Monday, 5 November 2012

What were you doing in 1964?

                                Former CN telegram delivery boy Brian Weller, in the 'boys room'
                                at home in Markham, wearing his favourite TCK-sponsored 
                                Thomas & Tallis Puck 'n Ball jersey with his CN messenger's guide 
                                book from the mid-60s. His part-time job allowed him to make 
                                            his sole visit to a Grey Cup game back in 1964. 

                                                                            photo by: CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR 

Dear Readers,

Below is an article written by Daniel Girard, Sports Reporter for the Toronto Star that you may find interesting!

Brian Weller’s only visit to a Grey Cup game was all in a day’s work. Weller was a 14-year-old Canadian National telegram delivery boy in 1964 when the B.C. Lions faced the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium. Although he lived in the Beach and was an avid CFL fan, there was no chance to see the game — live or on TV — because was he working.

“This is long before fax machines and long-distance calls were expensive,” Weller, now 62, recalled in an interview Monday. “So, we were busy.” Weller, who rode his Raleigh bike all over Toronto delivering telegrams after school and on weekends, was listening to the 1964 game on his transistor radio at the CN office on Front St. when a teletype machine rang. The message caught his eye because it was for a Lions assistant coach.

“I saw my opportunity,” Weller said of the telegram. “So I grabbed it quick, shoved it in an envelope and threw it in my pocket before anyone saw it. “I knew it was my ticket (into the game).” Weller quickly told his dispatcher he would do “a west run,” which would take him towards the CNE delivering other telegrams. By the time he made several other stops and got down to the stadium, it was the second half.

In a series of encounters that’s perhaps even more indicative of the changed times than the fact he was delivering telegrams, Weller talked himself inside. Wearing his uniform — buttoned suit coat and pants, shirt and tie, high-top shoes and hat — Weller locked his bike at the stadium entrance and set out to complete his delivery. At the admission gate, he showed the envelope and explained it couldn’t be handed over without a signature from the recipient.

The guy at the gate was suspicious, but opened the gate and let him in. Now inside and down at field level, Weller was met by a police officer. Once again, the 5-foot-3, 100-pound teenager explained that he needed a signature to release the package and was pointed toward the B.C. bench. “There’s people salivating outside, wishing they could get in, and here I am walking around down at field level in the middle of the game,” he laughed.

“You couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a ticket to the Grey Cup back in ’64 in Toronto. I didn’t lie to get myself in. I was just doing my job.” Weller eventually got stopped by a member of the Lions’ sideline staff, who signed for the telegram. He then stayed and watched the rest of the game. “No one was really looking at me and I still had my uniform on so no one said a word,” Weller said. “And, of course, they were kind of busy.”

On the field, the matchup of two future CFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks — B.C.’s Joe Kapp and Hamilton’s Bernie Faloney — was overshadowed by Bill Munsey, who scored a third-quarter touchdown on each side of the ball to lead the Lions to their first Grey Cup victory, 34-24, before 32,655 fans. “It was just so incredible to be that close, in the vicinity of all these monsters,” said Weller, a Markham resident who recently retired from the food package manufacturing company he ran. “It was a real treat.”


my response.....

Receiving a call this morning from Dan to get additional information about what I was doing as a teenager brought back many memories! I began delivering telegrams for CN when I was 14 and stayed for 2 years. In the beginning, I was attending Williamson Road School in the Beach and when I left CN, I was in High School...and off doing other things!

                                    Winter bicycling in downtown Toronto...had it's ups and downs!

I grew up on Bellefair Ave, near Lee and Queen and rode my Raleigh three-speed all through the East End after school from Monday to Friday, out of RD station at Broadview and Queen -- 12 months a year, primarily delivering residential telegrams -- some in black-border envelopes with bad news from back home. On weekends, I worked day shift out of the CN main office at 144 Front Street West -- which has since turned into the Metro Convention Centre. From there, we delivered telegrams to central residences, some to open businesses with others to churches with congratulatory telegrams from the 'old' country. These were the telegrams I enjoyed delivering. The bride's father's were often generous with the beer and perogies.

The area on weekends was quite large -- from the Humber River in the west to Eglinton in the north to the Beach in the east. My Raleigh was a little on the heavy side but it sure was fast and sturdy. A great job for a kid who just loved to ride his 'bike' and check out his city but I do recall that week nights in February were a problem!
But the highlight of all was seeing the telegram on the teletype machine on that cool November 28, 1964 afternoon before anyone else saw it! That was my ticket...... see Joe Kapp, #22, the quarterback of the BC Lions!


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