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The First Skaters!

November 16, 2012

Last time, Ken recalled learning to build the first Kelly School ice rink. Read more about the wonderful experiences on that first rink!

It was the first weekend of December 1979. I visited the ice rink twice a day on Saturday and Sunday, applying water morning and evening. The ice rink would be ready for the first skaters on Monday! I put the last coat of water on the ice rink Sunday night in five below zero temperatures. It was so dark that I needed a floodlight to get an even coat of water over every inch of the rink. At 9 p.m. I had covered the entire surface. After coiling the hose and putting it away, I took a couple of minutes to stand and take in the beauty of our first ice rink shining under the flood light. All was ready for Monday morning. After eating lunch that Monday, the children began putting on their skates for their first time on ice rink number one.

Kids who had never skated before needed a little help staying upright. It was great to watch older students holding the hands of the younger children. Everyone found out it was all about strong ankles and good balance. It wasn’t long – within a few days! – nobody needed help. There were some spills, but soon even falling safely became a skill.

It took a few years, but we soon found a great way for a beginner to stay vertical on their first day on the slick ice. The answer was one of our fiberglass classroom chairs. Hanging on the back of the chair with the four metal legs sliding along the ice gave the child great support. After using a chair only a day or two, one by one, a skater would leave a chair on the snow next to the ice. Soon all the chairs would be gone, and we knew little ankles were ready to do their job.

Building the ice rink was not the end of the work. Skates would cut into the ice building up loose chips of ice over the whole rink. About every three or four days, I would take two snow shovels, one in each hand, and scraped the residue to the side. Next I applied more water, which sealed the gouges the ice skate blades had made. A coating of water could be applied in about an hour after I had shoveled the surface clean. No Zamboni, no snowblower: all manual labor.

There was an immediate pay-off for the thirty-two hours it took to build that first ice rink. The pay back was all the smiles, laughter, all the skills learned, and all the fun our students had day after day. The ice rink would be a place for some unusual happenings over the thirty-three years. Stay tuned for more!

Ken Thomasma’s classic books, as well as books on CD and even vintage-inspired Naya Nuki tee shirts all make wonderful holiday gifts!

With the holidays just around the corner, Grandview Publishing will be posting special offers and sale prices! Be sure to keep your eyes open for them here on the blog, and be sure to like us on Facebook!



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