Secondhand Skates

© Maria Dunn 2016

Arranged M.Dunn, S. Johnson

Another song from the Packingtown project describing the resourcefulness and skill of children growing up in northeast Edmonton in the 1930s-50s. One of those children mentioned by our interviewees, Johnny Bucyk, went on to play for the Detroit Red Wings (1955-1956) and the Boston Bruins (1957-1978).


Ever since I remember, I took to the ice

Skates two sizes big, I’d stumble then glide

Falling each time in a snowbank’s embrace

I picked myself up on my secondhand skates


If the rink was too busy, we’d play in the street

Frozen manure all the puck we would need

Or we’d scrimmage out back in the yard until late

The crisp echo of ice under secondhand skates


He caught my eye across the café

And we walked to the rink, feeling shy all the way

But I knew that I’d found a boy I could date

As we soared round the oval on secondhand skates


Too young to sign up and ship over to France

How lucky were we to live by chance

Where schoolyard scuffles evaporate

With a good game of hockey on secondhand skates


When our friend Johnny Bucyk he made the big league

Boy we couldn’t be prouder, we all did succeed

To imagine first class coming out of this place

And remember his grace on secondhand skates

If you turned up your nose at us, we didn’t care

In our hand-me-down coats, so neatly repaired

Knowing what comes from hard work and kind fate

Never mind that you started on secondhand skates     

When I look back upon it, I’d never erase

All the friendship and joy on my secondhand skates


Maria Dunn vocal, acoustic guitar, accordion

Shannon Johnson violin

Jeremiah McDade whistle

Solon McDade upright bass