Rollin’ on back to Funky town

Paul Bunyan Land/This Old Farm Brainerd, Minnesota

I could smell the leather and feel the wheels beneath my feet as I looked at the picture my aunt posted the other day.  It portrayed several rows of roller skates, all lined up ready for rental; the old brown ones with orange wheels.

It took me back to a time in my life when I was precariously perched at the beginning of my teenage years, ready to dive in and begin the years that often felt like a roller coaster as my body and mind sped towards adulthood.

Often during this time of my life, my sister and I would pack up an overnight bag and head to my aunt’s house on Friday after school to begin a weekend of fun with our young, beautiful, hip aunt and her two daughters.  Selfishly, I was thankful that my uncle spent a lot of time hunting.  Therefore many times we had them all to ourselves.  The weekend was usually spent at the movies, beach, mall and my favorite; the skating rink.

We would make a big deal out of getting ready to “go out” Friday night.  I’m not sure if my aunt knew this or if this post will give me away, but I used to “borrow” from her makeup and there was a drawer which housed a particular hand cream that I know we weren’t supposed to use.  I think it was called “pretty feet and hands”.  It was an amazing thing to me at the time; it claimed to remove all the dead skin cells and when you applied and rubbed hands together, you did indeed get balls of something that resembled dead skin, so maybe it was.  I just know I used way too much of it and always felt guilty about it.  Obviously not bad enough to tell on myself or stop, but in my defense I was young and the forbidden was attractive.

After we primped and studied ourselves in the mirror, we were off to Skate land.  We went so often that we all had our own skates so we got in and were ready to roll pretty quickly! We raced, slow skated, ate soft pretzels with mustard and flirted (well, maybe I was the only one who did that).  We usually stayed until closing and I don’t ever remember wanting to leave.

The highlight of the afternoon or night session for me was always the “couples skate” (provided someone asked me to skate), but I loved the entire experience.  I remember feeling cool as I skated backwards to “Funky town” or “Le Freak” in my black “hockey boots”, or holding hands as I circled the rink with someone to “Reunited”, or speed skating to “Another One Bites the Dust”.

Ahh, such wonderful memories and I had the plus of always having my cool aunt right there for any advice regarding hair, makeup and boys.

We would go home, tired but happy and snack on Entenmann’s donuts; the kind with the crumbly stuff on top, with nary a thought about our waistlines.  We laughed and talked and made our plans for the next day, then drug out extra blankets and pillows so we girls could all sleep on the living room floor together.

My sister had the bright idea the other day to go skating.  I told her I didn’t think I should risk the broken bones after all these years.  Besides, the rentals are always wobbly; I know this because I tried them a few times after my skating phase had passed and I sold mine.

Now, I’m wondering if I’m just afraid it wouldn’t be the same; or if maybe I like those memories as they are and would rather keep them tucked away unchanged and unbeaten by new skating memories.

Retro rainy day

Vintage lady bug radio

Vintage lady bug radio

A symphony of rain cascades down from skies that were blue only moments ago.  It’s as if there is a drummer at each window and one on the roof above, each playing from a different set of music, yet somehow blending into a most worthy concert.

As the rain falls, I sit, pen in hand, drowsy gaze resting on my 2 day old pink pedicure.  I smile, suddenly catching a glimpse (in my memory’s eye) of my mom brushing the last stroke of her favorite mauve shade on her toenails.  She looks up at me and says, “How’s the book?”  “It’s great, hard to put down”, I say as I back away, the heavy scent of nail polish assailing my sensitive nostrils.  Mom and I shared a great love for reading, so she understood my brevity.

I step inside the room I share with my younger sister, adjust the Holly Hobbie curtains to let some more light in, and resume my devouring of “The Hobbit”.

Across the hall , a towheaded little boy sporting a coon skin cap bought on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, and a red-headed little girl, lie on their stomachs on the “groovy gold” shag carpeting. They are surrounded by an army of “Best of the West” figures, set complete with Johnny West, Geronimo and General Custer.

Soon I hear the sound of dishes as mom begins dinner preparations and I turn on my little am radio, which is sitting on the Holly Hobbie table between our twin, Holly Hobbie spread laden beds.  The radio was a lady bug and the wings opened when I turned it on.  It was one of my most prized possessions at the time.

Music playing and all was right and peaceful in my pubescent world, not a care on my mind.  Reading while the rain fell outside was one of my favorite things.  The hard thing would be leaving my book when Dad arrived and dinner was on the table.

As I snap back to the present, the rain has ceased.  I’m thankful for a few wonderful moments caught up in seemingly austere, but precious childhood memories.

Mitch Teemley

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