“It was the best of times. It was indeed the best of times.”
The image remains, indelibly stamped on my mind’s-eye, of my father sitting in a brick-red colored Adirondack chair, in his signature-plaid, short-sleeved Van Heusen shirt (with gray wool slacks and brown brogues) puffing his pipe. He smoked Three Nuns tobacco – And was readily able to roll out a seemingly unending series of smoke-rings, at a moment’s notice. And on the rickety, little, matching brick-red colored wooden table beside him, there stood a sweating bottle of Carling Black Label.
He puffed away contentedly to a soundtrack of soft and distant traffic-noises, and the hissing and popping of fat and gristle, sizzling over the dying embers of our portable Coleman grill.
He was then, in my young eyes, my greatest hero – Even greater than Stan Mikita; though Stash did look quite a bit like him.
It was the summer of 1967 and I was a tanned, wiry, little kid with a brush cut and an irrepressible cowlick (almost 9 years-old) and looking forward to entering 4th grade at St. Patrick’s Elementary School, that coming September.
My parents, my sister and I had been spending a scorching week at Wasaga Beach – The first in memory.
We were staying in a small, two-bed, single-room cottage, with a mildly musty smell (one of a stand of six such tiny, wooden structures) that featured a Kelvinator fridge the size of a VW standing on end, knotty-pine paneling, red-gingham bedspreads and drapes, and a bathroom lifted straight from “the shower-scene in Psycho”; My father’s very words – I was too young to have watched the Hitchcock classic at the time, as my folks wouldn’t allow it.
“What’s Psycho?” “It’s a film for grown-ups.”
But, I suppose that the images of The Bates Motel had continued to trouble the two of them – And they were both in their late-thirties when the comparison was pronounced, much to my gentle mother’s chagrin.
“Oh! Stop that.” She had retorted, after he had repeated it for a second and third time.
The Summer of Love.
Nevertheless, we lolled away those seven precious days, browning ourselves on the white sands of Georgian Bay, making the occasional foray into Collingwood (to tour the Blue Mountain Pottery works, and survey the local shops,) barbecuing every evening, and sleeping the sleep of the profoundly innocent; lulled by the sounds of the carnival midway (across the Nottawasaga River from us) which jingled into the wee hours, with the Young Rascals’ and the Monkees’ and the Turtles’ hits of that very special summer.
Had I the capacity to have phrased it in such language, I’m sure I would have said at that time: “It just don’t get no better than this.”
It was, in no uncertain terms, “Glorious” (with a capital “G”, of course.) In retrospect, I suppose I would have been presciently correct.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to that still-simple nine year-old brain of mine, Bob Pulford – The same Bob Pulford who had, less than a couple of months earlier, won what would be the Toronto Maple Leafs’ final Stanley Cup of the past 45 seasons – Had signed a pact (that fateful June of 1967) with Satan himself.
[No, not Miro Satan – The world would have to wait another seven years yet, for that Satan to be born – I’m talking about the NHL’s own First Crown Prince of Darkness; all contemporary allusions to Gary Bettman notwithstanding.]
Enlisting the wiles and legal clout of Toronto attorney Alan Eagleson, (the same ill-fated figure who would eventually orchestrate the 1972 Canada-Russia Series and have the sole of his foot tattooed by the KGB – How fitting – Swindle Bobby Orr blind, and also embezzle untold millions from the coffers of the NHLPA’s retirement fund) the two set out on what would prove to be a successful campaign which saw them strong-arm NHL owners into an eventual acceptance of a players’ union. And, thereby, consequently “midwife” the NHLPA into existence.
Also having escaped that dumb kid’s oblivious existence (it would be another quarter-century before Al Gore invented the internet) was the fact that the Original Six were no longer. (Six, that is.) Yes.
While he had been out sunning and vacationing and goofing about (“Don’t go into the water after you’ve eaten.” “But why, Ma?” “You’ll get cramps and you’ll drown.” “I won’t drown, Ma. I’m a good swimmer!” “Wait a half an hour.” “Awww, Ma…”) the NHL had (having failed to inform him and without his permission) added six new teams.
The poor boy had returned to the city only to be greeted by a sudden sense of bewilderment. The grapevine was a-buzz – His friends had all been talking about it; they were “in the loop”. And yet he knew nothing of it!
