PODCAST: The Point Is, Embrace The Season You’re In

Magic is only good if it’s shared!

Dave Sharpe, Fire & Ice Havelock 2020


Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/magic-is-only-good-if-it-is-shared-with-eye-smiler-dave-sharpe/id1494001871?i=1000464376761

Dave Sharpe is a born and raised Havelock, Ontario boy with more than enough fire in his belly to create ice for an entire community.

Dave is the mastermind behind the Havelock Community Outdoor Skating Rink and the Fire & Ice Havelock 2020 Winter Festival. 

This FREE inaugural community event happens this coming Saturday, February 8th at 39 George Street in the the heart of the village of Havelock. To learn more check out the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/HBMProud/

Listen to this week’s podcast about Dave’s story and how, as a boy, he learned from a fellow ‘eye smiler’ to “share the magic”. You can read Dave’s entire story below.

The Last Of The Eye Smilers
By David Sharpe

I grew up in Havelock back in the 80’s. Not much has changed in the last twenty-five years. It feels like the same small town it was back then. The kids I used to run with back in those days have all grown up. Most have left for bigger adventure in the city, some have stuck around and now have kids of their own playing in the same places their parents did when they were young.

It’s the classic small town story.

Our house was on the back street in Havelock on the North side of town and I loved it there. Just across the street from our house was a huge tract of land the neighbourhood kids called the pits. There was Killers Hill, a duck pond, bicycle trails and forts strewn about built by generations of

We built onto one of these generational forts, conveniently located beside the Newton’s Lumberyard on the North West corner of the pits. When I go back now, I realize we were basically building our fort in the lumber yard. We never took any lumber off the good piles, there was always lots of scrap wood lying around and we just helped ourselves. We never got in trouble building our fort. I like to think the owner knew he was building a potential customer base.

The lumberyard has changed hands since back then but it’s still the only place I will buy building materials. [NOTE: Dave is a master cabinet maker.]

In the early 90’s my mom and dad got the chance to buy a farm on the east side of town. For a young boy who loved the outdoors, I was pretty sure I’d found paradise. Hundreds of acres to roam around on, deer, rabbits, beagles, and bows and arrows! For a twelve-year-old boy it was paradise!

My mom and dad’s big project when we bought the farm was to build the honey house. This was the building they would use to process the honey for their beekeeping business. Every Saturday dad and I would be somewhere on the farm cutting spruce and hemlock trees to saw the lumber
to build the honey house. My job was always to pile the brush while dad limbed the log and cut them to length.

One Saturday morning we were down in the thick swamp, dad limbing trees, me piling brush. About six inches of fresh snow on the ground. I was lost in my work that morning. The snow gave the swamp a magical feeling and I was dreaming of my next adventure. I had that sixth sense feeling that someone was watching me. I looked up and there he was.

My first impression of Mr. Quackenbush was part man, part gnome, a bit of elf and all kindness. In the words of [writer] Roald Dahl, Mr. Quackenbush was a hundred percent eye smiler. I had never really met an eye smiler. There was an unmistakable gleam of magic in those eyes and I was
instantly drawn to him. He was the most intriguing person I had ever met.

My dad shut down the saw and they shook hands and Mr. Quackenbush welcomed us to the neighbourhood. He was gone about as quickly as he came.

In the next few years I would wander over to the Quackenbush farm regularly. He had a place over in the hardwoods beside our farm that we affectionately nicknamed shanty town. There were maybe 10 buildings strewn about the sugar bush all pieced together from material salvaged
from somewhere. They all looked quite a bit like our old fort back at the lumber yard. Often Mr. Quackenbush could be found puttering around shanty town, especially in late fall, winter and early spring when the syrup was being made. I am sure this is where Mr. Quackenbush stored
his magic. I can still feel it when I take the kids tobogganing there.

On one of my ramblings in early January I found myself over by shanty town following a fox track down along the edge of the sugar bush and over towards the field on the east side of the farm. I looked up from the track and right in front of me a skating rink just magically appeared! I say magically because to a 13-year-old boy it was clearly one hundred percent eye twinkling magic!

To call it a skating rink doesn’t really do it justice. Built on the east side of the woods where it would be protected from the late March sun, Mr. Quackenbush had the ice as smooth as glass. There was a cedar pole at each end with light bulbs and Christmas lights draped in between. There was a warming room with a wood stove and an old telephone that he somehow connected to his house at the top of the hill. To me, this confirmed my suspicion that Mr. Quackenbush was pure genius. There was magic in those twinkling eyes!

It didn’t take me long to find Mr. Quackenbush, and for him to tell me that me that my brother and I could use the rink whenever we wanted. He taught me how to light the stove, start the cobbled-up generator, use the water pump and how the old dial phone worked if we needed anything from the house. We skated on that rink a lot! Every two or three weeks in the winter there would be a neighborhood skating party with Mr. Quackenbush’s grandchildren and the neighborhood kids. I have those images burned perfectly into my being. The twinkling Christmas lights, the hum of the generator, skates and sticks on ice, frosty red cheeks and smiling faces. Mr. Quackenbush kept the rink right through my teenage years. Our hockey games got quite a bit rougher, we skated later, and the time spent on that rink were the best times of my life.

I am not sure when Mr. Quackenbush stopped making the rink. It feels like it was right around the time I became more interested in girls than late night hockey games. I feel like I just stopped noticing the Christmas lights. Like it was there one minute and gone the next. I know the rink
was there and I didn’t dream it because the impression is still on the edge of the field where he used the blade and the old tractor to level out the ground.

I remember hearing of Mr. Quackenbush’s death and feeling a great loss in my heart. The last of the eye smilers. I didn’t go to his funeral although I wish I had, he gave me so much. I often think it’s funny that he left me something in his will and nobody knows, a magical secret shared
amongst eye smilers everywhere.

Mr. Quackenbush left me the twinkle in his eye. Just a little piece of his magic. It’s my most precious gift. I didn’t know that eye twinkles were passed down in such a way. Mr. Quackenbush kept his twinkle right in his eyes, plain for everyone to see. I keep mine buried just a little deeper
and bring it out when I need it. Sometimes it just pops out and I can’t help it!

I didn’t realize the seed Mr. Quackenbush planted until I started raising my own family. I remember the first rink I ever built. Staying up till two or three in the morning just to get that ice perfect. Sometimes I like to leave the lights on the rink all night. I just love looking out the window and seeing the magic. It’s like my own tribute to Mr. Quackenbush and eye smilers

In my typical fashion, I have a hard time being satisfied with keeping things on a small scale. It didn’t take me long to remember where my magic lies. It’s in the smiles on kids’ faces when they float around the ice, in the deep satisfaction of doing something well. It’s in this spirit that the vision of the Havelock Community Outdoor Rink was realized. Forming a committee,
working with town council, building a community. This is what I was born to do. It’s who I am. It’s the fuel for my twinkle!

It’s my dream that when I leave this earth that I pass on Mr. Quackenbush’s twinkle. That’s why building community is so important. Because you just never know who needs the magic. That’s the funny thing about twinkles! You never know who has one, who needs one or when you are
going to get one!

Magic is only good if it’s shared!