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Stu Hart deserves more from Calgary



LOVE IN THE AIR ... Stu and Helen Hart give each other a big smooch after they cut the cake to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. -- Stuart Dryden, Calgary Sun
By RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun
Stu, you're a better man than me. I'll risk the sleeper or the piledriver or even a figure-four leg lock. But I've got to get this off my chest.

You deserve more.

Oh, you'd tell me to forget about it. You'd tell me wrestling's a great game and you'd applaud the great fans in Calgary.

Your Calgary, the Calgary of the crazy Corral and Abdullah the Butcher and Ed Whelan's in-the-meantime and in-between time.

You'd tell me you don't want your name up in lights, you don't hunger for the pat on the back.

Stu, I don't care. I must speak.

Yesterday I stood, along with many others, at the bottom of the steps of your house, Stu. A barbecue to mark Stampede and, more importantly, to celebrate your 50 years of marriage to your wonderful wife Helen.

I saw all who gathered. The young, the old and the dogs.

I heard the dignitaries give their glowing pronouncements and present their gifts. But I felt a little empty, Stu.

I'm not the world's greatest historian but even I know you played a big part in forging this city's character. A good man in a tough man's world.

We all know of Stampede Wrestling and how you gave us fame. We know how much you love every fibre of this town.

We know of your wonderful family and how one son, Bret, is the most famous Calgarian in the world.

We know of the dungeon, where you trained wrestlers. Many big men walked away because they could not or would not pay the price. You paid the price and you are worth an army of smart boys.

It's then I look. I look around the world that wrestling has become, the grand spectacle it presents throughout the world, and I look for a book about your achievements.

I try to find a movie about your life. Who couldn't make a movie with the cast of characters you've seen?

But I fail.

When I see you standing, hunched over but still with the gaze of strength in your eyes, I notice no Order of Canada lapel pin. Have you not done enough?

And, when I walked in the Stampede parade this past Friday, and look to the front and know it's your 50th wedding anniversary and realize what you've contributed, I do not see you and Helen up at the head.

I see an American actor.

Maybe I shouldn't care. You have a legacy few could even dream of. When I hear B.J. Annis, a super guy who is married to your lovely daughter Georgia, I begin to understand the loyalty and love you inspire.

"Stu brought glory to this city and two or three years ago the Stampede took away Stu's two Stampede pins for the Grounds. I've still got the letter at my gym. They said there was a demand for the pins," says B.J., his voice rising.

"He did so much."

At the barbecue, there were the voices who would not be silenced. Bearcat Murray was at the back, next to me, but he was determined to get up and speak.

Back in '51, Bearcat's uncle, Rex Dwigins, owned land out back of your house. Bearcat was a jockey but got too heavy to ride. Bearcat's uncle got him on show horses.

One day, Bearcat rode down the hill and on to your property. "Stu looked at me and said: I hope you're not here to wrestle. You're a skinny runt. We've been friends ever since," chuckles Bearcat.

It's then I look up. It is a great day. You are surrounded by those you love and those who love you. The sun shines, the food is warm, the beer is cold.

And around your waist you wear a belt, a world championship belt. It's then I realize it doesn't matter.

In the meantime and in between time, in the middle of life's ring, you are our champ.

Stu and Helen: Happy 50th.
The Dinger can be reached at (403) 250-4323 or by e-mail at rbell@sunpub.com.
Letters to the editor should be sent to callet@sunpub.com.

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