Skateland was my first job (aside from babysitting of course). It was a long time before I could convince my mom to let me get a job. We lived way out in the country and I had no car and relied on Mom for transportation. But when my best friend Elizabeth told me there was an opening at Skateland (where she also worked) at the snackbar, I begged Mom to let me apply. She agreed and I landed my first job. I was so excited and I LOVED working there. The managers Harry and Veronica were great and I got along with them beautifully. It was the beginning of my senior year in high school and Mom continued to take me back and forth to work the 10 or so hours a week I worked until March when I finally bought a car of my own.
When Elizabeth and I weren't working, we could usually be found at the skating rink. There wasn't much to do in West Plains, and apparently there still isn't. We'd skate or dance, then hit the cruise strip (Porter Wagoner Blvd.) and drive up and down, or park the car in front of Hardee's and sit on it and chat with other friends doing the same thing. Other regulars at the skating rink included our buddies Kenny, Kelly, Ivy and sometimes a few others.
Several years ago when Marty and I first moved back to West Plains and I went to work for a company coloring comic books I discovered my buddy Kenny worked there too. Then a few years after that he bought the skating rink and Kelly could always be found there too. Tuesday nights we'd all go skating and they'd play music from the days when we were younger and mostly adults would show up those nights. We didn't have to worry about as many kids to fall over then!!! If Heather had dance on Tuesdays, Marty and I would drop her off and go skating with friends while she had class. A couple of times when Elizabeth was in town, she'd go with me for old time's sake. Talk about reliving your childhood! But what fun we all had. None of us cared if we were dorks. We were all doing something we enjoyed.
Because the skating rink was closed I couldn't drop in on Kenny and Kelly this time. Couldn't give them a hard time and tell them how old they're looking!
I look at my hometown's newspaper website almost every day. Tonight when I was browsing, there is a story about the skating rink closing. This is copied from the Daily Quill's website from today:
West Plains Bank buys building
BY MELISSA McENTIREQuill Staff Writer
“There isn’t a lot to do here except go to the movies. It was fun to go there and skate and dance,” said Wade Kelly, 17, West Plains, of Skateland on U.S. 160, just west of the local Wal-Mart.The roller-skating rink that had been open for business for decades closed Dec. 16, the building now sold.Kelly said he had been going there for eight or nine years, adding, “Now I’m kind of mad because I really don’t have anything to do now. I went to Skateland every Friday and Saturday night.’’ He said he’s tried skateboarding as an alternative, but isn’t a big fan of it.Skateland had been on a roll for 25 years, Kenny Coughlin and his wife, Caroline, owning it for the past eight years. Kenny told The Quill he had two reasons for closing the rink. First, his other business, Fishland, that had been at Skateland, recently moved to 205 St. Louis St., and is taking up more of his time. Second, attendance at Skateland has dropped off dramatically.Kenny Coughlin said the pet store has grown into a seven-day-a-week job. “We’ve tripled our size by moving here. We have about 5,000 fish, about 800 rodents and reptiles, plus birds here we have to feed every day, regardless if we are open or not.”Of Skateland, he said, “Schools and churches had stopped bringing their groups to the rink, which was a lot of business lost. We had regulars on weekends, but it just wasn’t enough to keep it open.’’And, renovations and more activities didn’t draw more skaters, he said.“I hate that it closed. I am really going to miss the kids, plus Skateland has been a part of my life for 15 years.”Coughlin was a disc jockey at Skateland as a teenager in the 1980s. Ten years ago he was approached to manage the rink. Two years later he bought it.When he and his wife put the skating rink up for sale they tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer who would continue the business, he said.“We had all kinds of interested people look at it, but in the end no one could come up with the money for it (to stay a roller rink),” he said.West Plains Bank and Trust Co. has bought the rink and plans to eventually build a bank there, according to President and CEO David Gohn.“We don’t have a specific date on when that may happen, but probably not before the spring,” Gohn told The Quill.“As of right now, we do not plan on keeping it open as a skating rink. However, we may donate the building to a charity when the time comes to build,” Gohn said.“I feel sorry for the younger kids who will never have a chance to skate there,” said Wade’s mother, Melody Kelly.“There are not enough activities for kids to do here, and people wonder why they get bored and get into trouble,” she said.“Skateland was a place I knew I could drop my kids off and know that they would be safe.”Coughlin knows this, and he sympathizes, but is comfortable with the decision he’s made.As for Wade Kelly, he said, “I guess I’ll just hang around the house or go to the movies.”
My first reaction to the story (since I already knew it was closed and all)...I have a blog post!!!! I dug out some old pictures to scan. They were taken in a dark skating rink with a terrible camera so keep that in mind! Most of them were taken on a night the whole gang got together either to tell me goodbye before I moved to Arizona, or the first time I went back home during a break from school (I can't remember which!).
Elizabeth, these will certainly take you back in time!!! :0)
This is Kenny. Kenny was sadly the last owner of Skateland. And the last time I saw him, he still looked exactly the same!
This is Ivy. He could be found at the skating rink almost as often as Kenny and Kelly.
Harry. My first boss, peeking through the ticket window.