Written by William Hart
I was given a copy for review.
The opinions are my own.
“I doubt roller rinks were designed specifically to promote population growth, but had they been, they couldn’t have done a much better job.”
Roller Rink Starlight: A memoir by William Hart is a true coming of age story. Having grown up a little after William I found the journey to be both an insight into my parents’ youth and at times nostalgic of my own. I too had my church experiences as a youth and found the golden rule (Do unto others…) to be both insightful and adaptable. I spent many Saturdays at the roller rink and certainly found myself smitten by Hailey Mills in Pollyanna. As a journey into a slice of Americana, the book focuses on Wichita, Kansas and in particular near the Alaskan, a super-sized roller-skating rink. It also focuses on our author’s early love life. From girls whispering in his ears in elementary school, to finding real love at the rink, to the drama of teen break-ups, and cover-up lies to stay on the track team, Roller Rink Starlight does not fil to disappoint its reader. For those young men, especially us growing up before the digital age, there is a connection here. A world of sports and sport injuries, of families and learning not everyone’s mom and dad are like yours, a world that grows larger as you age is all here.
I love the line, “I had an uneasy awareness that part of my childhood had been left behind that afternoon. I felt destined for a place I knew almost nothing about. I wondered if I’d be as happy there as I’d be be in the safe, familiar world of my boyhood. I knew I might not be happy there at all, but I was going there for sure because I’d fallen under the power of something I didn’t want to fight.”
That something, is found in the roller rink. “I doubt roller rinks were designed specifically to promote population growth, but had they been, they couldn’t have done a much better job.” As the story progresses with a few stops for vignettes, we find our author’s key love interest, Katy. Their story is both unique and one that most can connect to. The thrill of first love, played out in a theatre stage where you only get one pass at the performance.
While the story of William and Katy holds interest, the real gem of this book for me was the vignettes. The side story of shooting cars with a slingshot made me laugh. The chapter on Lucas, “Mr. Essential,” made me remember such adults in my own life, and the story of Melvin Semple made me thankful I did not have similar experiences with teachers.
Overall, the memoir is well worth a read and its ending is one most adults can appreciate as we look back on our journeys. Oh, and the cover of the teen legs in roller skates is definitely well done. I read the book over several days during my lunch hour. Several co-workers saw it and picked it up. One of them is its new owner as I like to pass on a good read.