2005 was the 35th year of curling at the Cape Cod Curling Club. It is a rapidly growing sport now since it has been seen in the Olympics. There have been many ups and downs in our life as a club, and there are some newer members who may or may not have had the opportunity to hear this story. So I thought it might be fun to record some of our early history. You can only know where you are going if you know where you have been.
In 1962 I was a resident in Anesthesia at the New England Deaconess Hospital and I was curious, when every Wednesday morning, the Chief of Surgery would say to us, "Don't call me, I am going curling." None of us made much of an issue about it, since that was his order and he was the boss. I had forgotten about that phrase, when I finished my residency and began to practice Anesthesiology at the Falmouth Hospital, until one day in 1969 I received in the mail a medical journal containing an article featuring curling. It mentioned the Brookline Country Club, which is where Leland McKittrick, my former Chief of Surgery, went to curl. The article was a very interesting one, and it peaked my curiosity; the phrase that he had said on Wednesdays came back to me and I thought, "I am going to give him a call and see if I can go up and watch how they play this game," which I did. Dr. McKittrick was very kind and permitted me to come to the Brookline Country Club, sit in the warm room and watch the game of curling for a whole afternoon.
I sat in the second row behind the second sheet. It was so interesting that after the game was over I said to Dr. McKittrick, "Is it okay if I go out and throw a few stones? It looks like a lot of fun." He said to me, "Oh no, you cannot do that because you are not a member of the club." That kind of took me back, but disappointedly, I accepted his admonition and began to leave the building.
Interestingly enough Everett Cushman, the iceman at the curling rink, had noticed that I had been sitting there most of the afternoon and caught my attention as I left. He took me aside and said, "Would you like to try throwing a few of these stones? It looked to me as though you were quite interested." I said, "You bet I would." So after everybody else had left, Everett and I went out on the ice for about an hour. He threw stones and I threw stones, and he said now hit my stone out and now put this kind of a turn on it and put that kind of a turn on it, and I really didn't know what he was talking about, but I tried to do it anyway and it really was fun.
He found out that I was a member of the Board of Directors of the Falmouth Youth Hockey League at that point and had access to an ice surface. He said, "Would you like to borrow twelve stones and take them home with you?" I said, "Sure, I'd love to." So we piled twelve stones in the back of my Jeep. I had a little difficulty in guiding the vehicle coming down home, but made it and then took the stones over to the ice rink and placed them in the corners of the ice outside the boards where the hockey players play so they could get good and cold.
It just so happened that the next evening the Board of Directors had a meeting scheduled. I had gone down a little early because I wanted to try these stones and to see how they worked and what you did with them. I threw one and I tried to hit it out. As the other members came in and saw this going on, they came out on the ice and threw some stones. There were twelve of us out there and we were throwing stones right and left, not having the faintest idea what we were doing. One of the men said, "I think my grandfather used to curl, and if so, I probably could get a set of the rules for you so that you would have an idea of what it's about." Which he did, and I read the rules and it sounded like a lot of fun.
Dick Harding was the Iceman at the arena at that time. He, being interested in all ice games, agreed to place the houses in the ice even though he knew it would cause a little bit of distress among the hockey players, which it sure did. But, at any rate, we all now had a target to shoot at and the rules to play by. A couple of wooden hacks were driven into the ice and frozen in with some Zamboni ice.
Then it seemed only plausible that if we were going to do this that we ought to see if we could find some people who would like to curl. So, one Sunday I placed an ad in the paper for anybody interested in curling to meet me at the Coonamesset [Inn] on Sunday, March 3, 1969. To my astonishment over fifty people showed up and we had a delightful meeting and evening together talking. There were a few people who had curled in the past or their relatives had and we talked about it and decided it might be fun to try. I said, "Tuesday night whoever wants to curl come over to the ice rink and we'll curl."
So for $3 apiece the Falmouth Youth Hockey league allowed us to curl from 9 to 11 P.M. We decided very quickly that we should have some kind of a formal group so we could have somebody to organize and get teams together and keep score and all that sort of thing. We had a meeting at my house and sixteen people agreed to join as a group and form the Cape Cod Curling Club. With the help of attorney, Ned Dewitt, we worked up a set of by-laws which covered the operation of the group for several years.
