Willie O'Ree was 14 or 15 years of ages when he broke through his very first barrier.
He didn't understand it at the time. He just desired a haircut.Before becoming
the NHL's first Black player, O'Ree asked a white barber in his home town what would occur if he came by for a trim. There were no barber stores catering to Black people in Fredericton at the time, and his was among only 2 Black households living in the city during the late 1940s and early 1950s."I don't understand, "the barber, Joe McQuade, responded.
"I haven't offered it any thought. Why don't you offer it a try?" What happened next is among the many tales the 85-year-old O'Ree states in his engaging new book Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player."It wasn't that we were segregated,"he writes of his childhood in New Brunswick.
"But we weren't incorporated, either." "As soon as I walked in all the eyes relocated to my instructions,"
the trailblazing O'Ree recalled some 7 decades later in a recent interview with The Canadian Press."I right away launched a conversation due to the fact that I didn't desire to simply sit there with people taking a look at me. The eyes wandered away, Mr. McQuade cut my hair, I thanked him, paid him, and went out. Obviously that was the very first time a person of colour-- the term in those days-- had actually come into their barber store."I just took it upon myself. There was no huge fuss." NHL debut in January 1958 It taught him
a valuable lesson. "It showed me that I could
change things if I tried,"O'Ree writes."My parents stressed that I 'd bring problem onto
myself since of colour, but I figured problem was taking place because of colour currently." I wasn't going to let it stop me."WATCH He simply desired a haircut.Before ending up being
the NHL's very first Black gamer, O'Ree asked a white barber in his hometown what would occur if he came by for a trim. What occurred next is one of the many tales the 85-year-old O'Ree states in his engaging new book Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player. By now, the story of O'Ree becoming the first Black player in the NHL is widely known. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press/File)
"I believed my hockey profession was over," O'Ree said."There was no reference in the news media that I was going to be doing something historical," O'Ree writes.