Even though he never played hockey growing up, 70-year-old Howard Boehmer has always loved the game of hockey. His passion for the game has lasted for 51 years when some friends got him hooked back in 1966.
“They just grabbed me by the hand and said, ‘Let’s go to a game.’ So I said ‘Okay’ and gradually I got to like it,” Boehmer smiled.
“I had friends out by Silton, where I used to live on a farm out there. Then I moved to the city close to the stadium and I started going more.”
It was only three years ago that Boehmer decided to get season tickets for the Regina Pats hockey team because he was going to the games so often. He said going to the hockey games has helped him to get used to living at the care home.
“Everyone is really nice here,” said Boehmer after a nurse knocked on the door asking if he’d want to play Uno if he wasn’t busy.
Walking into Extendicare Elmview might make some people feel uneasy. The sterile smell of hospitals hits your nostrils immediately, but it’s what Boehmer has been calling home for almost nine years, and he loves it.
The Valentine’s decorations are visible from across the street, and from the front reception desk, about ten seniors are seen sitting around chatting, enjoying their afternoon coffee break.
Down the hall, number 29, is where Boehmer’s room is. Above his room number is a photo and a page-long write-up describing some interesting facts about him.
“Howard’s favourite meal is a hamburger from A&W followed by any Roy Rogers movie or reading a good book.”
“When asked where he sees himself in 5 years he says ‘I will still be living at Elmview and will have won at least two 50/50’s.’”
Boehmer made sure to mention that he purchased 50/50 tickets at the last game he was at, but didn’t win. He doesn’t always buy them, but he enjoys the thrill of his chances.
“I wish I had a good luck charm to help me win. I’m just not lucky. Last night the 50/50 was 11,000 and something – didn’t win,” he laughed.
Boehmer was there when the Regina Pats played the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Brandt Centre on Wednesday night. It was their seventh consecutive win of the season.
“I practically go to all the games with my season tickets. I went to the game last night and it was a very entertaining game. With one minute and five seconds left number 44 made one shot and made the fourth goal,” he smiled. “It was a jam-packed place.”
It wasn’t long before his obsession with the Pats turned into something more. He began writing about the games he went to and would describe what happened in each period.
“I used to write stories on the Pats, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, (and even) the NHL. I would write about who won the games and how the game went. It was just fun to do. I did that for a number of years (and) then somehow I got away from it,” said Boehmer.
He began writing personal articles and putting them into a small book at the book binding company he worked at for 44 years and even sold a few copies to his friends.
Hockey wasn’t the only sport that garnered his attention. Boehmer’s room at Elmview is filled with family photos, small albums, Pat’s paraphernalia, and pictures of his bowling days.
“I think it was fourteen years I played bowling, and sometimes I would write about that too,” said Boehmer.
There wasn’t a trace of dust on any of his bowling trophies on the shelf above his mini fridge.
Boehmer had encountered an accident in 1992 that placed him in a wheelchair, but he doesn’t let it stop him from attending close to every Pats game. He doesn’t watch the games with his old friends anymore, but with the help of a nurse who used to take care of him at Elmview. She and her husband help Boehmer get onto the Paratransit that takes him directly to the Brandt Centre where he goes directly to his seat.
Boehmer’s brother, Les was recently in Regina visiting him and although they weren’t able to catch a game together, just being able to catch up was more than enough for the brothers. Les lives in Calgary with his wife and doesn’t get to see Howard as often as he’d like to.
“He’s been going to the games since the early sixties. He would watch them on TV (but) he enjoyed going to the games the most. Whenever there was a game, he would go,” said Les.
“I wasn’t into hockey myself, but I would take him when I could.”
In a recent study done by Statistics Canada, 77 per cent of Canadians voted for hockey as a national symbol of the country. However, among the seniors, the highest ranking national symbols were the national flag and anthem. For Boehmer, hockey will always be number one.