It became obvious that it was difficult to play the game with only twelve stones so I contacted the American Curling Foundation. They very graciously loaned us two sets of rather decrepit but functioning curling stones. There were some nicks and gouges in the running surfaces but we really didn't know too much better about it anyway, so we had a great time using those stones. In March of 1969 we began.
We had been talking to some friends in the Boston area who belonged to the Broomstones Curling Club and one gentleman, Dave Porter, suggested we contact the President of the Grand National Curling Club of America, Inc. to get more information about curling and how a club is run and specifically to invite us to join the Grand National Curling Club of America, Inc., which we did. Word of our beginning soon spread to the other clubs in New England.
Our first competition was with Nutmeg Curling Club of Darien, Connecticut. Five couples came to our club which was based in the Falmouth Ice Rink on June 29, 1969. The curlers were Ralph Mester, Skip; Bill Mulligan, Vice Skip; James Kent, Second; George Shank, as Lead with Ken Johnson as Alternate. After the match which incidentally was won by Cape Cod in the ninth end, we all went to the Colonial Lounge to celebrate. In retrospect now, I'm sure they let us win because we really knew very little about curling! They presented us with a silver pitcher inscribed with a description of the event which is proudly displayed in our trophy case today. This was the beginning of a very long friendship between our two clubs.
People like Dave and Bunny Porter and Peter and Barbara Barr would curl with us occasionally. They realized that we didn't really have any information about how to curl correctly, and suggested that we go to a bonspiel where we might learn more about curling, which we did. It was fascinating how rapidly we were accepted as friends in the curling situation where we knew nothing about the game. It was perfectly obvious when we would get on the ice that we didn't know what we were doing, but we very rapidly learned and, certainly, spending a weekend with these friendly people was a tremendous boost to us.
Dave Porter called me one day and said that there was going to be a men's bonspiel at the Winchester Country Club and would I like to put a rink in. I said "Sure, I don't know what we're doing but I will be glad to join the group." Bob Hewitt, Seth Harvey, Art Folden and I formed the rink and went to Winchester. It was in 1971, and the Ross Tarleton was one of the two most prestigious men's bonspiels in the Grand National Curling Fraternity. Little did we know. My very first match was against a Canadian, who was dumbfounded at what I was doing, and after the first end he instructed me as to what to call, how to call it, what the rules of the game were and what the men should be expecting. We had a great time. He and I corresponded together for a number of years until he passed away.
A humorous episode occurred during that bonspiel. Through my ignorance, I did not know wives are not usually invited to men's events. However, Barbara Bonica and Anne had come along for the fun. I told Anne to meet us in the bar after the game. Little did I know the bar was in the men's locker room! As Anne entered the bar area the bartender said, "You can't come in here. There has never been a woman in this bar before." Anne, as she turned and pointed across the room to Barbara, said, "Well, now there are two of us!"
After two years of curling in the Falmouth Ice Arena from 9 to 11 P.M. on Tuesdays, I was informed by the directors that hockey had become so popular that they needed the time for ice hockey, and we would have to cease and desist curling. We were quite disappointed, of course. I had made some contacts with some people at Braeburn Country Club in the past, and I knew they had curling there. I called them up and wondered if we could rent ice from them every other week or so to continue our curling experience. They were delighted to have us do that. As a matter of fact, they would put three rinks against three rinks of ours every other Sunday. Then we would have lunch in their restaurant and enjoy the camaraderie and friendship for part of the afternoon, then drive home.
It was quite an arduous task transporting sixteen people to Braeburn every other week, but we managed to continue to do that for quite a while - until 1974. At one of our meetings we decided if we were going to continue to curl and have a functioning curling club we would have to see if we could find local ice that would be more compatible to our lifestyle. The thing we felt we must try to do, if we could, would be to entice someone to loan us or rent us ice in the local area. We investigated the Hyannis Ice Rink and Bourne Ice Rink to no avail. Just about that time I was talking with Ned Dewitt on another matter, and bemoaning our fate as a curling club, and that we were going to have to quit curling if we couldn't find an ice facility. He suggested that I contact Mr. and Mrs. Lilly since they were building the Falmouth sports facility there in Highfield, and they might be interested in looking into building an ice rink for us as well.
