You'll enjoy this nostalgic story about being in grade school in Anchorage, Alaska.
by Mary Jane Dougherty
I would glide on the ice, skating as fast as I wanted and feeling that crisp Anchorage Alaska winter air on my face while the wind was blowing my hair.
Turning around and gliding backwards then forwards again, hearing the ice crunching beneath the blades of my ice skates. How enjoyable it was to go to the 9th Ave skating rink with my sister, Betty, and my brothers Bobby, Sammy, Norman, and the neighborhood families.
That was when I was in grade school and this story takes place a few years back. Being the youngest of eight. I got hand-me-downs. My family lived in a three-story log house on 2nd and Cordova in Anchorage.
During the winter sledding was our fun “get out of the house” sport. Until… the winter of 1956 when I was was four years old. I got a present from my mother, Feodoria. Excited and curious to see what was in the box and thinking it wasn't even Christmas. Quickly unwrapping the present, opening the box and peeling back the white tissue paper I was surprised to find a brand-new pair of green ice skates.
Smiling and lifting the green ice skates out of the box something looked peculiar. They didn't look like my sister's skates at all. Looking up at my mother she explained that double bladed ice skates made it easier to learn how to ice skate then having just a single blade. Giving my mother a hug along with a big “Thank You” she then told me that Cora, Betty, Norman, and Sammy were waiting to go outside on our homemade ice rink to practice.
Back then in the 50s, families were large and that was great for our neighborhood because everyone no matter your age always had a neighborhood friend to play with. A few of the neighbors had a homemade ice rink just like ours.
My mother and my family put on our winter clothes and with my brand-new green ice skates in hand we walked down the stairs of our enclosed porch to the landing. We took off our boots and then put on our ice skates. My mother told me to sit still while she laced up my double bladed ice skates.
Standing and pretty wobbly, I was glad that my mom was holding my hand and Betty was holding my other hand as we walked to our ice skating rink. It was so exciting seeing everyone ice skating. And I was thinking that I was going to be just like them, ice skating.
So, they lifted me up over the snow berm, and I was standing on the ice with my brand new green double bladed ice skates and not my red fleece lined winter boots. Norman took one hand and Betty took the other hand, I was taking my first steps on the ice. Holding their hands I felt secure, and I remembered I was walking, gliding, walking and gliding. Gee, was it fun being on the ice with the other skaters. Around and around we skated.
The first thing that happened when you skated too much, was that your ankles got tired, and you had to sit down and rest. Then I was back on the rink again with Sammy and Cora. Sometime later they told me to try skating on my own. Well, okay there I went gliding and then boom, I fell down on my rump. And Sammy skated over and helped me up. Back on the ice again trying to glide and not fall down. We were all too cold and hungry to be outside anymore. My family and I went inside, and I found out that after you took off your ice skates you felt shorter.
There I was, sitting in the breakfast nook looking over at my brand new green double bladed ice skates while they dried by the stove and feeling so happy. Having a cup of warm cocoa and delicious homemade oatmeal cookies with my mother and family was a perfect way to end such an exciting day. My mother was very proud of me and was so glad I was outside having fun with my brothers and sisters and all the neighborhood friends.
Even at the age of four skating was easy for me. This was something that I could do. I could go as slow as I wanted. I could go as fast as I wanted. Practicing ice skating was so much fun. Then, when I got older skating on the 9th Ave skating rink was the best.
Luckily, memories of my green double bladed ice skates can be relived at any time. Because tucked away in my travelers overnight case that my mother gave to me in the second grade for a Christmas present is where they lay. My green double bladed ice skates are a little worn, a little stained with broken shoelaces. However, all I have to do is close my eyes and remember that day when I first put them on and skated with my family and neighborhood friends. It's fun remembering the good ol' skating days in Anchorage Alaska.
“I’ve learned a lot about my hometown of Anchorage, and you’ve jogged memories of things I haven’t thought about for years. I can only say YAY!” Juanita.