Hanover and Maryann Skating Rinks

Grandson Malcolm had his seventh birthday party at Atlantis Skating Rink in Lake Worth, Fla., just down the road from West Palm Beach. Sons Matt and Adam spent a fair amount of time down there and at the Palace Skating Rink (now defunct) when they were kids.

Mary Ann Roller Rink was on Kingsway

I better get this confession out of the way up front: I don’t have any photos of skating in the Cape rinks (that come to mind). My skating days came before my photography days, so I didn’t take any pictures. Parents in those days were smart: they’d drop the kids off in the parking lot, then make a break for it, not returning until the rink was ready to close. Taking pictures was not on their agenda.

Just like riding a bicycle

I’m guessing that it’s been at least 20 years since I was on skates. At that time, I made it around the floor a couple of times without falling and then decided to rest on my laurels instead of my backside. I had good intentions of showing up and wowing the younger generation with my skating prowess. Son Matt assured me “it’s just like riding a bicycle.” That was reassuring until he finished his sentence with “it hurts just as much when you fall.”

Matt lacing up skates o’death

I showed up late, but Matt came rolling up with a pair of skates my size and promptly imprisoned my feet in them. I stood up and realized that my skating days are long behind me. I clomped on the wheels, not even trying to roll on them.

Sugar-fueled kids bouncing off the walls

Had I been there by myself, I might have given it a try, but I was sharing the world with a couple hundred sugar-propelled kids who brought back nightmares of studying Brownian Movement (the presumably random drifting of particles suspended in a fluid). There was no predicting where one of these out-of-control bodies was going to come from, nor when it was going to collide with me.

I opted to sit down and strip off my skates before I broke a hip or worse.

Dark as inside a whale’s belly

Once I got rid of the skates o’death, I tried to take pictures. This particular skating rink, while nice, is a combination of being inside a whale’s belly at the bottom of the ocean from a lighting standpoint and being inside of a boiler factory from an auditory standpoint. Squealing little girl voices hit pitches that should shatter glassware and pop balloons.

It has VIDEO games

Atlantis is a long way from Cape’s skating emporiums. It has VIDEO games.

Most of my skating was done at Hanover Skating Rink, a Quonset hut on Perryville Road across from the church of the same name. Friday night was Skate Night to my peers. I begged my parents to take me every week. I remember Dad grumbling one night when it was spitting sleet and the roads were icing up, but he took me.

Hanover was low rent

Hanover was low rent. The wooden floor was dirty, and when it rained, you had to dodge puddles where the roof leaked. The skates you rented were metal jobs that attached to your street shoes by tightening clamps with a skate key. Get them too tight, and the soles of your shoes would bend until they were U-shaped and the skates would fall off, leaving them dangling from your ankle by a leather strap while you were circling the floor. That was not good. You quickly learned to fall with your fingers wadded into a fist if you wanted to keep them.

Rental skates were a challenge

Get the clamps too loose and the skates would fall off, leaving them dangling from your ankle by a leather strap. That, too, was not good.

Real shoe skates had the wheels attached to a high, lace-up boot that had a rubber brake under the front toe. Good skaters could slow to a stop by turning one skate at an angle to bleed off speed. Klutzy skaters used the rubber brake. Skaters who used rental skates (pretty much assured to be klutzy) had to scuff the toe of their street shoe to slow down, with predictable damage to the shoe.

Getting TO the floor was a challenge

The shoe rental counter at Hanover was on a raised part of the building that had been or could be used as a stage. You’d check out a pair of skates, apply them to your feet, then make your way over to the edge of the stage, which was about four feet above the skate floor. Somehow or another, you’d sit on the edge, turn around, then lower yourself to the skate floor while trying to keep the skates from squirting out from under you when you finally got down. There may have been stairs to make this process easier, but I don’t recall using them.

There were general skates, reverse skates, couples’ skates, races by age and, of course, the Hokey Pokey and Crack-the-Whip. Judy Schrader was my regular female skating partner. We didn’t do any of that mushy skating stuff; we just held hands and skated fast.

