Roller Valley, in operation for the past 42 years, is closing up shop today, following the death of its owner, Colleen Bernstein. Today from 1 to 3 pm, and tonight from 8 to 10 pm, is the public's last chance to lace up skates and hit the rink.
An Inlander photographer wandered into Roller Valley in 2011 and found Morgan, a skating enthusiast and mother of one. Morgan told the photographer that "treadmills suck," and that she made a point to get to the rink at least once a week to exercise.
"Thank you to everyone in the Spokane community all so much for the support over the years," Roller Valley said in a Facebook announcement.
Incredibly, roller skating dates back to the 18th century, when a guy named John Merlin was the first person known to have invented a roller skate, in the 1760s in London, according to the National Museum of Roller Skating. Skating gained traction in the early part of the 20th century: Charlie Chaplin starred in the film The Rink in 1916, and the pastime took off during the Roaring Twenties, before the Great Depression ground everything to a halt.
Then came waitresses on wheels in the '50s and '60s, serving up burgers and fries at drive-ins. Even the Amish loved skating, the New York Timesreported. ''It's faster than a horse, and it's fun," Andrew Herschberger told the Times in 1996.
Finally, roller skating peaked in the days of disco — captured in the 1979 film Roller Boogie — before beginning its slow, eventual decline.
Jacob H. Fries is the editor of the Inlander. In that position, he oversees editorial coverage of the paper and occasionally contributes his own writing. Before joining the paper, he wrote for numerous publications, including the St. Petersburg Times, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. He grew up in Spokane...