Chicago Rink Rats: The Roller Capital in Its Heyday

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By 1950, roller skating had emerged as the number-one participatory sport in America. Ironically, the war years launched the Golden Age of Roller Skating. Soldiers serving overseas pleaded for skates along with their usual requests for cigarettes and letters from home. Stateside, skating uplifted morale and kept war factory workers exercising. By the end of the decade, five thousand rinks operated across the country. Its epicenter: Chicago! And no one was left behind! The Blink Bats, a group of Braille Center skaters, held their own at the huge Broadway Armory rink. Meanwhile, the Swank drew South Side crowds to its knee-action floor and stocked jukebox. Eighteen celebrated rinks are now gone, but rinks that remain honor the traditions of the sport's glory years. Author Tom Russo scoured newspaper archives and interviewed skaters of the roller capital's heyday to reveal the enduring legacy of Chicago's rink rats.
ISBN: 9781625859686
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The History Press
State: Illinois
Series: Sports
Images: 89
Pages: 240
Dimensions: 6 (w) x 9 (h)
Born on the West Side of Chicago, Tom Russo grew up in the western suburbs of Northlake, Elmhurst and Melrose Park, where he learned to skate with his two sisters, waiting each winter for the creek to freeze over. Over the years, he ice-skated and roller-skated on both quads and in-line skates. Today, as he travels, Russo seeks out local rinks to skate and feel the skate culture of those rinks and the communities they host. His skates of choice are quads!   His freelance writing topics range from hobby to professional, as well from recreation to the technical. Tom currently lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and enjoys yearlong cycling and roller skating. He has made a career of volunteer work and serves on the City of Myrtle Beach Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee.
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