Maryann Skating Rink was upscale

Maryann Skating Rink was in Cape, on Kingsway Drive where it intersected with Broadway, just across from Pfisters. It, like Hanover, is no longer there.

Instead of having a dirty wooden floor, Maryann had a gleaming, polished maple floor. Officious guys were all over the place doing fancy skating and enforcing real or imagined rules designed to preserve decorum on the floor. Hanover relied on Darwin to sort out behavior.

My skates had wooden wheels

Skates in those days had wooden wheels. After you had used them awhile, they needed to be reground because they developed flat spots and wore at an angle from skating in the same direction all the time.

I took in my skates for grinding at Maryann and was chastised by the worker. “You really shouldn’t skate on the sidewalk with these. It’ll ruin them.” I was too loyal to Hanover to tell the guy that the only skating I ever did was on that church rink. Maryann was cleaner, newer, had better floors and a fancier concession stand, but Hanover was where I felt comfortable.

When I told Son Matt about wooden wheels, he thought I was pulling his appendage. He couldn’t understand how there would be enough friction between wooden wheels and a wooden floor to get any traction. To make sure that I wasn’t misremembering things, I called Brother Mark, who confirmed that my green and white skate case is still in Mother’s attic and that the black shoe skates in it have wooden wheels. His old skates, which had plastic-style wheels, are in a similar red case.

Son Matt demonstrates his skating prowess

The biggest change in roller rinks over my generation’s is that the wooden floors have given way to polyurethane and the wooden wheels have been replaced by plastics. If it wasn’t for kids hollering and little girls squealing, the actual skating would be almost noiseless.

Jackson skating rink

Future Central High School Principal Fred Wilferth was a partner in the Jackson Skating Rink, which opened in 1950. I wrote about it earlier in the year.

17 Replies to “Hanover and Maryann Skating Rinks”

  1. …Gees, I forgot all about The Maryann rink. I do remember going once or twice, but I have no skating skills. Ken, there was another rink on Cauthers Ave. behind the old Central. I was open when we were in HS, but closed. The Board of Education moved into the offices and Bert Lehman’s dad worked in that building at one time…check you files for that rink!
    John Hoffman and I tried many times to pickup chicks at that place…I remember walking home to 1414 Mississippi Street after those adventures, but I don’t remember having any cick’s follow me or John home.

  2. Maryann, oh Maryann will you marry me,

    My kids still marvel at my skating skills learned there fifty years ago (although backwards skating always eluded me). It was only recently that I realized it to have been cheap babysitting.

    Now. Put your right hand in, put your right hand out, put your right hand in and shake it all about ….

  3. Terry is correct about the skating rink behind CHS, it was a good place to skate compared to Hannover and a better rink than the one in Jackson, MO. The rink in Jackson had poles that held up the roof in the middle of the floor. Good supports for kids who couldn’t skate well to gravitate to and wrap their arms around, bad obstacles for the backward skate and when they turned the lights down. There was bother skating rink in Cape on Kingshighway close to Rust and Martin that had the fancy polyurethane floor.

    You did have to use the wooden stairs at Hannover to get down to the floor if your legs were too short to slip over the edge of the stage there. Imagine kids with no skating skills trying to maneuver the steps with skates on…oh the days of no regulations, some call it the days of innocence.

    There was a great feeling of “arriving” if you could cross your feet over to make the turns on a floor, both left and right turns for the “now reverse skate” and of course the technique of skating backwards in a fluid motion said it all to the ranks of skaters present on any night at the rink.

    Sorry to just see a shot of your foot with a skate on, you must have taken them off very fast for no one to capture a shot of you standing on the wheels. But then, actually skating on plastic wheels would have been as foreign to you as a man who had been used to traveling in a stagecoach being put inside Greyhound bus…

  4. I did not know so many of us guys went through the skating phase of youth. My parents realized it would pass and denied my plea for my own pair of shoe skates. Never mastered “backwards” either, especially with those rentals.

