Simple Amusements-Part Two

Ice Skating in Beijing

Image by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

This is another story about the things we did as kids in the nineteen fifties to stay amused.

ICE SKATING

            Winter was always fun when we could get out to play.  When the snow came,  we spent our time making snow men, forts, or igloos.  We also tossed snowballs at each other. I have to confess that I never really finished an igloo.  The closest I came was to  build walls then put boards over the top to make a roof, and piled snow on top of the boards to make it look like an official igloo.

When the temperature dropped into the twenty’s, Father Horvath the pastor of Our Lady of Hungary parish, had the school yard flooded to make a skating area.  Kids came from all around to go skating.  I begged to borrow skates so I could join in.  Typically, the skates I used were too large for my feet, and my ankles bent out.  People told me that “my ankles aren’t strong enough.”  Years later, I learned that a loosely fit skate causes the ankle to bend. In order to keep ankles from bending out, the skate shoe must fit snugly.

Sometimes I had hockey-skates, sometimes figure-skates, but never racing-skates.  I fell in love with the idea of figure skating, and dreamed that I was a great figure skater. The truth is that I didn’t know where to start.  I read a lot of books about figure skating. Figure skaters use special skates with a curved blade.  Most of the time I owned hockey skates.

At recess, and at lunch time, the boys played ice hockey.  We used tree branches, and wooden poles for hockey-sticks. A rock served as a puck.  None of us knew the rules, we just knew that the object was to get the puck into the goal. The goal was an opening formed by two rocks spaced apart.  When it snowed on top of the ice, everyone ran home to get a shovel. We cleared the school yard. Sometimes the snow was heavy. If so, we cleared only a space large enough to play hockey.

The public school flooded their playgrounds too. They also had lights for night skating. I often went to Perry school to skate after dark.  Only the brave skated in the dark at Our Lady of Hungary. Seeing all the pot holes was too hard. Hitting a hole in the ice is sure to cause a fall, and ice is very hard, falling hurts.

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