(interns at A Word with You Press on a roll)
This just in from Barb Keeling: her second entry into The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest.
Accompanying her entry was this note:
“Being a new kid on the block I did not know how often there is a gathered here of creative play, In case it is not often, I decided to once again step up to the plate. I have rolled out more light hearted patter of remembrances that hold importance in my heart. ”
ROLLERSKATING IN THE KITCHEN
By Barb Keeling
In 1935 my parents gave me a pair of roller-skates for my third birthday. I sat on the linoleum floor in the kitchen while daddy put them on my shoes. He picked me up so I was standing up on the skates. This looked easy enough, rolling wheels under feet, moves body. I held onto the edge of kitchen sink carefully moving along. When the sink edge ended, I automatically continued rolling forward, this time, unaided. How awesome it was learning to roller-skate right in the kitchen.
I had not yet thought of how to STOP the rolling part of roller-skating. However a solution was forth coming, as I crashed into a kitchen chair. See, that worked; I did STOP, but fell on my butt. It dawned on me, that falling down each time I wanted to stop might not be practical. I best make a better plan for coming to a halt.
Before doing that my next issue was how to get back up.
I was not doing well getting up with roller skates toggled to my shoes. So, I simply took off one skate and put that skate-less foot on the kitchen floor and got myself right up. One skate, skating would work fine for now. This was the beginning day of many years of skating enjoyment.
This process was part of growing up. The sidewalks rang out the sounds of metal skates clattering up and down the streets. Every kid owned a pair.
Roller-skating was not all we did with these rolling wonders. Using just a skate key, we’d sit on some ones front lawn taking a pair apart. A search would follow for a two by four, a yardstick, a wood orange crate, a few nails and a hammer. We’d divide up the wheels into a front and a back set. These would go on the bottom of the two by four, with the wood crate sitting on top and the yardstick went across the wood box top as a steering wheel. After a day of creative concentrations and collective collaboration of an unsupervised clusters of kids, a roller-skate SCOOTER would be born. It was like a “hot rod” to all of us.
Roller-skating was a social thing when I was a teenager. We would hang out at the Roller-Rink. It was a cool place to go on a date. Renting skates was part of date night expense. The banging of the wood wheels was on going and the organ music set the pace of how we skated. There were games and contests. Some skaters could dance and twirl, others had a white-knuckle grip holding onto the wall to stay upright and there were thumping sounds of the fallen. Coming home severely bruised after a roller-rink date was never questioned.
Years passed and roller-skating as an activity dimmed from my thoughts. I grew up, went to college, and a career was part of the focus of life. I was an actor in New York, in the 1960-70’s doing T. V. commercials. One time my agent called and asked if I knew how to roller-skate? I told him yes, I HAD BEEN really good at it. “It is a housewife roller-skating around her kitchen, can you handle that?” he asked. “Sure” I said with confidence. I was to take skates and go do the audition the next day.
I hung up the phone and made a mad dash to the store and purchased some metal clamp on roller-skates. I spent the rest of the day roller-skating around the wood floors of the apartment. Skill and confidence returned. The next day I went to the audition. My agent called in a week saying I had gotten the job.
The commercial was for Campbell’s Pork and Beans. I was to skate as fast as I could around the kitchen and pretend to make dinner, feed the baby in a high-chair, get things in and out of the refrigerator and check food cooking on the stove. Also I needed to jump over the long legs of the camera tripod, which was in the middle of the kitchen set. It was a hard day of skating. Long unused muscles ached as the day went on. I thought how funny, years later here I am skating in a kitchen again. This time I was getting paid to do it.
On my 40th birthday my husband gave me a pair of white leather high top skates with bright red hard rubber wheels. I had never had my own shoe-skates and I was thrilled. We lived in Santa Barbara by the beach. I skated each day, jumping curbs, over concrete parking lot dividers and bolted down the bike path at seeming break neck speed. This was a joyful blast of the beginning departure of youthfulness.
Many years later we moved into a Senior Park in Oceanside, CA.
Roller-skating is not allowed there. Good thing, for if it was I would surely want to hit the streets and give it a try.
I am in my 80’s now and still have those shoe skates. One day I decided to paint and decorate them. My idea was to turn these, reminders of long gone adventures, but previously enjoyed rolling wheels, into colorful wacky doorstops. Before doing that, I decided to try skating one more time.
I sat on a kitchen chair putting on my rollerskates. As I stood up I held onto the edge of the kitchen sink. Pushing off from there I glided past the refrigerator, stove, kitchen table and back to the sink. I did a graceful turn and sat back down in the chair. I was pleased I had not fallen, for getting up this time might be very challenging. I swear it’s never too late to roller-skate one more time in the kitchen. This will likely be my last…but maybe not.
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