A very fond memory was when I was in the 5th grade and was allowed to go to the weekly Friday “Panda Party” roller rink at “Skateland”. I was given a small green piece of paper explaining that I was invited to Skateland for a roller skate party, I had only heard about this from my friends as my parents didn’t allow me out and about without their permission. I was so excited I got an invitation that I asked my mom if we could go to Woolco and get whatshername a present for the party. I called my best friend and asked what he was bringing and he lol’d me. He said it wasn’t a birthday party but a discount coupon for the entry fee, there is no actual party. I remember getting red-faced on the phone and quickly said “Ohhh ok, well I’ll keep the Sea Monkeys for myself!”. My mom took me up to the famous Skateland just outside of Omaha (Nebraska) it was a long drive to me back then. She walked me in and looked around, said hi to a few parents, gave me $5.00, kissed me on the cheek and said she’d be back by 10:30 to pick me up. I was in heaven. Complete independence at the age of 10. My friends all showed up and I slowly but quickly learned to skate. I can only imagine what my calves and thighs felt like back then. Ironman comes to mind.
After a year of going to Skateland every single Friday it was like my 2nd home away from home. It reminds me when Tony walks into the Discotique in Saturday Night Fever, all the fellas know your name, the chicks come up to you and chat, flirt and ask if you can buy them a Slushy. Highlights were when it was “boys only” skate and the girls would line up on the painted cement wall and hold their hands out for you to ‘slap’. If a girl liked you she would extend it ONLY for you. My other favorite highlight was couples skate. I’d go around asking any girl I came across at first, then I got selective. I would not only pick/ask ones that were “cute” but could skate backwards. It was much cooler to skate backwards than holding hands side by side. So my criteria was : Cute with feathered hair, preferred dark haired girls, height didn’t matter nor did weight, had to be able to skate backwards and most importantly…like the band KISS. I was a huge fan in their hay day of late 70’s.
I spent 4 New Years eves at that Skateland and kissed approx. 12 girls in that time frame. One of which a skate guard caught me and Sara Simpson in the corner kissing (french), I never knew it was against the rules that we couldn’t kiss. Our lips parted by a teenaged, pot marked, hair in the face punk grabbing me by my “Hobie” shirt and yanking hard. He grabbed Sara’s hand and she yelped, seems he used excessive force. He’s pulling us up to the front office when my dad walks in and see’s us being ‘kid’ handled and asks what’s going on. The skate guard unwisely ignores my dad (see pix below for his “look”) and walks by him, all the while yanking me along. My dad grabs the punks arm and pulls me away, the stupid pot smoker cusses at my dad at which time my father blasts his fist into the kids chest knocking him back against the wall. (Sara was able to let go prior). Next thing I know I was taken back to the scene in Bruce Lee’s last movie “Enter the Dragon”, 3 more punk guards rush up around my dad and me and my dad gets into his drunkfist position waiting for anyone to step to us.
I look over and the Manager finally comes out of his office and tells the punks to do their job. My dad relaxes and he and the Manager talk in his office, Sara and I are in the side room sitting on the floor, a small tear drops down her face. I reach over and dry it off, smiling. She asks what I was smiling about and I said “my dad kicked that assholes ass”. She giggled but looked up and her father was now in the office with my dad, she started crying again. I told her it’s ok and that it wasn’t the end of the world, plus come monday at school we’re going to be very popular. My dad, the manager and sara’s dad come over and have this look of “look what you did” look. My father had a twinkle in his eye like “play along son”. So I looked remorseful. I was banned for 4 weeks. LOL. We walked out into the parking lot and was waiting for any kind of sign that my dad was going to belt me or hug me. He smiled and asked if it was worth it. I smiled back and said “Ohhh yeah!”.
Around the 7th grade I outgrew Skateland and started going to parties. Real ones. The times I spent at Skateland were always great and memorable. The hundreds of quarters spent on “Moon Patrol” and “Digg Dug” with the worlds best game “Defender”… slamming down the 2ft long Pixie Stix with a 32 oz “Suicide” drink, the brown tore up skates, the music of the late 70’s and early 80’s….it was all magical in it’s own way.