Past Special Events & Book Signings

Waccamaw Public Library

Author Tom Russo celebrates a Holiday edition of an adult book signing at the Waccamaw Public Library in Pawley's Island December 7, 2018. Russo meets fellow Grand Strand authors Dana Ridenhour (Beyond the Cabin), Patty Wain Smith (A Letter to a Friend) and Kathryn Taylor (Two Minus One)

Elmhurst History Museum launched roller skate exhibit

Now archived, this special exhibit took visitors on a nostalgic trip to the glory days of roller skating that ran from July 13, 2018 through November 2018 at the Elmhurst History Museum. The museum exhibit featured 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 included a tribute to the Elm Rink that operated in Elmhurst from 1956-1989.

The exhibit was 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.

The Elmhurst History Museum features "Jenny on the job," a WWII poster propaganda campaign by the federal government to influence women's attitude and delcare it was OK to wear slacks, coveralls and work gloves for factory work. This poster series were distributed to war plants and, this particualar poster, encouraged women to roller skate for recreational fitness and health!

Take a virtual tour of the Elmhurst History Museum's exhibit

Reviews & News

Chicago Tribune history museum reports on the Elmhurst History Museum roller skate exhibit launch, July 25, 2018

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

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) March 2018 issue announces new roller skating book

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.

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.