Pasco's Palace Roller Rink in 1949

June 20, 2012 

I loved going to the roller rink as a kid in the '50s during the winter and zipping around on my 'clamp-on' steel skates with the skate 'key' on a string around my neck during the summer. Apparently most of America was facinated with roller skating, taking it to an art form in the 40s-50s. It's no surprise there is a National Museum of Roller skating in Lincoln, Neb. Check out the cool gasoline-powered roller skates at

Life on rollers - growing Tri-City pastime

By Herald staff
Published on January 23, 1949

Roller skating is a growing, ageless pastime that is finding greater expression among Tri-City rink fans than ever before.

Rink operators, particularly the Palace Roller Rink at the Pasco Airport, maintain that the popular sport favors no age group. It's one of those sports that can be enjoyed "from the cradle to the grave," they say.

They've got something there. Anyone who's watched junior or grandma slide around the Palace floor without making any concessions to the teen or middle-agers won't argue the point.

Take the average attendance at the Palace, multiply that by the thousands of rinks that operate elsewhere and you've got roller skating -- the biggest spectator sport in the nation. This will come as a shock to the advocates of bowling and basketball.

Dean Songers, rink operator and skating instructor at the Palace, adds a few interesting comments on the widespread and widely-overlooked sport. Tops in his field, Songers came here Dec. 1 from the Oaks Rink in Portland where he performed in the same capacity for 10 years.

Roller Skater Fast

"A feature of roller skating not generally appreciated by the public and press is its contribution to competitive athletics," Songers said. "For instance, our people can skate faster than ice skaters and could spot a college miler a city block and still beat him to the finish line. Better speed skaters clock the mile in three minutes or under. They'll also shade the best track times in the half or quarter mile."

He has a class of eight men and women now which will enter the state roller skating competition near Seattle April 1.

"They didn't know a waltz from a two-step when they started but they'll make a good showing at the tournament," Songers predicted. "They work like Trojans, putting in three hours a day on the floor, in addition to an hour of instruction each week."

Public Classes

Songers' labors aren't confined to this group. Besides operating the rink he also teaches public classes which are running between 75 and 100 students, young and old from all parts of the Tri-City area, not to mention the Royal Flyers Club, 100 strong, which spends Sundays learning dance skating for their own "amazement."

And, believe it or not, it's fashionable to wear a tie to the rink these days. Roller skating, thanks to the assiduous efforts of rink operators, has been cleaned up and is now as respectable as golf or bowling. Songers himself wears a smart business suit while working. Roughnecks aren't wanted at the Palace and the management takes pains to see they don't stay long.

"We operate for one reason," Songers remarked. To develop roller skating as the nation's major source of recreation by making it available to everyone. Anyone can learn to skate and we can prove it.

"Those who come to scoff, stay and skate. Once they learn, they're sunk for life."

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