[This anecdote comprises the last chapter of my book, Memoirs of a Grade Ten Drop-out (available at Amazon.com). It was also posted on my website a few years ago. A number of people have urged me to repost it, and as I’ve gained many new followers since the original posting, here it is.]
As I left Morell, P.E.I. just before 9:00 in the morning on Wednesday, January 15, 1964, for the forty-five minute drive to my job as an accounting student at H.R. Doane & Co. in Charlottetown, I thought it would be just another routine day. I would be working on year-end financial statements for a client, would probably have lunch with friends at The Old Spain restaurant, and be back in Morell around six that evening.
Usually on a weeknight, unless I had a hockey game, I’d be home studying; but this evening I would be at the Morell rink. I was a goalie with Sandy’s Royals (Charlottetown’s maritime senior hockey league team) and coached the Morell intermediate team, which had a practice from 7:00 until 8:00 that evening. As I intended to work on some techniques with their goalie, Brian McGuire, I stopped off at the Charlottetown Forum and picked up my hockey equipment.
We now have to turn back the clock to a Saturday morning a couple of months earlier. While shopping at Dingwell & Rossiter’s, one of the three general stores then thriving in Morell, I ran into Jean McEwen (now Jean Anderson), a teacher at the Morell elementary school. As we chatted, she said, “Lyman, there’s a new teacher from Charlottetown at the school that I’m sure you’d really like. Her name is Anne Affleck and I think you should ask her out.” I probably said something like, “OK, sounds good.”
The problem was that during the week, when the new teacher was in Morell, I spent my days in Charlottetown and my nights were devoted to either hockey or studying. On weekends it was the reverse; I was in Morell and she was in Charlottetown. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even lay eyes on her until Monday morning, January 6th.
In the Catholic religion, January 6th is the feast of the Epiphany, so I went to the eight o’clock Mass in Morell. A few of us were chatting in the lobby before the service began when a tall, slim, serene, elegant, graceful, attractive young woman dazzled us with a friendly smile as she entered the church. The adjectives just used notwithstanding, my main impression was that she looked like a really nice person.
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“That’s Anne Affleck,” Jack Coffin replied, “She’s a new teacher at the elementary school.”
This was who Jean McEwen had told me about! And Jean was right; I should ask this young lady out. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it, but I knew I was going to do it. Now back to January 15th.
There being no showers in the Morell rink at that time, after the practice we sat around the dressing room shooting the breeze until we cooled off. Another reason there was no rush to get away was that a public skate had started when our practice ended, so a few of us hung around even longer than usual; especially Brian McGuire and I, engrossed in goalie talk. And, luckily, as it turned out, a couple of the guys had put their skates back on after donning their street clothes and were out pleasure skating.
I finally got into my street clothes, packed my hockey gear, and was heading to my car when I glanced at the ice surface and saw Anne Affleck skating around all by herself! I hurried to my car, stowed my gear, and rushed back into the rink to see if there was anyone from whom I could borrow a pair of skates. Because of the shape and length of goalie skate blades (and how they’re sharpened) there is no way anyone could impress a girl by skating with her while wearing them.
The only person I saw who had skates that were apt to fit me was Brian Beckett, who worked with me at H.R. Doane & Co. and played for me on the Morell hockey team. I beckoned him to come to the dressing room that we had recently vacated. He asked, “What’s up?” I told him I wanted to borrow his skates because there was a girl out there I wanted to skate with. He asked me which one, and when I described Anne he said that he was about to ask her to skate when I called him over.
I said, “Brian, if you go back out there and skate with that girl, I guarantee you will never get off the Morell Meteors bench for the rest of the season.” As he was slightly junior to me at work, for good measure I threw in, “And, for the next three months I’ll make your workdays hell.” Brian, an all-around great guy who thought I was kidding (I wasn’t), laughed, took off his skates, handed them to me and said, “Bring them to the office tomorrow.”
I quickly laced on Brian’s skates and rushed out of the room, only to find that the skate had ended and everyone was heading to the dressing rooms and stands to take off their skates. I dashed into the rink office, where Emmett “Hooker” Murphy was running the skate, and said, “Hooker, announce that there’ll be another twenty minutes of skating (about the length of an LP of Strauss waltzes, the staple of skating music.)” “Why?” he quite rightly asked. “Because there’s a girl out there I absolutely have to skate with.” This he immediately understood, announced on the PA system that the skate wasn’t over, and put on another record.
I was afraid that Anne had already taken off her skates and was on her way home, but as I exited the office I saw her step onto the ice and glide away. Hot on her heels, I skated up beside her and said, “Hello Anne Affleck, my name is Lyman MacInnis.” She replied, “I know,” which I took to be encouraging, so I said “I’d like to skate with you.” “OK,” she agreed.
I linked my arm in hers and we skated and chatted for twenty minutes or so, after which I drove her to Isabel Dingwell’s, where she was boarding. We sat in the driveway and talked for another half hour or so. I went home that night knowing that Anne Affleck was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with; which is exactly how it has turned out.
Wednesday, January 15, 1964, which started out as just another day, had become the most important day of my life.