Mr. and Mrs. Lilly were very attentive to my meeting with them and asked many questions. One of the things that was happening in town was that there were not many activities for children in our area. So, one of the things that I had stressed was that this is a sport that can be played from age 5 to age 95, and that many, many curling facilities have very active youth programs. They wondered if they could observe the sport being played some time, and I arranged for them to be taken up to Broomstones during a weekend when there was a bonspiel going on. They were extremely impressed, and they were willing to discuss the situation further.
A number of weeks went by and I just happened to bump into Ned Dewitt again and I said, "I guess our idea fell on deaf ears, didn't it Ned?" He said, "No, I don't think so." Sure enough, within a very short time, I was asked to return and they informed me that they were going to build a curling facility across the parking lot from their sports facility, and that they would outline the agreements for renting the property for two years. If, at the end of two years, we were not able to support it by purchasing it from them, that they would take the property back and turn it into another sports facility, possibly handball or something like that.
The curling group was terrifically excited; we thought it would be a marvelous thing to have our own facility, and then we got all excited about discussing the plans and how it would be and so forth and so on. Without my even realizing that construction had begun, one day I went up to look at the sports facility and I saw that the foundations were already dug for the curling facility. High steel beams were up, and I had no knowledge that it was going to be done at all. It was a magnificent surprise! The curling building was started in October of 1974, with the main structure in place by the end of January, 1974. On April 15th we were told the building was ready to be turned over to us. Of course, the season was over but we put in the ice anyway and curled until the middle of May when we finally let the ice go. It was an exciting even though brief beginning. Our survival is living proof that "where there is a will there is a way."
On October 4, 1975, the building was occupied for the first time for curling. One of the stipulations that had been placed upon us was that to begin to rent the building we would have to have a $25,000 escrow fund in the bank to show good faith prior to the development of the sport. Through a great deal of hard work for all the sixteen people involved at that time and some very generous donations from several people, we managed to meet our obligation, and we were off and running at that time.
After two years we had reached a membership of fifty-five people which was really not enough to support the sport of curling and particularly to pay for electricity and the upkeep of the building and all that sort of thing. When I met with the Lilly's to tell them that it looked as if we were not going to be able to continue because we just did not have that kind of money to buy the building from them, they very generously asked, "How much can you pay for the building?" I gave them what I felt was a reasonable figure from our side and that we could possibly raise, less than one-third of what the building cost, I'm sure. They agreed. We were absolutely ecstatic. Somehow or other we would survive; we would make it work.
There were many different fund raising events which we went through and I will try to touch on a few of them in a later chapter. One fund raising effort we offered was a leap of faith we would survive by selling life memberships for $2,500 each. If we were unsuccessful in surviving, all twenty people lost everything. There are only six curlers still active in the group today.
It is with deep gratitude and thanks to the Lilly's for their interest in and support of us, which resulted in our having this beautiful curling facility. We eventually purchased the facility January 1, 1979.
Going back for a moment to the saga of the stones - we were having quite a difficult time working with the set which was loaned to us from the American Curling Foundation. We saw in the North American Curling News an ad of a curling club in Montreal which was closing. I contacted the club and asked if it would be possible for us to purchase their stones if they were no longer going to need them. They were delighted to find a club that was in need of them, and for $900 we bought the stones. It was decided that the best way to retrieve them was to have a couple of our members go up to Montreal and bring the stones down.
Roland Belliveau was a member of our club as well as Seth Harvey and they agreed to take Roland's van to Montreal and bring the stones home. The description of their ride home was hilarious. The narration of that trip is recorded by Seth in the following story, which is better told by him than me:
"Some time about 1972 the Club arranged to buy some used stones from a curling club in Montreal, whose name I do not recall. The deal specified that we had to pick them up. Roland Belliveau, the upholsterer, had a Volkswagen pick-up truck, and Roley was, and is, always ready for an adventure. I was unattached at the time, and so the two of us agreed to go. It was a long ride, but Roley is a good traveling companion. He talked about the upholstering business, and I talked about practicing surgery, and we shared stories about the occasional foibles of the public we served. We arrived at the club at about five o'clock and were greeted by the club manager. He was expecting two Americans, but perhaps not two who looked like us - young, informally dressed, and disheveled after an eight-hour drive. In any case, he looked hard at the check for $900 I gave him, but finally accepted it and us; offered us dinner, which we refused, but bought us a drink and helped us load three sets of stones in the VW.
