Published by the
"Hi-Desert Publishing Company"

P.O. Box 880
Yucca Valley, CA. 92286
Phone: 760-365-3315
Fax: 760-365-2650

Joshua Tree Times: News Column

Roller rink piece of history / Julie Tunstall

There aren't many people roller-skating anymore. It's all Rollerblading.

I learned to skate when I was about 4 and loved it. I used to skate in the rinks down on the coast.

When I moved to the desert, I found very little solid ground smooth enough to skate on. So we used to go down to the rink in Banning.

At one time many years ago, there was an outdoor cement slab at Burnt Mountain in Yucca Valley that was used as a rink. And then again, for a short time there was a rink in Yucca Valley in the Pic-N-Save center.

There was one roller rink that lasted quite a few years. When Bill and Trudy Underhill built the Twin Starlight Drive-ins in Twentynine Palms they had a space between the car slots and speakers and the huge screen.

They fenced this off, then put down a large cement slab and built a long, low building that housed the office, skate room and a small smack bar with tables and benches. It made a good-sized roller rink with its entrance separate from the two drive-ins.

The Underhills eventually sold out to Jack Shay. My daughter Mara started working in the snack bar in the movie section when she was 15 years old and worked there part-time for about five years.

Later, in 1980 and 1981, Mara was managing the movie snack bar for Shay. Then she leased the roller rink from him. I sold and took tickets.

There was a sound system set up for calling the different skates such as couples only, boys only, girls only, limbo, etc.

I was the DJ also. I bought all the 45s we used and except for classic skating waltzes and the like. I used only top 10 and never out of the top 100.

My husband checked out and repaired skates and made all the floor repairs. My youngest daughter, Lisa, ran the small snack bar.

If someone wanted pizza or a large order we would send one of our guards or someone over to the large snack bar and Mara would make up our order.

A group of our skaters, good or bad, skated in the parade for Pioneer Days that year. The following Grubstake Days made us want to do more.

We took my husband's little Ford Fairlane truck and built a frame on it. Next came a roll of chicken wire molded and nailed to the framework.

Then everyone, old and young, pitched in. We took a couple of cases of white paper napkins and we started stuffing. When we got through we had a huge white roller skate with long white shoestrings and a big, rounded toe stop.

The only part of the truck you could see were the wheels. Mara took a can of orange spray paint and painted the shoe lace, the toe stop and finally the four wheels.

When it went down the street in the parade it was just a huge roller skate trimmed in orange. Between 45 to 50 skaters were skating around it doing all sorts of fancy moves.

We won the sweepstakes trophy that year and it was given to our kids by the grand Marshall that year, Regis Philbin.

We had a crazy-looking cartoon character on skates as our logo and we called ourselves the Rinkey Dink Roller Rink.