  5. We skated at the Maryann rink for years, and then when we started junior high, the rink on Clark street opened. Every Friday night we skated from about 6-9pm. I lived close enough to walk there and back each week, and my parents never seemed worried about my safety. The older guys who patrolled the floor were amazing skaters.

    Now my skates reside in the hall coat closet. They were used when we taught Carl to skate and at every age appropriate birthday skating party. The grandchildren will probably never see me on skates; six months of repair and therapy doesn’t sound like fun to me!

  6. Wasnt the one behind Central Kimberland? i remember being kick out of it a few times for skating to fast and roller derbying with a bunch of people. Darwin rules were better then floor proctors.

  7. My friends and I went to MaryAnn every Sunday afternoon to skate when we were junior high age. One slow Friday or Saturday night after we were all in college at SEMO, a bunch of us decided to go skating there. We got our skates on, went out on the floor in a bunch and one of us (I think it was me) started to fall. We all went down on the floor, groped our way to the rail on the edge, took off the skates and left. Something had changed in the 10 or so years since our early days there.

  8. My wife and I spent many hours at the Maryann. Mary Ann my wife at the ripe age of 66 still skates a couple times a month, often with the grandchildren. To top that she wears the same skates she wore at the Maryann when she was 13 years old. We started going steady there when she was 14 and I was 15. Loads of fond memories!

    1. I applaud her agility. There are some who are ripe in their mid-60s, then there are the rest of us who are overripe.

      I can balance on two wheels, but I looked like a bad comedy routine on eight.

  9. I started skating with the kind of skates you attach to your shoes, metal clamps, metal wheels, and a skate key. Linda Seabaugh and I skated in her basement. We also did a lot of sidewalk skating. I went to the Maryann rink with another friend when I was a little older but I don’t remember her name. I remember pouring peanuts into bottles of Pepsi there. I loved that. Once I got to Jr High, I don’t think I skated anymore. I went to Capaha Park instead. 🙂

    1. The metal-wheeled skates were for sidewalks and concrete only. I don’t think I ever had a set of those.

      Oh, yes, the old peanuts in the soda bottle trick. It was neat to watch the salt on them cause the soda to fizz. I think you got more action out of Coke than Pepsi, though.

  10. I skated at Hanover, had my very own skates. I made pompoms for them and had a skate case. The skates and skate case had their own distinctive leathery smell, when I got them from my Mom’s house a few years ago, the smell was still there! I met my first “real” boyfriend at Hanover, David Heuer, a College High kid. He was a great skater, could skate backwards, which I never really mastered. As an eighth-grader in Trinity Lutheran School, Hanover was an innocent, fun night out. And a belated thanks to the old guy who kept those records spinning, especially the slow ones!

  11. Skating was HUGE for me. Starting with the metal clamp-ons on the “circle-drive” and progressing to my own wooden-wheeled ones in their own case (with my name painted on the side!) for the rinks. Most of my skating was done at the Maryann Roller Rink (on Saturday afternoons?), although I frequented Hanover, sometimes Jackson, the one on Clark Street, and just a few times the new one on the highway. My biggest memory of Hanover was getting to the outhouse bathroom in the mud at night (they must have installed indoor plumbing later because I remember that too). Must have been very traumatic for that to be a big memory! My greatest memories of Maryann are getting pompoms (I must have had a dozen on each toe) when holding the winning ticket, lemon-lime sodas, and getting a bunch of little-known records when I bought the stack with “Kansas City” when they closed.

  12. Me and my sister, Carmen, grew up at the Maryann Roller Rink. We lived just down the road on Kingsway; in fact most of the kids from, what we called the ‘block’ behind our home, all grew up at Maryann. Those were really special days, with our paged jeans, white T-shirts, supper skinny belts, duck tail hair cuts and, O yes, pompoms on our skates. We thought we were so cool and well, looking back,I guess we were.

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