Discretion dictates that I not describe how we spent that night in Montreal, but fortunately we were bright-eyed and alert the next morning as we headed home in our badly overloaded truck. Steering it required full attention. There was a bad moment when we approached the border. I was starting to explain to the agent why we had all those big rocks in the back, and about this odd game where you slide them on ice, when he said, “Oh, curling”' Suddenly we were friends, and he passed us through with a wave, commenting as we went that there was no duty on sporting goods, a thought that had never crossed our minds.
Good luck seems to go with curling. We made it home safely; the Club had some stones to be proud of and Roley found that the tire we had to put air in several times had a nail in it all along.
After using [those stones] for approximately three years it was learned that Braeburn Curling Club was going to stop curling. I wondered whether it would be possible for us to secure their stones which I knew were very fine matched stones of the Ailsa Crag variety. Sure enough Bud Chandler, a member of the Braeburn Country Club, arranged for us to purchase the stones. They have been excellent stones for us. They are a matched set as I stated, which means that each pair of stones weighs exactly the same amount. If the handles are removed from the tops of the stones, etched in the upper surface of each stone will be the number of the stone and the exact weight. These are all recorded and they are in the secretary's minutes. In 1981 our club hosted the USCA Mixed National Championships which is again another chapter which I will try to cover. At that time the people who visited us from other parts of the country complimented us on the quality of these stones.
As I mentioned before, one of the ways we managed to learn about curling was by going away to bonspiels. Most of our club members at that time participated in those type of events. We thought that it might be a good idea for us to host some bonspiels to return the favor to our neighboring clubs so that they could experience our curling facility as well. When we were still curling at the Falmouth Ice Arena, we decided that we had no way of competing in the winter time because we didn't have the facilities to put on a bonspiel. In the summer time the Cape is a great place to visit, and to vacation, and why not put in a game of curling to enjoy your summer vacation even more? So, in 1970 the Cape Cod Curling Club Summer Bonspiel was born, the first of its kind in the nation.
Originally it comprised of one game of curling on the ice at the Falmouth Ice Arena on points. After several years we added one game of Jarts, now outlawed as dangerous, during which you throw steel-pointed arrows through the air to a target, and again that would be on points. The last part of the competition was bowling on the green at Nina and Dick Thornton's, where again points were awarded. The total points of all three events determined the winner.
We had a clambake at Barbara and Langdon Burwell's beach property on Vineyard Sound put on by Hy and Janet Peters, and this became a tradition for many, many years. The Cape Cod Curling Club rapidly became very famous as a wonderful place to have a bonspiel. As the saying went, "They may not curl too well but boy they know how to put on a party!"
For a number of years the Friday night bonspiel supper was a chicken fry by Hy and Janet Peters held at the Dewees' farm. This became a yearly event for everyone. The numerous animals that the Dewees' owned and the huge garden were enjoyed by all of the participants. For several years the Dewees' had a prize pig named Oscar (short for Oscar Myer). He was shown on several occasions at the Barnstable County Fair where he won the Best in Fair Award. Oscar was a very gentle fellow and I would take him out of the pen and walk him around among the crowd and let people touch him and scratch his ears. When you would scratch his belly he would lie down and roll over. It was just interesting that he happened to weigh 1,200 lbs.
To this day I can go to a bonspiel and people will ask me whatever happened to that pig. He became a "show pig" for a while after he left the farm; after that I never found out what happened to him, and I don't want to know.
I have been asked many times “What is the Grand National Curling Club of America, and why should we belong? What does it mean to me?”
Curling is an amateur sport with no professionals. The Grand National is the parent organization that pools all curling clubs together, from the Canadian border to the Potomac River and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. It was originally founded in 1837 to organize curling activities which had been primarily men's curling. It has encompassed mixed curling as well as junior and youth curling. In the near future we hope this will include handicapped curling.
First of all the Grand National receives all scheduling of interclub competition information of mixed, men's and junior events, so that there is as little as possible doubling up of events on certain weekends during the season. This is no easy task since there are 35 clubs with only 20 weekends to play. Secondly, the Grand National has taken on responsibility for overseeing the order, growth and development of all curling clubs in this area. Curling and the knowledge of curling is spreading throughout the northeast. Thirdly, the Grand National represents all of us through our club charters in the United States National Curling Association, the organization which encompasses all curling activities in the United States of America.
