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February 8 2001

Innocent intimacy

Continuing reminiscences of roller skating days at Cicero's skating rink.

I've been using a "skate," a noun form of the word, as synonymous to a "dance," to mean a specific engagement on the rink as a shared experience with a partner or, in the case of trios, two partners. In these events I first experienced the merging of physical, psychical-emotional, and at least to some extent, spiritual faculties to enhance a single action. Perhaps because of my strict Calvinistic upbringing, I was careful not to feel that same combination on the dance floor, and it wasn't until the disco years of the 1980's that I found some of the same exhiliation moving to music without skates on. Though "normal skaters" (as opposed to those skilled in the dance poses) go around the rink side by side with their arms just around each other's waists rather than face to face loosely embracing, as in dancing, it can be very personal and provide an innocent intimacy. The noise of the skates drowned out by the music also encourages more conversation during such "skates" than is normal in dances, but the speaking lips and the listening ears most be very close. The music and the movement of the feet gliding over the smooth floor mimics flight and floating, "gliding" around the rink as though on wings.

Or it may have been mainly the influence of the crystal ball. Bill Martin, in his note on Monday, referred to that accessory at the former rink at the Fairgrounds, but it was also very much the center of the life of the new rink. Though used only for the "last skate," which was intended as especially romatic and the climax of the evening, once you had skated through the darkened room with only swirling beams of light to guide your progress, any skating thereafter was elevated. Teen record hops didn't have crystal balls, though the disco dances I experienced after my divorce did, along with "multimedia" presentations of beautiful scenes on screens suspended from the ceiling.

William Martin sent the postcard below to us all on Monday. I'm reproducing it here in much reduced size both for the benefit of Home Page readers who aren't subscribers to the list, and because varied monitors render graphics in various qualities, hoping the reduced version works better for at least some seeing it here.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Sweet innocence
As the single father of one boy in first grade and another in kindergarten, I was always looking for points of contact and ways to capture their attention and imagination. On a drive together one day I pointed out an old-style Volkswagen Beetle and said, "Look, that car looks like an upside-down Pamper." The silence that greeted me seemed to say, "Dad's lost it again." However, to my continued amusement, I noticed that for the next several years they made a game of each trying to be the first to spot Beetles and compete to claim more finds than his brother. Every time they did, either one of them would yell out, "Pamper car! "

Now in their mid-20's, both boys drive late-model Volkswagens.

Not, however, Beetles.

Jon Kennedy

I remember that

You're old enough...take a stroll with me... now close your eyes...and go back...before the Internet...before semiautomatic guns and crack on the streets...before SEGA or Super Nintendo...way back...

I'm talkin' about "hide and go seek" at dusk, sittin' on the porch, Simon says, kick the can, red light/green light, lunch boxes with a thermos, chocolate milk, going home for lunch, penny candy from the store, hopscotch, butterscotch, skates with keys, Jacks, Mother-may-I, hula hoops and sunflower seeds, Whist and Old Maid and Crazy Eights, wax lips and mustaches, Mary Janes, saddle shoes and Coke bottles with the names of cities on the bottom, running through the sprinkler, circle pins, bobby pins, Mickey Mouse Club, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Fran & Ollie, Spin & Marty, all in black and white.

Remember when around the corner seemed far away, and going downtown seemed like going somewhere. Bedtime, climbing trees, making forts...backyard shows, lemonade stands, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, sittin' on the curb, staring at clouds, jumping down the steps, jumping on the bed, pillow fights, getting "company," ribbon candy, angel hair on the Christmas tree, Jackie Gleason, white gloves, walking to church, walking to the movie theater, being tickled to death, running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard that your stomach hurt, being tired from playin'... remember that?

Not steppin' on a crack or you'll break your mother's back...paper chains at Christmas, silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington...the smell of paste in school and Evening in Paris. What about the girl that had the big bubbly handwriting, who dotted her "i's" with hearts? The Stroll, popcorn balls and sock hops...

Remember when...there were two types of sneakers for girls and boys (Keds and PF Flyer) and the only time you wore them at school was for "gym." And the girls had those ugly uniforms. When it took five minutes for the TV to warm up. When nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids got home from school. When nobody owned a purebred dog. When a quarter was a decent allowance, and another quarter a huge bonus. When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny. When girls neither dated nor kissed until late high school, if then. When your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces. When all of your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done, everyday, and wore high heels.

When you got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time. And you didn't pay for air. And you got trading stamps to boot! When laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box. When any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him, or use him to carry groceries, and nobody, not even the kid, thought a thing of it. When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner with your parents.

When they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed...and did! When the worst thing you could do at school was smoke in the bathrooms, flunk a test, or chew gum. And the prom was in the gym and we danced to an orchestra, and all the girls wore pastel gowns and the boys wore suits for the first time and we stayed out all night. When a '57 Chevy was everyone's dream car...to cruise, peel out, lay rubber, or watch submarine races, and people went steady and girls wore a class ring with an inch of wrapped dental floss or yarn coated with pastel frost nail polish so it would fit her finger.

And no one ever asked where the car keys were 'cause they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked. And you got in big trouble if you accidentally locked the doors at home since no one ever had a key. Remember lying on your back on the grass with your friends and saying things like, "That cloud looks like a...." And playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game. Back then, baseball was not a psychological group learning experience; it was a game. Remember when stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals 'cause no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.

And...with all our progress...don't you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace....and share it with the children of today? ...Send this on to someone who can still remember Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Laurel & Hardy, Howdy Doody and the Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Belle, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk...as well as the sound of a reel mower on Saturday morning, and summers filled with bike rides, playing in cowboy land, baseball games, bowling and visits to the pool...and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar. When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited a misbehaving student at home.

Basically, we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, and such. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we all survived because their love was greater than the threat.

Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, "Yeah, I remember that!"

Sent by Joe Gordon
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