Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rollerskates and Hayrides

When I was between the ages of 5 and 9, my family lived in town.  One of the things that kept kids in my neighborhood busy in the summer was roller skating.  Now, we aren't talking fancy rollerblades.  This is what we had.



That key at the bottom of the picture was used to tighten the toe clamps on the skates.  Every kid I knew had a skate key on a string around their neck whether they were skating that day or not.  It was sort of a 1950's fashion statement among the kiddie crowd.

You put your feet on the skates, buckled the leather straps around your ankles and tightened the clamps.  You learned quickly to wear hard soled leather shoes for skating.  Skates clamped to sneakers soon raised some impressive blisters.

It took a while to get the hang of sidewalk rollerskating.  I think my knees had scabs on them all that first summer I skated.  When four or five kids got together to skate, you could hear us coming a block away.  The metal wheels were noisy on the sidewalk and each time you skated over a crack, a clickety clackity sound was heard.

There were two ways to negotiate the curb at the end of a block.  There were no wheelchair ramps then, so you either jumped off the curb or fell off.  You knew which method was used by the size of the scabs on the knees.

When I was about 10 years of age, my parents bought a big, old farmhouse on 20 acres of land.  One of the first things I did upon moving to the country was to join the local 4-H club.  To my delight I discovered that once in a while the club had a "Fun Night" and sometimes the fun included a 20 mile drive to the nearest roller rink.

None of the kids could afford shoe skates of their own, so skates like these were rented at the rink.



The roller rink where we skated had a floor about the size of a basketball court.  There were colored lights in the ceiling and one of those mirrored disco balls in the center.  Round and round and round we skated, trying not to run over the smaller kids and staying away from the better skaters.  I always wished I could skate backwards or do the dance steps, but I did pretty well as long as I kept moving forward.  To try to do anything fancy usually ended in disaster.

The 4-H club held a hayride on Halloween night.  We didn't go trick or treating.  The houses were just too far apart.  Everyone gathered at the two-room schoolhouse where the club meetings were held.  One of the local farmers arrived on his tractor, pulling a hayrack behind.  Hay had been spread over the bed of the hayrack and we all piled on.  A couple of the dads, armed with flashlights, came along to keep the older boys from becoming too rowdy, to keep the younger kids from falling off and to keep the older boys and girls from becoming too amorous in the dark.



We rode for about an hour - up and down gravel roads and across fields and pastures.  Arriving back at the schoolhouse, there were games like bobbing for apples and pin the tail on the donkey.  The moms provided treats - hot apple cider - sandwiches - pumpkin cookies - brownies with orange colored frosting.  Each child took home a small bag of Halloween candy.

I suppose all that was pretty tame compared to the elaborate Halloween doings for kids today, but for a kid in the late 1950's and early 1960's, it was absolutely wonderful!

12 comments:

  1. I had a pair of those metal skates in the first photo, and I used to have outdoor metal wheel roller skates. We had a roller rink too. I didn't go on too many hay rides, but I do remember them. How fun! We used to have a roller rink here about 5 years ago. We took the kids there, but it's closed now.

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    1. The sidewalk roller skates provided hours of fun for a kid back then. The roller rink was saved for special occasions like the 4-H outings. Most of the folks in my neighborhood had little money to spend on anything except necessities. That's probably why it was so exciting - we only went maybe twice a year. The rink I went to has long since disappeared, sadly.

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  2. Still have my skate key.... :o)

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    1. CM...Somehow I am not the least bit surprised!!

      Remember this?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCTMTflcuug
      (copy and paste. a blast from the past. :)

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    2. OMG! I had totally forgotten about that song!
      Thanks, Vicki!!!! :o)

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    3. CM...You are welcome. I thought you might get a kick out of that. :)

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  3. Big smiles. I had those kind of skates as a kid. We'd go to the elementary school grounds on the weekends and roll around on the very smooth sidewalks. Also did the roller rink outings occasionally but that required money and a parent to drive us.
    My mom would send me out skating in my oldest long-jeans. I'd inevitably get holes in them and she then made them into cut-offs. Pretty smart mom - oh, wait, I was the third kid...
    Cheers, SJ

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    1. SJ...There was a church parking lot of asphalt about three blocks from my house. When we got tired of cruising the neighborhood, we went to the church to skate. You could get up some pretty good speed on an asphalt parking lot. :)

      I had knee patches on top of patches on the jeans I wore skating. I am the oldest kid in my family, but I was so tough on my clothes that I doubt there was much left to hand down to my sister.

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  4. Ah the good old days, drinking out of the hose, dinner was eating in less then 5 min., everyone biking around the block. Staying out until mom or grandma said time to come in, protests of let us stay out longer, baths before bed, ever night. Being a kid was fun back then....

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    1. Rob...I think we grew up in the best of times for being a kid. We worked - there were lawns to mow and gardens to weed - but we were free to play without having to have an adult with us at all times. We didn't have "play dates." We just had fun. That's the way it should be.

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  5. I wonder if my mom had those kind of skates? I'll have to ask her! I got my first pair of rollerskates in the 80's, it was the only time I peaked at my Santa gift before Christmas morning. The rollerrink I went was torn down recently after being vacant for years. Good memories.

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    1. It has been 60 years ago, but I don't recall anyone having the shoe-type skates for sidewalk skating. Those were for the roller rinks. Perhaps the more affluent kids had them, but not my middle class friends. :)

      The rink where I skated closed years ago. Along with the rink there were trampolines to rent and miniature golf and go-carts. Sort of a poor man's amusement park. I think the mini golf and go-carts survived but the rest was "modernized." The rink may be history, but the good memories remain. :)

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