Saturday night, you've heard it immortalized in songs as a time to go out and paint the town, kids across America see it as an extra night to be with friends because they know they have to spend the next day getting rested and ready for school on Monday, but what is it that makes this certain night of the week so special?
From 1979 until 2011, residents of Erath County saw it as time to come to Stephenville to hear some great music at the Cross Timbers Country Opry and until 2013, mom and dad could load up the kids and get their bowling game on at Lone Star Lanes but although those traditions have come and gone, there's no shortage of activities.
On any given Saturday night, you can find folks enjoying things such as scooting a boot out at City Limits or catching a movie at Bosque River Center.
When I think of Saturday night, I can't help but remember all the good times I had at the Rollin' Pen Skating Rink in Cisco, which was the go-to place for a lot of kids because it's where we met up with friends to have a good time. We didn't have cellphones or iPads to stare at, we actually interacted with each other over soft drinks and snacks, it was simple back then.
The owner of the rink was a tall man named Joel, who looked like he just stepped out of a malt shop with his flat-top haircut and sideburns, collared shirts, and skate wheels attached to his cowboy boots so he could get out there and skate right along with us kids; as I write this, I can still see him standing in front of his DJ stand, dancing to the music.
Speaking of music, I can still remember hits from the '50s, Billy Ray Cyrus's "Some Gave All" (the ENTIRE album), Rock anthems such as "Rag Doll" (Aerosmith), "Eye Of The Tiger", "She's Got The Look", "Abracadabra", "Kokomo" (Beach Boys), and so many more great songs blaring from the loudspeakers and even today, I I still hear the opening drum beats of the Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down" as my cue to start barreling towards that hardwood floor like an Olympic speed skater trying to win the Gold.
Other than just general skating, there was also “couples skate" where a guy and girl would hold hands and glide slowly across the floor as Joel lowered the lights and "Unchained Melody" played softly in the background. Sometimes if you were lucky, Cupid shot you with his arrow and that was the moment you found a significant other but on the flip-side, a lot of break-ups happened as well; trust me, I saw a lot of relationships start and end in that old skating rink.
At 8:30 p.m., all activities came to a halt and the music was switched to Chubby Checker's "Limbo Rock,” which meant it was time for the obvious activity, the Limbo, where a ceramic bar was held up by two wooden poles and skaters would have to pass under it as it was being lowered; if any part of your body touched the bar, you were out. After the Limbo, the music stopped and it was time for "The Races" to see who could skate the fastest across the rink.
After the winner of "The Races" was declared, the music resumed and we all went back to skating the night away, but at 10, Willie Nelson's "The Party's Over" began to play as Joel took to the mic and announced it was closing time.
But the fun didn't end there, that was just the beginning of "Dr Pepper Hockey", where kids would go get plastic hockey sticks from the back and play a game, using an empty Dr Pepper can as the puck.
In its last few years, the Saturday night skating craze became so popular, the rink began opening on Friday nights as well. Joel closed the rink in May 1997 and we were all sad to see it go but at least we still have great memories of our Saturday night treasure.
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.