The GNCC is responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations of curling usually as set down by the USCA, although there are certain rules that pertain only to the Grand National such as wagering and other exceptions. As you can see a small fee each of us has to pay each year returns us a great deal as far as the fun and sport of curling is concerned. Without the GNCC, curling as we know it would be a total chaos and very likely nonexistent. Interestingly enough the Grand National basically was founded as a men's organization. It was not understood by me that that was the way it was to be at the meetings held by the Grand National Executive Committee. Consequently, one year when I was unable to go as the representative, I sent two of our members, Carol Taylor and Marge Dickson, to represent us. They were met at the door and, believe it or not, were refused entrance to the meeting. However, I will hand it to the President at that time, Joe Milano, who graciously met with the women delegates the next day and continued the affairs of business. However, since our club was founded on a mixed basis, this did not wholly satisfy our concerns.
I raised this issue at the next Executive Committee meeting. It was the right time, and it generated interest among the members. Shortly thereafter, Anne and I, along with Edie and Ralph Bosch from the Nutmeg Curling Club, were asked to develop a format for mixed curling and for regional play downs leading to national competition. Both of these aspects were introduced and accepted by the GNCC within the next year or so. The generic championship play down application form designed by this committee is still used today. In addition, the Ray Kayser Grand National Mixed Championship was born.
Early in our existence Ned Dewitt, our legal adviser, came to me one day and said, "Dave why don't you try to organize your club into a 501-c3," a charitable organization status. The primary reason for this is that donations made to the club by outside sources or its own members are tax deductible. We were accepted by the IRS and the 501-c3 status was attained. This status is the reason we were able to raise funds to get this club off the ground and running back in the early days of 1970 and 1971. It was originally granted to us on an educational basis since we taught curling to the schools, to seniors and to anyone interested in competitive curling which includes local, regional, national and international play. It now includes "hosting" of international sporting events. Interestingly, over the next ten years, other clubs in the Grand National discovered our good fortune and many of them have also now become 501-c3 organizations.
Back in 1987 and l988 we were challenged by the IRS to prove that we were strictly a charitable organization and that we fulfilled the requirements, which we did. However, this taught us to record in the minutes of the Directors' meetings enough information about the educational side of the sport to fulfill the requirements of the IRS. We had documented all the meetings and the dinners we had, and the programs we put on to raise money and all that sort of thing, but the IRS was not impressed by that. With the submission of certain information and numerous phone calls, the charitable status was reestablished. (A total outline including the definition of curling, the equipment, the use of the equipment, the various educational programs and the proof of interclub competition and international competition was submitted and accepted by the IRS.)
One of the major efforts of the curling club in its early stages was to raise enough money to keep the front doors open. We very slowly increased our membership until after about three years we had reached between 90 and 100 members. We had many fund raising events, such as the sale of cookbooks, box supper biddings, a rummage sale put on during the summer, a Kentucky Derby party on the day of the Kentucky Derby, a ladies' fashion show, a $10,000 raffle and a Monte Carlo night as well. Other suggestions which were discussed but were not brought to fruition were antique auctions, miniature golf, roller skating, table tennis during the summer, raffles, music programs, barbershop quartet competitions, symphonic program at the high school with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, sponsoring a cribbage tournament, chef's culinary display just prior to Memorial Day, Bingo, and a mini lottery.
A portion of our income which helped sustain us was hosting dinners on Saturday night and having programs in-house with our own members. Many of these events were hilarious to watch and to stage and, in those days, most anything went. Murray Appell brought his barbershop quartet to entertain us beautifully. The Kentucky Derby party was a huge event with the entire ice surface covered with tables and decorations and betting booths and TV's everywhere so that the entire race could be seen, and it was actually put on during the Kentucky Derby. This was followed by a banquet which was fit for a king as well it should be since this is the sport of kings. Just about every Saturday night there was a party of some kind with a program and dinner at the club. There was a Christmas Party and a very popular event was the family curling with two adults and two juniors. The adults were not necessarily the parents of the children. Roger White and his string band were hilarious. Doc Harvey played the organ one evening and was absolutely fantastic. We had a 1950's party where everybody dressed as they did in that era. A Halloween party on Halloween night, and, as you can imagine, the costumes that were rigged up that night. There was a western night where everyone wore some kind of a get up for western gear and the food was western as well. We had New Year's Eve parties pretty much every year and a Thanksgiving turkey shoot Thanksgiving week. There was an international night where everybody came as some kind of foreign guest. The Super Bowl party was always a popular event with friendly wagering on one's favorite team.
