Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Best honorary football kickoff address ever

Have I told you about Fred C. Dobbs? Not the character in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but the other one? [You did mention the Bard of Beamsville in "Offensive names". Ed.]

Well, OK, but I didn't explain that my funnier and more vulgar role model was the alter ego of the late Michael Magee, a part-time radio and TV personality and full-time fan of the sport of kings, based in Beamsville, Ontario. There is such a place; you'll find it by looking up your atlas.

Fred C. Dobbs's only published works are The Golden Age of B.S. (Gage, 1976) and The Platinum Age of B.S. (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981), both long out of print. If you're a Canadian and enjoy seeing the high and mighty get the respect they really deserve, try to find one or both books. Here's a sample.

A story I like about this country that says a lot of things is the one about the time when the good city fathers of the city of Calgary invited the mayor of Montréal, Camillion [actually Camillien. Dobbs's little joke. Ed.] Houde, to come out to Calgary and kick off the ceremonial ball at the first exhibition game of the 1949 Western Conference football season. The two teams playing was the Montréal Allouettes and the Calgary Stampeders, who was the defending Grey Cup champions....

Houde was quite a famous character. [He] was a very colourful mayor of the city of Montréal and a very sensible guy too. He just come unstuck with the General Manager of Canada, Mackenzie King, during World War II cuz he was busy going around recommending that nobody should join the Armed Forces of Canada and pledge allegiance to the King. So Mackenzie King got so sick, sore and tired of him that he had him thrown in the slammer. When he got out after the war was over there was a big civic election in Montréal and the people in their wisdom put him right back in office.

So Houde goes out to Calgary and out to the old Mewata Stadium, where they was playing their football then, and when he goes out onto the field it was just wicked. The whole joint stood up, and I guess in those days they'd be 15,000 strong, and they started yelling stuff like, "Hey, froggy, how high can you jump?" and "Hey, Houde, how was the crowbar hotel?" or "Hey, Houde, where's your striped suit?" All that kept being said, you know, by the crowd. Finally, though, the weight of their Japanese stetsons got so heavy that they sat down.

And then Houde took the microphone, which had been run out to the centre of the field where he was supposed to do the kickoff. And he says something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to tell you that I really have enjoyed my visit with you here. Two days ago they took us out to Banff and we saw there scenery there and it certainly is more beautiful and more spectacular than anything that we have in the city of Montréal. Yesterday, I was walking around the downtown area and admiring how clean your city is, how orderly it is."

Houde went on, "And I admired the prettiness of the women of all ages in this city of Calgary, the wonderful expression on their faces, the joy of living that seemed to be there in their smiles. The youthfulness of the west somehow was there. And today, I just can't get over the hospitality shown me here in this stadium. All I can say is that whenever you want me to, I'd be glad to come back out here to kick your balls off."

He got a standing ovation.

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