I was covering the Bruins practice in 1968-1969 during their playoff run the year before they won the Stanley Cup. D. Leo Monahan, the great hockey writer for the Record American, came out of the Bruins locker room to get me while I was shooting stuff on the ice and said, “Bobby wants a team photo.”
Bobby Orr had received a poster from a group of soldiers in Vietnam and Orr wanted a team photo with the poster to send back to the soldiers. I took this photo of the group.
I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden including games when the Oshawa Generals, his minor league team, played at the Garden. I had two season tickets for section 73 Row C, seats 3 & 4. I even had a Bruins stocking hat that I would wear at work and around the office and of course everyone got their laughs from that.
The first time I saw Orr in person was when I went to the Garden with UPI photographers Don Robinson and George Riley for his first official practice as a Boston Bruin. He was there with Giles Marotte and as a hockey fan and future news photographer this was big.
We covered Orr all the time and when he got hurt at an away game I was sent to Logan Airport for his return along with Globe Photographer Charlie Carey. In those days you could get down to the airline terminal but Bobby was none too friendly with us, as he was hurting. It was not his usual demeanor. On the other hand, Phil Esposito, who walking with Orr tried to pacify us, being friendly but also trying to get us away from Orr.
I remember many times I was asked to cover events with Bruins players. One time, the two Esposito brothers were doing some kind of promotion for either an airline or a travel agency and we were out on the runaway while Tony and Phil waved to the cameras. It was fun and funny. I did a visit with Garnett “Ace” Bailey and his wife just before they got married. They were such a nice couple and it is truly sad that Ace lost his life in the 9/11 terrorism. A home visit with Ken Hodge was great, as I took a photo of Ken standing in front of his figure 8 swimming pool. I was welcome to his home as if I was one of his family.
I only covered a few Bruins hockey games; but, the few I covered were memorable. As a season ticket holder, I knew that Jacques Plante always skated off the ice with the stick in the air if he won a game. They were playing on a Saturday afternoon and I got to cover the game. I planned this photo all game and when the Bruins won I got a great photo of him skating off as he always did with the goalie stick up and a huge smile on his face.
The year before they won the Stanley Cup I covered a game that you could almost consider a riot. Lots of fights with Forbes Kennedy of the Toronto Maple Leafs going wild during an 11-0 Bruins win. The ice was wild and so was the crowd. What a night!
Bobby and a group of rookie hockey players became friends with a group of girls from Revere and I got to meet him at one of the girl’s homes. It was exciting to meet the future Mr. Hockey.
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1972 beating the New York Rangers at New York, I was at Logan Airport and on the runaway when they got off the plane, another exciting happening. The only problem was Bobby got off the plane next to a woman who I thought was his girlfriend (future wife) and went with that for the newspaper’s story. Only problem was she actually worked in the Bruins office and I identified her wrong. I found out by taking the photo to Bob Crane the State Treasurer.
When Ray Lussier made the great photo of Orr scoring the winning goal in their 1970 Stanley Cup win, I was at the game in my seats and after the game I went to the office. There was Mike Andersen’s great photo of young Bobby Orr drinking champagne from the top of the Cup.
Ray Lussier saw me and told me to follow him. He took me to the photo engraving department where back then engravings were made to put pictures in the paper. There it was one of the best hockey pictures ever and he was so proud, Orr in the air after shooting the overtime goal to beat St. Louis Blues.
I just looked up at the TV while typing this and on NESN there is a special on the Bruins and Bobby Orr flying through the air and they are talking about the Lussier photo.
I have lots of Bruins photos to post in the future and have most of the negatives from the above stories.
Now the rest of the story about the Bruins group photo from 1969.
In September of 2010 I was contacted by a friend of the artist who drew the poster for this photo. We exchanged several emails and then I exchanged emails with the artist who actually drew the poster from Viet Nam. The following is his story.
My Boston Bruins Vietnam Poster Story By Donald Souliere
I first learned my reserve unit was being activated for Vietnam duty from the local newspapers’ front page headlines. They contained a list of all the reserve units activated. My 513th Maintenance Battalion was on that list.