Unfortunately, many of these events have been discontinued. Since these types of events fostered a wonderful camaraderie we have lost some of this closeness that made our curling club very special. Perhaps in our new expanded facility some of these events will return. Few members will forget the wonderful entertainment put on by Anne Dewees and Rita Ottaviano! In addition to these in-house events, we also had organized, of course, all the summer bonspiels beginning back in 1972. We also had the Doldrums, a January event for several years, then we found that we were competing with the clubs and the rest of the Grand National. We discontinued the idea and concentrated on our summer bonspiel. However, we did have an Indian summer bonspiel in October which was popular, but the weather was so unpredictable we never knew whether we could have it outside or not. After several years this was discontinued.
There was only the Mixed Summer Bonspiel for about ten years. Then a group of men headed by Bob Ottaviano began the Men's Bonspiel in 1984, with twelve rinks which quickly grew to twenty rinks. In 1987, the Women's Bonspiel was added under the direction of Nancy Jones, Barbara Sylvia and Lillian Harwood. The summer bonspiels were usually a four-day event beginning with an opening cocktail party. Frequently there were some matches played that day but most were played the second and third day with finals on the fourth day. These games were on points with highest point teams playing in the finals. With this format start times of matches were known in advance so participants could plan other vacation events around them. This system seems to be enjoyed by everyone.
The men's and women's bonspiels were won-lost format. There were other events such as luncheons at private homes, chicken fry at Dewees' farm, pig roast for the men's bonspiel, fashion show for the ladies and numerous other events thought up by the different bonspiel committees. There is always a golf tournament during the men's spiels and frequently the women's banquet is held at the Coonamesset Inn or Ballymeade Country Club with a great show as well. The participants seemed to enjoy the events such as the luncheons, etc. that were held away from the club. After the chicken fry at our farm one year, (the bar was set up in our garage) two weeks later I found an envelope with the entire bar receipts, $400 in the garage!
The Men's Bonspiel is a regular knockout format which most men prefer. All the bonspiels end with a barbeque, clambake or brunch before participants head home. Each of the bonspiels have their own pins or other special items. The scrimshaw pin was designed for the Mixed Bonspiel and is highly sought after even 35 years later!
We hosted the [Francis] Dykes [Memorial], which is a Grand National event for men, with five years or fewer of curling experience, which was extremely popular. In l981 we hosted the U.S. Curling Association Mixed National Championship. The entire club was involved in this event. It was a big event with ten teams throughout the nation coming to Cape Cod to compete for the championship. Historically the USCA National Championship event was a three-day event with two round-robin play downs drawn by lottery with the two winning teams playing for the championship. We felt this was not a fair format to choose a champion since each team did not play all the other teams and other USCA and USWCA champions were week-long events. We, therefore, asked the USCA's permission, which we received, to have a complete round-robin event which took seven days to complete. A great deal of work by all members of our club went into hosting this great event and all the teams loved it. They felt the mixed curling championship had finally arrived. Once again mixed curling was changed, not only in the GNCC, but also the entire USCA forever.
We wanted to start it off with a bang so after the teams marched down the ice following the piper, we arranged to have the National Anthem played. The only band available was the 6th grade school band. You can imagine how they sounded but the contestants loved it! All ten teams were treated to a bus tour of the Cape to see all the historic sights and some not so historic. The final banquet was at the Coonamessett Inn in grand style with much celebration. It continued well into the night. Our club published a beautiful booklet with many pictures and stories, etc. which was a great success and a source of income. When all was said and done the Cape Cod Curling Club sent a check for $1,700 to the USCA (half the profit earned). Ken Sherwood, the President of the USCA at the time, told us this event had never previously made a profit in its entire history; another first for the Cape Cod Curling Club.
In 1991 we hosted the Kayser Grand National Mixed Championship, which is for mixed curlers under five years. We also hosted the Wintershield, the Grand National Senior Men's Championship on two occasions, as well as several Grand National iceless bonspiels. These iceless bonspiels are the annual meeting of the Grand National Executive Committee. We hosted it on several occasions at the Chatham Bars Inn.
The Archie Bruce Friendly Bonspiel is a very popular event honoring Archie Bruce and his many, many contributions to the St.Andrews, the Ardsley and the Cape Cod Curling Clubs. It is played every year, usually in January, with play alternating yearly between the Ardsley Curling Club and the Cape Cod Curling Club.
