When I was five, my dad had a wrestling bear living in a cage under the back porch steps. I'd let my ice cream drip on my bare toes and dangle my feet between the wooden steps so the bear could lick it off. Us Hart kids thought that was pretty cool. I figured it was a good way to keep my feet clean and it kind of tickled, too.
It just so happened I was invited to the next-door neighbour's birthday party, which was going to be held at CFCN on a kiddie program called The Headhunter Show.
I'd never been to a birthday party or been on a TV show, so I was hyped when I got on the set and took my seat on the bench.
Suddenly, out from behind the curtain came Terrible Ted -- the very same bear that lived under our porch.
The bear handler scuffled around with Ted just long enough to amuse us kids.
Some were scared but not me. Heck, me and Ted were practically on a first-name basis and he no doubt appreciated the ice cream drips.
By the end of the show, Headhunter, the host, came around interviewing various kids. When he came to me, he innocently asked: "Wouldn't you like to have a bear like that in your backyard?"
It seemed like a pretty stupid question.
I matter-of-factly told him: "I already have a bear like that living in my backyard."
Well, he kind of winked at the camera and chalked it up to the overactive imagination of a five-year-old boy. This was all the opening he needed to have a little fun, as I found myself pleading with him to believe I really did have a bear just about that exact same size living at my house.
He had some more fun with me and when the show ended, I felt really annoyed nobody believed me.
I remember getting home only a few minutes later, since CFCN was so close, and my mom gave me a big warm hug and smiled: "Aw dawling, no one ever believes me when I tell them what goes on around here either!"
You might be wondering where the heck I'm going with this. Well, I wanted to tell you about Buck Shot, which is the show that replaced Headhunter.
I was at a Flames game a few weeks ago when the happy-go-lucky face of Buck Shot himself, Ron Barge, appeared on the
Jumbotron. Dick Clark's got nothing on Buck Shot, who looks the same as he did 25 years ago.
While I was leaving, some drunk spotted me and, in quite a dissing give-me-a-break tone, he pointed and bellowed: "First Buck Shot and now The Hitman!"
I wanted to respond with a wisecrack but as I made my way to my truck, I realized it was a huge compliment to be seen in the same light as Buck Shot.
For kids to have heroes is an important thing and I always took that part of my job seriously. I always took great pride in knowing if young kids were watching The Hitman, they were in good hands.
I met Buck Shot many times over the years, mostly when I was a kid hanging around CFCN and he was always as gentle and kind as he was on TV.