August 26th……...”WHAT WAS A FUN ACTIVITY IN YOUR MINNESOTA HOMETOWN OF KIESTER THAT MADE YOUR BROTHER, AND OTHERS, YEARN TO BE A PART OF ITS EXCITEMENT”??
The pelvis of Elvis held millions of young girl’s hearts in sway as “The King of Rock n Roll” undulated his virile manhood all over small black n white television sets across the nation in the late 1950’s.
“I Like Ike” buttons had carried the sentiments of our country’s spirits whose enamor for the World War II hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had voted overwhelmingly to place him as our honored resident of the White House and our 34th President of these United States. Yes, there was so much of that American era gone by that was right in our world in those days…….and one of those “right” things was when it appeared that King Arthur, himself, had come to Kiester Park at the north end of Main Street.
For there, below the cooling shadow of our village water tower, began the rhythmic ring of sledge hammers, being thrown in muscular cadence as workmen began sinking iron posts into the soil for anchoring ropes to help hold up the magnificent and immense tent that held all the royal looks of one of those regal tents of King Arthur’s day.
When finished, there in all its roller-skating glory, was a beautiful wooden floor, beneath that fabric-tented attraction, that seemed to stretch on for an oval mile with guard rails and benches along the perimeter for skaters and spectators alike to drink in the joys of skating the day or evening away.
There was magic in each moment that summer once the massive roller rink tent was set up and ready for business.
There was also a palpable charm in the air especially in the evenings after family farms in the surrounding countryside had completed the milking and bedding of their dairy herds. It was time for happy kids and parents to pile into the family car and bring a picnic supper along, and yes, maybe even spin by Flogstad’s Bakery, there on Main Street, for some cupcakes or donuts for dessert. Tempted by the roller rink’s fresh popcorn on the air, Dad n Mom enjoyed the comfort of a large army surplus blanket on the lawn near the rink while their energetic younger progeny popped in and out of the roller rink all caught up in the wonder as they watched big brothers and sisters, with their high-laced roller skates on, making the oval circuit of the “track”. Skaters, amid the wheel roar, enjoyed listening to the hit tunes of the day pulsating from the well-placed speakers in the rafters of the rink. Depending on the song, its tempo and its strong beat, skaters sometimes coursed the rink so fast that a continuous wind gust, fanned by human bodies flying by, made for joy to be had by all as various men’s colognes and ladies perfumes sweetened the summer air.
Big brother, Lowell, was elated that summer, and every summer, during his Kiester High School years, because of the draw in his heart to have some fun with his buddies and skating. He’d even devise ways to find some means to get to the roller rink tent to see his pals and some lovely young ladies, too, of course. 😉 His plans would go into action if the folks weren’t in the mood that evening to go into town. Lowell would just send out a quick phone call or two and BINGO! he hitched a ride to Kiester so he could join the crowd of high-energy youth who fed off the fun vibes of happy songs like Sheb Wooley’s funny ditty….“He was a one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater”!!!
It was 1951 on a chilly November 3rd evening in our small town when another skating era had its Grand Opening inside a lovely, large building located on South Main Street. Some years hence, this handsome facility would eventually become the home of our town’s John Deere tractor dealership, but all was warm and well and festive, that night, as townsfolk stepped out of the cold and into the joy of this new business enterprise of roller-skating. The winter coats came off and roller skates were pulled on for exercise and fun………..and even romance.
The “Kee Roller Rink” that evening was decorated to the max with festooned banners and the ubiquitous mirrored ball for effect to razzle dazzle everyone, including young lovers.
Many a young Kiester youth like Arnold Bauman, Clair Hagen and Leroy Larson were just a few of the young men who tenderly helped lace up the high-topped roller skates of the young ladies with whom they were “head over heels” in love with. Together, these young couples smiled and cuddled as they slow skated, under the spot-lighted mirror ball to love ballads of that era like…..”Because Of You (Tony Bennett)”, “Secret Love” (Doris Day) and “You Belong To Me” (Jo Stafford). Long, happy marriages came to fruition for these Kiester area couples who found love and enjoyed roller skating there in our beloved hometown of Kiester, Minnesota ……..just like, in another era later on, did this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.