Senior curling developed slowly at first but in the later years under the direction of Ray McGuire it became a very popular event and it culminates in a full club championship, which is very enjoyable and ending with a wonderful luncheon.
The other in-house events, such as the Scrod and the Cod were also very enjoyable. The Scrod is for curlers with under five years experience and under 55 years of age. It's a mixed event as well. The Cod was for those over 55 with under five years experience who did not qualify for the Scrod. The Cod has been discontinued.
A women's event no longer played is the Thistle, which was started by Roz Burkett. For many, many years we have had a number of Friendlies. They are interclub events, one or two day affairs, with teams frequently staying overnight and playing both Saturday and Sunday at Nashua, TCC and Broomstones, with the members putting guests up for the evening.
When we moved into our new facility in 1975, junior curling soon developed and we now have both junior curlers as well as Little Rockers. They are very active and there are up to 35 of them active all the time. They go away to bonspiels at clubs throughout the Grand National and have competed in GNCC Championships as well as the National play downs.
In 1979, a Silver Brooms curling school was held. Dale Lewis and Bruce Atkins, who were employed by several Boston facilities to prepare their ice, presented this curling school to us. It was extremely helpful to many of us novices giving us proper instruction in technique of curling and courtesies as well as the rules of the game.
For many years we were very fortunate to have a very accomplished artist as a member of our club who did many, many drawings, illustrated the newsletter, and as all of you have seen on the ice surface the huge fresco at the glass end of the ice was made by Dick Hurd.
In February of every year, there is a tournament which is called the Women's All American Challenge. Each club holds its own competition. It has always been fun. Previously the men put on the dinner and served the women, which was usually done on the February 14th weekend. The date and format have since been changed.
The other purely women's event is the Wintershield, which is hosted by just the curling clubs in New England and the event is usually rotated.
1994 was our 25th anniversary year and that we celebrated in March.
In 1985 Walt McCarthy gave classes in curling to the Cape Cod Community College students. This was very successful but the students soon dropped in number.
In l980 under the direction of Bob Ottaviano a photo directory of the club members was done. This was a very much appreciated project.
The highest prize in curling which is sought by every game that we play is to end up with an eight ender. This means that that particular team has all eight of their stones in and counting in the house. It is much rarer that a hole-in-one in golf. We have had three at the Cape Cod Curling Club. One mixed, one men's and one women's.
The Cape Cod Curling Club pin was designed by a former member, Marion Smith. She was very gracious in doing numerous copies and designs and letting club members decide which ones they liked best. The final vote was the outline of Cape Cod with crossed brooms and a stone on gold with a blue upper pleshette with Cape Cod on it, and a lower red pleshette with Curling Club. This attractive pin very soon became quite sought after by many members of the curling fraternity throughout New England. This pin was designed in 1972 and has been our pin ever since. It was voted by the Board of Directors at that time that our pin could not be bought but must be played for by an opponent to have it awarded to that person. Other aspects of our pin are that the Board passed a motion in 1973 that the pin could not be altered. It was not to be used as a name pin or any other device. It has been, however, affixed to most of the trophies that are played for each year by our club members. These decisions, however, no longer govern the design or the use of our pin.
Many curlers had dropped out of curling because of physical reasons. Their joints were unable to perform the way they would like them to. They could no longer curl in the normal fashion by sliding from the hack. In November 2000, Mac Jones and I went to Canada to the Ross Tarlton Bonspiel just to be there to observe our friends and enjoy the camaraderie of the event which we had been doing for a number of years.
While we were there we noticed that there were several gentlemen out on the ice who were using an aid to curling which was called the extender or nicknamed, the "stick." It is a regular handled delivering mechanism that has a cup on one end that fits over the handle of the stone and as the handle is turned slowly towards the point of delivery, a turn is placed on the stone and it curls either right or left depending upon the turn that is placed on it. We came home with a couple of sticks and began using them in our own club and several or our club members thought it looked like a good idea and tried it out and ordered some sticks of their own. This has gradually grown over the last four or five years to a point where now we have 48 members of our club using the stick. It has brought a number of people who had given it up back into curling because they could no longer perform in the usual way of delivering the stone. It gives a very comfortable feeling and it is easier on the individual. There is much less stress and strain put on the entire body. The intensity of curling is just as high in shots and in some instances it seems to be more predictable than the formal way of curling As a matter of fact, in the 2001 Summer Men's Bonspiel an all "stick" rink was entered with Dave Dewees, Skip; Mac Jones, Vice Skip; Bob Slayter, Second; and Jim Macdonald, Lead. I'm certain it was the first official "stick" team in any USA competition.
