Thursday, 19 January 2012 09:03

Swift Current loses important citizen

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By Brad Brown — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The sound was loud and unmistakable, like a police siren in an old episode of The Flintstones. There it was, every time the Swift Current Indians scored a run at Mitchell Field. A spectacular diving catch or double play might set it off too.

After a walk-off home run it sometimes seemed like it would never stop.

There’s some debate as to exactly when the battle cry made its debut, but over the years, it’s become as much a part of Indians lore as any championship team or mainstay players such as Conrad Funk and Kelly Horaska.

Virtually without fail, the man hand-cranking the siren was Earl Monkman.

“The horn has got its own legacy,” said a laughing Harv Martinez, Indians manager from 1987-2007. “And the whole tone of that horn was developed by Earl. He was the guy that kind of started that deal.

“It was interesting because over the years I’ve talked to former players that have gone on to play pro ball or whatever it is … and when they call back, the first thing they ask is ‘Do you still have that horn at the ballpark?’

“It was something unique to Swift Current. No other ballpark I’ve been to has a horn like that. Every hockey rink in Canada has a big foghorn but Earl’s ability to wind that thing up was second to none.”

Monkman, 65, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack earlier last week.

The Indians were far from Monkman’s only commitment in the community and, likewise, the siren was far from his only commitment with the Indians. He was a regular in the scorekeeping department, and could be counted on to fill in for others on an as-needed basis.

“He was one of those guys that was always willing to step up, lend a hand, and do the little things that maybe someone else didn’t want to do,” said Martinez.

Monkman was also a prominent figure with the Swift Current Legionnaires, Swift Current Boxing Club, Swift Current Friendship Centre where he was director, Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association, local chapter of the Métis Association, and Swift Current Broncos amongst others.

Eldon Moberg knew Monkman for about 20 years and worked closely with him from 1994-2000 during Moberg’s time in marketing and public relations for the Broncos.

“Some of the duties and assignments he was involved with for the hockey club were associated with getting people in the crowd involved in different activities,” said Moberg. “Sometimes that's a difficult assignment because people can be a little shy and don’t want to take care of that, but you didn't have to worry about that with Earl. He liked people and people liked him.”

There was another sound that defined Earl, too.

“If you asked most people said ‘What’s the first thing you'll think of when you think of Earl?’ it would be the laugh,” said Moberg. “It didn’t matter where you were at, whatever conversation you were having, Earl had this big, hearty laugh that made you laugh and smile right along with him.”

Monkman was born on the family farm south of Prince Albert in St. Louis and moved to Swift Current in 1984. His funeral is planned for Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Trailview Alliance Church.

“Earl was one of those guys in town that everybody knew, and it was always in a positive way,” said Martinez. “He’s going to be sorely missed personality and person in the community not just because of what he did for the various organizations but because of the type of person he was.

“He was always an upbeat guy, a good personality for Swift Current, and there will be a void left in this community.”

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