Q: When did your parents run a roller skating rink?
A: From August 1974 to somewhere in late 1978. I had just turned 10 years old and by that time I’d moved six or seven times. My parents bought a mobile home for us to live in and they parked it right next to the rink.
Q: Was it a dream come true?
A: I was excited but I was more afraid to be going to a new school again.
Q: Did you know how to roller skate?
A: I’d been roller skating for years, but I wasn’t really a good skater, I was just OK.
Q: Did you have to go to work right away?
A: Yep. There were four jobs at the rink. The person taking money, the floor guards, concessions, and the skate boys.
I was a skate boy—the guy who passed out the skates.
Q: Did all those skates smell bad from being on people’s feet?
A: They did smell. We didn’t have spray like they do now. We would just grab them and put the laces inside and put them on the rack. I don’t know whether I remembered to even wash my hands afterward…
At that point I wasn’t big enough to be a floor guard. My sister was a floor guard. She also did the candy counter.
When I was older I got to be a floor guard.
Q: What did floor guards do?
A: They would skate around and stop people if they were going too fast or pushing; or if someone falls down they would help them get up, or blow the whistle to tell people to slow down.
Q: Did you ever make people mad by whistling at them?
A: Just the girls. Ha-ha.
Sometimes I did have to get the older, bigger floor guards to step in, like if people were horsing around or doing something dangerous. Older kids didn’t want a younger kid telling them what to do.
Q: Was working there a good way to pick up girls?
A: No, I was too shy. But the first girl I went steady with I met through roller skating.
We had benches at the one end of the rink—“the make out benches.” When the lights went down, that’s where kids would make out.
Q: Who played the music?
A: My dad ran the music, which was basically a stack of 45 records on two turntables and they’d fall down when it was time to play.
Q: How often did you go skating?
A: I literally skated every day, except for 7-10 days when we went to a family reunion every year. But otherwise it was every day, because we could.
Q: Did you get paid?
A: I got paid a dollar an hour. My dad said, “I’m putting that money in an account for you.” But I never saw the money.
My sister and I both wanted a Browning 10-speed bike though. When I was like 13, after three years of saving, my sister got a bike first, and then I got one.
Q: Could you skate backwards?
A: Of course!
Q: What’s the fanciest move you can do?
A: Right now I do this thing called rubber-legging. My favorite song to do it to is “We Will Rock You” by Queen. I’m going backwards at a high rate of speed and by the end of the song my legs are shaking and I’m ready to fall down. When I was younger I could do jumps and spins like you see people do on ice skates but I’m too old for that now. It hurts too bad when I fall.
Q: How often do you go roller skating now?
A: Maybe five or six times a year.
Q: How did you dress back then? Any sweet ’70s outfits?
A: I made a belt in leather class that said “Roller King” on it. I wore it every day with my KISS belt buckle. I had a whole buckle collection.
Q: Did other kids think it was cool that your family owned a roller rink?
A: In fifth grade a guy beat me up because he was jealous of me, because my dad owned the roller rink.
I got beat up by a lot of people because they were jealous. Although I also had a bit of a smart mouth.
Q: How did the roller rink come to an end?
A: My parents broke up and I was living with my mom and my sister while my dad was running it. The lease was up and the next thing I know my dad said he was moving to Tacoma.
My dad was a dreamer. At one point while we were running the rink, he bought a three-wheeled motorized ice cream truck and had it painted bright orange. Our jackets from the rink were bright orange and black, so it was painted the same colors.
The roller rink was named Rus-Dee’s Roller Rink; my dad’s name was Rusty, my mom’s name was Dee.
The truck was called Rus-Dees Ding-a-Ling Machine. We sold ice cream out of it in the summer. We’d drive around ringing a bell and selling ice cream. He spent thousands to keep that thing running.
Q: Did you have any kind of approval from the health department to do that?
A: Hell no!
Q: Is the rink still there?
A: No, it’s not.
Q: Do you know what happened to it?
A: Yeah, they tore it down and built a Super 8 Motel there. It’s really sad because the skate floor was a real wood floor built on springs. If we had a big crowd we could get everybody on one side of the floor and it would tilt. Very unique floor that had been built in the late forties I think. Wood floors are much better than cement floors covered in hard plastic.