U.S.A.R.S.A. REUNION - MAY 13, 2005     turn on volume

Gliding to the music of memory

Skaters’ reunion takes place in Woodbridge, N.J.

Published in the Home News Tribune 05/19/05

  WOODBRIDGE – Tears came to Audrey Cull’s eyes when she caught sight of the display that featured memorabilia from her years as an amateur skater and professional trainer with the Skating Club of Boulevard in Bayonne, N.J.

“I never expected to see this,” said the Warminster, Pa., resident. “It certainly brings back a lot of memories.”

Cull was among the 200 skaters, coaches, judges and friends from around the country who attended the United States Amateur Roller Skating Association’s (U.S.A.R.S.A.) reunion. The event, held Friday, May 13, 2005 at the United Skates of America roller rink in the Woodbridge Community Center, featured amateur and professional skaters from the early 1942 to the early 1970s. A banquet dinner was held later that evening at the Hampton Inn.

The skating association was formed in 1942, said reunion organizer Jim Kohl.

It was made up of roller-skating rink clubs from around the country, including clubs based out of South Amboy Roller Rink and Kendall Park Roller Rink, said the Mansfield Township, Burlington County, resident.

Kohl said that in the early 1970s the association merged with the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association to form the USA Roller Sports. A group of skaters who were unhappy with the merger formed the National Amateur Roller Skating Association, which holds its nationals in June each year at the Kendall Park Roller Rink, he said.

“U.S.A.R.S.A. had some of the strongest competitive skaters around,” said Kohl. “They competed in interclub meets, state championships and the nationals. Skaters also competed in the annual America On Wheels championships. The best skaters also competed in the Pan American games and World Championships.

Cull was one of those skaters.

“When I was about 8 years old, a girl on my block wanted to play with my rubber doll and I wanted to try her roller skates,” said the 72-year-old. “I borrowed her skates for the weekend and she borrowed my doll. Even though it rained, I skated the entire weekend.”

Cull was an amateur for five years, in 1950, she was a state gold medalist in junior ladies’ singles and she and her partner, Harold Hunt took the gold in senior dance in states and a bronze in the nationals.

By the time Cull met her husband, Jude a four-time national gold medalist in senior mixed pairs and a gold medalist in senior men’s singles in the 1951 National Championships, they were both accomplished skaters in their respective fields.

“I’d always admired him from afar,” she said.

After the pair became an item, Audrey Cull changed dance partners and coached Jude in dance.

Leafing through a book of skating pictures, Karen Sleeman Gibson of Pt. Pleasant Beach and her mother, Arlene Sleeman, admitted they do remember the faces but not all the names.

“We grew up at the rinks,” said Gibson who comes from a family of skaters. “My dad raced for Bayonne. I started skating when I was about 5. A lot of families skated back then. Everyone skated almost every event. If there was a boy and he was around your age he was your partner.”

Gibson, 43, said she skated as an amateur from 1966 to 1978 and toured from 1979 to 1984. After turning professional, she spent most of her time teaching at South Amboy Roller Rink.

“I competed in the nationals almost every year,” she said. “We traveled to Chicago, Cleveland, Texas and New York. It was a lot of fun. The thing I miss most is the exercise and the comradery of the skaters. The rink was our home away from home. We were an extended family.

Frank Henrich, 70, of Vermont, and Ruth Henrich Schauer, 68, of Alabama, also grew up in the rinks.

The brother-and-sister team was well known in the skating circuit.

“Our sister, June Bickmeyer, got the ball rolling,” said Schauer. “She started skating first and as long as one was going, all three of us went. Skating was our whole life. We skated before school. By 1 p.m. we would be back in the rink again. We skated seven days a week. All our social activities centered on the rink.

Record producer Ed Chalpin also was a national competitor.

Chalpin, who started skating when he was about 7, attributes his success in the recording business to his involvement in skating.

“Getting involved in skating was probably the best thing that happened to me,” he said. “It launched my career.”

Chalpin, who has produced such artists as Chubby Checker, Jim Hendrix and Public Enemy, said his record-producing career got a jump-start when he went to have a record cut for a routine and landed a job.

“Roller skating was my love and the rink was my first home,” he said. “Ice and roller skating are the best forms of entertainment and exercise.

Kicking up their heels to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” Joe and Mary DeLuca glided around the skating floor at Woodbridge Community Center.

The couple’s paths crossed in the skating rinks during the 1950s. She was only 6 and he was 19. Mary’s father was a skater and she was just beginning her career. Joe also was a skater. Years later, they met at the Laurel Skating Center in Laurel, Md., and married.

“I came from a family of skaters,” said 58-year-old Mary of Taneytown, Md. “There was nothing like it back then.”

