The excitement was killing me. It was my favorite place to exist. It was my favorite place to escape. Hurry up. Hurry up. Almost time. Saturday morning.
Winter was over and spring was beginning. It was the new season. The fun season. Something to do on the weekend season.
I was in grade school, probably 5th or 6th grade, possible even junior high. We lived at the Prospect house during that time. We actually moved to that house when I was in 4th grade.
The corner of Euclid and Capitol was the place to be. Every Saturday morning.
This is where the cool kids hung out. I remember getting there early because I was so excited. It’s been a curse my whole life. I can’t do late and on time is late to me. I have always been places early. I never disappointed.
Was it still going to cost 40 cents? Was it still opening at the same time? I wonder if I would wear the same size. I just didn’t know and I just couldn’t sit around and wait to find out. I had to leave early and get there. I had to be in line. I just had to.
I’m not sure if Sherry was with me or if I just went by myself, but I remember sitting on the sidewalk, taking off my shoes and the guy came out. He was the guy. The guy who took our money. The guy in charge of in charge. He always wore boots and jeans that seemed too high waisted. He always wore a belt and a t-shirt. He was tall and skinny. He was just different enough to be dangerous. He always teased us. He told us the price was $1. I about died. I wouldn’t have enough money. He must have seen that I was ready to cry. He said he was just kidding and started laughing. I wish I could remember his name.
We had to step up the high step in order to get in the building. This was a boat marina in the front of the building and the basement had boats. The upper floor, behind the store part was the most amazing roller rink. There was a long counter, made of wood, with shelves behind it full of roller skates and then there was a door into the marina store. They had candy for sale. We couldn’t buy candy when skating. Well duh, because could you imagine if something got on the floor! The floor was a gorgeous, shiny and smooth. It was made of hardwood. You always knew which skates were the best and you secretly hoped you got the same ones every week. The sound of the skates being plunked down on the counter was music to my ears. It was loud and made me giddy. I remember the smell, musty. It smelled good. I remember how it looked. It was my favorite place. There were benches to sit down on all around the circle floor. I remember by the door going in there was just a huge pile of people’s shoes. And then jackets and coats, partially hanging up and partially on the floor.
The announcer — the guy, would play the music and would call out what kind of skate it was. It was forward, just backward, couples, and singles. Sometimes just girls and sometimes just guys. Sometimes three people would skate and most times it was just everyone.
I remember the Badger boys. Gary and Merle. Badass motherfuckers. Merle had an eye patch sometimes. He wasn’t a pirate, he had a glass eye. All the girls wanted to skate with them and all the boys wanted to be them. They had swagger. They were fun to skate with. I skated a few times with Merle and once in a great while with Gary. Jim Hull and Vonda Thompson skated as a couple and they were both amazing skaters. They were skaters to watch because they were amazing and talented skaters. We called him Jimmy back then. I still call him Jimmy as I think about it. I wanted to be like them. I always tried to perfect the backward skate. That was always something to work on. You knew you arrived when you could skate backwards with the leg crossover. The whoosh sound of the air as we went faster and faster and faster. The music was loud. The louder the better. All different songs, all different artists. I clearly remember the guy playing Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass almost every time I went to the rink.
We skated for hours. Non-stop. A short rest when we needed or we would sit out from couples skating. Tired and sweaty at the end of the time. I never wanted to quit. I wanted to skate and skate and skate. It was social, it was fun. Everyone was nice, nobody was a jerk. We all had fun. We all forgot about everting except skating. We had a blast. When the time was over, it would still feel like you were skating. The legs were tired and we were tired, but we never wanted to be done.
I loved the roller rink and I was so sad when they moved it down behind McDonald’s. It was never the same. It just wasn’t as fun. The roller rink was located like I said above at the corner of Euclid and Capitol, the current Olinger Law Office building.
I heard Brandy the other day. It took me back to skating and the memories came flooding back. Some of the other songs I remember were: Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me; Brand New Key; The Lion Sleeps Tonight; A Horse With No Name; Rockin’ Robin; Black and White; and Joy To The World.
It was a simple time. It was a great time to be a kid time.