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February 6 2001

Roller skating days, II

I returned to Cicero's Roller Rink on the Fairgrounds a number of times after that trip with my parents, but I don't remember how old I was when the new rink opened on the west end of town; surely by my first year of high school (1956-57)? I do recall that it was touted as the most modern roller skating emporium in the whole country at the time, and those of us who made the transition could believe it. With the fiberglass foundation below the hardwood floor, skating was a lot easier. The sound system was also better.

I said yesterday there were hundreds of nights of skating in my youth, but by closer examination it may have been less than 200, so that was an exaggeration. I went skating most Saturday nights for probably three years, ages 13 through 15, but even if it was every Saturday that would have been...156 times? I was still skating regularly after my teen column was appearing in three parts of the county, and Cicero's was the only place where people from all three circulation areas overlapped in my life. The recognition was something of an ego trip.

When I started working at the Capitol Theater, I had to give up skating parties on Saturday nights, but although I can't remember what was special about that particular night, I lost the job as an usher by ditching work for one more skating party. My guess is that, after that, now that I was confident in hitchhiking into town, I was more often at the record hops at the UMWA Hall and almost never at Cicero's again.

I loved April Catoe's remembrance of "Sissie Rose's" as her way of pronouncing "Cicero's" in her childhood, by the way. Next, I plan to go into more particulars of the skating parties.

Meanwhile, your participation is encouraged. Nor do I mean to discourage continued discussion of economic factors of our lives in the Valley, or motivations to move or longing to return.

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Purportedly actual newspaper ads

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Amana washer $100. Owned by clean bachelor who seldom washed.
Snow blower for sale...only used on snowy days.
Free puppies...part german shepherd, part dog
2 wire mesh butchering gloves, one 5-finger, one 3-finger, pair: $15
Tickle Me Elmo, still in box, comes with its own 1988 Mustang, 5l, auto, excellent condition $6800
Cows, calves never bred...also 1 gay bull for sale.
'83 Toyota hunchback—$2000
Free puppies: Cocker spaniel, sneaky neighbor dog

Sent by Mike Harrison


Dialing around the ham radio recently, I came across an older-sounding chap with a golden voice. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen.

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well, but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."

After a pause, he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities" Then he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

" I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. So I multiplied 75 by 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays the average person has in his or her entire lifetime. It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail, and by that time I had lived through over 2800 Saturdays. I then realized that if I lived to be seventy-five, I had only about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to roundup 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them in a large clear plastic jar next to my gear.

"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There's nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.

"This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday, then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.

"It was nice to meet you, Tom. I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the ham radio waves."

You could have heard a pin drop after this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on chores that morning. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon, honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.

"Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."


Sent by Mike Harrison
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