Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

May 25, 2014

Ed Hungness: Don't fret, it's just a skinned-up knee

Like a wounded warrior, home from the war, I made my way up the front porch steps and into the house.

When Mom heard the moaning and groaning she came scurrying to my rescue. A few drops of blood mingled with the dirt and roughed up skin.

“My word boy, what happened to you?”

It was early spring and after being cooped up all winter, and I was anxious to strap on my roller skates and tear down the sidewalk at sound-barrier-breaking speed. Along with riding my bike, it was something I looked forward to as soon as temperatures began to warm.

It’s been years since I’ve seen a kid skating down a sidewalk. I can still hear the sound of the steel wheels on concrete. Four-wheeled roller skates were invented in 1863. They were not the shoe skates that are occasionally seen today. These were all steel and each pair was adjustable so that as the child’s feet grew, dad could make them longer to accomodate their shoe size.

The skates clamped onto shoes with leather soles. Sneakers or gym shoes lacked anything for the clamps to hold onto and were not suited for roller skating.

Around the skater’s neck hung a skate key, usually on a necklace made of string. The key was used to tighten the clamps on the front of the skates so they wouldn’t fall off. The back portion of the skate was held in place with a leather strap that went across the instep of the foot attaching to a buckle on the opposite side of the skate. Putting the skates on and taking them off was a pain in the neck. I was always in a hurry to get things rolling.

Skating was always more fun when I had a pal with which to share the experience.

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