Remarks from Doug Haw

My memories of Osborne began almost 40 years ago. I was a pupil, fellow coach and Osborne was my mentor and good friend.

Let me start of with: (put on the red cap) “Osborne Colson – lovely to meet you”. …and Osborne’s next line after he had been asked “how are you”, would reply “nevah bedder” in his strong Boston accent.

We all remember “Coach Colson”, member of Skate Canada’s Hall of Fame.

Let me share with you a few Coach Colson moments.
Osborne had a unique way of teaching a free skating lesson, particularly when it came to jumping.  Instead of the conventional correction of “putting your arm here – place your toe there”, Osborne would teach a new footwork sequence into a jump.  Not only was this a unique correction, it simply gave the skater a new sense of timing and rhythm to create the jump.  In a spin lesson, Osborne would always relate to a strong development of line and position.

In a Canskate lesson you could always recognize Osborne’s group…………they were the ones running on their toepicks across the ice.  When I reminded Osborne that the children weren’t wearing mouth guards with their helmets he replied, “they’ll learn to strengthen their ankles before they break their teeth”.

Then there was “Clotheshorse Colson”. 

No one could match his sense of style and wear red quite the same way he did.  Who ever would have thought to have the Cricket Club tartan, normally made into kilts, made into pants.  However, on one occasion, the fashion police were after Osborne.  One Saturday morning Osborne came bounding into the Cricket Club skating lounge with denim pants, a yellow turtle neck and a very unfortunate madras-patched vest on.  For those of you who remember the TV show Three's Company, he was having a Mr. Roper moment.

“Cranky Colson” – we all knew him……………and we’ve all been in that line of fire.

My best Cranky Colson story took place one early morning on a patch session.  Osborne’s pupil was dressed quite warmly, however one thing was wrong…………….Osborne looked at the pupil and said, “Why are you wearing THAT turtleneck?”  She looked rather startled and Osborne said “Why are you wearing that turtleneck – you have no neck”.

Another typical “Cranky Colson” story……………..

He was teaching a young pupil who was not giftedly talented.  He looked at her with those piercing eyes and, as Toller would say, “having freshly dipped his tongue in acid”, I taught your great grandmother, I taught your grandmother, I taught your mother………………..and NONE of you could skate.

“Cultured Colson”………………….WOW.

He would go to the opening of an envelope.  Osborne would attend book readings, art openings, plays, ballets, the symphony and of course, the opera.  Nothing delighted him more than taking in the arts.

I once attended a house party with Osborne.  When we arrived Osborne noticed that the crowd was not PLU – people like us.  He turned to me and said “we will be here half an hour”.  When the hostess opened the door, he clicked into “Charming Colson”, and we were there the whole night.

Okay, we have to talk about “Car Colson”.

How many people do you know could leave their bag of groceries on the roof of their car at Bruno’s, and arrive at the Cricket Club, with the bag of groceries still intact on the roof of the car………………

We all know the many car stories…….leaving the car parked running in the middle of the parking lot…………leaving the lights on……….so he needed to get a boost……………and now the story of leaving the car door open.

At the Division Championships in l990, when the new Woodbridge arena opened………..there was a snow storm.  After the competition was over – late at night – Osborne found me leaving the building and said “Doug, I need your help”.  I didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived at Osborne’s car, I did not expect to see the car door open, much less the car full of snow…….and yes, I had to shovel the snow out of the car in order for him to be able to drive home.

When Osborne FINALLY got rid of the Newport Chrysler and got the new pre-owned Honda Accord he really didn’t know how to work the controls.  The previous owner had obviously been quite tall and therefore Osborne sat very low in the seat.  The skaters at the club used to mimic Osborne driving……………just like this (put arms overhead and pretend to turn steering wheel)…………and called him Mr. Magoo.

“Current Colson”.

Every morning before Osborne came to the club he would have read the Globe and Mail – which he called, “THE Toronto paper”.  He was well versed on every issue and could hold a conversation with a bag lady one minute and HRH, the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, the next.  You know the Queen Mother often stayed with his cousin, Mrs. McDougall, when visiting Toronto.  Osborne enjoyed his times with the Queen Mother.

Much before the internet, Michael Cosgrove, sports writer for the Toronto Star, would fax Osborne the latest results of a skating event.  He would come to the skating office and say “have you got a fax for me, have you got a fax for me, have you got a fax for me…………because Osborne JUST had to know FIRST what the results were so he could go in to the skating lounge with all the “hot off the press” news.

“Compassionate Colson”.

Osborne could be so warm and loving at times……….although he rarely wanted to show it.

For those of you that know me well, know how special my Grandmother Haw was to me.  On many occasions she would come to the Cricket Club to partake in the morning glory luncheons.  Osborne would dote on her.  Even though she was only l0 years older than him, he treated her like she was HIS grandmother.  My grandmother died 4 years ago and Osborne made it a point to call me every year on what would have been her birthday. 

“Hi Doug – Osborne here – (like I wouldn’t know who it was) – I know that this is a tough day for you.  I just wanted to say hi and I’m thinking about you.” CLICK…………end of conversation.

There are many Colson moments…………and I am happy to have shared some of mine with you. 

Osborne, wherever you are, and I’m sure its not far.
“Thanks for the memories”.