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Memories of Rollerland


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#1 Giraffe

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 04:40 PM

In the latter half of the 1970s in Wedgwood, on Alta Mesa, there was a roller-skating rink called "Rollerland." I remember going there many times as a little kid (younger than 10), with my big sister letting me tag along with her friends. Roller skating was quite popular at the time, and the place was usually crowded on Friday nights.

I mention Rollerland simply because that's the only roller rink I've ever been to, and of course there are/were others scattered all over Fort Worth. I'm wondering what memories anyone here may have of the place. It closed in the early 1980s and was a hardware store for a while (they left the hardwood floor in place), then eventually became a gymnastics school, which I think it still is today. But it sat empty for so long in the early '80s that someone even wrote a poem for the Southwest High School (less than a block away) literary magazine, called "Whatever Happened to Rollerland?"

I can still see that booth in Rollerland where you rented your skates. They had a big rack filled with various shoe sizes, and a little workshop for repairing them. There was also a quite prominent one-way mirror near the front door that usually housed a police officer to watch people and prevent mayhem.

I learned roller skating the hard way -- with my butt. At that young age, though, I didn't have nearly as far to fall as I do now. I eventually learned to skate several laps without falling down or hanging onto the rail. But I never was able to do acrobatics as I saw so many other people doing. Once I was skating along pretty well and saw something unusual -- somebody's wooden skating wheel shooting off ahead of me, with several ball bearings flying out along the way. I thought, "Somebody's in for a big surp----" CRUNCH! Yep, it was MY wheel that had come off!

There was usually a DJ there in a small booth. He controlled the rink lights and also chose what music would play over the loudspeakers. IIRC, to make things interesting, he'd say such things as "ladies only," or "couples only," or "all skate." I think there was a mirrored globe hanging from the ceiling. And of course they'd turn out the lights sometimes. smile.gif Some of the tunes I seem to remember include "The Hustle" and "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)." I'm sure "Boogie Shoes" by KC and the Sunshine Band made it on the playlist a few times, too. I think I recall they sometimes had "backwards only," where you were allowed to skate in reverse only. I'd probably break my arm if I tried that today. smile.gif Sometimes they'd have a huge "snap the whip," in which everyone on the floor would join hands in a long, continuous line and the poor dope who was Tail-End Charlie got flung over the rail and into the garbage cans.

The snack bar offered the usual variety of soft drinks, but one concoction they offered was unknown to me: "Coca Cola... Dr. Pepper... Sprite... 7-Up... Suicide." Huh? What's "Suicide," and why would you drink it? My sister explained that they mixed together all of the popular soft drinks in the same cup, and called it "Suicide." I don't know if that idea was only at Rollerland, or if that's something that was popular everywhere at the time. You could even order pickle juice in a cup. To this day, sometimes I'll make my own batch of "Suicide" when I'm filling a cup at a fast-food joint.

But I usually stayed in the video game area. Remember, this was the late '70s, and arcade video games were rather primitive back then. But talk about FUN! One was "Space Race," and I remember playing "Night Driver" and "Star Fire" there. And, of course, pinball machines! Once, I stupidly left my little bag of spare change lying around (I think it was on one of the benches) and somebody ripped off all my quarters while I was out skating.

I can't remember why my sister and I stopped going; maybe because it closed, I dunno. But it was fun while it lasted.

#2 GenE

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 07:38 PM

QUOTE (Giraffe @ Jan 4 2009, 04:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The snack bar offered the usual variety of soft drinks, but one concoction they offered was unknown to me: "Coca Cola... Dr. Pepper... Sprite... 7-Up... Suicide." Huh? What's "Suicide," and why would you drink it? My sister explained that they mixed together all of the popular soft drinks in the same cup, and called it "Suicide." I don't know if that idea was only at Rollerland, or if that's something that was popular everywhere at the time. You could even order pickle juice in a cup. To this day, sometimes I'll make my own batch of "Suicide" when I'm filling a cup at a fast-food joint.



