The Origin of the MASK from FRIDAY THE 13TH.
It's never been said that the mask makes the man. Or woman, as the wearer may be. But everyone knows that heroes use masks to protect their secret identities, and bad guys wear them to thwart the authorities. A mask can inspire hope or instill fear. Then there are some masks that can go on to become more than masks. They become the visual identity of the wearer. They become ICONS.
And that is just my story, from ordinary to iconic.
But before I jump into my oh so personal journey, I think a brief summary of my development is in order. To begin with, I owe a personal thanks to JACQUES PLANTE for taking puck after puck to the face. If it wasn't for his manly disregard for personal health and safety, I wouldn't be here to garner so much attention.
See, Jacques was a professional goalie for the MONTREAL CANADIANS, and after already having sustained over 200 stitches, a broken jaw, cheek and nose from puck face-shots, was knocked out by a rising shot to the nose on November 1, 1959. Back then hockey players were tough guys who wore their injuries as badges of honor. But Plante had enough. He refused to take the ice, after getting stitched up again 45-minutes later, without the mask he had been using during hockey practices. He become the first hockey player, let alone goaltender, to wear a hockey mask (goalie mask) in a professional game. Bravo Mr. Plante!
Mass produced in 1980, I came skidding down the conveyor belt at Cooper Canada LTd.'s Toronto plant, with the pledge of "safe and dependable" glinting in my recently applied top coat. Made of top quality fiberglass, I was packed away for delivery and an eventual home with some discerning young lad.
I think back to that day when I was unpacked at MCDOUGAL'S SPORTING GOODS in Piscataway, NJ. It was a bright autumn day, and I was filled with hope as they placed me on display. Hockey season was mere months away and I knew I wouldn't sit for long on the shelf. But I did. You have no idea how soul-crushing it is to be picked over and watch as identical masks get selected over you.
Was it my red chevrons that turned them off? Could they see some defect in my face that made them think I wasn't up to deflecting pucks? Time after time, being passed over left me empty inside. Eventually I was the last mask standing.
I knew my time had come when Danny McBride was hustled into the shop by his father, Dan. Big Dan, as he was known around town was a local celebrity. He had near single-handedly taken his high school hockey teen to the state championships, and then played minor league hockey for a number of years. He wanted Danny to follow in his footsteps, but his son wasn't made for the ice.
Those first few weeks of hockey practice for Danny were painful, for him and me. That first puck to the cheek came fast and hard. I took the best those kids could give me. Danny, not so much. He found a comforting ear with his mother, but Big Dan wouldn't hear it. He believed that being goalie would make a man of his son. The kids at the ice rink didn't make it any better Danny. When they weren't bouncing pucks off us, they were hurling the cruelest insults you can imagine.
To his credit, Danny kept at it. I guess part of it was to prove something to his father. More importantly, to prove something to himself. We kept at it for two more seasons. Danny improved to the point that he wasn't an embarrassment to Big Dan. I guess that meant something to the both of them, because when Big Dan died in a car accident, Danny packed the hockey stuff away in the attic. But me kept me on a shelf in his room with his father's trophies. He never put me on again.
I stayed on that shelf for ten years. Ten long, dusty and forgotten years. Let me tell you, sitting around as the world passes you by is no fun. With each passing day, month, year I became more obsolete. A sports equipment relic like leather football helmets and metal cleats. When Danny's mom packed me up in a cardboard, I figured the trash dump was in my near future.
Lucky for me it was not a trash dump I ended up in, but a thrift store two counties away. It felt like only a step up from the trash, but looking back, it was the first step in my road to fame. That mid-winter, Ron Hirsch and his friends, stopped in to hunt for cheap hockey gear for their annual open ice game. As I came to understand it, they would get together every year at Ron's family lake cabin to drink beer and skate for the weekend. So off we went on a 65 mile trip to CRYSTAL LAKE.
I've never seen such a beautiful place in my life. Snow covered and glistening with ice, the lake was a sight to behold. And so were Ron and his friends. When they weren't cracking their heads out on the ice during the day, they were cracking beers all night. That's when I first heard of the tragedy that happened at the lake. Didn't bother me none. I was just happy to put to use once again. A good puck to the face goes a long way.
I looked forward to those yearly weekends after I would get packed away. Every new ding and scratch could be relived over and over during the off season. That slap shot that took off some of my top chevron was a dosey. Those short respites continued for a good 12 years. But as Ron and his friends got older, they got fatter, and slower, and played less and less hockey. They still unpacked me, but it was mostly for show, Mostly to reminisce about old times. I miss those guys.
While Ron dealt with a messy divorce, I stayed packed up in storage for a few years. I whiled away that time living my greatest hits and accepting that my time in the sun had come to an end. Little did I know that my time to shine was fast approaching. With the divorced finalized, Ron was forced to sell the lake cabin. Most of the cabin's contents with shipped off, sold or given away. I ended up as one of the give aways.
Funny how things work out. I ended sharing attic space with mannequins, antique mirrors and other discarded junk. It was 2009 when things changed, and fame was thrust upon me. That was the year I was truly discovered. Thank you Jason. Without you I wouldn't be the mask that I am.