do you remember

July 26, 2012

Seeing the picture of the old drill hall in Gander brought back a host of memories from Jim Butler, GA Class of ’59. So much so, it prompted him to record some of them here.

The Old Drill Hall on Foss Avenue
I read, with interest, the many responses to the recent mystery photo (The arrival of Santa by helicopter). In particular the info about the drill hall that Ron Mosher and others contributed to the conversation.
I would like to add a few comments.
I do remember attending a Santa Claus party of some sort at that drill hall on Foss Avenue; but I do not see myself in the photo supplied by Neil Bishop.
 I also remember a few other events at the drill hall before it was converted to ‘Gander Gardens’.
I remember attending a show at the drill hall that starred Don "Red" Barry, the first cowboy to act in the Red Ryder series of movies. He had an accompanying singing group, but he was the main attraction. The only parts I remember of the show are Barry coming on stage (it was the boxing/wrestling ring that was in the gym) with guns blazing; and the fact that he sang (and I use the word very loosely) a song. The song was “My Truly Fair” which was a song made popular by Guy Mitchell in the early 1950s.
Quite a crowd attended. I don't think that it was as big as the group that attended my first real live wrestling match at the drill hall.   Sometime in the mid 1950s, wrestling stars including Killer Kowalski, and midget wrestlers Little Beaver and Sky Low Low put on quite a show. The show had all the action and audience participation of the wrestling we would see later on television.
As Ron mentioned, we did play basketball in the hall. I recall that well and it was when we were in grade 8, because Gil Wells organized an after school program of basketball. I also remember touring around inside the drill hall and visiting the pool area in the building. I don't ever remember the pool being in use; but I worked as a pin-boy at the bowling alley a few times.
There were a lot of the activities in the drill hall after it had been converted to a rink. When it opened, there was general skating, and even a hockey game where I played goalie (my more crazy days) in a game between the scouts and the air cadets.
Yes, there were visits by the Boston Bruins and the Ice Capades; all the Gander All-Star games against Grand Falls, Buchans, Corner Brook and St. John’s; the dates are a blur, but the events are remembered.
With the opening of an artificial ice surface in this old drill hall, the era of the ‘natural’ ice rink in Gander ended. All the frozen hands and feet from watching hockey games at the old area were over. Rushing to the canteen to warm-up between periods became a thing of the past.
One experience of note was that, if you could not attend a game when an out-of-town team was playing the Gander Flyers, all you had to do was dial the number for the area.  The telephone lines were so congested with others calling to find out the score that you could speak to anyone in Gander not at the game and learn the score and any other gossip that was being discussed.
I’m sure others could add their experiences of attending the games at the old area. That could prove to be a fun discussion.
You’ve received an interesting collection of responses to the mystery photo…please try to dig up a few more of those mystery photos.
Jim Butler,
GA Class of ’59

OK everyone, time for a plug here for the new “HOCKEY TALK” button on this website. Go to the library and click on that button and see what the pseudo nom writer Billy Clobber has in mind. You can add more there about the drill hall and any hockey talk of Gander Days of Yore…Send your hockey talk and pix in to
Thanks for making this happen and thanks to Jim Butler for his contribution above.



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