The California Seals, the Los Angeles Kings (that was where the Beach Boys were from, right?) the Minnesota North Stars, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St Louis Blues.
It was almost all too much to digest. He had been (for the first time in his young life, he realized) living under a rock.
It had taken that green kid a couple of years (at least) to learn the names of all the players on the six teams, and their positions – Years, to finally decide that he really loved Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull (though that “other” Bobby would soon rise to prominence, and astound us all) and Gordie Howe. Oh, and “God bless Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk, too…”
All that hard work? And, for what?
The NHL had even held an expansion draft; scattering so many known names to what seemed like the four corners of the continent – They had messed with the cosmic order of things and had done so without even the slightest regard to the consequences, and how they would impact the average “boy on the street”. What kind of brazen madness was this?
And what of his Hockey-card collection?? – He was still 12 cards short of the hundred-plus number of players that constituted the league, up to that that point.
How would his twenty-five cent per-week allowance handle this new and unforeseen strain? How would he ever be able to catch up? Darn Topps! Darn them, and those doubles and triples and quadruples and quintuples they had larded their five-packs with – Darn them all to…you know where.
It was becoming hopeless. It was all spinning out of control…Life, as he knew it, was spinning out of control.
He would have to make an immediate effort to gain a handle on this situation – Visit the Hamilton Public Library. Pour through the latest editions of The Hockey News and maybe even Sports Illustrated. Figure out who did what, who went where and what the heck was happening. – Pronto.
This was a dangerous precedent – These were dangerous times. Excitingly dangerous times – And he just didn’t know how to feel about them, yet.
Yes. 1967 was (what had started as) a watershed year – An almost mythical year, for a certain boy growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.
It was Canada’s Centennial Year – The year that O Canada was formally recognized by Parliament as the national anthem; with God Save the Queen having been relegated to “The Royal Anthem”. We had our own new anthem!!
“The Right Honourable” Mike Pearson was Prime Minister – And the boy’s father seemed to really like him, a lot.
And there was this train – The Confederation Train – which sped its’ way across the whole country, bringing Canada’s history with it (from city to city) in six train-carriages:
“But the Confederation Train is no ordinary train. It is a train of adventure; a moving panorama of Canada from pre-historic times through Confederation to the present.”
“[Beginning] on the west cost at Victoria, B.C., on January 9th and [moving] eastward until it reaches the Maritimes on October 26th. [It] will swing back into Québec for a four-city tour before completing its itinerary in Montréal.”
He went to see it, with his mother and his little sister, one evening in early-September. His father had been working, and even if he weren’t, he rarely had much patience for standing in line to see such “guff”.
It was an unheard-of ersatz museum of the rails, bringing a whistle-stop history lesson to all twenty-million Canadians – Slashing across a broad and proud land to finally meet with a magnificent crescendo in the hubris that was (then) Jean Drapeau’s Montréal.
And in Montréal, on a site that cost more to build than the St Lawrence Seaway itself, Expo ‘67’s glittering promise had lain beckoning; luring the polyester and rayon-clad world-travelers and world-class gawkers to a pair of islands that foretold of Canada’s own Jetson’s-like Utopia – Man And His World – A city of soaring plastic polyhedra, modular, prefabricated concrete dwellings and Lewis Mumford-inspired planning.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was done (at an astronomical cost) extremely proud.
Yes, those were surely heady times – A future so bright that folks’ Ray-Bans barely shielded them from the retinal-scarring glare. (Though, they had yet to even consider establishing eyewear standards for UVA and UVB, at that point.)
His parents also took him to visit the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto (as they had in previous summers) – Though, August 1967 saw that grinning kid walk away with a trove of amazing books and leaflets and pamphlets and knick-knacks, all of them extolling the magnificence of a newly revitalized and forward-looking Canadiana.
It was some kind of “National Grand-Awakening”, and he happened to have found himself smack-dab in the middle of it; A proud Canadian.
Kids are the quintessential “bandwagoners” – And in the midst of 1967 (as his father’s son) that kid had no choice to be otherwise. It was natural and easy to have been so.
