First Book of Last Times

A couple of my former coworkers put together a book called The First Book of Last Times. (If you are intrigued enough to buy it, click on the link and I’ll get 6%, without it costing you an extra cent.)

The Amazon description says, “First times get the glory and the high fives. When you first rode your bicycle without training wheels or got that first haircut without the booster board, the whole world applauded. But what about those last times, as forgotten as a petrified Fruit Loop under the sofa?

“One day you’re a kid playing hide and go seek and jacks on the front stoop and next thing you know you’ve moved on. No more “Ollie ollie oxen-free” and “Onesies and twosies. That changes now. In fact, we here at the First Book of Last Times remember them and celebrate them. And then we kick off our shoes and slide in our socks.”

That’s the old skate case

That’s the skate case I mentioned in my piece about my grandson’s 7th birthday and my memories of skating at Hanover and Maryann roller rinks in Cape.

Brother Mark crawled up in Mother’s attic to look for it when he went to Cape for Labor Day. Thanks to him for the photos.

The funny thing is, I would have SWORN the picture of the girl was white. I guess I must have been thinking of the trim at the top and not the red girl skater. That poor case sure has its share of dents and dings.

See, the wheels ARE wood

I hope Son Matt will believe me now that the skate wheels WERE made out of wood. Looks like someone took the shoelace out of the left skate. I thought I had a pompom on the toes, too, but I could be wrong there. The rubber toe stops are worn down quite a bit. Once you got proficient, you usually stopped or slowed down by turning your skate sideways to scrub off the speed. That kept you from wearing out the toe stops. You’d also use the stops for quick starts by tilting the skate down and pushing off the rubber for the first couple of strokes, sort of like a runner used a starting block.

I don’t know what the leather strap was for, nor where the red paint on the side of the wheel and the side of the shoe came from. The red paint was probably the work of my destructive younger brothers, who destroyed my pristine comic book collection as soon as I went off to college.

The wheels look like they’re covered in dust. Do I recall correctly that the Hanover rink would put a resin powder or something on the floor to give us better traction? Or was that just some kind of absorbent to blot up the spilled blood?

What does this have to do with the Last Times book?

It occurred to me when I looked as these photos that I don’t remember the last time I put those skates on. I wonder if I KNEW it was the Last Time? Wife Lila remembers going skating with me at Hanover. I wonder if the Last Time was with her?

On the way to dinner with Son Adam, we were talking about this topic, which caused her to flash on a time when he was sleeping on the living room floor when he was four or five. “When I picked him up, I thought, is this going to be the last time I’m going to be able to do this?”

I thought the last time I walked out of the newspaper after close to 35 years would be traumatic, but it turned out that the paper left me long before I left it. I thought that would be a Major Last Time, but it was anticlimactic.

What are your Last Times?

If you need hints, click on the link below and buy the book. Retired newspaper guys need all the help they can get.

  • When did you have your last burger at Wimpy’s or a Mighty Caesar at Pfisters?
  • Or a barbecue at the original Blue Hole BBQ by the cement plant?
  • When was the last time you stayed in a motel where you had to put a quarter in a slot to keep the TV playing? Or in one with Magic Fingers?
  • When did you last think of a Cape phone number as being EDgewater5-XXXX or a Jackson number being CIrcle2-XXXX?
  • When did you last cruise down Broadway after putting in a buck’s worth of gas?
  • When was the last time you crossed the old bridge?
  • When was the last time your mother left you off at the comic book rack while she was shopping at the grocery store?
  • When was the last time you rode holding onto the front of the grocery cart and pretending it was a railroad car?
  • When was the last time you pumped your arm up and down to get a truck driver to honk (scaring the wits out of your dad?)

Let’s hear it from you.



20 Replies to “First Book of Last Times”

  1. I never got shoe skates; though wanted a pair really badly. I had the skates that required a key to tighten them onto your shoe; I think most of these came from Sears…metal, with metal wheels, and you wore the key on a string around your neck – it fit everybody’s skates, so one or the other of us always had one.
    Skating on a patio my dad poured out back – smooth concrete made for a nice “rink” though small it was – too small for the horde that sometimes wanted to skate there. We girls pretended we were stars in skating shows.
    Last time you climbed a tree and sat in a fork and contemplated life as only a kid could.
    Last time you remember milk delivered to the door, and drinking the little bit of cream on top?
    Last time you sat on an ice cream churn to help pack the ice?
    Last time you sat on your dad’s lap to drive down the driveway?
    Last movie you saw in your pajamas at the drive-in with your mom and dad?