“She’s an inspiration to me every time I dance with her.”
Danny Maloney, professional partner and dance teacher

An article from The Herald by Raymond Dymond – Herald Staff Writer.
For those who remember Linda Klein of Levittown, this is about her mother.

Sarasota – Mathilda Klein looked striking in a skin-tight dress that was handmade for her with purple sequins and beads.

  But the Boca Raton woman had no success finding a ballroom dance partner her own age, which is 89.

  No biggie.

  Klein has been ballroom dancing for seven years with her professional partner and dance teacher Danny Maloney, who is about 55 years her junior.

  “She’s an inspiration to me every time I dance with her,” said Maloney, who cha-cha-ed the effervescent Klein around the ballroom during the Pro/Am portion of the 2006 Florida State Dance Sport Championships at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown on Wednesday.

  “This is what I do,” said Klein, who has the physical conditioning of a 40- year old. “It keeps me alive.”


THOMAS E. FRANKLIN / THE RECORD The Rink in Montvale will soon make way for a housing development. Its owner plans to open another roller rink in nearby Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.
Multimedia: Closing of The Rink ends an era.The walls are painted in pastels: aqua, yellow and pink. Strobe lights beat to the music. A disco ball splashes shards of light.The Rink in Montvale is an anachronism, a place where roller-skating has been king since 1964.But not for much longer.

It is scheduled to close in a few months to make way for an age-restricted housing development.Owner Bob Dill, who sold the property to developer K. Hovnanian, was hoping to keep The Rink open another eight months during construction of the housing complex, but the Woodcliff Lake Planning Board has denied the request, citing safety concerns. About one-third of the property is in Woodcliff Lake.Dill, who plans to open another skating center in nearby Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., is worried that he may lose customers if there is too much time between when his current rink closes and the new one opens in spring 2008.Dill said the developer has agreed to pay for a 6-foot steel fence separating the construction site from the skating rink and to hire a security guard. Dill also said traffic experts, engineers and police in both towns had approved the safety of a new full-access entrance and exit for construction vehicles. "Nobody in Woodcliff Lake has been willing to even talk to me," Dill said. "It's a dictatorship, it's one man that says, 'We are not letting The Rink stay open, end of story.' "

But Woodcliff Lake Planning Board Chairman Ken Glemby said the decision was based simply on safety concerns."We certainly don't want The Rink in operation when heavy equipment is being used within easy sight and touching distance of kids," Glemby said about construction of the 108-unit 55-and-over community. The project will include a 3,200-square-foot clubhouse, an outdoor swimming pool, a gazebo and a putting green.However, Montvale Planning Board member Wolfgang Vogt, whose board agreed to allow the roller rink to stay open because Dill has been such an active member of the community, believes Woodcliff Lake's concerns are unwarranted, as all safety precautions are in place."It's overkill," Vogt said of Woodcliff Lake's decision.Glum patrons, many of them seniors who have skated there for decades, are sad to see The Rink go.

"There's a lot of senior citizens in tears," said Joyce Van Deursen, 61, of Hawthorne, who teaches skating at The Rink to Special Olympics participants. "We have people skating here who have been married for 65 years and are still skating here together in their 80s. So it's going to be a very sad day."Eileen Rogers, 62, started coming to the roller rink 30 years ago when she met her husband, Joe. They are still regulars, skating there every Tuesday night and Friday morning."We have a circle of friends here we've know all these years," said Rogers, who lives in Nanuet, N.Y. "Our families have skated here and our children have been here over the years for their parties. It's very much a part of the community."At a recent ninth birthday party at The Rink for her daughter Julia, Suki Suh lamented its closing. "It's getting cold and kids need someplace indoors to get exercise and have fun at the same time," said Suh, 40, of Ridgewood, who is a skater as well. "We come here pretty often and we're going to miss it a lot."Her daughter Julia agreed."I'll really miss the place," said Julia, who was excited to be eating pizza and cake and skating with her friends at her party. "I'll miss all the music and the slippery floor. I like when I go really fast and the wind blows in my hair."Dill is a die-hard skater himself. He quit his job as a Wall Street personnel executive in 1981 to open a rink in Bergenfield with his wife, Marianne. They purchased The Rink in 1992."I wanted to stay open as long as possible because out of sight, out of mind," said Dill, who fell in love with skating as a youth on the streets of New York City. "If people stop skating for nine months, they're going to find other things to do."And for the seniors, the layoff could be particularly crippling."It's going to affect the senior citizens greatly because they skate here several times a week to stay in shape," Van Deursen said. "And with rolling on wheels, if you haven't done it for seven or eight months, it may be tough for them to get back on them."The Rink is also the only place left to roller-skate in northern Bergen County.

"People come here from all over because there aren't that many rinks left," said Ken Kasper, 70, of Paramus, who was at The Rink the day it opened in 1964. "I'd have to travel probably an hour to find another rink where I could skate, and that becomes difficult."


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