Wednesday, September 17, 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 |

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

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 21 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments | Gallery

Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5