“Murray, the phone call is for you. Someone from the RCAF Flyers hockey team.” I heard my mother say. “The RCAF Flyers? This late at night?” I replied as I dragged myself out of bed. “He said it’s urgent” my mother added.
By the time I hung up the phone, both my parents stood in the kitchen, waiting to hear what that call was all about. “That was Squadron Leader Sandy Watson, he’s the manager of the air force’s hockey team. He wants me to be the team’s goalie for the Olympic tournament. Me!” I said still in shock.
“You are going to the Olympics? Representing Canada? Son, that’s amazing!” my dad seemed even more excited than I was. “I do not even know what the Olympics are, but apparently the games are played in Switzerland.” I explained.
“Ah true, you were only 10 years old when the last Olympic games were held before the war. This year …” My mom interrupted to ask what was next. I told her that Watson would call back within in the hour with more details as I had to be in Ottawa the next day.
As I waited for the second phone call, I got me hockey gear ready and packed a couple of personal items, while my mom prepared some food for me.
Around 1:30AM Watson called back to tell me that work was ready to let me be away for two months. He also told me to go to RCAF Station Downsview in Toronto. At 6AM a military plane would take me to Ottawa.
There was no way I could sleep, and my dad agreed to drive me to Downsview. When I arrived there well early, I was told that I had to take the train because it was too foggy to fly. So we drove to Union Station where my ticket was already waiting for me. I said good-bye to my dad, grabbed my bag and jumped on the train.
When I arrived in Ottawa a few hours later, there was a person in uniform holding a sign with my name. He was my ride to meet Squadron Leader Watson in his office. Watson looked me up and down and then told me that I had missed the morning training session. A clerk brought in some paperwork and I was asked to swear an oath of allegiance to King and country. And just like that I had become a member of the RCAF with the rank of LAC (Leading Aircraftman). Next I was taken to the supply section to get my uniform and my hockey jersey. The last stop was with the photographer. I was told that I had missed the official team picture but that they would just put my head over that of the goalie who had been unable to go. Being with the military, they ensured me that nobody would ever notice.
Now dressed in uniform, Sandy Watson and I were driven to the Ottawa train station to meet up with the team before taking the train to New York. As the train pulled out of the station, I was shaking my head in disbelief. Yesterday at this time I had just come home from my work at the Toronto Transit Commission, and 24 hours later I was on my way to play in the Olympics. As I dosed off, I was wondering where this journey would take me.