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?