The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No.1

January 7, 2017


  • Hugh Doherty reminisces about his experiences playing hockey
  • Readers write words of encouragement to the editor
  • Pat Moore forwards some bizarre newspaper ads
  • Burke Dykes sends this story about self confidence
  • Brian Humble shares a piece about senior citizens
  • Shirley Conlon sends examples of clueless people
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear, Tom Telfer, Tom Williamson, and Zvonko Springer

Hugh Doherty writes: Hockey season is here again, and here's a reminiscence that some of your readers may identify with:


I used to skate a lot during the winter when I was a little kid in Montreal West during the early 1940s. My dad started me out on "cheesecutters" - those little double-bladed skates that strapped onto your boots - and I would go to the local outdoor rink with the other little kids. Later, I got a pair of normal tube skates, and my ankles eventually got strong enough to use them properly. I got to be a pretty good skater, though I never played any hockey, except for the "road" variety," until I was much older. That's because there were no minor hockey organizations then and no hockey programs for young kids.

We moved from  Montreal to Sherbrooke, Quebec, when I was 13 or so, and I still wasn't playing real hockey in the wintertime, just skating a lot. Except at Howardene Pond.

I went to Sherbrooke High School, overlooking a park called Howardene, which contained a large pond across the street from the school. In winter the pond froze over, often before Christmas, and became a neighbourhood rink. That's where I began to play some of my first hockey - friendly, cheery, unorganized games which one joined and left at will. There was no bodychecking, no lifting of the puck, not much equipment, except for hockey sticks and skates. People brought their own shovels and ploughs to clear off snow.

For several winters, when the sky was clear, some of my pals  and I would play on the pond at night, under the bright, pale blue light of the moon. We didn't play real games, just raced up and down our makeshift snow-banked rink, stickhandling a puck back and forth among us, seeing who could hang onto the puck the longest. When the weather was really cold, the ice on our rink would shrink and large cracks would appear. The pond was fed by a spring near the shore which almost never froze, and we would bring tin buckets and fill them with water from the spring. We would tamp snow into the ice cracks, then pour water over them from the buckets. It froze pretty quickly, and with a more or less smooth ice surface again, we would go back to our "game." We had rest periods whenever clouds drifted over the moon and it was too dark to see the puck.

I eventually did play some real hockey as a goalkeeper in high school and university. It was all fun, but nothing to compare with those nights on a moonlit pond. 

ED. NOTE: That "road" hockey that Hugh mentions was the reason the streets were so icy when I was newly married and living in Shawinigan Falls seventy years ago. I wonder if the kids still play road hockey in Quebec ... I'm betting they do.


Irene Harvalias writes: Im so grateful to Jackie Stevens for getting me to join your readers and admirers. Thank you for this bright spot at the end of each week!

Jean Sterling writes that she would miss the Spinner if I were to stop publishing it. She looks forward to its arrival every Saturday.

She also comments on the story about the Christmas tree sent to Boston every year: I learned about the Halifax tree when we were in Halifax. It was a lovely story, and it's gone on for 100 years.

About the article by Dave Barry about his colonoscopy, she writes: The worst part of the colonoscopy was the day-before-prep.Compared to that, the actual procedure wasn't that bad. But the day before was VERY yucky.

Kate Brookfield writes: I am one of your original readers, if not a writer. Opa, who was the moderator for Best Years BBS group, had heard about your request. Remember Vesta suggested the name "Samsunite" and a suitcase before you changed it to the Tale Spinner!

I wrote something for you (but forget what) and you told me I would have to wait a few weeks for publication as you had too many articles! 

I dont know if I can find copies of those first issues. Geoff Shorten gave me early copies he had saved.

Another early prodigious contributor Margaret Manning from New Zealand, who died last year. She kept you going with stories for a long time.

Stan French has been one of your long loyal readers. It was Stan who arranged the joint lunch with your Spinner readers in Toronto, and I did it for you in Guelph when you visited your friend in Kitchener.

Yes, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since your Volume 1! Congratulations for 22 years. You are a bloody marvel!

ED. NOTE: Kate has been a great contributor to the newsletter over the years. She has written about many of the travels she has taken, the last one only last year. Some of the Best Years group are still subscribers.

Tom Telfer writes: You have helped many seniors get through the day. Your Spinner's web brings us all closer together. Between medical appointments and funeral brunches, you link us to many interesting aspects of life. Please continue to add sparkle to brighten our lives. You are our angel atop the Spinner tree.

Tony Lewis writes: Don't you dare leave the post ... no, not the National Post ... the other one, The Tale Spinner. Your posts are the best reason for seeing Saturday mornings. Keep 'em coming.

ED. NOTE: Thank you all for your kind remarks and your encouragement to keep on editing The Tale Spinner. I won't dare quit now!

