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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
FairfaxOpinion‘Old School’ column: Roll on!

‘Old School’ column: Roll on!

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by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette

I was not an athletic kid. I wasn’t the last one picked for the volleyball team, but my classmates picked me just before the kid with the thick glasses and the very short one. You get the picture.

I was the kid whose mother had to make her go outside to play. Left to my own devices, I’d have my nose in a book when I wasn’t sleeping or eating.
But somehow, I discovered roller skating and I actually was good at it! (I define “good,” by the way, as staying vertical most of the time and not breaking an ankle.)

Something about the rhythm of the movement and the speed appealed to me.
Recently, I was comparing notes with my granddaughter, who was amazed I didn’t have shoe skates. The only place I had access to shoe skates was at the roller rink, where my parents only allowed me to go with my church youth group.


My friend, however, owned a snazzy white pair with navy-and-white pom-poms. But she was from the West Coast, after all. My home-grown friends and I used the metal clamp-on skates attached to our shoes and adjusted with a skate key.

I wore my key on a string around my neck, ready for adjustments. Remember how the skates came off your shoes when you fell? Then you had to widen the skate clamps, put your shoed foot back in and tighten them up. They were adjustable for length, too. No need to buy more when your foot grew. Perfect for frugal Midwesterners.

I had favorite places to skate, too. I liked the smooth, more recently poured concrete, as opposed to the old, rough stuff. Skating in the street was always fun, too, since several of us could skate together. But it was only fun if your mom didn’t catch you in the street!

I’ve seen the more modern inventions called “in-line skates,” with one long blade down the center of the shoe. It’s good they weren’t around in my day. I wouldn’t be alive to write this.

I haven’t been on skates in years, but I still remember the feeling of freedom as I sailed along with the wind in my face, cooling me off on hot summer days.

It was air conditioning, Old School-style.

A resident of Arlington for 40+ years, Carol McEwen sells real estate when she’s not imparting deep insights or sparkling wit in this column.
Reach her at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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