To prevent people from feeling isolated, we began a purely stick league on Saturday morning and this was attended by up to twelve people and this gradually grew and they enjoyed it. However, these people, as soon as they developed proficient skill with the stick, disappeared into the regular leagues. We just recently have decided to discontinue the stick league, so people now are taught how to use the stick and then go right into any play that they wish. Most of the stick people, being the older age group, prefer to curl in the daytime and not at night so they do not usually get involved in the more intense curling periods in the evening. This created more opportunity for the younger curlers to curl in the evening draw times. When the number of stick curlers increased to a point where we felt we could satisfactorily do it we decided to have a stick bonspiel. We sent out invitations to other clubs and made numerous phone calls and we advertised in the newspapers. We got very little response from other clubs. Approximately seven people joined us from Albany and other areas, but we did get one team from Canada. It was skipped by a man named Dell Hickling, who has a sideline business of making the sticks that were used in the stick curling.
The first stick bonspiel was in 2005. Rather than cancel the bonspiel because of so few outsider applications received, we decided to open it up to all our own regular members with the one stipulation that they must deliver the stone with the stick. We had twelve teams participate and a great deal of fun was had by all, and many of the regular curlers began to realize that they had something to look forward to when they could no longer curl in the normal fashion.
Another area of our curling activities are the senior group of which we have a very sizeable number and these have been curling in two specific daytime leagues which are filled every time that they have curled. From this group a number have participated in the Ray McGuire Tournament which is put on for seniors only and was started by Ray McGuire and then taken over by Mac Jones and Willard Rockwell after Ray passed away.
When the club was quite young, in order to gain membership and to organize it more intensively, the Board of Directors felt that we should hire an Executive Director. The first one we had was named Elliot Perrin. We found this was a very unsatisfactory relationship. At the time he was discharged we felt that the club members themselves could take care of just about every facet of the Cape Cod Curling Club. We have a club member by the name of Frank Sylvia who was very well versed in the care of refrigeration equipment and he has volunteered to do that.
Bob Ottaviano and a yearly group of fourteen men and women forming four teams kept the ice in excellent shape and have now developed techniques to deionize the water used in ice preparation which has been carried on now by the latest iceman, Michael O'Malley. The initial laying of the ice surface came at a time when we had zero money. We did not fill the pores of the cement with any kind of a sealant which was a big mistake. We didn't know it at the time. For the next 15 to 20 years we fought the surface yearly with the flaking ice and then we had to scrape it to prepare and paint it and it was not a pleasant situation until we got the houses in and the ice made. However, in 2005 the cement surface was sand blasted and all the paint was completely removed and properly prepared with a sealant. It is our hope now that this will be a permanent situation where we will now have an easy time of putting down the ice for the summer bonspiel as well as the regular season.
Approximately ten years ago the Winchester Country Club also disbanded because of apparent lack of membership. The equipment was left where it was when they turned off the lights. We were called one day to see if we had any interest in the curling equipment. The ice equipment included a scraper and other ice measuring devices that we repaired and now use. It was most appreciated. Also included in the gift were a number of hand-painted plaques of the many individual clubs in the Grand National which now are nicely displayed on the side walls of the curling club. The three scoreboards we now use were also the result of the Winchester Country Club's generosity. We are most appreciative of these gifts. There are many things I have spoken about briefly but did not go into in detail.
The purpose of this historical effort was to speak of those people, events and ideas that molded our club over the years; some of which may have been forgotten, others never known. I hope I have covered most of the first 25 years of our roller-coaster life. Perhaps one of you with better flair for writing will continue this epistle in years to come. I would like to thank many of you who helped in numerous ways in getting this down on paper. Anne, my wife, for editing it, Lorraine Garrett for transcribing it, Nancy and Mac Jones for historical content, and those of you with specific information of certain events. Thanks again. I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our early years. We surely had our ups and downs but here we are in all our glory. Curling on Cape Cod has a special place in the curling world and it is very gratifying to see it flourish.