped the list.

Well, we’re happy to report that Whiskey has stayed at Camp Kennedy. He adopted it a month or so before Chris moved in in order to allow the kittens to gradually get used to his new digs. It was an easy and logical solution: Our three kids grew up with Whiskey, who lived across the street – often taking naps in the middle of it. He belonged to the Neil family, but he was and remains a “neighborhood cat”. Known by name, everyone befriends him.

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His transition was relatively smooth. First, the cat food plate was moved to the front ramp. This was a charm, though, as the peasant continued to hang around in his former home. He even slept outside Neil’s house, though his custom pine chalet—heated pillow, front and back doors, private purring room, cable TV (24-hour Tweety/Sylvester channel)—comes with a dining dish.

19-year-old whiskey, our version of the unborn. He still ventures outside and wanders, albeit not much or far, especially in cold weather. He seems to like it here. He’s discovered some of the home’s heated master dorm anchors, perfect places to catch 40 winks, which he seems to do no more than 23 hours a day. Soon he saw a burning fireplace lying on the stove. Above the sofa and behind the trash can next to the heat register are two more nap settings. His best part, though, is the narrow top of the four-foot-high radiator, though only after he’s started the furnace.

It is fitting that the chain whiskey be played in a friendly and familiar area. This is, after all, alive. Moreover, his new owner often greets him with a ballad, singing an Irish ballad of a classic tune from the Clancy Brothers. “Whiskey, you dear, drunk or sedate.”

Patrick Kennedy is a retired Whig-Standard reporter. He can be reached at pjckennedy35@gmail.com.

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