Considering that he had little context with which to form an original opinion, it ran as such:
If his Dad said he had loved Kennedy – The boy admitted to loving Kennedy, too. The father hated LBJ? Well. The kid disliked LBJ, as well. The same held true for Castro and Khrushchev, and whomever else was the topic of conversation.
His Dad cheered on the Liberals, and mocked the Conservatives, and soon the kid was parroting the lines and the dismissive (and sometimes ribald) jokes and barbs his father had picked up at work, and in other adult company.
Children weren’t allowed to have an opinion. And on any topic that warranted an opinion, the boy deferred to the default; that of his “old man”. That’s the way it went in his household (and so many others, at that time) and for many years.
[In passing, it would be noteworthy in mentioning that the first time my father heard me using that phrase “the old man” (in 1972) he had backhanded me across the mouth; drawing blood. I subsequently dropped it from my lexicon.]
In the corner of the living room closest to the front door sat the television set. Our “Zee-Nit”, as my Dad liked to call it.
It was a hunkering 26-inch, black-and-white console – An utter slab of a piece of furniture really, that was barely a year old. Bought in the fall of 1966, it was our first television set.
And as surely as my mother served us meatloaf , brisket or broiled chicken (or fish, on Fridays, as we were Catholic after all) and oven-roasted steak-fries, and carrots (or beets) we also (equally assuredly) sitting at the dining-table on the far side of the living room, to be digesting our nightly diet of Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News.
My Dad loved Cronkite – Walt spoke so well. He displayed such gravitas and dignity. As a result, I liked him, too. I had to; it was de rigueur.
It was Cronkite then (my father’s favorite) that presided over the unspeakable carnage that spilled into our dinnertime, of a raging conflict (a half a world away) that our American neighbors were fighting and winning (so we had been told) against the Red Menace in Southeast Asia.
And Cronkite, again, who (nightly) unraveled the doings of the inscrutable counterculture that had wildly and spontaneously burgeoned in what came to be known as “The Summer of Love.”
And so it went: The Black Panthers, the Detroit Riots, MLK, the Six-Day War, Haight-Ashbury, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix…Cronkite had it covered.
Sunday nights, it was the Ed Sullivan Show. Tuesdays, we watched Texaco’s Red Skelton Show – Saturday nights?
“Live! From Miami Beach, it’s the Jackie Gleason Show! With The Honeymooners…!” And after the fat man had pronounced his signature “How sweet it is!” and bid us all goodnight, it was:
“…If any of your IM Force should be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim.”
Though, most Saturdays during the NHL season might have witnessed the average Hockey-loving Canadian family choosing to sit through The Tommy Hunter Show, to join a game that was already in progress – And my friends (those permitted to stay up) could watch Hockey Night in Canada – I (as a red-blooded, patriotic Canadian) could not.
There was no escaping it – In our household, HNIC just wasn’t going to happen, and whether I thought it fair or not didn’t hold truck.
Jim Phelps and his handpicked cohorts were far too vigorously (and entertainingly) battling the sinister powers of the Cold War, in some vaguely-defined Iron Curtain countries, for anything else to matter.
Besides, my father wasn’t one to watch sports on television – He proclaimed it all “Nun-sense”. And that dreaded judgment also encompassed and ensnared my clandestinely beloved Hockey, as well.
Make no mistake – There wasn’t even the slimmest notion of democracy when it came to decision-making in our household. And that held doubly-true for anything having to do with the “Zee-nit.”
“No Hockey.” Period. End of discussion. “What are you still doing, standing there? Go finish your homework.”
On Saturday mornings I watched Clutch Cargo, before heading over to Central Memorial Pool, for my weekly swimming lesson.
On Saturday afternoons, while my father was out washing the Valiant, or commiserating with his friends, I was fortunate enough to be able to sneak control of the television; watching replays (on the local CHCH-TV) of the OHA’s hometown Hamilton Red Wings’ games – Taped earlier in the week – These were usually slated to be shown in compressed form, in the hour before Lord Athol Layton’s wrestling show (also broadcast from the Hamilton Forum.)
And my saintly mother regularly assented to my petty rebelliousness; serving as my beloved co-conspirator in these minor transgressions. It was her small reward to me, for the hard work I put in at the pool. It was also a classic “Don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario. God rest her soul. She was a soft touch.
Hockey. I got to watch Hockey.