We left the Boston Army base and left my new commercial art career behind one cold morning in October. An Army convoy was taking us to Fort Dix New Jersey to be retrained for our overseas duty. I thought I would not have the opportunity to exercise my graphic design skills for at least a year; how wrong I was.
We flew out of Fort Dix in a troop transport plane. I slept most of the time to make the trip seem shorter. We arrived in Alaska to refuel. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like Alaska’s Blue Mountains. I had never traveled before. Now I was going to Japan and finally to Da Nang, Vietnam.
I stepped out of the plane and saw for the first time the Vietnam that I had seen so many times in the news. It was a humbling moment. A convoy was waiting to take us to Phubai. On the road to our new home the convoy had to stop for a short time because the Marines were having a fire fight to clear a bridge of danger so we could safely cross. Welcome to Vietnam.
A few weeks prior I was sketching families enjoying the swan boats in the Boston Public Garden. A few months later I was in a bunker with a 30 caliber machine gun on guard duty on the “perimeter” outside the compound for the 513th. The army shot up flares during the night to illuminate the rice paddy fields in front of us so we could see up to the tree lines. We hoped we wouldn’t see anything moving. I was a regular GI Joe just like the movies. Except this was not a movie.
I really believed the opportunity to exercise my graphic skills in a combat zone would be nil. To my surprise I was used immediately by the Army as a graphic artist as soon as they checked my civilian occupation. I did illustration of trucks for their maintenance manuals. I did posters to warn our soldiers of the possible dangers they might encounter such as sabotage, booby traps etc. I did marquee signs for the compounds for the Marines and our own battalion insignia for our compound.
While in Phubai I was approached by 3 soldiers to do a poster to cheer the Boston Bruins hockey team quest for the Stanley Cup. They mailed the poster all the way to the Boston Bruins. I used a Newsweek sport section photo for reference on the slap shot posture for the bear. I used Sports Illustrated photo for the Bruins uniform and I had a book on animals to use for reference to draw the bear. I used a Speed ball pen for the lettering and a brush and ink technique to do the bear. I never realized at the time that my poster would be in one of the most famous Boston Bruins hockey team photos ever.
After 3 months in Phubai I was recruited by the Army as a Combat Artist and was transferred to Da Nang Command Headquarters. I never saw the soldiers again and completely forgot about the Bruins poster. I did not see the poster again until five years ago in the office of a Bruins fan. As I looked at the photo I said, “I did that.” After that the “I did that” got around very quickly. Later I discovered the photo was in a book “A Century of Boston Sports,” it was hanging in the T.D. Gardens, and sold in stores sports photo section.
My last duty in Phubai before being transferred to Da Nang was to escort a Vietnamese truck to deliver used wood to a dump for the Army. On the way I spoke to the Vietnamese in French and we made friends. As we drove by their village they had me over for lunch. They gave me “Tiger” beer and chicken wings.
In Da Nang the famous Navy SEABEAS built me a drafting table in the Command Headquarters where I did full color illustrations depicting our soldiers in everyday life in Vietnam. The illustration where intended to be used as pictorial documentation for prosperity. As a combat artist I got to fly in a Huey helicopter taking pictures of the surrounding compound area that I would later use to make a large drawing. It was presented to a general for his outstanding efforts during his years of service in Vietnam.
During my Vietnam tour in Da Nang, I was on duty 14 hours a day starting at 5:00 am. After spending my day doing illustrations, I was off duty at 7:00pm. We did not always get the rest we wanted. The Vietcong would hit us with rockets. These attacks would happen mostly late at night. One time they hit an ammunition dump a quarter of a mile away. It exploded all night with the smoke floating over us with flashes of lights from the explosions. We were told an attack was possible and to stay on guard duty with our M16. After 36 hours they gave the all clear signal. There would be no attack. The only casualties were some of my posters/signs that had shrapnel holes in them.
I finished my tour and went back home where the memory of the poster and Vietnam experiences faded over time.
Donald Souliere, Specialist E5, US Army, Vietnam