Anyone remember these? Steel wheeled one-size-fits-all roller skates that required a skate key to make them fit.
First of all you have to turn the skates over and loosen the nut in the middle with one end of the skate key. Then you have to adjust the length by sliding the front half back and forth. Once the skate fits your shoe, the nut had to be tighten again.
Then you put your foot (preferably with shoes on - more about that later)in the skate and put the ankle strap on snugly. Then you take the skate key to the side of the skate, up near the front, and tighten the clamps to the soles of the shoe. Then repeat the procedure with the other foot.
Now you are ready to skate on any sidewalk or street that is paved or concrete. They don’t work too well on dirt roads, though some of those hard, red clay roads in the summertime could be skated on, but the rocks makes it a little dicey.
There were three things that were staples for boys at Christmas, a cap gun set of your favorite cowboy, a bicycle and a pair of roller skates. Girls got the bikes with the lowered down cross bars so we couldn’t see their panties when they go off the bikes, their favorite doll, a kitchen set and roller skates. On Christmas morning, if the temperature was above 20 degrees, there were kids skating on the roads like ants on sugar cubes.
The problem was, the clips on the toes of your shoes would rip the soul from the shoes if you hit a bump or sidewalk or someone’s head or stuff, and that would make our moms as happy as a lobster in boiling water - only hotter. My mom would raise holy hell because the shoes were only a month old. Didn’t matter that I was growing out of them anyway. So she did what any frugal mom would do, she got an older pair of shoes and cut the toes out of them. Since the older shoes were smaller, the skate had to be adjusted to fit the smaller size. So I had to skate with my toes hanging over the edge of the skates.
That was difficult to do so I would take the shoes off and tap my bare feet to the skates. I would cut out a piece of cardboard and put it between my feet and the skate and off I would go. Of course the souls of my feet were hard enough to scratch a match on. My dad did it several times to show his friends.
Why were they so hard? From the time school was out for the summer, the only time I wore shoes was to go to church or go down town with mom to pay bills - or to skate. Also, I was raised on a major thoroughfare two lane road. I skated and rode my bike on that road with cars and trucks going by two feet away. And there was no such thing as a helmet. And we never lost a kid in my school to head injuries. But the most fun things was to grab a bumper and ride the bike or skates like the wind. Skates only on the slower cars when the traffic was heave.