Sure, it was minor league – But, it was as close to a heaven as I thought I’d ever get, at the time; decidedly acknowledging that I secretly enjoyed it.
But, something magical and unforeseen happened in September of that wonderful, awful, crazy, delightful year of 1967. Something which surpassed that particular, desperate nine year-old’s most hopeful and wishful expectations: CBS rescheduled Mission: Impossible to Sunday nights.
That bears repeating.
Beginning on September 10, 1967: CBS rescheduled Mission: Impossible to Sunday nights!
And so, on that fateful Saturday night of September 9, after some other unexpected show had come on, jarring my father from his almost religious weekly ritual (and I, remaining dutifully silent, and glancing away somewhat casually) saw him doggedly scanning through the TV Guide, over and over again, while muttering to himself…
Flipping through it rapidly and realizing that “his show” had been moved to Sunday nights – A long and terrible pause ensued. The networks weren’t supposed to just “move” shows, like that – What was this “Nun-sense”?
I was briefly tempted to say something trite and smug, but thought the better of it – And I was the wiser and sounder for it. (Pretty fast thinking, for a nine year-old.)
Frozen and unmoving for an unending instant while letting the truth sink in, he eventually turned brusquely, and uttering an unspeakable oath to no one in particular, retired to his bed. And that, as they say, was “that”.
I sat there coolly and innocently looking at my mother, and feeling for all the world (though I couldn’t figure why) that I was but a handful weeks away from possibly pulling off the greatest con-job of my short existence: Watching Hockey Night in Canada, on our “Zee-nit”, on a Saturday night (on what I hoped to be a permanent basis.)
“Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.”
I crossed my fingers and toes and waited. And waited. For five weeks, I waited.
And on another fateful night, in the autumn of 1967 (the 14th of October, to be exact) with my father already having retired to my parents’ bedroom, as had become his new habit, I dangled the too well-rehearsed question somewhat coyly before my mother:
“Ma, do you mind if I put on some Hockey? Not too loud? Please?” She nodded and smiled agreeably just before giving me a goodnight kiss and heading off to bed, herself.
“Just don’t stay up too late. And leave a lamp on – Don’t watch TV in the dark, it will hurt your eyes”
“Okay, Ma. I will, Ma. Thanks, Ma. ‘Night, Ma.”
And time stood still.
Walking quietly over to the television, I turned the dial to Channel 6; making sure to lower the volume so it could barely be heard beyond the living-room door.
I then padded out into the hall and checked the loudness (for good measure); settling myself back on the sofa (in my pajamas) to watch the first Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of my young life. It was joyful.
And though the picture was grainy and began rolling every time the wind picked up (and buffeted the roof-top antenna) I witnessed the reigning Stanley Cup Champions defeat the Chicago Black Hawks (and my heroes, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull) 5-1.
The following morning, at Sunday Mass, I prayed quietly; thanking the Almighty for the gift He had chosen to bestow upon His humble servant.
On Monday, at morning recess, my classmates clustered together, questioning the fortunate two or three who had been allowed to remain awake to watch the game – The play-by-play and analyses flew thickly among them; one of them using an empty, flattened pint-carton of milk (as was our habit, in those days) as a puck; maneuvering it with his foot (as though on a stick) he illustrated a give-and-go passing play that he had watched develop.
I stood on the fringe of the group, quietly taking it all in – I wasn’t about to join the fray. I wanted to keep my experience to myself; and to be truthful, I was afraid that I would jinx my good fortune with any untoward pridefulness.
The heck with popularity. I didn’t want to mess it up for myself.
My Dad, in his infinite wisdom (and what I had perceived to be his frightening omniscience) had soon (somehow) discovered my not-so little secret.
Trick or Treat.
Though I had discreetly repeated the ritual the following week (thinking the entire world soundly asleep) my father met me at the Sunday table after church, with the ominous question: “So? How did your Maple Leafs do, last night?”
Darn it! Darn it! How in the heck had he known? I had made extra, extra-sure, once more, that the volume was set very low; I’d even made a point of returning the tuner to Channel 4, so as not to arouse suspicions, before I went to bed…
They had lost to the Rangers, as I recall, and I told him so – Though, I made a point of telling my father that I wasn’t specifically a Toronto fan. And this had puzzled him, somewhat: “Then why do you watch these Hockey games?”
