Passage 1: “we didn’t have water, no one did […] The city kept a tap on every other block, and it was up to each household to carry water from there.”

I was interested by this passage because it shows the kind of adversity that Gordie Howe faced while growing up. Although he lived in a big Canadian city, he didn’t have running water and would be forced to make daily trips just so his family could have drinking water. As a 21st century Canadian, I find it hard to imagine that there are people who wake up every morning without water, and it’s even harder to imagine that being the case in Canada in the 1930s. It’s mind blowing how much better life has gotten even over the past 80 years.

Given that this passage is from Saskatoon in the 1930s, it provides some insight into a difficult time in Canadian history. This period of time was during the great depression, and it shows the resilience of the people of the time. The wisdom that one can take away from this passage is to be thankful for what you have, and to be resilient when facing difficult situations. This passage shows a clear contrast to being a Canadian now and being a Canadian 90 years ago. Being a Canadian now guarantees you access to drinking water straight out of your home, centralized heating, plumbing, and other luxuries. It shows that being a Canadian in modern times comes hand in hand with a certain set of rights and freedoms that were not guaranteed to all Canadians in Gordie Howe’s early days.

 

Passage 2: “The scene on the ice was crazy […] I saw someone coming up on us on a run. I knew what I was supposed to do, and didn’t hesitate. I raised my stick and cracked him on the head”

I found this passage intriguing because it showed a different side of Gordie Howe than the one I had seen up to that point. He had been a bit mischievous but had seemed pretty peaceful but this showed his dark side. I also found it interesting because after this incident, Gordie was let off with a warning, which certainly wouldn’t happen nowadays.

This passage might provide some insight into how little importance was placed around security at the time. In this passage, the ice is flooded with fans and players alike, something that would never happen nowadays, which shows a change in values around security in general. There is now glass to separate the fans from the players and there is a heavy security presence at sporting events, showing that people have placed safety and security above being close to the players and the game.

 

Passage 3: “I was the sixth of nine children, so she knew what to do. With only a couple kids around for company, she but some water on the stove and got into bed. After I was born, she cut the umbilical cord herself and waited for my dad to come home.”

I was intrigued by this passage because of how typical this process seemed for Gordie Howe’s mother. Nowadays we tend to make a big deal about a pregnant mother delivering her baby and offer a lot of services for pregnant mothers, but this passage shows how typical it was to go through this process alone.  It shows again how resourceful people had to be back before the age of convenience. I would find it interesting to see what would happen if she had needed a C section, as I was born from a C section and I’m not sure what the chances of both the mother and child surviving would be if there was no doctor nearby.

I think this passage provides insight into the value of being self sustainable at the time. This is just another of many examples that show how much people had to do to gain access to things that we have at practically the push of a button. It also provides insight into the time before Canadians had free healthcare, so even if the Howe’s had access to a doctor they probably wouldn’t have used one because it would have cost them significantly. Another value of the time that is shown is the value of women as childbearers. It was not uncommon back in the 1930s for families to have 4, 5 or even more children as they had a lower chance of survival, whereas today the average number of children per family is less than 2 due to an improved health infrastructure, as well as other factors, such as the price of raising a child.

 

Passage 4: “I walked past the school until I hit the railroad tracks. From there I went into the first big factory I saw and asked if there were any jobs available […] Since I was still a minor, though, they needed someone from the hockey club to vouch for me. When they called, a team official told them that if I wanted to work, they should let me work. That’s how easy it was for me to quit school and end up working in a metal factory”

I was interested by this passage because as a 15 year old, the same age Gordie Howe was when he started working, I would never even consider working in a factory, let alone be allowed to work in one. I also wouldn’t just be allowed to drop school to work, but Gordie did it with ease and no one even tried to talk him out of it. It also seems interesting that a shy student would quit school all together just because they were nervous to go to a new school. I just can’t fathom that happening to anybody nowadays.

I think this passage provides insight into how different values around working age were at the time. The norm of dropping out of school to go to young age has changed a lot since the time of the passage. At the time, there was not a culture based around education like there is now, so school was sort of seen as this alternative option that wasn’t necessary to be successful. The norm now is that you finish high school and generally pursue some kind of post secondary education. There would also not be this value that a child as young as 15 could just quit school because they were scared to go, and work instead. No club executive would just simply put the decision on the player, as was done with Gordie Howe. They would definitely keep the player in school because otherwise it would reflect extremely poorly on the organization.

 

Passage 5: “We didn’t just go our sperate ways after practice. The younger guys especially spent all kinds of time together. […] and many of us even lived under the same roofs.”

I found this passage to be intriguing because of the way it shows the lifestyle of people was back in the 1940s. These famous, well paid hockey players were down to earth and did the same things to pass the time that an ordinary person did. When you compare that to the lavish lives that athletes live nowadays, it’s a totally different world. What I find especially interesting is the closeness of team mates. On sports teams now, players only practice together, but back then, they were family. Nobody was above anyone else because everybody was friends.

I think this passage provides insight into the value placed around family and humility in the 1940s. Players living together and doing things that good friends do with each other showed how much players cared about each other and were willing to put aside their differences for the good of the team. This is in direct contrast to modern day, where you hear about players forming factions and having a toxic personality in the dressing room, because they are self centered. That value of getting along has been replaced by the value of only looking out for oneself, which has in my opinion made people less humble and has created a lot of division in modern times.

 

The overall theme that I can take away from my reading so far is that being resilient in times of difficulty often strengthens character. This is because these hard times, such as having to walk to gather water or work as a minor challenge you to your limits and if you stand your ground and work hard, than you will get through the challenge and come out as a better person on the other side. I can apply this to my own life because I am facing the first big challenge of my life, graduating and becoming an adult within the next few years, and this will bring major challenges to my life as I will no longer be covered by my parents, so I will have to work hard to be successful and come out on the other side.