Sunday, October 16, 2011

Roller Skates and Ice Cream

Several weeks ago, I joined a Facebook group called Your (yes, your) Probably From Pittsfield MA If…. It’s a site where participants share memories about a specific area. Broyles Arena, a skating rink, and Friendly’s restaurant are two places that have generated a lot of comments from group members.

When I was in high school, those were two of my favorite hang-out spots. Sadly, Broyles Arena closed many years ago. And Friendly’s parent company, Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Friends and I looked forward to skating at Broyles Arena on Saturday nights. Back then, the roller rink was a good, safe place for us to hang out. We had a lot of fun, even though we sometimes messed up and tripped over our own (or someone else’s) feet and ended up sprawled on the hard floor.

We met new friends there, including some cute guys. None of those rink-side crushes turned into to more serious relationships. It was probably just as well. We were teenagers, after all. However, several couples who met there ended up getting married.

After the rink closed for the evening, we went down the road to Friendly’s for a sundae or an ice cream soda. While we sat at the counter enjoying our ice cream, we chatted about “stuff” we had seen, heard, or experienced that night. We were usually quiet about it, but sometimes we weren’t.

One evening, we lingered long after we’d finished our treats. I’m sure the employees wished the customers would go home so that they could too. We weren’t the only ones there, but we were, um, actually really loud that night. I don’t remember what was so funny, but we all had major giggle fits.

The manager, who was scrubbing the grill, had his back to us. He turned and frowned at us a couple times. I was surprised that he hadn’t told us to pipe down. “Wow,” I said, “Friendly’s is really friendly. Any other place would have thrown us out by now.”

The manager turned around and grinned, “I’m on the verge of it,” he said.