November 1962 - Feel The Pain
Learning to balance on eight wheels sounds difficult to a first-timer but it really wasn't. My older brother and I were roller-skating together since I was five, both outside and inside of the apartment project. After learning to travel over stones and bumpy concrete outside and rarely falling, my need for Iodine and bandages became less and less over the years. Indoor skating was different though. As we rolled through the hallways of the apartment, mom and dad would pretty much start screaming but what was a couple of young boys supposed to do when there is all that open floor tile and linoleum?
My first set of skates was the ones with straps and clamps on the front. They would grab around my sneakers and I had to tighten the clamps up with the skate key. At times, the skates would slip off because kids are always in a hurry and the science of these moving platforms was just too simple.
All this simplicity changed when the time came for me to learn to ice skate. My short history with these types of skates only spanned over one season, during the winter of 1962. I was nine years old and my father thought it would be a great activity for the growing boys to take what they had learned and apply those skills to a frozen surface. He took us to a sporting goods store and we all got our own brand new skates. Very easy to walk in while at the store, so let's go skating!!
Imagine what used to be called the Wollman Memorial Skating Rink in Central Park (since 1987, it's been called the Trump Wollman Memorial Skating Rink, after the reconstruction). That crisp November in '62 it was still early but there were others already on the ice.
We sat on a bench lacing up our shoes with the magic metal blades on them. It was cold outside and I quickly wanted to get to skating to warm up. My father could see that my brother and I were obviously impatient.
"Lace them up tight" my father said sternly to my brother and I.
"You boys don't want to get hurt."
I followed my father and brother unto the ice and found this to be a totally different experience then roller-skating. Regardless of me holding on to the support areas on the sides, I still found a way to fall on my butt. Not only was I cold but now my knees, gloves and butt were wet. This was not enjoyable. My father patiently stood next to me as I pulled myself together. It was difficult to stand and keep the blades perpendicular to the ground but I forced them to straighten out.
I looked across the ice and saw my brother actually making progress. He had already fallen and gotten up quite a few times but now he was ice-skating. That was it. I was going to learn if it killed me.
I finally did bend my knees and began to move myself forward but it was at a price. It seems that the pressure that I exerted on the muscle along the exterior portion of my right leg between my ankle and knee became increasingly sore as I forced my shoe to straighten. Seems like my thin ankles did not want do what everyone else’s did. I sat down a few times, hoping this would relieve some of the pressure but when I got back up on the ice, it got worst.
My father and brother re-tightened my laces, gave me pointers and encouraged me as much as possible but my ankle was not listening. I was in too much pain. After one more try, I sat gloomily and watched my brother and father while they moved around the rink with increasing agility.
Next weekend, I returned to the rink with thicker socks for support but it made no difference. Once we returned home, that was the end of my illustrious career as an ice-skater.
To be continued .......
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