October 1996 - Skating is Fun
It was not until 1996 that the wifey and I made the decision that the children needed to learn to skate in a real rink. The kids were young enough to run around and have a limitless amount of energy to burn (between eight and twelve years old) but not too old that they didn't want to be seen with their parents. Parents, I might add, who were acting just as crazy as the kids and enjoying every minute of it.
Luckily for me, the skates that the family all wore had four wheels, unlike the first skates invented in France during the beginning of the eighteenth century by M. Petitbled. I've never tried in-line skates before but the similarity to ice skates makes me feel uncomfortable just looking at them. Since these types of skates hurt my ankles, I will stick to my quad-skates no matter what the style or how fashionable they look.
By 1876, Williams Brown and Joseph Henry patented what continues to be known as the adjustable four-wheel skates that I roll and love.
Fast forward to 1996. The place was called Skate Key and it used to be located on 2424 White Plains Road, near Allerton Avenue in the Bronx. The Saturday 9:30 am - 12 Noon crowd was filled with a mixture of excited children and their patient parents. The hardcore skaters usually didn't arrive until the evenings. I guess it was too early in the morning for them to show off their unique moves. Even without the experts rushing by, it was hard for the less experienced crowd not to move to the beat of Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby, KC & The Sunshine Band's Get Down Tonight, Vaughn Mason & Crew's Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll or the ever-famous Rock With You by Michael Jackson.
The big kid in me quickly got tired of rental skates and made certain that we all purchased a pair of our own skates. After many Saturdays and much practice, I finally approached something that looked like speed skating. I found that skating in a crowd was similar to driving a car. Right after I weaved between others, I would check to my left or right. I learned to check my blind spots the hard way after the number of times that I smashed into others. The ego tells you that you're the fastest until you make that unchecked swift move and find that someone else is already where you wanted to be and then, “POW,” you both fall to the floor.
At times, the DJ asked that everyone clear the floor so that only certain people got a chance to show their stuff (boys only, girls only and even fast skaters). It felt great sprinting around the rink and not worrying about the kids. Much to my own amazement, I even learned to skate backwards, which of course tickled my ego to no end.
Unfortunately, the Saturday morning fun ended as the kids got older and we all got different interests. It was time to hang up the old balled-bearing platforms.
Within a year or two the Skate Key Rink then moved to 138th Street in the South Bronx and became known for skating fun and fights. But that particular outlet closed March 2006 because there seemed to be more fighting there skating.
It's sad to see what the original Skate Key building has become on White Plains Road. It looks like a cut-rate clothing store has opened in its place.
Regardless, I'll always remember the family fun and the pounding beat of the music.
I love my New York home. Its diversity inspires me. I would not for the world trade my multitude of experiences there.