I never wanted to adulterate my Dr. Peppers, but "a Suicide" was a popular drink even in central Texas in the late 60's at football games.

GenE

#3 Saginaw

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 10:03 PM

I never did visit that particular roller rink you so fondly remember, Giraffe, but I did a couple of others. The first time was (oddly enough) with my older sister, too! It was from around '72 to '74, during the time she was involved in and hung out with her church group. She had a best friend from the group, and her friend's family became like a second family to her and me. Anyway, I remember tagging along with my sis in her light blue 1970 Ford Maverick, meeting her friends at a roller rink on either a Friday or Saturday night. I seem to remember the one we went to the most was in Irving (maybe on Belt Line Rd.?), but there was also one that we visited in Rendon once or twice (which didn't look as spiffy as the one in Irving) called "The Lrae" (maybe someone might remember the same one?). Most all of them always had the "disco ball" hanging above the middle of the rink, and the spotlights hitting it creating that otherworldly floating starfield effect.

I also learned how to skate at that time clinging to the siderail for dear life, which probably took me around 15 minutes to make just one circuit, and I immediately got used to slamming my skinny little bottom on the hardwood...many times! Most of the music I remember played at the rinks at that time were the pop hits of the day, like "Space Race" by Billy Preston, "Right Place Wrong Time" by Dr. John, and "couples only" skating to "Wildflower" by Skylark. Looking back, it seemed like more adults were skating, but I was just observing this through a child's eyes. I did have a great time with my sister and her church friends, as we not only went skating, but bowling, too, and after church, the local Pizza Inn, Dairy Queen, or Pancho's.

The next time I went back to the roller rink was in the early '80s, as a teenager. Sometimes I went with friends, but most times I went by myself. I had fun, especially since I got the hang of skating, and did quite well at it. Of course, I never did learn how to skate backwards, but then again I was satisfied with just staying on my skates. At the time, I frequented one place in Watauga called Skate World, on Denton Hwy., which kind of reminded me of the skating rink I visited with my sister in Irving a decade earlier. Lots of great music there, too; Duran Duran, The Fixx, Michael Jackson, etc. Well, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and I pretty much stopped visiting Skate World (and stopped skating) just before I turned 18. I guess it just ran it's course, and I moved on. Still, I enjoyed my time roller skating, and wouldn't mind trying it again....maybe.

"Suicides"? Yeah, I've heard of them, too. Made a few when I was working at McDonald's in the '80s. One particular time, I was pretty bummed out that I had to work the drive-thru window on a very slow Sunday evening (ugh!), and my friends there would come in and dispense several sodas in one cup. I asked about it, and that's when I was introduced to a "suicide". From what I remember, it wasn't too bad, and I had a nice time with my friends at work that evening. I believe it was Coke, orange soda, I think Sprite, and maybe root beer. Judging from GenE's post, seems like "suicides" were around quite a while!

Excellent post again, Giraffe. Thank you very much for sharing your memories of Rollerland! biggrin.gif


--Saginaw
"If I only had a time machine..."

#4 Birdland in Handley

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 01:39 AM

As i recall going to early 60's to mid 60's elementary school kids' skating parties, the only place they ever happened was the rink that was practically on the banks of the Trinity, where the farthest south bits of the 1848 Village later occurred. Seems like the building was mostly made of galvanized metal, and I don't recall a name or signage.

#5 bailey

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 08:30 AM

QUOTE (Birdland in Handley @ Jan 5 2009, 01:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As i recall going to early 60's to mid 60's elementary school kids' skating parties, the only place they ever happened was the rink that was practically on the banks of the Trinity, where the farthest south bits of the 1848 Village later occurred. Seems like the building was mostly made of galvanized metal, and I don't recall a name or signage.


