The NAHL: Joseph “Joe” Shaughnessy

   Joseph “Joe” Michael Shaughnessy, with a largely undeveloped talent for hockey, blended into Boston’s large Shaughnessy community. Joe lived and died near his birthplace in Revere, Massachusetts. He most likely attended Boston College High School. During his Junior year (1913/14), he was selected for the hockey team. For the Boston Globe, Boston College High hockey was in a second-tier league. As a result, they did not receive much coverage. Joe’s skill development lacked a significant public record. Furthermore, he probably dropped out before his Senior year (1914/15).

   Shaughnessy apprenticed as a mailer with the International Typographical Union (I.T.U.). He worked at the Boston Post. For the 1916/17, Shaughnessy played on the Boston Arena Hockey Club. With the Arenas, he helped them to a second-place finish having lost to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) in the final playoff game. In December 1917, he tried out for the Arenas, again. World War I intervened. Then, he found himself on the First Naval District team.

   After the war, Joe returned to the mailrooms of the Post and then the Globe. He left hockey’s limelight. Although seen with the 1922/23 B.A.A. team, they probably kept him as a substitute. His real sports passion was baseball. He played short-stop for several seasons on the Boston Typos. The Boston Typos played in the Union Printers’ Baseball League, the longest running amateur league in the United States. In 1921, they won the championship. Beyond these few events, Shaughnessy largely kept out of the public attention.

     Despite a stale public life, his private life roared to life. He married Marie Sullivan prior to the war. As the Roaring-20s kicked off, Shaughnessy’s family also grew. Joseph Arthur and Marie were born. Later, they were followed by Rita and William. All seemed well until Arthur died in 1946. Still, this Shaughnessy clan can claim a mantle of honor.

   Discovering Joe Shaughnessy was more about discovering who he wasn’t. Even with the help of US Census data, it was challenging to unravel Joe from John, Ed, Frank, an insurance broker and the others. Obituaries seemed to blend Joe with Frank, who coached hockey in the 1920s. Publicly available family trees listed his last name as O’Shaughnessy. Differentiating them became a matter of one fact, Joe was born, raised, lived, and died in Revere, Massachusetts. Joe also remained true to his family and profession, a mailer. In his obituary, The Boston Globe noted Joe’s 37 years of service. In reality, Joe was probably closer to 45 years with I.T.U. Boston Mailers’ Local 16. When Marie died in 1976, they counted three children, nine grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. I like to think that Joe probably never made himself out to be more than what he was.

The NAHL: Frank Patrick Downing

Frank Patrick Downing allowed his dedication and skill to speak. A midwest transplant from Milwaukee, the Downings moved to Somerville in the early 1900s. Attending Somerville High School, Frank gained attention for hockey. After high school, he worked for the National Biscuit Company, a.k.a. NABISCO. Throughout the ‘teens and early twenties, he won championships in the American amateur hockey leagues. In 1922, he quietly hung up his amateur hockey skates. His accomplishments standing on their own.

Despite moving at an early age. Frank Downing appears to have retained nany character traits typically associated with the midwest. Born in June 1894, he found himself in Somerville High School’s class of 1915. Whether through hard work, talent or both, Frank excelled in sports, specifically hockey. Due to his skill and attaining captain, the Boston Globe placed him on their 1913/14 Interscholastic All-star team along with Percy Wanamaker.

While still playing high school hockey, Frank rose to senior amateur hockey. For the 1914/15 season, he played with the Boston Arenas. At the time, the Arenas team included Frank Synnott, Mickey Roach, Farrell Conley, and others. He even played at least one game with Raymie Skilton. Afer graduating, he switched to the B.A.A. Unicorns.

In 1917, he submitted his draft card. He listed assistant foreman at National Biscuit for his occupation. He placed his employment location on 128 Franklin St., which is the former Kennedy Biscuit Co. Before the Army called, Frank joined the Navy Reserve Force.

After the war, Frank returned to NABISCO and amateur hockey. First, he started with BAA. In 1922, he drove the Westminster to a USAHA championship. He almost led the team to an international win against Pere Marquette. Pere Maquette promised a unique challenge cup for the series. Yet, the cup was never presented. Depending upon the amateur rules, the Marquette won 2 games to 1 (Canadian newspapers) or it was a tie with 3 goals apiece (Boston Globe). Either way, Pere Marquette never had to show the promised cup. At 28, Frank hung up his skates with a Fellowes challenge cup for his final hockey prize.

In October 1924, Frank married Dorothy Ann Deacon. They had two children, Francis and John. By 1942, the Downings moved to Philadephia. Frank continued working for NABISCO. At 48, Frank provided nearly thrity years of service to NABISCO. He still had a long life yet ahead.

At 88, Frank passed away in Philadelphia. Dorothy passed away five years later in 1987. Many details about Frank are not publicly known. What is known are the comparisons to some of the greatest hockey players of his era, his championships, and his dedication to his family, country and craft.

Sources:
1. Kennedy Biscuit Co. Cambridge Historical Commission. Jan 16, 2019
2. History of Candy Making in Cambridge. Natalie Moravek. Cambridge Historical Society. 2011
3. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
4. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication: M1951. NAI: 563728. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
5. Frank Downing player profile. SIHR. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=134087 (NOTE: Requires a paid account.)
6. Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Ottawa Citizen and others courtesy of newspapers.com

The NAHL: John “Jack” Gouverneur Hutchinson

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.

