Sunday, April 29, 2007

Smelterville: Rollerskating

Sometime after we moved to Smelterville, someone decided to turn the old theater into a rollerskating rink. The theater was adjacent to the Post Office on the eastern side next to someone's (Douglas'?) home and property. (Now it is part of the Smelterville Post Office). My dad stopped by to see what they were doing and asked if he could work at the rink on weekends. He was hired.

I think I was five when I first learned to rollerskate, probably having begun on the old "steel" skates that hooked onto the bottoms of my shoes. When the rink in Smelterville was open, I became a regular fixture. Every Saturday morining, I would go down the street with my dad to the rink, just before it opened, picked out some skates, and was on the floor by the time they opened the door to the paying customers. Sometimes Dad "suited up" for skating, but often he worked in a small room repairing skates, polished wheels, and updating shoe laces. Whenever I got hungry or thirsty, I'd skate back to the small room to the left of the front entrance and ask my dad for money. He always came through!

I loved to skate, and looked forward to every Saturday morning when Dad and I would leave for the rink. Sometimes we would stop at a soda fountain between the Wayside Market and the rink to get ice cream or sodas. One of my favorite memories is walking hand in hand with my dad down that sidewalk. I remember his hand and mine were about my eye level. I always felt special when he'd take my hand and walk me to the rink.

The Smelterville rink had a wooden floor, and it seemed like a good sized one too. It still had the theater screen on the far wall, that reflected the colored lights on "special" skates like couples only or girls only. The owners played a lot of the popular hits at the rink, as well as some slower waltz type music. Later, after the "British invasion" they'd play a lot of the Beatles's songs. I honed my skating skills every week at that rink.

The rink was open on Fri nights, Saturday morings (two sessions), Saturday nights, and Sundays. I skated both Saturday sessions for a long time, then Saturdays and Sundays, and when I was a little older, I got to skate on Saturday nights, too. I made some new friends at the rink, specifically the owners and their kids. (I think the owner's name was Pat Metzger?) His daughter Kathy was a favorite of mine. There were a lot of people I knew who skated there, but few of my friends from Pinehurst came.

My dad also taught rollerskating lessons at some time on the weekends. I used to go with him, and learned how to teach others also. I used the same techniques to teach other kids to skate years later at the old KHS /Jr High gym uptown when I was in the early '70s.

When I was in the first grade, I got my own pair of rollerskates. My parents each had their own pair, and now I had mine. (I think they bought a pair for my sister, although, she was only two or three and couldn't skate without help). I loved my new white skates. They were better than the rink skates and I didn't have to wear a different pair every week. Mine had really good pink toes stops, so I could easily stop when skating backward. (Sometimes the rental skates didn't have toe stops and if you forgot, you could fall on your face trying to use them.) By watching others, I taught myself how to turn around so I could skate backwards without stopping first. My dad taught me how to rock up on my front wheels and flip my heels around, so I could go from frontwards to backwards in a snap. (Yea, I guess I thought I was a hot-shot on skates.) Kathy's husband even taught me how to waltz on skates, so I could follow his lead even on the turns. (Although I could only turn one direction while waltzing.)

I had great ambitions of being an Olympic skater, but there were obstacles. 1) You had to skate on ice, and on ice skates: so roller skates weren't going to cut it. 2) You had to have lessons to learn all the jumps, etc.and the closest ice rink was in Spokane. There was no way my parents were gonna drive me back and forth for lessons. 3) You had to be thin and beautiful - and I was neither of these. I was just a chubby, plain girl.

Sometime, however, I did get a skating skirt that made me feel beautiful. It was black velvet circle with a silvery white satin lining, and I loved to wear it. It made me dream the impossible, as if it were true. I thought when people saw me in my skating skirt, doing turns and jumps, they would know I was destined for greatness. But the dream only lasted while I was on the floor skating to my heart's content. After the session, I was became just another awkward girl putting her sweaty feet into her everyday shoes.

Thank you, Dad, for the opportunity, the skill, the dreams, and the time we spent together. It was times like these that made me particular when it came to dating in my later years. Who, afterall, could be worthy to take your place in my heart?


myrtle beach whale said...

