I was sitting on my porch one Sunday morning when Duggan pulled in front of my house with a carload of people. He said, “Come on, Lonie, let’s go skating.” I had never been on a pair of skates in my life “Go what?” I asked. “You know,” he said. “Roller skating.”

Well, we talked for a few minutes and he convinced me to go with them. I went back in the house and put on shoes and a shirt. I went back out and got in the car and Duggan pulled out to go skating.

I had no idea where there was a skating rink. I knew that there was not one in Rome. At that time most people considered skating a kind of dance. Dancing was strictly forbidden among the young people.

We headed up Highway 27 to Summerville. Just a few miles above Summerville was a wide place in the road called Pennville. Duggan pulled in to a building that had a sign that said Roller Rink.

We scrambled out of the car and headed for the door. I took my time, letting them go first. I had thought about putting on a pair of roller skates all the way up there. The idea didn’t appeal to me. I watched as they went out on to the floor and began to move around. It looked so easy, but I was still hesitant.

Duggan came over to me with a pair of skates. “Get yourself a pair and come on,” he said. I will never forget that day as long as I live. Still not sure if I wanted to, I walked over to the window and got me a pair of skates.

Everyone was on the floor but me. I grabbed the rail and walked out onto the floor. One foot went north and the other one went south. They then went straight up and I came down on my back pockets.

There was not much cushion on me for I only weighed somewhere around 130 pounds. There I sat in the floor with a look on my face that said “What happened?” I looked at everyone; they had cleared the floor. I could see the smiles on their faces.

That did it. I got to my feet and hit the floor again. Whoops! Both feet went in the same direction, with the skates becoming tangled together. This time — I remember it well — I landed flat on my back. I lay there and someone came over and helped me to my feet. Who it was I don’t remember, but when I got to my feet he gave me a shove.

I went straight across the floor, and as I passed the jukebox I grabbed hold of it. The music stopped and I carried the jukebox out onto the floor. It had wheels on it so had it not been for the rail I would have carried it out the door into the back parking lot.

The rail stopped me and I turned to see who had given me the shove. Everyone gathered around me to see if I was hurt. Only my dignity was hurt and — as mad as I was at who shoved me — I hit the floor and, to everyone’s surprise, made it back to the front of the ring.

I got a Coke and sat down at a table. I sipped the Coke and watched the skaters as they circled the ring. One by one they came over to me to see if I was hurt. Words like “You did good” and “Come on, you can do it.” Sure I could do it, but they would have to bury me next week I thought.

Duggan had a sister, Dora Mae, who was with us. She was good. I watched her looking at her feet. I had put both feet on the floor; she was putting one foot at a time and into a position that gave her balance. I sipped on the Coke, watching different people skate. I came to the conclusion that Dora Mae was the best on the floor. I watched for a while, sipping on the Coke.

I placed the Coke bottle on the table and got up. I knew that if I didn’t get back on the floor then, I never would. I eased around the rail to the floor. I memorized the way the skaters had placed their feet. Slowly I began to move onto the floor. The skaters gave me a wide berth. They didn’t want any part of me.

I began a slow move, using my right skate for balance and the toe to keep me slow. I could not believe it for I went around the ring and didn’t fall.

I stood by the rail with a smile on my face. I had shown them. I got brave and moved on the floor.

I moved too fast this time and got the old split, one foot north and the other south. Whoops! The floor came up and busted both back pockets. It was a good solid sit-down. I felt it from my toes to the top of my head. It was what we called a butt-busting, teeth-rattling whoops fall. I got back up to my feet and proceeded with caution the rest of the day.

I made it back home that night. I ate supper and crawled into bed. My mother woke me up, telling me it was time to go to work. At that time I was working in construction. I had been running a jackhammer the week before. I knew that it was waiting for me again that week.

With everything I had in me I made it out of bed. Every muscle in me ached. I ate and headed for the bus stop on North Avenue. I don’t know how I ever made it through that day. I stayed on that jackhammer all week. When Friday came I said no more roller skating for me.

The next Sunday morning, there came Duggan again with all the skaters. I walked out to the car with my mind made up. No more skating for me. They began to say “Come on, we want to get there by the time they open up.” I crawled into the car thinking “What in the world is the matter with me?” I was a glutton for punishment.

Everyone hit the floor with their skates on. I held back until everyone made a round. I had learned how to walk with the skates on. I walked over to the floor and moved out on it. I looked around, every one was watching me. I slowly moved around the ring. No fall; no one got a laugh. I stayed on the floor and didn’t fall once.

Then, with too much confidence built up, Whoops! I hit the floor. This time I did a split that threw me against the rail, then the butt-busting, teeth-rattling bang against the floor. I lay still, for I knew that I was dead. I felt hands picking me up and I looked around me. They helped me over to the rail and I held on until I could get my senses to working.

I went on skating and in later years got to be a good skater, but I will never forget the first time and the whooping falls.

Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”


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