James “Chick” Berardo 1923 – 1969

JAMES BERARDO was memorialized when the West Range Arena was re-dedicated on December 30, 1977, and named Hodgins-Berardo Arena.  Berardo was a hockey star from Taconite, and manager of West Range Arena from 1963 until his death.

Greenway Yearbook '42

When Berardo was young, hockey teams were informal and not part of school sports programs.  High school hockey did not start until the mid-fifties.

In the 1942 Greenway high school yearbook, Berardo’s photo heading listed him for football. [yearbook at Coleraine Public Library]

Of course he played hockey coming from Taconite, the town that calls itself the “Home of Hockey Champions”.

Amateur adult, or senior, hockey teams organized into municipal hockey leagues, and  our area into an Arrowhead Hockey Association, and then onto a Minnesota state hockey association for adult teams.

Berardo  played locally with the Taconite Hornets, Hibbing Flyers and Hibbing Saints, and the Duluth Steelers. [Taconite Diamond Jubilee, Taconite, Minnesota, 1907-1982; available at Itasca Historical Society, Grand Rapids, MN]

IMG_2546

Berado was a goalie and is in the photo center with the large H.  Please send in a note if you know the insignia on his uniform; it looks like L, H with an N in the middle, and T.

email_logoemail: webmaster@greenwayrec.org.

Berardo’s progression into a hockey career was interrupted by World War II, as were the national hockey associations. He enlisted in the USA Army on May 7, 1943 and was part of the China Burma India TheaterHe was discharged on March 26, 1946. [https://www-fold3-com.ezproxy.hclib.org/page/625571344_james_berardo%20%20(1923)/details/]

After the war, Berardo was a player when the national and international hockey associations were reorganizing and trying to strengthen  the sport.  He played with the Eagle River Falcons in Wisconsin, a semi-pro team in a league that covered Wisconsin and Michigan.  The website, Wisconsin Hockey History, states:

“During the thirties and up until World War II Eagle River and Wausau consistently iced the strongest amateur teams in the state. Eagle River, a small community in northern Wisconsin and possessing at that time the only enclosed rink in the state, captured six consecutive state championships. The teams under the tutelage of Connie Pleban of Eveleth, Minnesota and composed chiefly of players from the Iron Range region of Minnesota, were probably the strongest amateur sextets to represent the state with the possible exception of the 1923 Milwaukee team of the USAHA and the strong Marquette University teams of the twenties.”1

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What is the year of this photo? It was signed to his mother from James, and is displayed at the arena.  Was it before or after the war?

1 Pleban’s obituary stated he coached 1935 – 1942; did Berardo play with the team during his time ? [http://www.virginiamn.com/obituaries/j-e-connie-pleban/article_ccfac088-e76c-5751-a581-69e16d6947b5.html]

According to website, Famous Why?, Berardo is famous for his career in the National Hockey League.  It states that he started his professional career in 1948 as a hockey player with the Boston Olympics team; the “Pics”.  He was age 25, height 5’7”, weight 175 lbs, and his position was goalie.

He also played on teams in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan, probably part of the International Hockey League, and another step to professional hockey.

Berardo attended Hockey Training Camp in Detroit, Michigan, and may have played with the Detroit Red Wings.  Just being invited to the camp was a great opportunity as there were only six teams in the National Hockey League during his time.

Berardo, or Chick as he came to be called, married Laurie Schlader in the spring of 1963.  The arena was new, built in 1961, and an asset of the Greenway School District, #316.  He was hired as arena manager.

In 1964, Chick was instrumental in the success of the Minnesota Senior “A” Hockey Tournament held the last weekend in February.

1964 Manager BerardoArticle from Grand Rapids Herald- Review courtesy of Itasca Historical Society.

Unfortunately, the community lost Chick to an early death, at age 46, on December 12, 1969.  He was buried at Lakeview Cemetery, Coleraine, Minnesota.

