I was driving down 12th Street the other day and passed by the Stardust Skate Center and was taken back to the memories of many hours spent there in my childhood…usually crashing and falling on my butt. After watching the elegant figure skaters at the 2018 Winter Olympics, roller skating for me was a far cry from that. Do you remember your first pair of roller skates? I do. I can easily visualize the bulky metal skates that clamped onto my shoes. And I was always losing the dang key that tightened them to ‘fit’ my feet! Mine were nothing like the inline skates used today. Those old clamped-on skates weren’t easy to maneuver either, especially as I navigated the uneven sidewalks of my street, but I recall a certain sense of freedom to having my own set of “wheels” at a young age. At the Stardust rink, my wife Liz remembers going round and round to the song “Pipeline” by the Ventures and “Wipeout” (which was very appropriate since she fell on her butt too) by the Surfaries.
Those memories piqued my curiosity and I did some digging...here’s a little history about roller skating!
Roller skates existed for almost 200 years before I ever tried on a pair! The first documented use of a roller skating device occurred in 1743 during a theater performance in London, England. However, it wasn’t until 1760 that roller skates received their public introduction, credited to inventor John Joseph Merlin. Further innovations followed. In 1863, James L. Plimpton of New York City produced a design that allowed the skater to turn and glide in a curved pattern using a rocking motion of the feet. However, one of the biggest advances in roller skate design and construction came with the 1881 inclusion of ball bearings that enabled the skate’s wheels to glide smoothly.
Whether metal skates, sneaker-style skates, boot-style skates, or in-line skates, roller skates offer entertaining physical activity. Skating fell out of favor in the 1900’s until the waitresses at drive-ins started wheeling meals to customers. Remember that? Roller-skating quickly rose in popularity, hitting its peak in the roller-disco era of the 70’s and 80’s. Inline skates took over in the 90’s, but quad skating has once again hit its stride. Here's some more fun facts about roller skating:
- The first public skating rink opened in 1866.
- Did you know there’s a National Museum of Roller-Skating? It’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Plenty of celebrities have gotten into roller-skating. Skating is featured in several famous music videos, from Cher’s 1979 hit to Beyonce’s 2013 chart-topper.
I was a lucky kid back then, carefree and skate-happy! So if you are interested in buying a home in Sarasota and have kids, be sure to call me to find the perfect home for your family and then pay a visit the 2571 12th St., Sarasota; 941-365-6888.
Sources and Credits: Wikipedia, rollerskatingmuseum.com,The History of Roller Skating by James Turner