Thanks for bringing back the rollerskating memories. I spent a lot of time there back when Smelterville was booming. I loved the little soda fountain and often stopped there after school for a phosphate. Had my first date at that place. The people that lived in that house were indeed Douglas. One of the boys, Bob, was a year ahead of me in school. I think the dad was a policeman of some sort. They owned the skating rink for some time. We used to go to the Wayside Market to get penny candy. It was owned by a man named Bill Noyen (probably spelled wrong) and had the same cashier for years. They kept the penny candy behind the cashier in little jars and she would dole it out like it was gold nuggets. I remember when Idaho instituted sales tax and suddenly fifteen cents worth of candy cost sixteen cents and we would have to search the ground for that extra penny. Wayside was also the only place in Smelterville to get comic books and they always stocked the new issues. I think those were twelve cents in those days. The last time I saw a comic book it was like $2.75.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Great memories of the Wayside. As you will find, I left a note at "first grade" telling you that my mom worked there for about 10 yrs., also. You spelled Bill Noyen correctly. The Noyens were great to my mom, and she loved working for them.

I have some stories about her working there, but you reminded me that they also sold LPs. I bought my copy of "Rubber Soul" there.

raymond pert said...

Was John Padula a stud skater at the Smelterville rink?

I, too, loved that place. When Christy, Carol and I had a big day together over spring break, driving around, remembering stuff, Christy had forgotten about the roller rink...I remembered the feelings I had going there...they were wonderful,but you remember such great details. I deeply appreciate your recall. This is a marvelous post.

raymond pert said...

I forgot the old junior high gym became a rink..I never skated there..crap! What was wrong with me?

myrtle beach whale said...

In grade school I got beat up by one of the Padulas on a daily basis. They lived two houses down from me and ruled the neighborhood. When my dad died in 1989, he owned two houses in Smelterville, the one I grew up in and the one next door that Chuck Padula rented from him. He had been good to my parents, doing minor jobs and pretty much looking out for them. I sold my dads house to one of the Elliots, from Page. I gave the other house to Chuck. I'll bet he feels bad about beating me up now. LOL

Silver Valley Girl said...

I can't believe I never knew there was a roller skating rink in Smelterville before my Smelterville roller skating days at the "Fun Center" in the late 70's and early 80's. What a wonderful post remembering it, though. My siblings memories were a little vague. And what a special time to spend with your dad.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Pert: I don't remember the Padula's from the rink. I think I was in my own world there. I remember quite a bit, because I lived there on the weekends. I even had one of my birthday parties there - probably #7.

MBW: We used to laugh at CP when I was in my early 20s, cause he always cruised around in that huge car with his dog in the passenger seat. We thought he couldn't get a girlfriend, because he loved his dog too much. (She'd probably have to sit in the back seat or something). Yea, I'll bet he feels badly now about beating you up, but hey - you lived to joke about it!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Silver Valley Girl: Looks like you squeeked in your comments while I was writing my to Pert and MBW.

Thanks, I skated at the Fun Center later, but preferred the wood floor at the earlier rink. (I had a tendency to slip sideways on the cement floor when I tried to speed skate.)

Yea, those were great memories with my dad. In a way it is sad that my sister didn't get to have the same bonding experience, but she and my mom were close - so I guess that made up for it.

myrtle beach whale said...

I think Chuck still has that old car. Wasn't it orange? He was never the same when he returned from VietNam. He was married for a long time to a school teacher, I think her name was Sue, but she eventually left him. He was really good to my folks with me overseas for 15 years.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Yes, his car is still parked in front of his place. I didn't realize he had gone to 'Nam and came back a changed man. That happened to one of my cousins in Utah.

Now I feel badly that we made fun of him. He was fighting for us, and we didn't even know.

It's awesome that he was good to your parents. Kinda like an adopted son who was handy if they needed him. I can see why you blessed him with the house. Kindness is a gift that is very rare now.

Silver Valley Girl said...

I see Chuck Padula on a fairly regular basis. He is always bringing some dog into my work place, Kellogg Pet Medical Center. I also see your mother-in-law quite a bit as well. She is a frequent customer, too.