In the good old days logistics were kept to a minimum, since the Derby would play a town for a whole month, and all the skaters would sleep right there in the arena. Not surprisingly, this proximity often led to varying kinds of hanky-panky, on and off the track. Today Seltzer tries to keep the two touring teams apart whenever he can. The All Stars do not ride in Bomber cars; often the teams stay at different motels. There is a general feeling, also, that romance should be confined to teammates.
One special problem often arises, however, because many arenas make available only two locker rooms for what are, actually, four squads. Modesty wins out over team togetherness, and all the men (including referees) dress in one room, all the women in the other. It almost works out. The two men's squads can come off the track after mauling each other all evening and then dress side by side without any incident, although there have been a few spectacular locker-room brawls. The girls, on the other hand, carry grudges.
"Girls never forget," Joan Weston says. "It is not just that they might start fighting in a locker room after a hard game—they'll carry a grudge for years. A girl will come up and say, 'Hey, remember what you did to me in New Haven,' and she doesn't mean New Haven last week, she means New Haven four, five years ago. The men are much better about that." Donovan, as succinct as ever, explains: "What is it going to prove to get all busted up in the locker room? You don 't get paid for that."
The teams dressed together at the Norfolk arena, for a game before a wildly appreciative mob that revved all the players up and made them skate full tilt. The fights were real and vicious, and the Bombers' poor little stubby Tony Adorno, whom they all call Tunafish, had to go to the hospital with a sprained ankle. He had just been standing there after a jam when Thumper Woodberry came by and blind-sided him cold. The game ended in a frenzy, but afterward, back in the locker room, they all dressed side by side and there was no visible rancor, only brief discussion of what had just transpired.
Tunafish came in, moving uneasily on crutches. "Hi, cripple," Eddie Krebs called out gaily, and the others took up the cry, to Adorno's embarrassment and delight. He picks up a little extra cash by getting beers and Cokes and selling them to the other players after a game, and now he took up his position by his cooler, so that the players could pay him as they left.
Woodberry was one of the last to dress. Tuna watched him as he strode across the room, a beer in one hand. "Two," Woodberry said.
"A dollar," Tuna answered. There was nothing else, no apologies or regrets.
"Thanks," Thumper said finally, stepping around the crutches to reach the door.
"Hey, you know," Tuna suddenly said brightly to no one in particular, "the reason I took so long at the hospital was there were six bad accidents ahead of me."
O'Connell shook his head. "For God's sake, what is that talk? Us with two-lane highways all the way tomorrow."