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Posted on December 29, 2015 at 6:39 PM by Ken Kocher
Last week we learned about early twentieth century Madison skating rinks: read Part I here.
Despite young Betty Robb Peacock’s plea in 1937 for a recreational park with a skating rink, it would be another twenty years before Madison’s kids had a skating rink, albeit a temporary one. July 1957 saw the Big Top Roller Skating Rink open in Madison next to the Freez-Ette. Under a huge open-sided tent with a 6000 square foot skating floor, it was dubbed the biggest portable skating rink in the world. The rink was owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Sams and was under the local management of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Ainslie. The operation included a floor manager, two skating instructors, and a skate room boy.
Mr. Sams emphasized that close supervision would be “maintained at all times assuring a healthful recreational spot for all the people of the area.” Everyone seemed to join in the fun including “three of Madison’s most winsome matrons, Mesdames Buster Friedman, Olin Everitt, and Gene Trabor.” And if you were under 12 and skated the Saturday morning session, you got a free treat at the Freez-ette! Sadly, with the arrival of autumn, the rink came down and left town.
Since then, the newspaper has printed several “man on the street” comments and letters to the editor suggesting the need for a rink. Skating rinks seem to pop-up in Madison every 25-50 years. We’re at 33 years. We’re about due.
Madison Moments, a weekly blog highlighting Madison's rich history, is a creation of the Madison Historic Preservation Commission in collaboration with other City Boards and Departments. This installment was contributed by the Historic Preservation Commission and written by Ken Kocher, HPC staff. This volunteer board protects the community's wealth of historic resources - most notably the Madison Historic District, first listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Tag(s): Skating Rinks, Rotary Club, Olin Everitt, Noel Hawk, Lions Club, Gene Trabor, Ed Sellers, Charles Bone, Buster Friedman, Bill Ainslie
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