Thursday, August 14, 2008
The Skating Rink
This is what used to be the Old Mill Skating Rink in Gloucester, our neighboring county. The rink closed years ago, and the building changed hands several times. It's been used commercially ever since. The upper portion was the actual rink. Even today the disco lights and the bumpy old wooden floors are still intact. But just don't go up there nosin' around. That would be trespassing. Trust me.
Some of my fondest memories are from the skating rink in Gloucester. It was one of the few places my mother would allow me to go as an unchaperoned teenager. I was allowed to go there before I could date, but in reality it was practically the same thing, just in a controlled environment. Well, somewhat controlled. Partially?
My grandmother skated here, and she was born in the early 1900's. My mother skated here. I skated here. Unfortunately, my children will never skate here since it no longer operates, but they would if they could. I take comfort in the fact that a place exists that my favorite grandmother frequented, no doubt with the same zeal and ardor that I did as a young girl.
I must press pause for one minute and clarify something I've taken for granted. Kids? I am not talking about roller blading or skate boarding or dip-sticking. (OK, rip stick, but I like to call it dip stick.) I am talking about roller skating. Roller skates were a primitive form of entertainment that involved lacing your feet up in a boot with wheels; two wheels up front, two in the back. There was no such thing as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads or safety precautions other than prayers. You fell down and you got hurt. You then got back up, kept going and even if you had shattered your tibia you would never let on.
Then you did the Hokey Pokey and turned yourself around, 'cause that's what it's all about--even though you hated doing it. Next you bit your nails at the "Couple's Skate" and prayed The Cute Boy you liked would ask you to skate with him. He didn't, but The Guy You Were Avoiding did. After skating with him, you hid in a corner and pretended to be sick so he'd leave you alone. Then you went back out and stalked The Cute One. The End.
As you can tell, the skating rink (or ring as some people who also say chimbleys instead of chimneys would say) was less about skating and all about teenagers co-mingling. I will confess, though, that as much as I loved the boy-girl thing, I was also daydreaming about being in the roller derby.
I swear I could have been in that movie Kansas City Bomber. Anyone see that? I'm not surprised. I remember it for two reasons: my father was GLUED to the screen, and so was I. He was riveted for entirely different reasons than I was, and it entailed the following: Raquel Welch and Raquel Welch. For me, it was all about racing around and skating fast and pushing people out of my way. Even thinking about it gives me the chills...I really believe I could be the first 43-year-old Roller Derby Champion if only I were given the opportunity....but I digress.
I will tell more skating rink stories as I remember them.
In the meantime if any of my 3 readers, one of which is local, would like to contribute their memories of this wonderland of the past, please do so.
There are so many stories to tell. Too many.