Back when I was a teenager Skateland in Ames was the place to be. Not that I was a world-class roller skater by any stretch of the imagination, but I did possess the capability to make it around the roller rink without too many problems. That is, of course, if I didn’t get over-confident.
As entertaining as Skateland happened to be I must admit it wasn’t always up to my standards. One couldn’t just skate as he or she so desired. A directory on the north wall of the arena dictated what was going to take place on the floor at any particular time. "ALL SKATE" was my favorite while "LADIES CHOICE" and "MOONLIGHT, COUPLES ONLY" really sucked. Of course, that was during my early teens … eventually my preferences changed.
During ALL SKATE the floor was filled with skaters of all ages and talents. This was a time to polish one’s skating skills be it just staying vertical or flying around the rink backwards. It was also when everyone was skating so avoiding pileups was somewhat of a challenge.
Over several years of practicing during ALL SKATE and avoiding the girls during LADIES CHOICE and MOONLIGHT, COUPLES ONLY I turned into a pretty decent skater - at least to my way of thinking. This brings us to one of the more embarrassing times in my young life.
I had met this girl who seemed to make the lights a little brighter inside Skateland. She invited me out during LADIES CHOICE. While skating hand-in-hand around the floor I began to feel as if I was skating on air.
During the next ALL SKATE session my skates seemed to grow wings as I flew around the floor. It was as if the skates were part of my body. I couldn’t wait for MOONLIGHT, COUPLES ONLY.
As we glided around the floor we skated back and forth both frontwards to backwards. Suddenly, I felt like I was flying - and indeed I was. It wasn’t long until nearly everyone participating in MOONLIGHT, COUPLES ONLY was involved in the pileup.
Limping off the floor someone asked, "what caused this mess?"
I looked around and quietly replied, "You’d think people would learn how to skate better before they go out on MOONLIGHT, COUPLES ONLY."
(Skateland opened in Ames in 1949 and closed in 1968 when a tornado ripped the roof off the building ruining the maple floor. I had nothing to do with its demise.)
(Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He lives near Cambridge.)