I went to many parties there and it was the Forest Park Roller Rink. It actually had about 4 foot walls at the bottom and above that was a tarp cover that could be rolled up to open it up to the outside. As there was no air conditioning, without the ability to open the rink to the outside, it would have been unbearably hot in the summer.

The other old rink in Fort Worth was Guys and Dolls at I35 and I20. We went there also back in the early 60's. When it opened, it was strictly a skating rink. That didn't make it and it was converted to a dance hall. The building is still there though I don't know if it is still in use.

#6 McHand

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:40 AM

Rollerland, yes! My brother and I went to Tick Tock Daycare on Montgomery & Crestline and it seems like they took us there once a week. We had to leave our shoes at the daycare! Anyway, what I remember is that the rink was longer than it was wide. They had really cool lights and played all the popular music - the Ghostbusters theme was played a lot, so was Madonna. I would come home singing "Material Girl".

Seems like we usually had pizza for a snack, but us 3 & 4 year olds weren't allowed to drink Suicides!


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#7 mnmassie

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 10:27 AM

Through middle school and the very beginning of high school, my friends and I would gather at Silver Wheel in White Settlement every weekend. Every so often, we could convince our parents to take us to the other close rink. Rollerwheel I think? A few years back, one of the girls that was part of this group had her daughter's birthday party there. Not a single thing had changed - right down to the shag carpeting and crazy, light-up dance floor. It was such a flashback!!

I was introduced to the "suicide" at Crystal's Pizza during a lock-in. Seems like I was always at someone's lock-in at Crystal's Pizza.

#8 Giraffe

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 06:11 PM

Just remembered something else. Recently I was playing a CD containing the classic instrumental tune "Time is Tight" by Booker T. & the MGs, and my mother said it reminded her of when she and Dad used to go roller-skating in St. Louis back in the 1950s. I think back then many roller rinks had an organist playing tunes live for the skaters.

#9 travelbear

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 08:15 PM

The classic skating rink was Jolly Time Skating Rink on the northeast corner of Miller and E. Rosedale. In the 1960's it advertised alot on KFJZ and maybe KXOL. Their draw was that you could skate til 10 and dance til midnight. At 10 pm skating stopped and a local band would take to a small stage set up at one end of the rink. For sure Phase V played there and maybe Shux and Sundown Collection. My wife just told me she broke another little girls arm there doing some kind of skate dance.

#10 801hme

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 06:12 AM

QUOTE (travelbear @ Jan 5 2009, 08:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The classic skating rink was Jolly Time Skating Rink on the northeast corner of Miller and E. Rosedale. In the 1960's it advertised alot on KFJZ and maybe KXOL. Their draw was that you could skate til 10 and dance til midnight. At 10 pm skating stopped and a local band would take to a small stage set up at one end of the rink. For sure Phase V played there and maybe Shux and Sundown Collection. My wife just told me she broke another little girls arm there doing some kind of skate dance.


Been to the "Jolly Time" many a time as a kid...Graco Supply has the building now and the old floor is still there in the warehouse. Some of the floor markings were still visable last time I was there.

#11 cjyoung

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 12:12 PM

QUOTE (travelbear @ Jan 5 2009, 08:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The classic skating rink was Jolly Time Skating Rink on the northeast corner of Miller and E. Rosedale. In the 1960's it advertised alot on KFJZ and maybe KXOL. Their draw was that you could skate til 10 and dance til midnight. At 10 pm skating stopped and a local band would take to a small stage set up at one end of the rink. For sure Phase V played there and maybe Shux and Sundown Collection. My wife just told me she broke another little girls arm there doing some kind of skate dance.


Jolly Time was the place to be in the 70's and early 80's for most of the youth who lived in SE Fort Worth.

#12 lcbrownz

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 08:25 AM

Jolly Time Roller Rink was owned and operated Mr. and Mrs. Doyle O. Goodwin until Mr. Goodwin passed away. Mr. Goodwin was, also, part owner was Smiley's Miniature Golf Course during WWII.






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