The Shore Roller Drome Skating Rink in Neptune, New Jersey!    






Most everyone will now and then reflect upon the past and conjure up memories of things the way they once occurred. Usually those events are colored by past events that may have influenced those memories. Such may be the case as I reflect upon one of the happiest times of my life when I was the organist at a little Roller Rink on the Jersey Shore during the early 1950s. My even being in New Jersey at that time is a story by itself. After high school graduation several high school buddies and myself decided to join the US Army as the Korean War was still raging and we felt we could help in the country’s efforts. However, during my initial training, (called boot camp in those days) I was seriously injured in a training accident. Although not life threatening, the injuries would severely limit my duties as an Infantryman so I was reassigned after my hospitalization pending further medical evaluation. I might have been discharged with full benefits but somehow it became apparent to the General Staff that my training as an offset printing pressman made me a very valuable asset to the Signal Corps and the Army Security Agency, The offset printing process was still in its infancy at the time and few pressmen were available  as cryptographers. At the request of the Signal Corps Commandant, I was transferred to Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey and assigned to the Army Field Printing Plant until such time as my services were no longer needed and I had trained suitable replacements. It was during this period of my life that I became acquainted with and subsequently employed as organist at the Shore Roller Drome Rink in Neptune, New Jersey.

Because I had been around roller and ice rinks in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago and Portland prior to my enlistment, I decided to travel the few miles from the Army Post to Asbury Park with some of my army buddies to the Rink. I was single - - so what the heck? I had skated quite a bit before my accident and knew that a lot of cute girls liked to skate so I just went along for the ride and watched everyone else having a good time One evening, Bill Junda, one of the owners of the Shore Roller Drome noticed me sitting by the concession stand with my crutches and asked if I have been hurt in Korea. He could tell I was in the military even though I was dressed in "civies" (the haircut) and was curious about my situation. I briefly explained what happened and after that time I was sort of his buddy doing odd tasks around the rink. Within a few weeks, he told me his organist was leaving and I asked to try out for the job. That began almost three years of very pleasant and rewarding experiences in my life. Most likely few people from that era  will remember these days but there are a few people associated with that rink that I will always remember and admire for their friendship and kindness

Bill Junda Co-Owner & Tom Livingston, Co-Owner, Iris Cheesman, cashier, skater  Harold Gravatt, just one heck of a nice guy and occasional skate guard (even though I mis-spelled his last name on every photo, Harold “Pete” Boothe, Richard Creighton, Marcel Judge and George Yeck, all skate guards. Then, some regulars like Leroy Devol, Lou Risica and I forgot Greenwood’s first name. (Oh well, it has been over 60 years!) Then there was cute  little Barbara Leedom, who drove all the way from Lakehurst Naval Air  Station to skate, and the ever lovely Jean Seimers who  was there most every week-end to brighten the place. Jean also helped Jim Stembel our concession manager when he would get busy. And we must not forget the ticket taker “Pops” - I never knew his name but he always accused me of playing so fast the kids would skate like little “squirrels.” Maybe he just thought I was nuts!

Below are a few memory pictures of those days gone by. I hope you enjoy. - Guess who is featured as organist  And then there is always smiling Iris Cheesman. the cashier and the first person you met when entering the rink. She was actually quite attractive. 
The Rink often hosted Roller Skating Dance Championships
For more history of the Shore Roller Drome ---Check out this link:
And then there was my going away party!
Wow! What a night that was!  In late March of 1957 the Shore Roller Drome "Rink-Rats" were informed by me that my enlistment was up and the Army was kicking me out.  And as luck would have it, Mr. Junda and Mr. Livingston announced to the group about the same time that the Shore Roller Drome was closing to be converted into a Bowling Alley.  Roller Skating had been on the decline for quite some time during the mid-50s and the owners wanted to capitalize on their building investment. While everyone was deeply disappointed, the ring-leader of the group (Harold Gravatt) decided we would end with a flourish in a combination "going away - - rink closing" party to he held at our favorite after skating session "watering hole" called Lindy's Restaurant  in Neptune just a short way from the rink. So on April 20, 1957 we all met for the grandmother of all going away parties.
Without a doubt, this was one of the happiest times of my life. I really miss that gang and each one of them will have a special place in my memory. If you knew any of them please let them know that all is well with Larrie Dee. Just contact me through email link here. I will be happy to hear from you. Or just  press the "email" link on the Home Page. (Click or just go back in your browser to reach home page.)