And I had responded (awkwardly) that I enjoyed watching the games regardless of which teams played, but the only transmissions available locally originated out of Toronto, so I was pretty much stuck watching their games; in spite of whether I liked them, or not.
He nodded understandingly, and nothing else was said about it – And I was sorely glad for that. I plowed into my meal, deliberately and concentratedly, knowing that I was probably very red-faced and hoping beyond hope that the subject had been finally laid to rest.
I had been found out.
…Though I still held out hope that my father would relent, and continue to permit me my indulgence.
The school year had finally begun showing signs of settling into its’ predictable pattern of regularity – Homework was handed out, and labored over at the dinner table after the plates had been cleared.
My new friends and I were continuing the age-old feeling-out process (much of which revolved about the ceaseless discussions of Hockey; our favorite players, which team we liked, what we each thought of the most recent Saturday night game, and other ruminations which included dissecting this newfangled league-expansion.)
And with Hallowe’en (as it was spelled in those days) approaching, Mrs. Morton (my 4th-grade teacher) embarked on a campaign to have us engage in the season’s related arts, crafts, essays and the like. Paper ghosts and orange pumpkins with menacing faces began to dot the walls of our classroom; and there was the UNICEF drive to consider, as well.
A chart hung by the classroom door, with a pencil on a string attached to it (to remind us to sign up, in aid of those kids less fortunate.)
It was in the midst of all this busy-work and mounting hoopla that my Dad injected himself – It was Friday afternoon, and returning from work he had come through the door, saying to me: “Henry Dekker (a salesman) at work gave me two tickets to a Hockey game, tomorrow night. You want to go – Yes.” It wasn’t a question. It was a command.
My mind raced – He may as well have said: “We’re going to Mars, tomorrow. You’re coming along.”
October 28, 1967.
Seeing the unmistakable (you’re messing with me, right?) look of disbelief on my face, he continued: “It’s the Leafs and the Seals, at the Maple Leaf Gardens. I don’t know about the Seals. But, I know you watch the Leafs.” as he removed his coat and jacket, and went about extracting the tickets from an inner-pocket, to show me they were real.
They were in a crisp little ticket-sized envelope. And they were quite real.
My heart was pounding, and I remember wondering whether nine year-olds could get heart-attacks, as it seemed I was about to rewrite medical history.
Saturday afternoon saw my father returning from the auto club, with a new fanfold map of Toronto – And we sat down (he, as the pilot, and I, as his navigator) to plot out the route of our impending journey: Along the QEW to the Gardiner Expressway and then north to Carlton Street, and the Gardens.
My mom prepared us an early dinner, and he and I dressed in our Sunday best (my father wearing his gray Fedora – Something he only wore on the rarest of occasions) before we bade our farewells and headed out – My mother slipping two dollars into my hand, as she kissed me and smoothed my hair.
Arriving 45 minutes before puck-drop, we pulled directly into the lot [Parking: $2.00] across the street from our destination – Straight into a vacant slot that had awaited us – It had gone like clockwork. And as my father retrieved his wallet, to pay the attendant, I proffered the folded bill that I had held the entire drive, and he thanked me.
“Ma gave it to me.” I explained, as he held my hand to cross the street.
Section 25, Row D, Seat 6
Somewhere, in one of the many boxes I’ve held in storage since my folks passed away, I think I may still have that ticket; pressed in one of the scrapbooks that my mother kept for me of all such remembrances. I should really try to find it, and maybe frame it.
With the help of a smartly uniformed usher we found our seats – I was incredibly excited; we were so close to everything.
I craned my neck to find the gondola, and perhaps see Foster Hewitt. I looked about, for all the TV cameras.
I inspected the huge scoreboard; hung ponderously above center-ice.
The game itself was a blur of emotions – The anthem; did they play O Canada, or God Save the Queen, or both? Did they even play the American anthem? I simply can’t recall. We stood, then we sat…I kept looking around at the immensity of the crowd.
The house-lights were dimmed, with the ice lit a brilliant white – The smell of the cold air; chalky, with a fresh odor of oil-paint and a hint of ammonia – The organist playing and then the faceoff.
And the crowd roaring with each end-to-end rush. Rising from and falling back into their seats.
