I’ve spent a fair deal on the phone with Terry O’Malley over the last few weeks, I interviewed him for a couple of Hounds-related articles I wrote for The Hockey Writers. Terry and Debby live in Regina now, in an old house in the Lakeview subdivision in the Queen City’s south end.
Last week, I decided he needed to have his Wikipedia entry put more up-to-date, and I also tried to convince him to set up a Twitter account, which he’s still contemplating. As public a person as Terry O’Malley is, he’s not a self-promoter. I can respect that, though I told him that there are so many Hounds that would probably like to share their little (or big) victories with him, and Twitter is a great way to do that.
Then the doorbell rang and someone was in their way into the kitchen. It was Jimmy Williams, who was helping Terry with some plastering of a wall in the house. Jimmy is often at the O’Malley’s house, or at least has been there when I’ve had Terry on the phone, recounting stories of great hockey-playing Hounds, coaching them, team owners and scouts.
When I first started writing about the Hounds in the Stanley Cup Final, I’d called Terry and left a message on his answering machine about Jon Cooper, a Hound who’s now the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. When he called me back, I wasn’t home, so he left a message for me. At the end of his message, he said, “And I’ve got someone here who wants to talk to you.”
He passed the phone to Jimmy Williams, who didn’t know it was my answering machine.
“Hello? Hello?” Turning to Terry, he said, “There’s no one there!”
“No, it’s her answering machine,” Terry replied.
“A robot? I’m not talking to a robot!” Jimmy exclaimed, and handed the phone back to Terry, who apologized and ended the conversation.
They must have talked about it for a couple of minutes more, and then I got a second message, again from Terry, with Jimmy in the background, helping Terry with the details.
“It’s O’Malley again,” Terry said, “Jimmy Williams doesn’t like talking to robots. He’s still back in the book ages, in the Gutenberg ages,” the message started. “But he remembers you, or at least he thinks it was you who was part of this one story in particular.”
Terry, with Jimmy embellishing the story in the background, tells a story like this.
“The bell rang and everyone was leaving Kenney Hall. Jimmy was standing outside of the library, and as you were passing, there was a piece of paper that had fallen on the ground, and Jimmy asked you to pick it up.”
And you, very politely, but a bit rebellious, said, “I’d like to Jimmy, but today’s not the day!”
Later in the week, with Jimmy once again at Terry’s, and me, once again on the phone, explained that it couldn’t have been me as I was one of the last Artsmen to graduate from the college, but it certainly sounded like my brat sister, Bridget, who also went to Notre Dame. And I could imagine her quick tongue and sassiness, which she still possesses, saying something like that.
Jimmy is 72, and has been a fixture of the College as much as Birkenstocks are for his feet. He had a heart attack this past weekend, is on a heart pump, and the next 48 hours are critical. I am saying little prayers for Jimmy, and ask that you do to.