    1. Good list, Jan.

      We had a woods next to the house. I loved to climb up to the top of the spindly trees on a windy day and feel them swinging to and fro. They’d bend four or five feet.

      You’re probably too young to remember when radios had tubes and had to warm up before they would work. I’d like to know the last time we came home from a drive listening to a radio show and I was designated to run into the house to turn on the radio so my parents wouldn’t miss any of it.

      Who needs TV? Those old radio shows painted better pictures than television could ever come up with.

  2. When was the last time you went to the Rialto, Broadway or Esquire theaters; went to the Star Vue, Cape or Jackson Drive-in theaters; went to the Woolwerth’s Five and Dime variety store on Main Street; swam in Three Mile Creek; drove down Broadway Hill towards Main Street and there was no flood wall; walked out the front door of Central High School as a student; seperated the tin foil off of a gum wrapper; knocked on the front door of a girl’s house to pick her up for a first date; got a “flat top” hair cut; hugged your mom.

    1. I was thinking about agonizing about calling a girl for a date using the old rotary dial phones that took forever to complete the call (Mother still has one on the porch and in the basement).

      I’m not sure which was worse, getting up enough nerve to make the call or waiting for the call to be answered.

      I dated one of the Folsom Twins for a while. Once you got to know them, they were pretty easy to tell apart, but the first time I went to the door, they played the Twin Game. Their grandfather, taking pity on me, quietly gave me the nod so I would know which one I was supposed to pick up.

  3. How about, took a girl to Cape Rock to show her the Submarine Races, bought cheap gas at Thonis, peeled out on purpose from Wimpy’s to impress the crowd, ate Pizza at Shakeys Pizza (my Brother lived upstairs), parked on Cherry Hill or more recently climbed Snake Hill when it still was like a snake!

  4. we had a CI number had it for years. until the new st.francis opened and their number was very similiar to our’s so she changed it.remember how odd it was when i started seeing phones numbers in cape there were not 335 o4 was WOW.i quess Ma bell just ran out of numbers..

  5. I remember the last time I went skating. September 20,1966. I skated without socks and had a great time.
    Unfortunately I went into the Air Force the next day.
    Basic training was hell due to the blisters on the heels of my feet. Somehow I seem to have survived.

  6. How about the last time you went to Teen Town?
    When was the last time you walked out of your childhood home?
    When was the last time you had a sleep over?
    When was the last time you built a fire in the alley behind your house and cooked a ‘campout’ meal?

    Currently trying desperately to keep picking up the grandchildren so they will be able to say, “I remember the last time G-Ma carried me in her arms.” The nine year old has to ride piggy-back these days!

  7. I remember the last time I went up Snake Hill very fast; in a 1971 DeTomaso Pantera at about 50mph. It wasn’t my car, but the owner, a friend, was with me. The last time I went down Snake Hill very quickly was in my 1978 Toyota Corolla SR5 Liftback with a new, lowered and tightened suspension.
    The last time I pumped my arm up and down to get an airhorn blown was this last weekend (I’m still a kid at heart).

  8. How about the last time hitch hiking – 1989, 40th birthday. Flew to Grand Rapids only to find the rental agencies carless (despite a reservation – a Seinfeld moment). Eight pm, plenty of daylight to make the 150 miles to the summer house.

    By 8:45 pm the troopers had kicked me off the 4-lane. At 2:30 am and still 25 miles to go the sheriff questioned me; refused a lift; and called my wife.

    This is not the story she heard.

  9. Milk cans clinking at Sugar Creek Creamery early in the morning as the farmer brought the milk in.

    Glass milk bottles clinking when the milk was delivered in the mornings.

    Your Mother telling not to stay out to late.

  10. The last time you saw the Golden Eagles marching down the hill into Houck Stadium? Or the last time we had a half day off school to go to the fair? Or had to drive up Highway 61 to get to St. Louis?

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