I didn’t know where to look, or what to make of it – It was far different than I had imagined, while watching on television. It was a choreographed bedlam.
The skating seemed unbelievably fast and difficult to follow closely – We sat just off to the side from the Leafs’ bench, only a handful of rows away from the glass; the players climbing over the boards constantly, to join the breakneck ebb and flow. Others returning to find a place on the bench – The constant motion and jostling.
A player with blood on his face. A fight! – Across the ice from us.
The loud banging of bodies; checked harshly into the boards, right in front of us – The goal-light flashing red and the buzzer, and the crowd exploding around us. More fights and skirmishing. Johnny Bower; “There’s Johnny Bower!” (I told my father.) “And Dave Keon…!!”
The intermissions left me stunned – I sat there, staring blankly into the distance of the seats on the opposite side of the arena, as my Dad climbed the steps to the concessions level, returning with a couple of Coca-Cola’s that were more ice than soda-pop. It was all so overwhelming. It was magnificent.
And it was soon over; the crowd milling for the exits as we plodded and shuffled, one step after another, to finally reach the cold night air.
The Long Drive Home.
The Leafs defeated the Oakland Seals (I discovered, some days later, that they had changed their name, less than a month into the season) by a final score of 5-2.
I didn’t know who scored. I didn’t know who the players were, for Oakland– And, I could barely keep track of the game as it played out before my very eyes. It didn’t really matter – The experience was vivid and dreamlike.
“Did you enjoy it?” my father asked as the car idled for a few minutes, and the traffic began thinning. “Yes. Thank you.” It was then that I realized my ears were ringing and I felt completely drained.
We easily found the highway and the drive back to Hamilton was accomplished in complete silence.
In the many years that followed – The bitter and acrimonious disagreements we suffered upon each other – Whenever I felt tempted to inject a cruel turn into my argument against my father, or deal him some sort of humiliating blow, I forced myself to remember that delightful night. His special gift to me.
He had, after all, taken me to my first NHL game – And for that, I would remain eternally grateful.
Looking back: Cronkite’s long-gone (been dead these many years) – As are LBJ, Lester B. Pearson and Foster Hewitt. And Ed Sullivan, and Jackie Gleason.
The war in Viet Nam turned out to be a terrible tragedy. Morrison and Hendrix died of misadventure. Man and His World suffered a fire, then fell into disrepair; though I’d read somewhere that the Habitat exhibit was turned into condos, some years back.
The Black Panthers and Weathermen scattered and fled overseas, or did jail time.
Our ’63 Plymouth Valiant got traded-in for a 1965 New Yorker (in 1970) and we finally got a color TV in 1975…though, those are long-gone, as well. Go figure?
Ethan Hunt now runs the Impossible Mission Forces.
The Hamilton Forum was razed to make way for some row-houses, and the Red Wings were moved and renamed several times; they’re now known as the Lake Erie Monsters…
The Seals and the North Stars are now defunct, and every last one of those players I once followed retired; well over thirty years ago – Though Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull are back with the Blackhawks (Yup, they changed the team’s name) as goodwill ambassadors of an earlier era. And I still love and admire them.
Johnny Bower’s alive and still doing well enough, though the Leafs have moved to the Air Canada Centre and haven’t had a sniff of the Stanley Cup, since he won it all for them in that wonderful season – The last, of the Original Six..
I can’t honestly say what became of The Confederation Train – I’ve been living in the States for over two decades, and became a naturalized citizen some sixteen years ago.
And, I’m living in Tampa and go to Lightning games, almost every night of the regular season. They didn’t do so well, this season, though I enjoyed every game. To be sure, the play in the NHL is still as fast and loud as ever; if not moreso.
I now have tickets in the Club Section (adult beverages and valet parking included, you know.) And I often think about how I wish I could have taken my father (in turn) to an NHL Hockey game myself; as my treat…
My “little sister” lives about 30 minutes away, just outside Brandon, FL – We get together every so often, to laugh and rehash the old days. The good days. And talk about our Mom and Dad.
Though, quite recently, I did attend the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour (a couple/three weeks ago.) And they are doing just fine.
…Kinda like a certain nine year-old’s memories of Hockey, and 1967 (that live on in my mind’s eye.)