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Two history ‘wow’ moments of the week

April 1, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Herald-Star community editor (jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

I had two local history moments this past week that prompted a "wow."

The first one was when I realized Skateland on University Boulevard, Steubenville, was being torn down.

Or Stoney Hollow Boulevard as I still tend to think of it.

Wow.

That the old roller skating rink is on its way to becoming a pile of rubble makes me a little sad, considering it's another piece of my childhood alive now in memory only.

I had a lot of good times at Skateland when I managed to make the trip into the big city from all the way out in Richmond, where my skating was limited to the sidewalk at home. I had a pair of those skates that attached to your tennis shoes, the snugness of the fit determined by how tightly you turned the key that came with them.

But at Skateland, it was occasion to rent a pair of real lace-up skates - foot odor and all - that, once on, made you feel about a hundred pounds heavier as you clomped your way from the nonskating area to the rink itself - a rink that seemed like an incredible expanse of wood to navigate.

I was a good skater only in my imagination, very wary on my feet and only able to round the turns by leaning heavy to the left, not shifting one foot over the other like the real skaters knew how to do with such ease.

Still it was fun to skate the night away to the music, some of what I classified as organ elevator music, and to be out there on the floor under the swirl of the disco lights.

My visits to the skating rink returned when the kids went there for one birthday party after another where I made the amazing discovery that Skateland still smelled like it always did, just like Skateland.

Now that's history, too.

My other "wow" local history moment came when a friend, Steve Hawkins, lent me his copy of "Alikanna Remembered" by Sally Merrill Speaker so I could read the chapter devoted to the narrative of his father, Paul Hawkins, who recently passed away.

Through Alikanna, ironically, is how we got to Skateland faster.

Steve wanted me and Better Half to see the chapter about his dad, in particular the picture of him on his horse and his memories of the years of riding Pache, a mining pony his family bought him for $35 when he was a kid.

The chapter said he rode that pony everywhere when other kids might had opted for a bicycle instead.

The "wow" factor, though, was the mention of how there were horse shows and rodeos "on up what we now call Seven Springs where Snyders lived," so the narrative goes. "People all got together on Sunday. It was not unusual at all to pass a hundred horses. At that time there were five riding academies in the area."

At the rodeos, the winner would get whatever amount was collected in the passing of a hat. Steve's dad won "three bucks" one Sunday - big money in those days.

The pictures of the horse shows are really something special.

Reason again to "wow."

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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