Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mixed emotions at Skateland Roller Rink

Skateland Roller Rink (click picture to view gallery)

Skateland Roller Rink (click picture to view gallery)

By
From page A2 | April 28, 2013 | 16 Comments

I both hated and loved going to the Skateland Roller Rink on North Texas Street as a teen. I hated telling the workers I wore size 13 skates and seeing them snicker under their breath.

I hated that Grange Intermediate School bused us there for PE class. Nowadays we’d have to sign a waiver and wear helmets, knee pads and shin guards. And that’d just be for the bus ride over.

I hated that I couldn’t skate. People who effortlessly navigated the oval mass of rolling humanity without constantly bumping into others, falling clumsily or grabbing the handrail and could do it in time to the blaring music, filled me with jealousy.

But . . . I loved “couples only.” Girls thought it was cute that a big guy was so clumsy and we’d go slowly around the rink hand-in-hand while Heatwave’s “Always and Forever” played and the disco ball sprinkled twinkling stars all over the rink.

I fell a lot and thankfully never broke anything, but locals Donna Day-Yarborough and Diana Svendsen weren’t so lucky. Donna broke her wrist and Diana broke her hand, each tripping over little boys who had fallen.

The late Wayne Purdy was the general manager for years before buying the place himself. He was a certified professional skater and brought professionalism to Fairfield. Competitors who won events would have their picture posted on a wall in all their finery.

Former resident Michelle McNeice Cummings was a “rink rat” whose whole family was involved in skating. Her mother, Estelle McNeice, was Purdy’s best friend and co-manager and Cummings’ grandparents were even the janitors there for a time.

One fond remembrance was the Gold Skate Classic.

“It was an annual weeklong competition held in Bakersfield with skaters from all over California,” Cummings said. “We performed huge themed production numbers which we’d practice in Fairfield as a show. The first one I remember was ‘Sesame Street.’ My sister was Ernie. We had music, costumes — the whole nine yards. It was like Ice Capades on skates.”

Gail King spent considerable time at Skateland in the late 1970s. While moves she learned in lessons were important, so was fashion and King rocked the requisite silk roller derby windbreaker set off by then-popular skin-tight Dittos jeans in a rainbow of colors.

Joe Joyce claims he and his friends “ruled” the rink from 1975 to 1979.

“Funny how we complain about our kids wasting all their time on video games today when we spent thousands of hours skating around in a circle on a small wooden floor,” Joyce said. “The best part of Skateland was the friends. I met my wife there. We dated until she graduated from Fairfield High and got married four days later. That was over 28 years ago! We have three children and two grandchildren.”

Cupid worked overtime at Skateland and many others have stories of meeting their spouses there, but Alan Thomas Hirschenhofer II has the most . . .  colorful. Some guys remember the place and year they met their wives. Hirschenhofer remembers the time.

“On Dec. 22, 1982, I saw this lady skating who looked dead-on like Pat Benatar,” he said. “At about 8:43 p.m., I saw a commotion by the snack bar. I had a look, and beheld my future bride beating the living hell out of some poor schmuck.”

Hirschenhofer stopped her right before she delivered the “coup de grâce” to the guy’s face and Wayne Purdy played couples only. While they skated together, Hirschenhofer told his pugilistic Pat Benatar lookalike, Jo Ann Stow, that she would marry him and give him four sons. She later did just that and they are still married today.

Love is a battlefield.

Other remembrances by locals:

Joyce Nagel Jackson: “l loved the Wurlitzer organ music!”

Bruce Gross: “I remember they raised  money for Jerry Lewis’s telethon and everyone would sit by the TV waiting for Wayne Purdy to come on and present a check.”

Barbara McFadden: “I always won one of the races and got free snack bar stuff!”

Purdy sold the rink in 2001. It is now the Trading Post, a used furniture store. I still can’t skate, but now unfortunately even those I was once jealous of can’t, either.

Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at getthelowdown@sbcglobal.net. Ideas for future columns about the past are most welcome. Check out the “I Grew Up in Fairfield Too” Facebook group for more nostalgia.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 16 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • LilAugust 18, 2011 - 9:08 pm

    I LOVED going to the skating rink. A lot of fond memories. So much fun. Last time I went there, I was with my nephew's fifth grade class. They had a field trip there and I volunteered as a supervisor. Mr Purdy and I talked about the problems he was having with fights breaking out and how different the teenagers were nowadays. I always thought that place was an example of how bad Fairfield has become. When I was in junior high and high school, it was a safe place to go and afterwards wait out front for your parents to pick you up. Within 15 years of my graduating from high school, Purdy had to hire security guards to help stop the fights that included knives and guns. I really miss going to the skating rink. Where's the nearest one to Fairfield?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • SEAN MC NAUGHTONApril 24, 2013 - 11:23 pm

    JUST TO TAKE YOU ALL BACK ALITTLE FURTHER, THE ORIGINAL NAME OF THE ROLLER RINK WAS REDMANS ROLLER RINK OWNED BY EARL REDMAN, WITH FRANK AND DONNA IN BACK AT FAMILY BILLIARDS THOSE WERE THE DAYS..................

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinAugust 18, 2011 - 9:42 pm

    I loved that place in the late 70's! I won the speed skating competition several times, and the winnings where a free soda - I still remember.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeAugust 19, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    I remember hearing Queen's "We Will Rock You" for the first time ever when I was at the rink on one of the Grange PE trips in 1978 and with the roar of the skates and the beating and clapping of the song, I had no idea what was going on and was frightened until I heard Freddie Mercury sing.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TimberyAugust 19, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    I remember the first time I went to Skateland, it was in the summer of 1984, I never would of thought that the place would have such a profound impact in my life. I met some of the best people there, friends that I have to this day. Wayne was nice enough to hire me on and it was one of the best jobs that I have had to date, no pressure, just plain old fun. I miss the days of skating, every Tuesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and of course Saturday night. It was a ritual for us. Things were so simple then, the memories of the place are so vivid, from spending New Years Eve there (before we were legal to do anything else) and the many other nights spent there. Thanks for writing this article, it has brightened my day!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeAugust 19, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    Timbery, thank you and glad I could add some sunshine! The last time I went there was about 1996 or so and only because my sister in law and neice wanted to go. I grumbled mightily but now wish I had savored it Thanks again!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Sally CAugust 21, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    I grew up on skates, first skating at Pioneer Skateway & Ballroom in Suisun. Earned my first 'bar' in skate-dancing at 5 years old. Big John from Hayward bought the Suisun rink and we all soon not only skated there, but went to dances and rock concerts. I remember Wayne (& his ex-wife Cindy & Layne their son). I was in the first Gold Skate - Signs of the Zodiac . Grand fun. It is with fondness I look back at roller skating, skating in the parades, the competitions and friendships. I still have custom skates. It would be great to have another round.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Steven ChastantSeptember 13, 2013 - 3:45 pm

    Great story on Skateland. Grew up there when the Redmans owned it, when Wayne had it. It was home for a lot of young people. Sally C long time no see. The 60's, 70's, and 80's learned a lot, met a lot of people. Loved that place. Steven Chastant

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LeeSeptember 04, 2011 - 9:23 pm

    Wow, Tony, thanks for the great write up about Skateland. I spent many years skating and taking dance lessons from Wayne. I have lost contact with most everyone that I hung out with and had no idea that Wayne had passed away. How long ago did he pass? The last time I was there was with my son's school for a field trip. I have many fond memories and also remember the fun times at Gold Skate in Bakersfield. Thanks again.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rechael GarciaMarch 01, 2013 - 1:57 pm

    Ohhh, I wast just lamenting the other day about Skateland. Now I find out they shut down in 2001? We used to have so much fun there. Racing backwards to Billie Jean, disco-ball and all.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mary gunnApril 28, 2013 - 6:15 pm

    Oh my.....so long ago...so many memories....gosh i feel old now.....lol

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredApril 28, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    Sorry, hated the place...Hated the fact that a lot of "dates" including one girl friend in particular insisted on going there...Hated the fact that when you fell it hurt like he11...Hated the fact that I fell a lot...Only good thing was that it was next to the Pool Hall & Pin Ball Machines...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • E. Sue Tallet (Paxton)November 07, 2013 - 5:03 pm