Obitiuary Berardo

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Hodgins 1910-1943

JAMES J. HODGINS was memorialized when the arena was renamed from West Range Arena to Hodgins-Berardo Arena in 1977.  Hodgins’ time was prior to any arena, but in his day, he was manager for baseball and hockey teams in Taconite.  His other occupations  were village clerk, confectionary storekeeper, and soldier.  He didn’t live long.  World War II came along, and at age 33, “Jimmy” was killed in the Battle of San Peitro, Italy.

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This portrait of James Hodgins in uniform hangs in the Hodgins-Berardo Arena. The signature on the painting is Russ Rein…(illegible).

Jimmy was born December 28, 1910 to James S. Hodgins (b. 1863  in Michigan; d. 1917 in Coleraine, MN) and Anna Matheson (b. 1880 in Canada; d. 1964 in Taconite, MN).  His parents owned a hotel at Holman Village on the Mesabi Iron Range.  When he was age seven, his father died.  His mother was widowed with six children, including a 4 month old baby.

Mrs. Anne Hodgins lived with her family on Broadway Avenue in Taconite and had two boarders in 1920 (Federal census).  She married a couple years later Joseph E. Skorich (b. 1888 in Yugoslavia; d. 1964 in Taconite), and he adopted her children plus they had one child of their own.  The kids went to school in Taconite and attended Greenway High School.  James continued living with his parents as a young adult.  The 1940 census recorded that he owned a tavern.  He did not marry.

James enlisted in the war effort…it appears he did so in Texas…and was a private in the U.S Army’s 143rd Regiment of the 36th Division.  According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org) “The 36th Infantry Division, composed of the 141st, 142nd and 143rd Infantry Regiments, landed in North Africa, 13 April 1943, and trained at Arzew and Rabat. It was assigned to the VI Corps, Fifth Army, but attached to North African Theater of Operations U.S. Army (NATOUSA) for supply.

The division, under command of Major General Fred L. Walker, first saw action in the Italian Campaign on September 9, 1943, when it landed by sea at Paestum,  and fought in the Battle of Salerno against intense German opposition. The Germans launched counterattacks on September 12th  through the 14th , but the 36th repulsed them with the aid of air support and naval gunfire.  The platoon then advanced slowly, securing the area from Agropoli to Altavilla.  After a brief rest, the 36th returned to combat on November 15th.  It captured Mount Maggiore, Mount Lungo, and the village of San Pietro,  despite strong enemy positions and severe winter weather.

James died on December 15, 1943.  His mother was contacted by a friend, T Sgt. Grady Fowler, who said James “was hit by an artillery shell and was killed instantly…he met his death in the battle of San Pedro [sic], Italy, in which we lost most of our Company.  In fact, out of 900 men who fought this battle, only 180 came back.” [Itasca Iron News Vol 41, No 11, front page].

ironnews

A documentary film, The Battle of San Pietro, was directed by John Huston.  Huston and his crew were attached to the U.S Army’s 143rd Regiment of the 36th Division. The film was released in 1945.   In 1991, The Battle of San Pietro was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_San_Pietro]

The following summer, continues the article in the Itasca Iron News previously cited, “[James’] burial was in one of our well-established American Military Cemeteries in the area in which he was serving, with Protestant burial services conducted at the grave by an Army Chaplain.  The cemetery is well cared for and under the immediate supervision of our military authorities.  A temporary marker with an appropriate inscription thereon has been erected, and the grave properly recorded.”

Almost four years later, Pvt. James Hodgins’ body was sent home.  This is the obituary published October 17, 1948 for the funeral service at Peterson Chapel in Coleraine, and burial at Lake View Cemetery [clipping courtesy of Itasca Historical Society]:

hodgins-1948-funeral-2

James Hodgins: son, brother, athlete, soldier.  Hodgins-Berardo Arena is a memorial to his service.

See the film here: https://archive.org/details/battle_of_san_pietro

See photos of San Pietro today

Findagrave memorial here:  James J. Hodgins

Do you have a photo or memory about James Hodgins to share?  Post it in comments or send via email to webmaster@greenwayrec.org.