I recently had lunch with two of my favorite people, Steve Dolloff AKA”the Growler” and my father Dan Lickly AKA “the Dome”.
I am not sure where and when Steve earned the nickname the growler but he has had it for years and he insists there are people out there that know him as the growler and probably don’t know his real name. Part of this is due to the fact that Steve was a hockey player, a pretty good one too, and well, hockey players do love their nicknames. My father got the nickname in college, and well basically he has a huge head! I mean ginormous! Whenever I would buy a hat for him I would look for the largest size, and then see if I can find one larger.
This was a much overdue get together, Steve has been pestering me for years for the chance. You see, he has a very strong and fond memory of my father that dates back years and to me is a good life lesson.
In the 1969/1970 hockey season, Steve was playing for the BU freshman hockey team, back then, freshman were not allowed to play varsity. In a game at Dartmouth, Steve caught a stick in the eye… and it was bad. So bad, that they bandaged up both eyes and told him not to move too much. His mother, packed him in a car and drove from Dartmouth straight to Mass eye and ear with him still in full hockey equipment except for skates.
A funny side story, it seems Steve had the German Measles at the time. When they got to the hospital they were kept waiting, I guess a guy in full hockey gear with bandages over his eyes doesn’t seem like an emergency. His mother was getting anxious and mentioned to them he also had German measles and bam! Just like that they rushed him in!
Steve was in the hospital for 6 days, and was blind. They kept both his eyes covered except for once a day when they changed the bandages. Steve is my mother’s sisters son, so my father was his uncle through marriage. For those 6 days, each and every day, my father went to the hospital and read the newspaper to Steve. He wasn’t asked to do it, he just showed up and sat by his bed and read the paper. To appreciate this small gesture,
think back to 1970, there wasn’t cable TV in every room (not that he could watch anyway), most news was obtained through newspapers and in fact, at that time the Boston Globe published 2 editions every day. Steve has never forgotten this seemingly small act of kindness!
Fortunately he recovered and played the next three seasons on the varsity squad, oh, did I mention they won back to back national championships in 1971 and 1972. I should also mention that he has never thrown a picture or game program away so if your interested to talk about those teams you can reach out to him here.
Naturally, we didn’t just talk about hockey, my father told the story about him presenting to astronauts, and how he realized the Apollo astronauts were a much different breed as they had engineering backgrounds. They asked a lot of really good questions, in fact, he recalls one astronaut kept interrupting him asking questions, good detailed questions, making it difficult for him to keep going with his presentation. Afterwards he asked somebody, “who was that guy asking all those questions” only to learn his name was Neil Armstrong.
Dan then recalled the last time he saw Neil Armstrong, it was at the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, he talked to him a little bit. The thing he remembers most however, is seeing Mike Collins. For those needing a refresher, he was the third astronaut on Apollo 11, the one that stayed in the command module and orbited the moon while the other two took the Lunar Module to the moon surface. At the anniversary Sue Patterson, (Dan’s date) cornered Mike Collins, and in Sue being Sue fashion, asked him, “while your pals were down on the moon making news, what were you doing?” Mike Collins answered politely, “Just doing my job Ma’me”
Interesting note, apparently one of the biggest concerns of this mission is whether the the Lunar Module would re-start after landing on the moon. Mike Collins could only wait a day or two, if it didn’t start we might have ended up with a real world “Martian” experience.
In 1961, Draper Lab (formerly the Instrumentation Lab) received the first NASA contract and were the first prime contractor for the guidance and navigation systems. Once Dan went to visit one of their sub-contractors North American Aerospace (A defense contractor). He walks in the room and there are 12 people in the meeting working on the project. He asked afterwards “why so many people? and the guy there who he knew well responded “Dan, you don’t understand government contracts, they are welfare for the middle class.” Ouch!
Now let me end on a slightly happier note and I guess sticking (no pun intended) with the small acts of kindness can go a long way theme. In 1972, BU won their second of back to back national championships at the Boston garden. Myself like a lot of kids leaned over the glass as the team left the ice, cheering and asking for a sticks, a puck, any kind of souvenir. I remember vividly, as the team walked past including my cousin Steve Dolloff #18, being slightly disappointing as I thought I wasn’t going to get anything when all of a sudden, a tap at the glass, and Growler came back and handed me his stick. It was a simple gesture, but one I have never forgotten. I kept it for years, always in the garage always
in a barrel along with other hockey sticks, baseball bats, and a variety of other gear. Only maybe, possibly, perhaps did it get used, but I swear just once or twice. I had the pleasure of returning the stick to its owner just a few years ago. And trust me, I can tell you a
couple of things about the Growler, first, the nickname doesn’t apply anymore as he may be the most positive person in the world. Second, he is very proud of BU Hockey and their achievements and his contribution. The stick joined his championship ring and a gazillion old photos, game programs, newspaper clippings and jackets!