More Memories of Cicero's Skating Rink - 1

 

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Letter No. 330 | January 1, 2009

My sister from Raleigh NC recently contacted you about Cicero's.

We grew up in Portage, and were "regulars" on Saturday nights and rode the scandalous skating bus. More often than not, the bus was overloaded, in fact we were packed in it, but the driver, Frank, was patient, kept discipline, and always made sure the ladies boarded first.

I have that postcard of the skating rink, a few skate pins from winning the horse race, and a recent ornament sold at a gift shop in Ebensburg. And memories. So many good memories. My first boyfriend was from Nanty-Glo, Andy, and we met at Cicero's. Then Dave, and Kenny, Rege, and Dana... the list goes on of polite young men who skated with me over the years. And many of those friendships with boys and girls from skating continue to this day... 40 years later! Cathy is in Ohio, Andy in Latrobe, Jan in Tyrone, Bob in Virginia Beach, Dave in Pittsburgh... and many more that I still talk to several times a year.

Did you know that if any of us girls forgot to bring our skating skirt with us, Edna Cicero would not allow us on the skating floor? Proper attire and behavior were enforced. That's why we had skate cases. You would never believe how much we could pack in those cases. Skates first, then our skirt, extra sox, extra wheels, makeup, combs, pictures, purses.

And we always came home tired, sweaty, and happy.

Then there were the dances. It was hard to believe that Mr. Cicero would allow us on that floor with shoes!! The best bands of the times were featured there, if I recall correctly for admission of $1.00 Freddie Cannon, Question Mark and the Mysterions, the Vogues, BJ Thomas, the Barbarians, the Strangeloves, Every Mother's Son, Lou Christie. Those were such fun.

Thanks for opening up some good thoughts.

Nancy (Derrick) Engle
Southmont

Webmaster's reply:

Thank you, Nancy,

It appears that after I stopped going to Cicero's (and moved to New Jersey) there were some significant changes, and that they worked by bringing in lots of people. I had not heard of "horse races" as part of skating parties before. Could you describe those in more detail? And the skating bus was never full when I rode it, to my recollection (though we usually rode a school bus and the Cicero's bus was covering another territory, though sometimes Frank and their bus did make the rounds in Blacklick Valley). And I don't remember dances there. Are you saying they had famous performers like Freddie Cannon, or are you referring to their records (I can't quite imagine live performers for a $1 dance)?

Thanks for writing, and Happy New Year!

jon
Jon R. Kennedy
Webmaster, Nanty Glo Home Page

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