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Chicago Rink Rats: The Roller Capital in its Heyday!

By 1950, roller skating had emerged as the number-one participatory sport in America. Ironically, the war years launched the Golden Age of Roller Skating. Soldiers serving overseas pleaded for skates with their usual request for cigarettes and letters from home. Stateside, skating uplifted morale and kept war production factory workers exercising. By the end of the decade, more than five thousand rinks operated across the country. Its epicenter Chicago!

The eighteen celebrated rinks are now gone and those that remain honor the traditions of the sport's glory years. Author Tom Russo scoured newspaper archives and interviewed skaters of the roller capital’s heyday to reveal the enduring legacy of Chicago’s rink rats.

With 240 pages, over 90 images and one golden age story, Chicago Rink Rats: The Roller Capital in its Heyday! becomes the legacy that grandparents present to their great grandchildren when asked…”What did you do during the war?”

Elmhurst History Museum launches roller skate exhibit

Take a nostalgic trip to the glory days of roller skating at a special exhibit scheduled to run from July 13, 2018 through November 2018 at the Elmhurst History Museum. The museum exhibit will feature a special roller skating series of historical panels from the 1930s through the 1960s titled Chicago Rink Rats: The Golden Age of Roller Skating. Skaters from Chicago's celebrated rinks, now gone will tell of their adventures. It will equally include a tribute to the Elm Rink that operated in Elmhurst from 1956-1989.

The exhibit is based on author Russo's Chicago Rink Rats: The Roller Capital in its Hey published November 2017. The book chronicles America's rediscovering a recreational pasttime of roller skating. As American entered the war times, a new impetus would elevate roller skating to the number one recreational sport in America by the end of the 1940s decade. Relive this period by visting this exceptional exhibit hosted by the Elmhurst History Museum.

Reviews & News

Rolling Thru Time writes indepth review, National Museum of Roller Skating, December 2017

RinkSider Magazine (voice of the roller skating industry for over sixty years) January 2018 issue announces new roller skating book

Grand Strand Magazine's Hot Off the Press reviews Chicago Rink Rats!

Book Launch at Chicago's Orbit Skate Center

Author Tom Russo was joined by rink rats of yesteryears as Ranee Gauli (1950s female speed skater) and Jaci Zimmerman Charbonneau (1962 National Dance Champion) joined in the book signing festivities. The Orbit Skate Center is Chicago's largest roller rink at 18,800 square feet (188 x 100), made of rotunda hardwood maple and in continuous operation since 1972. The rotunda style means the maple wood planks are steam-bent, with the rounded boards set at the ends of the rinks, a most unique configuration and considered among the finest skate floors in the nation. Unfortunately, the Daily Herald announced that the Orbit was being sold.

The story of its demise is not unlike the story of so many roller rinks that have closed since the late 1950s, high real estate taxes and rising labor costs due to state minimum wage standards. Perhaps the final straw was floor damage that resulted from flooding and cost owner Sandra Levin $85,000 to repair the maple rotunda floor. Individual boards had warped and cupped from the water moisture that had penetrated the the sub-floor layers, causing damage to the maple hardwood plancks. The Orbit was built in 1972, as Roller Disco took hold across the country igniting a fad that burned out by the end of the 1970s.

Corvette Buildsheet Book

The Study Guide is for the third generation Corvette (C3) owner, collector, hobbyist or buyer who wishes to understand Corvette assembly production broadcast codes, how those codes were used to tag parts and how the buildsheet documented original buyer options. Six chapters cover a range of topics exclusive to those build records of this period. Fifty-two color illustrations compliment a detailed analysis of build records and guide the reader to interpret buildsheet data whether its an RPO, broadcast code or retrieving job numbers from schedule data. To review the Table of Contents, read chapter excerpts and browse additional details, click on the cover.

To order the Corvette Buildsheet Book, Book Information

Sharing the Road

Cycling groups are growing in popularity along the Grand Strand, displaying a need for bike lanes that improve both safety and connectivity. Grand Strand Magazine in its October/November 2016 issue looked at dedicated bicycle lanes with the passage of the road development - RIDE 3 referendum.

Book Preview & Promotional Video

The Southern launch of Chicago Rink Rats, hosted by the Fun Warehouse, was held January 25, 2018. Adults who stated in their youth learn that roller skating is the perfect low impact exercise and finding the adrenaline rush of yesterday...quite relevant today!

Join author Tom Russo at the Fun Warehouse roller rink as we step into time and experience roller skating through time! This book review video is a collage of historic movie clips, roller skate stickers, old photos and illustrates the skate frenzy during the Golden Age and contributed to roller skating's ascent to number one sport by 1950.