About Me

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Skate Park

According to this rare Rock Springs Park roller skate ink blotter, skating continued at Virginia Gardens Dance Hall into the 1940s. At that time skating was offered three nights a week and Sunday afternoon.

Fans of Rock Springs Park who are now in their late eighties or early nineties have fond memories of trips to the park as young children during the Great Depression. Roy C. Cashdollar pointed out that many families who were struggling financially still found a way “to spend money for amusement when they should spend it on other things” and apparently the kids did too. For instance, My uncle, James (Del) Cooper told me that he could get a ride on the Cyclone in 1928 for “two nickels and a bottle cap."

These folks also remember the Virginia Gardens Dance Hall, not especially for the dancing, but for roller skating. According to the son of park owner C.C. Macdonald, roller skating in those days was not about zooming around in a big circle, but about dancing on skates. R.Z. Macdonald explains in Images of America: Rock Springs Park (p. 59), “It (Virginia Gardens) was a happy place for me. I considered myself to be very proficient on skates in the two-step, waltz, etc.”

Part of what made the dance hall so valuable to contractors when the building was auctioned off, according to Chester resident Dean McKinney, were the large beams underneath which were used to support all those dancers and skaters. The Dance Hall was razed in 1974 (Courtesy of Richard L. Bowker)

I always had a difficult time envisioning people skating in Virginia Gardens until Sherry Emery of Chester, shared an image of skaters on Rock Springs Park’s Facebook Page. Here, young people with their dress shoes neatly lined up take a break from skating to socialize in the theater-style seats lining the hall. (Courtesy of Sherry Emery)

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