Hello Everyone - at the risk of sounding like a politician, the end is in sight! I can't think of a better way to get us in the mood for croquet, than by celebrating our longest standing member, JIm Boone. Shelley Widdis spoke with Jim and shared the following:
The Bayfield International Croquet Club is amazing in many ways. From our facilities, to our programs and of course, our members. The knowledge and life experience of our membership is truly extraordinary so this year we are staring a new segment. Every few months we will post a profile of one of our members. A snapshop of their lives, when and how they came to be part of BICC.
Jim has been a member of BICC for 40 years. You can well imagine the changes he has seen and the stories he has to tell. We couldn't put all of Jim's 40 years to paper but here are some of his highlights.
Jim’s late wife Joan brought Jim, a Toronto area boy to the Lake Huron region. Joan loved the area and very much wanted a cottage here. Joan’s sister Madeline went to Alma College with a girl named Marilyn who just happened to be Hugh Gregory’s wife. Hugh helped them purchase their first cottage just north of Bayfield. Hugh Gregory, as many of you know, was a founding member of the Bayfield International Croquet Club and after the purchase of the cottage was completed, Hugh persuaded Jim and Joan to join BICC. The year was 1980.
At the time Jim and Joan joined, BICC had approximately 15 to 20 members and games were played at the now infamous “Foamy Acres”. Foamy Acres was than a section of a farmhouse front lawn with the holes and ridges that usually come with country properties. Despite the terrain challenges though, Jim was impressed with the skill level of the players at that time. Closer to actual golf in many respects, players had to ‘read the course’ and take the less than perfect conditions into consideration when making their shots. The group was dedicated and highly competitive and Jim found the first few years getting to know the game very intimidating.
There were no official tournaments in the beginning. Games were not timed and had a tendency to go for long periods of time. Association was usually played but on Thursday nights it was Golf, followed by a social. No Snake in those days. Women were not permitted to play croquet in the beginning. When Pat and Gail Waters joined the club, Pat Waters lobbied the Board of Directors to have women allowed and despite interesting feedback from some of the players, it was passed eventually. Gayle Waters became the first woman player with Joan close behind. For Jim, having Joan playing alongside made the whole experience even better.
Jim was still working full time as Chief Pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London when he first joined so for the first 10 years or so he played mostly on weekends and during vacations. Jim was an avid fly fisherman in those days, often fishing in the Maitland and surrounding rivers but belonging to BICC was something he and Joan could do together and he cherished those times. He retired officially in 1993 and began playing and learning more. He bought his first mallet at Harrods on a trip to London England. He had the mallet modified since it was a little short and little light. He had additional weights added to the mallet.
Jim has many wonderful memories from the past 40 years and attributes many long standing friendships with people he met through croquet. He and Joan loved the times when their family joined them at the courts, sharing a love of the game. Jim is especially proud of times when his son and family would visit from London England for a couple of weeks and everyone would spend time playing croquet. For Jim, there was nothing better than sharing his love of croquet with his family. Competitively speaking, Jim counts the highlight of his career as the day he and partner Fred Riley won a doubles tournament, just edging out Brian Carrier and his partner.
When you speak with Jim it is obvious how much croquet has been part of his life and continues to be after 40 years as a member. He gets out as often as he can and continues to participates in Block Play and day tournaments. What comes with longevity as a member of the same organization is a wealth of knowledge and experience and Jim is always ready and more than willing to share those attributes with any and all other players. So, if you see Jim at the courts, be sure to say “hi” and be sure to ask him about his 40 years. He will tell you that compared to the ‘old days’, getting started and developing skills in all levels of the game, Snake, Golf and Association is easier now then ever before and encourages all members to experience the game to it’s fullest.
Thank you, Jim, for sharing with the membership your experiences of the past 40 years. Thank you for your dedication to the organization and your obvious love and support of the game. BICC is very fortunate to have you as a member. Congratulations.