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Another co-worker (this one I remember) wrote me and contributed some of his own Waz (Roy Wasilkowski, legendary ZAU controller and would be hockey player) stories. Presented with his permission:
One of your observations (in the first Waz Tale) was that no one called Waz by his first name and I wanted to relate to my personal confirmation of same.
We were in Chicoutimi, Quebec in 1991 at the tournament, hosted that year by the boys at the Canadian Air Force Base in nearby Bagotville. We had all flown into Montreal and had ridden a couple of chartered buses up to Chicoutimi, a hundred miles or so north of Quebec City. The ride was uneventful, unless you consider overflowing toilets, urine running up and down the aisle as a direct result of the orientation of the bus itself, urine dripping on the hockey bags below, stopping just outside of Quebec to reload with beer, and general ATC hockey nonsense. All this with darkness outside masking the fact that we were on winding, mountainous, and very likely, icy roads. Unless you consider that out of the ordinary, the ride was uneventful. It was a wonder we didn’t tumble over the side. Waz was somewhere in that mix.
I generally avoided him for a handful of reasons:
- I knew him from my previous life when he’d show up on occasion at our house, a friend of my eventual brothers-in-law
- one time in early 1982 when the boys still owned ice time at All Seasons (local ice rink and home ice of the ATC team) they had an early morning skate. I was coming off a mid and my brother had actually invited me to come and play, and he was there, the great “Wasil-kharlamov”
- he encountered me at one of the bars at the Minneapolis tourney in 1988 and did a painful handlock on me (he knew who I was, obviously—he called me little (family name) as well as scab—he had departed in '81 and I had hired on subsequent to his departure)
- and…I'd heard most of the stories…and I’d never heard him referred to as Roy.
Anyway, he was low key throughout that Bagotville tournament and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, it was, of course, time to reboard the buses for the ride back to Montreal. 'Twas very sunny and pleasant that day and the revelation of the mountainside goat paths on which we’d driven up a few evenings previous sure was reassuring. Keep in mind, most of us were still hung over from the preceding days’ activities and not in particularly jovial moods. Waz had his 64 oz. Slurpee mug full of vodka and ice (I think that was his drink of choice) and he was tolerable…starting out.Steve McGreevy (non-controller airline pilot who played between the pipes for us) was on the bus with his wife and as you should know, they were great friends with Waz. Every so often, Waz would come from the back of the bus and ask a question or just slightly bug Steve…and Steve wanted no part of him at that time. Steve would order him, “to the back of the bus, Roy”…and Waz would retreat to his own environs.
This activity repeated itself periodically throughout the ride and of course, the more Slurpee gone, the less welcome the visit. Eventually, Steve dropped a word or two from the command, “the back of the bus, Roy,” or “back of the bus, Roy,” then, ultimately, just “Roy!”" and Waz would finish the order, “back of the bus,“, but always Roy…and Waz would dutifully retreat, not unlike a scolded puppy. And not unlike the technique any parent employs—“Tanner Vincent Dollard! I’m coming up there!” So, like you, in all the years I knew him, that’s the only time I ever heard anyone use his given name.
More Waz nuggets: One of the great ATC hockey players of all time was Eric St. Denis, a rare French-Canadian in Toronto…and of course, Waz expropriated his name every time he addressed him to “Eric Street Dennis.” ATC humor in play there.
Then there was the time in New York when Waz went walking throught the hotel lobby with 10s and 20s hanging out of his pockets and when queried as to why, he responded he was, “going out to troll for muggers.” Seriously, who had more to fear in that scenario? Waz or the muggers? Anyone who knew him feared for the muggers.
Another time he showed up in the lobby or the elevator wearing nothing more than a strategically held towel over his arm, crooked at the elbow, requesting directions “to the pool.” (Ed: I’m sorry to report that wasn’t an exclusive Waz scenario.)
Tom and I were both surprised when I discovered Waz’ actual date of death—1 June 1999. He thought it was later, I thought it was earlier. I found his birth date in the same place—27 March 1942. Fifty-seven. Still too young, and still a cruel waste of talent.
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