In December 1917, the First Naval District acquired John G. Hutchinson from a private life as a farm manager. By the end of the month, Jack joined the First Naval District hockey team and assisted them to their first exhibition win over the Boston-based Arena Hockey Club. As with many other John’s of the era, newsprint often referred to him as “Jack”. Knowing this helped tracked him to the start of his hockey playing in Arlington High School in 1908 and all the way through his Amherst (Massachusetts Agriculture). He played amateur hockey for Boston Athletic Association until at least 1926. When he transitioned to coaching, he earned a new nickname, the “old fox”, which carried him through the 1930s. However, Jack’s era was the era of amateur hockey. As amateur hockey diminished, Jack blended into the background as well.
The “old fox” was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on July 20, 1891. He played high school hockey during his last two years at Arlington High School. When he attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (UMass Amherst), he played from 1911 until 1914. During this period, John also spent time in the military achieving the rank of sergeant prior to enlisting in the Navy. John’s high school and college years prepared him well for the future.
John became a Naval Aviator too late in the war to see action. In a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, his Naval Air Station Bay Shore flight school record states:
A little slow to learn – quiet – Industrious – Has confidence – good attitude – handles men well.
The instructor who noted that John “handles men well” probably did not expect him to become a successful hockey coach.
John did not immediately transition into coaching. He played in the US Amateur Hockey Association with the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns until 1926. After a two year hiatus, he started managing BAA hockey. In 1931, he managed the “university club” team. With nearly ten years of coaching and management experience, the Amateur Athletic Union selected him to lead the 1939 United States’ hockey team. On the cusp of WWII, John took ten players to Switzerland. They walked away with Silver.
Even as a coach, John maintained an Amateur status. He found work primarily as an automotive mechanic. Whether it was an automotive job or an airplane job, John worked at Roosevelt Field Inn in the early 40s. Roosevelt Field was one of the busiest airports in the United States in the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt Field Inn opened in 1930, which was nearly four years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic trip. Shortly his WWII draft card listing, he moved on to Cote Motor Company.
After 13 years at Cote and two months of retirement, John Hutchinson passed away at his son’s house on October 4, 1956. In a twist of bureaucratic fate, John lived on in Veteran’s Affairs records. In 1963, a John G. Hutchinson claimed VA benefits from the West Roxbury VA hospital. While it probably was a mix up between him and his son, a probable WWII veteran, these little mysteries of every day heroes can be misleading trails or tantalizing puzzle boxes. Those that survived John include Edith, a son, and two grandchildren. Much like John, they blended into the historical background of every day life.
1. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=48798 (Note: Requires paid account)
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610], https://catalog.archives.gov/id/3488255
7. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. (Note: Requires Paid Account)
8. Boston Globe courtesy of newspapers.com
Morrill Land Grant background: https://www.aplu.org/library/the-land-grant-tradition/file
Amherst under President Meiklejohn (1912-1923) https://www.jstor.org/stable/368850?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents