Long before tape recorders were readily accessible to the public and decades before digital technology made long distance correspondence as simple as we know it today, people could go to their local record store and record greetings, letters, songs or whatever they wished onto lacquer disks that could then be mailed to the intended party. In the fall of 1946, Bill Barilko was starting his second season with the Hollywood Wolves of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL). That season, his older brother Alex was playing for the Oakland Oaks of the same league. When the teams opposed each other, it gave Bill and Alex time to visit, and they took advantage of their time to record audio letters for their family back home in Timmins, Ontario.
These chilling audio souvenirs, never before made public, are voices from beyond the grave (Bill Barilko died in 1951; Alex in 1977). They provide the only known examples of Bill Barilko’s voice – ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ did not debut until 1952, and because recording technology was so primitive during this era, any interviews done on the radio at the time were not preserved. The long-forgotten transcription disks containing these interviews were recently discovered by Anne (Barilko) Klisanich, the sister of the two hockey-playing Barilko boys, who had not been able to listen to them in almost 60 years. The 78 rpm disks were then painstakingly transferred from vinyl to digital for the benefit of Anne, her family and now, all fans of Bill Barilko.
Clip #1 (Time: 2:00)
On this visit, likely November 1946, Alex visited Bill in Hollywood, and the Barilko brothers recorded a greeting for their mother and sister Anne back home in Timmins. Alex talks about being bodychecked by Bill and both boys insist that no Christmas presents be sent their way that year. Their personalities shine through in this audio letter home.
Clip #2 (Time: 2:25)
This audio letter was recorded in December 1946 in Hollywood, and again, sent to Faye Barilko (mother) and Anne (sister) back home in Timmins. The Barilko brothers talk about their plan to see the sites of Hollywood while staying at Bill’s apartment near Hollywood and Vine. Again, a warm playfulness exudes through the brothers’ banter, in spite of the fact they were opponents on the ice the night before.