Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Boardman Rollercade

Old Boardman Rollercade Building (Image from Google Streetview)

Old Boardman Rollercade Building (Image from Google Streetview)

As the evenings get chillier with the coming of fall, our activities moved from outdoors to indoors, particularly when it was not yet cold enough to ice skate. One of the fun and inexpensive hangouts when we were growing up was Boardman Rollercade on E. Midlothian Boulevard.

I didn’t start going there until I was dating a girl in junior high school who liked to skate. We met at the Wick Ice Rink during the winter and when the weather warmed up, we switched over to the Boardman Rollercade. I forget what skate rentals were when I went there but at one point, they were something like $.35. A couple bucks would cover skate rentals and food. The Rollercade was run by the Kalasky family and it seems everyone has a good word to say about them.

Rollercade pass. Courtesy of Sue Uhlar Patella. Used with permission.

Rollercade pass. Courtesy of Sue Uhlar Patella. Used with permission.

I never got very good skating because the relationship didn’t last too long after I learned to roller skate. Mostly I remember watching out for the people moving much faster than I was and that it seemed every time we went there we heard “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum over the PA. I also remember the wood slatted benches and wood floors on the other side of the rink wall where you could lace up your skates.

Skating then wasn’t with the cool inline skates they use today. The skates had rollers that could slip out from under you and leave you on your fanny at a moment’s notice, usually to your maximum embarrassment.

I think I might have gone there a few other times with church groups so I have to honestly say this was never a big part of my social life. My other girl friends weren’t into rollerskating. My wife grew up just down the street from there but never really went. But many grew up going there regularly. Parents would drop off kids on Saturday mornings to go skating. Weekend nights were for teens. The one challenge then was avoiding the fights that young guys liked to get into, whether a girl was involved or not.

The Rollercade just seemed to fit working class Youngstown. Open to anyone, inexpensive, loud music, a place to go for a date. It’s history now. Schwebel’s bread took over the building and the letters S-c-h-w-e-b-e-l-‘-s perfectly filled the blocks that once spelled out R-o-l-l-e-r-c-a-d-e.

What were your memories of rollerskating at the Boardman Rollercade?

16 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Boardman Rollercade

  1. I met my first husband there…..he and his friends were ” floor guards” and the rollercade was the “in” place to be in the late 60’s. Had many years of clean fun, met lifelong friends and even when the children were old enough to skate had them up and spinning around the floor. My daughter is a little over 40 years old and still loves to skate!
    The marriage didn’t last but the love of skating lives on! And the Kalasky brothers were great to everyone. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane!

  2. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Top 10 | Bob on Books

  3. I spent several days a week there from the age of 3 to 8 yrs. We moved to Fla., but came back to Y-town many times. The Rollercade remains some of my fondest memories and I met the best people. The Kalasky family were awesome. I cried all the way to Florida when we moved,I missed Frank K. And my brother Bill Updegraff which was a Floor-Guard for years. All his friends, Johnny P. Franky M. ,so many to mention. I am talking 60’s. I can remember skating to Eight Days a Week, I want to hold your hand. I will never forget those days. They were the best!! The friends I met there when I returned for a few years in the 80’s. Sunday night,adult night. Bobby K. Spinning records. Skating with my sister-in-law, Joanie and friends.
    When the rink sold to Schwebel’s are hearts were broke, but the memories wil never leave this heart. Thanks for the Memories!

  4. I grew up in Brownlee Woods. I walked there on Saturday mornings for skating lessons when I was young then when I became a teen it was Friday nights. We wore pom poms on our skates,or skate covers. Everybody skated with fireballs in their mouths. I can still hear him play the organ or call out “Allll skate!”

  5. The great times and all the great friends I got to meet. Worked many many sessions enjoyed it plus I met my first two wives there lol , so yes it was great times

  6. I was raised in the rink because both of my parents were the pros. I don’t ever remember not being able to skate. I started working Saturdays at 10 years old and stayed there until I was almost 16. So many friends and so many memories. It was Youngstown at its best. I still hold many of those friends close in my heart and on my Facebook page. I moved away 30 years ago when I got married, but will always have a special place in my heart for the friends and family of the Boardman Rollercade.

  7. Ohhh, the Rollercade! My friends and I went there on Saturday nights in the early 70’s. Every. Saturday. Night. It’s where we met our first boyfriends, and where we had our hearts broken, too. Sometimes we would leave (a cardinal sin in our parents’ eyes) and walk up Midlothian to the Game Room.
    During “Intermission” the lights were dimmed on the rink, the direction of skating reversed, and the mood was slow and romantic. “Precious and Few” always played during Intermission. If you weren’t skating with a boy, you were probably getting a drink or snack from the Snack Bar. Our group of friends usually ended up with “piss water,” a diluted lemon-lime soda that had no fizz left in it. I don’t know who in our group gave it that name, but it sounds revolting to me 40+ years later!
    Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to those days… Life was simpler then.

  8. I remember those days. The organ up in the balcony. The limbo, which i never tried for fear probably of breakin my neck lol. When the water lines froze under the floor it was over. Gone, never to come back. 😔 those were the days of REAL life……!

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