Pat Moore sends these


Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

Semi-Annual After-Christmas Sale.

And now, the Superstore - unequalled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivalled inconvenience.

We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.

For Sale: Three canaries of undermined sex.

Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.

Christmas sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.

Burke Dykes shares this insight:


There was a business executive who was deep in debt and could see no way out. Creditors were closing in on him. Suppliers were demanding payment. He sat on the park bench, head in hands, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.

Suddenly an old man appeared before him. “I can see that something is troubling you,” he said.

After listening to the executive’s woes, the old man said, “I believe I can help you.”

He asked the man his name, wrote out a cheque, and pushed it into his hand, saying, “Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today, and you can pay me back at that time.”

Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come.

The business executive saw in his hand a cheque for $500,000, signed by John D. Rockefeller, then one of the richest men in the world!

“I can erase my money worries in an instant!” he realized. But instead, the executive decided to put the uncashed cheque in his safe. Just knowing it was there might give him the strength to work out a way to save his business, he thought.

With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales. Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again.

Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the uncashed cheque. At the agreed-upon time, the old man appeared. But just as the executive was about to hand back the cheque and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man.

“I’m so glad I caught him!” she cried. “I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he’s John D. Rockefeller.” And she led the old man away by the arm.

The astonished executive just stood there, stunned. All year long he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him.

Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around. It was his newfound self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.

- Author unknown

Brian Humble sent this contribution by Patricia Anne Rivers:


I'm the life of the party, even when it lasts till 8:00 p.m.

I'm very good at opening child-proof caps with a hammer.

I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I'm going.

I'm good on a trip for at least an hour without my aspirin, beano, and antacid.

I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.

I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a word you are saying.

I'm aware that other peoples' grandchildren are not as bright as mine.

I'm so cared for: Long-term care, Eye care, Private care, Dental care....

I'm not grouchy. I just don't like traffic, waiting, crowds, children, politicians.

I'm sure everything I can't find is in a secure place.

I'm wrinkled, saggy and bumpy, and that's just my left leg.

I'm realizing that aging is not for sissies.

I'm anti-everything now: Anti-fat, Anti-smoke, Anti-noise, Anti-inflammatory.

I'm going to reveal what goes on behind closed doors: Absolutely nothing.

I'm sure they are making adults much younger these days.

I'm wondering ... If you're only as old as you feel, how could I be alive at 150?

I'm supporting all movements now ... by eating bran, prunes, and raisins.

I'm a walking storeroom of facts. I've just lost the storeroom.

Shirley Conlon sends this one:


A man bought a new fridge for his house. To get rid of his old fridge (still working), he put it in his front yard and hung a sign on it saying, "Free to good home. You want it, you take it." For three days the fridge sat there without anyone looking twice. He eventually decided that people were too mistrustful of this deal. So he changed the sign to read, "Fridge for sale $50."

The next day someone stole it!

 One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when someone shouted, "Look at that dead bird!"

Someone looked up at the sky and said, "Where?"

While looking at a house, my brother asked the estate agent which direction was north because he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the north?" My brother explained that the sun rises in the east and has for some time. She shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with all that stuff."

My colleague and I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria, when we overheard a girl talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the beach. She drove down in a convertible, but said she "didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving."

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car which is designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the car trunk.

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area and went to the lost luggage office and reported the loss. The woman there smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and said I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "has your plane arrived yet?"

While working at a pizza parlor I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into four pieces or six. He thought about it for some time then said, "Just cut it into four pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat six pieces."

And last, but not least: 

A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the United States House of Representatives) happened to appear. Ms. Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.

"Would you mind telling me, Doctor," she asked, "how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?"

"Nothing is easier," he replied. "You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track."

"What sort of question?" asked Pelosi.

"Well, you might ask, 'Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?"''

Pelosi thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, "You wouldn't happen to have another example, would you? I must confess I don't know much about history."

Sadly, they walk among us! And more sadly, some hold high offices!


Barbara Wear forwards this link to a video of awesome animals from Australia:

Barbara also sends the URL for a video about driving on icy roads, and how to correct slides, and how to prevent them:

Tom Williamson forwards this link to a video of eagles gathering for food on an Alaskan dock:

If you missed the fireworks on New Year's Eve, watch them in London in this video recommended by Tom Telfer:

Tom also forwards this link to a video of a ventriloquist walking off the stage and leaving his dummy to carry on in America's Got Talent quarter finals:

Zvonko Springer sends the URL for a video of the ancient art of lacemaking in Croatia:

If you are concerned about the many families who rely on food banks every day, this article about the need for cash instead of cans explains this reasoning:

Go to this site for the Cirque du Soleil's amazing live performance on the America's Got Talent finale:

Are you worried about your computer or phone being hacked? This video shows how it is done, and how you can protect yourself:


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

- Aesop

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