In the weeks since my discovery, I have carried my skate key amongst the coins in my wallet and shared it with friends and family on a variety of occasions. There is a thick, solid, line-in-time that defines those who recognize the key immediately for what it is and those who have not the slightest idea what they are looking at! People born in the '50s or earlier break spontaneously into wide smiles that include the whole of their faces, and then quickly wax into nostalgic childhood anecdotes about skates, skating, skating accidents, favorite skating shoes, skating events... everything skating. Most of these stories were long forgotten until the spark of seeing my lost-and-found treasure sparked their remembrance.
- I got a brand new pair of roller skates.
- You got a brand new key.
- I think that we should get together and try them out, to see ...
- First, those old-fashioned skates require you to don hard-soled shoes with a sole-lip thick enough and firm enough to support the metal clamps of the skates.
- Second, the skates must be properly fitted to your feet before they are clamped to your shoes. To do so, the various bolts must be loosened with the skate key, the foot piece must be adjusted to the proper length and width, and then bolts must be tightened again with the skate key.
- Next, to prevent its disastrous loss, the skate key must, at all times, be worn on a string around your neck and tucked into your shirt all summer long, even when not skating.
- Periodically, you must pause, inspect, and readjust the tightness of the clamps. Failure to do so could easily result in mechanical failure and a painful crash.
- Finally, the skate key must never, ever, ever be misplaced, or you could never skate again without mooching off a friend.
I remember... putting on dramatic performances, performance-art storytelling on skates, complete with princesses and fairies and heroes! MaryAnn Macey, Lynn Monteverde, and I practiced for weeks on Ione and Otis Crawford's perfectly shaped and sloped driveway, distributed handwritten fliers to every home in the neighborhood, set up chairs on the sidewalk, and created both scripts and costumes for our summer evening debut. I remember there were grand entrances from alongside Crawford's house, swirling spins and swift strides in the wide space front of the garage, and deep curtsies at the conclusion.
I'll wager my elders and contemporaries out there have similar childhood skating anecdotes to share! Do tell...
(The photo above is of my mother, Louise Griffin, age seven, resting during a skating session in front of her house in San Diego in 1932. The lyrics above are from the song "Brand New Key" released by singer/songwriter Melanie in 1971.)