One day last week, Facebook alerted me that it was Bill MacCulloch’s birthday. Oh yes, he had another one.
Actually, the message said it was William MacCulloch’s big day. But to anybody in New Glasgow — better make that Pictou County — he’s simply Bill.
If you don’t know who I mean, you haven’t been around long.
The alert didn’t reveal his new age. But I know it. If Anne made her hubby a cake with enough square footage, there would have been 78 candles ablaze. He’s always been four years shy of catching me in our life-long marathon. Putting it in tough terms, he’s now only 24 months shy of the big 80.
So, if you’re rather new in the county, you’re probably asking, who is this Bill MacCulloch?
A worthy label: He’s New Glasgow’s “man about town.”
That designation — if you check social media — means something like “a man who frequently attends fashionable social functions,” along with the tag “town” in the sense of “a sophisticated place as opposed to rural settings.”
That’s the Bill I know.
He did start his journey in rural settings — out in Blue Mountain, to be precise. But he moved with his family to New Glasgow’s north end. So he was soon studying hard at New Glasgow High.
That’s when his story really began.
Before his days of wearing green and white were over, he was being encouraged — like the rest of us — by athletic director John (Brother) MacDonald. In Bill’s case, it was an announcing job at CKEC. If my memory’s correct, he began for less than $25 a week. Familiar pay back in the 1950s.
He once told me the radio station was “a passing-through spot” for people seeking advancement in the working world.
So he rounded Bell’s Corner and got into the bank business. Then he was a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services. There was also a lengthy run with the Pictou County Research and Development Corporation (PICORD). Now he’s co-owner of the UPS store.
I can add more.
He spent a decade as ring announcer for Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling events in New Glasgow. He learned plenty about sports by working alongside Harry Trainor, the hockey league president and boxing promoter. When I ran the local Chronicle Herald bureau, he often helped out when conflicts occurred.
He became a familiar face with the Masonic Order where he’s easily identified for his Scottish attire and enthusiasm. He volunteers in his church, with United Way, yet saves time to fly model airplanes.
For sure, Bill has been “a man about town.”
As family patriarch, he and Anne raised two sons, Todd and Troy. The latter, of course, is the former Ward One councillor who served in municipal politics for 11 years.
I shouldn’t overlook the fact, when my late wife Jane and I married in Canada’s centennial year, Bill served in the wedding party.
There was also Bill my travel partner.
We attended sports events together from Cape Breton to Toronto and points in between, travelling with hockey teams, attending boxing cards wherever.
There’s one matter he never learned correctly — and it’s apparent on his Facebook page.
Not far down from the birthday wishes he got, there’s a submission with this disturbing comment: “Please don’t be embarrassed to wear a face mask in public; some people wear Leafs jerseys.”
There’s another: “I hate it when my wife wears this to bed. (A Maple Leafs jersey is illustrated.) “It’s her subtle way of letting me know it’s going to be another night without scoring.”
Just think, this is the Bill MacCulloch who went places with me, including Stanley Cup playoffs when the Leafs actually played in Stanley Cup playoffs.
One of our memorable trips was to Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum for post-season action between the arch-rival Leafs and Canadiens.
With our friend (and life-time Leafs fan) Donnie Murray also on that 1963 trip, we attended three games. In case Bill has forgotten, the Leafs — first-place finishers that season — won 3-1, 3-2 and 2-0 before our eyes. I’m pretty certain it was the Habs they beat.
Bill turned photographer, actually taking a photo of Leafs defenceman Kent Douglas and I driving in downtown Toronto in my Plymouth convertible. A yellowed Evening News article reminds me of the interesting experiences we had on the trip.
We talked with many of the Leafs and Canadiens in their dressing rooms. We got to chat with old retired stars like Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Teeder Kennedy, Syl Apps, Turk Broda, Milt Schmidt and super hockey broadcaster Danny Gallivan. We even had a few moments with NHL president Clarence Campbell.
There was another memorable trip that Bill and I made, just two years later. We were in Sherbrooke, P.Q. The Fleming Mackell-coached New Glasgow Rangers were there as Maritime champions for an Allan Cup series with the Sherbrooke Beavers.
Bill was covering the best-of-five round for CKEC while I was doing likewise for The Chronicle Herald. We had a week in Sherbrooke, along with club president John Hamm and other team personnel. The players we knew well, the locals and the imports.
New Glasgow won the opening game. But that was it. The Rangers were badly outplayed and outscored the rest of the way. Statistics best forgotten. Nonetheless, once again, Bill and I had plenty of things to add to our memory banks.
Not to be ignored is the scary realization that those journeys with the “man about town” were more than a half century ago. Time does fly when you’re having fun.
How to conclude the first 78 years of Bill’s busy life?
No matter what he’s been involved in, no matter what he’s done full-time or in his spare hours, he has always given an honest and 100 per cent effort.
You can’t expect more from anyone.