Sources:
1. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=48798 (Note: Requires paid account)
2. http://scua.library.umass.edu/youmass/doku.php?id=m:morrill_act
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610], https://catalog.archives.gov/id/3488255
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_Ice_Hockey_World_Championships
5. https://teamusa.usahockey.com/page/show/2669052-1939-iihf-men-s-world-championship
6. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/roosevelt-field-through-the-years-1.10862824
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

Additional sources:
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
https://bayshore.greaterlongisland.com/2018/01/02/31061-from-history-remembering-bay-shores-wwi-air-base-local-hospitality/

The NAHL: Raymond “Raymie” Skilton

Raymond “Raymie” Nelson Skilton typifies the fallen athlete hero. A star player from high school whose infamy grew as his fame departed. Perhaps, these simplified story lines belie a more complicated man. Or, maybe, the truth is as simple and direct as the man appeared to be.

Raymie’s illustrious hockey activities started as a Rindge Manual Training School goalie in 1905. He switched to defense in 1907. This position change was not a drastic change unlike the same shift in modern-era hockey. The early goalie was a normal player with no extra padding and strict rules. When the goalie got hurt, another player would simply step into the crease. If his later years reflect his youth, Raymie sought action and created it when missing. The static position of goalie probably clashed with Raymie’s innate personality.

Raymie shone as an early-era hockey “offensive defenseman”. Between the checking and scoring, Raymie led teams to victory. During the 1917-18 USNAHL season, he scored 11 goals in 11 games. During the height of his career, he typically averaged around a goal a game, which places him in contention with other forwards of his era.

Raymie did not limit himself to hockey, though. The Boston Globe named Raymie as Boston’s “Best All-Round Athlete” in 1916. The articled listed football, baseball, swimming, and horseback feats and accomplishments. Raymie played football and baseball in high school. At the time, ice hockey was a minor sport and played in the off-season between football and baseball. Raymie’s skill with horses possibly developed during his time with the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (MVM). Raymie was actively engaged across a spectrum of sports until the early 1920s.

Raymie changed during the war years, but not because of war itself. Raymie seemed to run from war and leaving Massachusetts. Newspapers pondered the fate of local amateur sports if the MVM sallied forth for the Mexican Punitive Expedition. Raymie let his enlistment expire. When the U.S. Navy activated him, Raymie requested deferment due to economic hardship. The public figure of post-war Raymie struck a tarnished and exposed figure compared to pre-war Skilton.

Raymie’s hockey career ran into a brick wall after getting blacklisted by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) in 1921. Raymie recruited three Canadians for the Shoe Trades club of the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association. Later, Irving Small revealed that amateur and Olympic athletes would be paid via cigarette tins. A practice fairly common in the New York amateur hockey scene in the 1900s and 10s. The ban was reversed before the start of the 1922 season, and he resumed playing.

This was only one of the many troubles experienced by Raymie Skilton in the post-war years. Court cases for verbally assaulting police officers, reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter assailed Raymie in the 20s. While the courts acquitted him, more legal troubles awaited him in the 30s.

Having lost his leather import business, he worked for a small company called Telenar Corporation in the 40s and 50s. Despite a seemingly quiet time during the 40s, the lawsuits and legal troubles renewed after he acquired patents related to a new metal production process called cold-flow processing. During the months long and very public legal process, he was even accused of offering the patents to Communists in a Mccarthy-era attack.

For all the commotion, Raymie Skilton passed away without much public notice on July 1, 1961. His passing caught the Boston Globe off-guard. They did not report it until February 1962. Eight months later! However, I don’t think the oversight diminishes his accomplishments as one of the first prominent, America-born Offensive Defensemen.

Sun, Feb 25, 1962 – 59 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

The NAHL: Alfred “Ralph” Winsor

With a multitude of accomplishments, The Boston Globe and others bequeathed the mantle of “Father of Modern Hockey” to “Ralph” Winsor Jr.  To summarize, many credit Ralph with the modern hockey stick, skate curve, and effective use of substitution (prior to the on-the-fly line changes of today). In his role as the first American-born college hockey coach, Ralph devised a new tactic specifically to counter Hobey Baker. Ralph shifted the point and cover point to force the forwards to the boards. The tactic was moderately successful in stopping Hobey. To help visualize this shift:

winsorHockey

 

Not only did Ralph modernize hockey, he supported his country in war and hockey.

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The NAHL: George V. Brown

In late 1917, George V. Brown added a new role to his accomplished list, Athletic Director of the First Naval District. Prior to this, he held the same position of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). With the BAA, he started every Boston Marathon except for the first two. During his era, BAA teams won championships. He promoted sports whenever he got the chance. George was such a fixture in the BAA and Boston sports that the BAA suspended or refocused operations during 1918.

It is hard to tell who used whom. The U.S. Navy leveraged George’s sports promotions to increase its popularity. Quite possibly, the First Naval District hoped to gain an advantage in the regular sports competitions against Second Naval District (Newport, Rhode Island) and others. For George, he became responsible for Navy sports across most of New England.

Following the war, George returned the BAA back to its normal sports operations. A long time member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, George built the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team for the first Winter Olympics in 1924. (NOTE: Cornelius Fellowes created the first Olympic men’s hockey team in 1920.) It was a silver medal team consisting of Herb Drury and Alphonse La Croix.

George also experienced change in hockey from the amateur to the professional. While George supported professional hockey, George believed in the amateur spirit. He tried several times to establish a new amateur league in the Boston after the break up of the US Amateur Hockey Association. In 1932, the Boston Globe commented about George’s efforts to “breathe new life into the amateur hockey corpse.” Despite a potentially 150 registered clubs with the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU), amateur hockey would never regain a prominent role.

Fri, Dec 23, 1932 – 16 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. https://www.baa.org/
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_V._Brown
3. Boston Globe, December 23, 1932, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31905965/
4. Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1931, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/29383315/