    That man meant a whole lot to me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JeanNovember 25, 2013 - 5:04 pm

    I loved going to the skating rink with my brother Joe Joyce and the other kids from our neighborhood. Joe was a great skater and faster than ever. He use to make me join the the "double races" and I was always scared that if we crashed we would be hurt pretty bad. Joe won allot of races and gave memories I will always cherish!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jim GranthamNovember 25, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    I share in your melancholy, as we recently lost the rink we enjoyed as kids in Costa Mesa,CA. Both I and my girlfriend of over 20 years spent time there as kids, though we did'nt meet till much later. I spent time there as an adult, as it remained "open" as a Tower Records for many years. It was a local landmark, there are a few of the "Quansit Hut" buildings (long semi-cylindrical roofs clad in corrugated galvanized metal sheets) surviving in the area. It was bulldozed a year or two ago and is now an empty lot. I wish it was still there, as ugly as that empty little building was, it made me smile everytime we drove by.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Wynelle UlrichMarch 03, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    Tony, What about the Hokey-Pokey? Didn't you LOVE the "Hokey-Pokey Time"? It makes me sad that we have to drive so far to find a place to roller skate indoors. My daughter loves it as much as I did back then. Every time I remember Mr. Purdy, I see him with a smile. What a nice man! Of course I had a bit of an injury too. There was a boy in the second grade class next to mine that stuck his skate-covered foot out in front of me rounding the end corner, trying to get my attention, of course. Down I went and split my chin open on that beautiful wood floor. I ended up with 8 stitches. Worse though, was how bad I felt about the stain I left! LOL - Still have the scar. **Sending a link of your article to quadskating dot com ... I was looking for our old skate place on their closed-rinks page.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

‘Same Time, Next Year’ opens in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
‘We Got Next’ Comedy Tour stops at Dimitri’s

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Man to stand trial in rural Vacaville killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Puppies to take part in Vallejo dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Barbecue brings big crowd, progress to Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Afisivalu announces run for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tonnesen seeks Fairfield City Council seat

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Family matriarch celebrates 100th birthday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Assist-A-Grad wraps up interviews

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Night closures possible at Merchant Street ramp

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Napa County bridge to close for work

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Town hall on crime set in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Crash shuts I-80 offramp to Highway 12

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Putin’s choice of words shed light on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Who gained, and what, at Ukraine talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Ukrainian unity on display with peaceful rallies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Salmon released in California river restoration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
1 dead, 1 injured in California boating accident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

BART fined $210,000 for worker deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California health care sign-ups exceed projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dirty creek, old purse solve four-decade mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Chelsea Clinton expecting first child this fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Holder: Hate crimes ‘an affront to who we are’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

S. Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Peru volcano prompts evacuation of 4,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Nigeria: Fate of 115 abducted girls unknown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Samples collected from oil slick not from plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Confused, chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Food brings back fond memories

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Is Jeb Bush too old school for the new GOP?

By Doyle Mcmanus | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Internationally out of touch

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Watch out for grandson scam

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Why so much spent to find a plane?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History for April 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My husband tells our sons that they don’t need to listen to me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B13

 
Horoscopes for April 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B13

.

Entertainment

 
Week in preview April 18-24, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Review: ‘Heaven Is for Real’ heartfelt but dull

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lost radio program featuring Hank Williams found

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘Real Housewives’ TV star faces battery charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Ill, hospitalized Miley Cyrus postpones more shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Dodgers get to Bumgarner early for win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Badminton update: Rodriguez, Armijo head toward post season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7 | Gallery

MEL boys roll to easy win over SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Short-handed SCAC girls ‘gut out’ all-star win over MEL

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Sharks beat Kings 6-3 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Montreal team sign Chad Johnson to 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Seattle 1B Choi banned 50 games for positive test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dodgers’ Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Season wrapup: Sacramento Kings’ ‘new era’ off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Clippers-Warriors series billed as must-see TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kuchar builds on Masters momentum, shares Heritage lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Shumenov gets big chance in ring against ageless Hopkins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Stanford takes lead at LPGA LOTTE tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Vanden clinches at least share of SCAC boys tennis title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Toyota Camry gets a top-to-bottom makeover

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Walmart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13