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I loved to roller skate. My brother, Don, bought me my first pair of sidewalk skates showed me how to adjust the size and use the key to tighten them. I spent hours learning how to skate and my elbows or knees had scabs the whole summer. Don spent time helping me and I loved him for the skates but I did get a bit resentful when he laughed when I fell. I wore the key on a string around my neck and there was not a sidewalk in Douglas that I didn't conquer, or least thought I did. Some of those sidewalks were in pretty bad shape.

Doc Parker had a roller skating rink in Douglas and opened it one night a week unless the weather was bad. I don't remember when he opened this rink, on what I consider Main Street, but I was thrilled when Mom decided I was old enough to walk the block by myself at night. It was upstairs in an old building and it was not air conditioned. I believe there was an old pot bellied coal heating stove and there was always a gang around it warming their hands and feet. When it was hot the windows were opened, and I don't remember them having window screens. When we got too hot we sat on a window sill and I am surprised that no one ever fell out one of those second floor windows. The Skating Rink was very popular with the young crowd. I think it cost in the vicinity of 35 cents and I did not often have that much spending money. One of my best friends, Wanda Lee Atterbery, and I were the only school girls in town our age, or maybe any age. Doc Parker told us that if we would clean the rink every week just before skating time we wouldn't have to pay.

None of the skates in this rink were shoe skates, just plain old skates that you screwed on with a key. I had my own skates. They worked better than the ones Doc rented and the wheels were as slick as glass. I never wore them on the sidewalk I think Mom ordered them from a catalog.

First we would tidy the skate room. Matching up and putting skates on the shelves, dusting and organizing the counter, sweeping this room and the stairs. Then to the fun part! We would put on our roller skates and whiz around hanging on to the handle of those old push brooms. We covered that rink a bunch of times going both forward and backward and I am sure it was a lot cleaner than the stairs. Then we would put away the brooms and practice skating any kind of fancy step we thought was fun and clever. I would think Oh, if Don could just see me now he wouldn't laugh!!! That was the most fun job I ever had.

After the rink was clean we would rush home and get ready for a fun evening and anxious to see who would show up; who was with who; who would take who home and who wasn't with the who they should have been with? A favorite was "Crack the Whip". A group of skaters would line up holding onto the waist of the one in front and off we would go around the rink. There were three pillars in this rink and when we were all going really fast the leader would grab an end pillar and hang on and believe me if you were the end guy it got pretty tricky to stay on your feet as the whole line whipped around the corner and then broke up. In fact it was tricky to stay on your feet anywhere in the line. The next time the end guy got to move to the front of the line. I heard this was not permitted at other rinks but Doc didn't seem to care and if anyone got hurt we always had a Doctor in the house. I never shared this stunt with Mom I assure you, and I would not have wanted my children to do it.

When did I last roller skate? When I lived in Tulsa, a group of ladies I worked with decided to go skating. I invited my granddaughter, Traci, to go. She was about 13/14 years old and I was in my 50's but I was sure I had not lost my touch. Ha! There were two of our group fell that night and broke their wrist. The same arm and the same bone and went to the same emergency room within 30 minutes of each other. Ever notice my crooked right wrist???

A note from Harold LeGrand "Sonny" about the skating rink: "I remember all that you have written about. Especially the "Crack the Whip". Since I was a few years younger, and smaller, it seemed like I always got put on the end of the line. I don't ever remember getting to move up. I think Blaine Snyder and Bill Edwards convinced me that it was some kind of honor to get to be on the tail end. Kinda like Kamakazi!" My Answer: "Gosh, Sonny, you must have been young because you were - what? - six feet tall when you graduated from the 8th grade? Maybe that game stretched you? Do you remember when someone had hold of your waist it felt like it was going to pull you in two? Or when we went flying off the tail end and grabbed the pillar at the opposite end of the rink to keep from crashing into the wall - kind of waved in the air like a flag? Or at least felt like we were?

By Betty Jo Gibson Scott

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