Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Greeenfield Park Youth Center

The Greeenfield Park Youth Centre was opened in May of 1961. It was built to give the youth of the community a place to hang out. The original building had an area known as the pit, where dances were held, and where a juke box played music any time of the day after someone dropped in a quarter and chose a song or two. The pit also was the site of various meetings and contained a ping-pong table where anyone was free to play when no dances were being held. You could always get a ping-pong ball from Eddie at the little restaurant located in the L-shaped lounge area above the pit.
Eddie was the man who served the Eddie’s Special – a hot dog with fries on it.

The youth centre also contained an office where Buck Hollingdrake held sway; but during sock hops records were played by DJs like John Geraghty. The building also contained two washrooms, and two dressing rooms with showers used by football teams like the Rams, Mustangs and Colts.

In 1965 the Lawrence Galletti Arena was constructed on the northeast side of the Youth Centre. The original plans were to have the two buildings attached, with new dressing rooms in between, but to save money a space was left between the two structures. Later when the pools opened you had to walk out of the Youth Centre then pass through an open space between the two buildings before re-entering the changing room for the pools behind the pit.

East of the old arena were two gravel tennis courts known as the Acorn Tennis Courts. They were free for residents of the town to use.

The old arena had some of the best ice in the Montreal area because it was so cold inside. After many complaints heaters were added near the rafters to keep spectators warm. However the heaters were about fifteen feet apart, so fans liked to arrive early before games so they could get a good spot under a heater.

Greenfield Park produced some great players and teams during the 1960s and 1970s. Travelling teams like the Legion and Monarch squads captured many South Shore titles. The Greenfield Park Jets (I believe they were a Junior team) provided lots of great action for fans in the early 1970s.

A junior house league was formed in the 1970s to give teenagers the chance to continue playing. Three of the coaches of the teams were Hank Kane, Stu Brennan and Paul Boudreau.

The arena and Youth Centre were torn down in 1986 and replaced by the Cynthia Coull Arena and Roger Doucet Community Centre. The old arena was located were the path from Empire Ave. heads toward the baseball diamonds near St. Charles Road, between the Packer dressing rooms and the two small soccer fields.

How many people can remember the row of trees that ran parallel to Springfield Ave. in the middle of the park, from the softball diamond where the Maroons, Warriors and Legion played, all the way to St. Charles. Half of the trees were cut down for the building of the old arena, then the rest were removed to build the baseball fields near St. Charles in the mid 1970s.

Thanks John R.
Sorry the pic could not be improved

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