He would have been 77 when he wrote the following. (Updated to show the Dutch Roll links ...)
Thursday, December 26th. 1974. This evening, when I went out for my walk, I passed Hawthorne School, where I attended the grades sixty-five years ago. Part of the playground has been flooded by the city to make a skating rink. The field of ice is 90 ft. by 200 ft., perfectly smooth and level. The temperature is 28 degrees, a three-quarter moon, light south breeze, a perfect night for outdoor skating. But not one person was using the ice. I wondered where the children and young adults were and what they were doing.
When I was a boy, there would have been at least fifty people using this ideal facility. Perhaps they are inside watching television, or attending a movie. Our ice skating was done on Bear Creek, or on Kirkham’s pond, just west of third Avenue and Sixth Streets southeast. Or on the pond, just above Uncle Joe Alexander’s dam. Sometimes we would skate all the way down Bear Creek to the Zumbro River and on down to the Hill Pond in Northeast Rochester, a little southeast of where the Kruse Lumber Company is located.
Quite often there would be at least thirty of our own cousins and relatives in the group. We would form a long line, hands on shoulders, as we did the “Dutch Roll”* down the ice. As we got close to the Mill Pond, we would hear someone shout, “Here come the Alexanders”. Then the leader, usually Big Walt, would “Crack the whip” and the last one in line, usually Evelyn, and two or three others would go sprawling on the ice.
As I take my daily walks, I notice that there are no people on the streets, walking. I travel a mile or a mile and half without meeting a single person. Occasionally I will meet another older person walking home from Erdmans Super Market with a sack of groceries. But it is a rare occasion when I meet someone. They are all in their cars. If they are out at all, and certainly they have forgotten how to walk.
* More interesting information here at the Virtual Ice Skates Museum, including the history of ice skates.
1 hour ago