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We should add an extra "Hurray" for Mr. and Mrs. Addie Bell whose dream culminated in South Side Centre, Ill-4th St. S.E.
Mr. Bell, who was an avid sports enthusiast, was a guard at the jail. He was a kind man, and no doubt pitied the prisoners who hadn't had the opportunity, in their formative years, of partaking in healthy outdoor sports, the most important of which, to him, was hockey. A fellow who couldn't skate was as pathetic as a duck that couldn't swim!
With the welfare of the young people of Portage uppermost in his mind, he decided to make a rink in the garden behind his home. Mrs. Bell was whole-heartedly in agreement with her husband's plan, and in 1929 flooding began. With our present day methods this sounds simple, but it wasn't so, at that time, for the Bells. It was a cold win ter, and the back door of their home was kept partly open for hours on end to allow a hose, connected to a kitchen tap, to pass through to the "rink".
Even though Mrs. Bell was suffering from an ailment which is usually the worse for chill, she never complained when the wintry winds were sweeping through her kitchen. Nothing should stop the worthwhile project, or dampen her husband's spirits, while it was in progress! vVe all know the size of a tap and how long it must have taken for such a small stream of water to make a good build-up of ice on the Bell rink.
Two friends of the Bells, Jim Cook and Joe Collier, pitched in to help with the flooding, and later snow shovelling. Prisoners from the jail enjoyed a few outings by helping occasionally too.
When the ice was the desired thickness, and reasonably smooth, the rink was thrown open to the young people of Portage. The numbers that arrived (as many as 100!) exceeded the expectations of Mr. Bell! Obliging man that he was, he offered them the use of the kitchen to put on and take off their skates; and obliging lady that Mrs. Bell was, she permitted it. So, the temperature in the kitchen never rose very high all that winter!
It was obvious that a larger rink was needed, and a big vacant lot behind the Bell garden was the answer. Mr. Mike Greenberg moved his big wood piles from it, and a little shack was moved onto it.
Two or three years later, the C.P.R. donated an old boxcar, the moving of which caused many funny stories to be told later. One of them concerned the actual moving of the monstrous thing H distance