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201019 October 19, 2020


My Personal Top 10 
Important Places While Growing Up in Huntsville
The Countdown From 10 To 1 
#10 The Grand News Stand
#9 The Lyric Theatre
#8 Central Presbyterian Church 
#7 Goldsmith-Schiffman Field
#6 The National Guard Armory
#5 Mullin's Cafe
#4 The Parkway (Shoney's to Jerry's)
 #3 Lee High School
 Last Week #2 - Bradley's Cafeteria
This Week #1 - Carter's Skateland

Memories of Carter's
Tommy Towery
LHS '64
    The Number One favorite place of my days of growing up in Huntsville was none other than Carter’s Skateland. If I could go back in time and spend one night in any place I visited when I was growing up, Carter’s would be my choice. Below are some of my memories and some of the memories others shared with me when I was working on my book “The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Growing Up in ‘The Rocket City’”. Sadly, a lot of my memories involve many of our classmates who are no longer with us: Carol Jean Williams, Carolyn McCutcheon, Judy Scarborough, and others. Some friends still are, such as Mike Thompson of Huntsville High and Mack Yates.

    Carter’s Skateland – Located on the southernmost part of Traylor Island, Carter’s Skateland was the home-away-from-home for me and several friends. Sometimes I spent as many as five nights a week skating to the 45rpm records that provided the music to skate by. Mike Thompson (mentioned above) and I would walk to Carter's from our houses by East Clinton Elementary School. Since it was basically on an island, with the entrance only from the Parkway, we would try to take shortcuts by crossing over a creek behind it. Sometimes that route resulted in wet shoes and pants legs.

    To me, Carter's Skateland is the very essence of my puberty.  All my early romantic hopes and dreams started and ended there. I walked there in the early years.  My heart was broken way too many times by girls who never knew I existed. When I think about it, I remember some of the other skaters were Sherry Adcock, Pam Grooms, Barbara Seely, and Carolyn McCutcheon.  I have special memories of Dianne Hughey and Ginger Cagle with whom I spent most of my time. I also remember that one of my brother's friends, Gene Bailes and another classmate, Linda Pell, were regulars on the skate floor.

     The skate floor was decorated with black silhouette cutouts of skaters lining the walls. For music, I remember "Down Yonder" and "Theme from Dixie" which I loved to skate the two-step to.  I can still do the two-step, but I think we Huntsvillians were the only ones who did that particular skate dance and the only ones who did it like we did. For the slow dance, my favorite song had to be "Young Love".

    Carter's was the subject of many memories in my first book, A Million Tomorrows – Memories of the Class of ‘64.  I will share the more profound segments with you:

    It was at Carter's Skateland in Huntsville that one day I finally became more interested in girls than in the physical act of skating.  It took a while for all that to come about.  While trying to get up the nerve to approach the girls, I learned to skate rather well.  In the beginning, I used the "couple's skate" time to sit and rest or play the baseball game in the changing area of the rink.

    That machine was the old five-cent type where you pressed a button for either a fast, slow, or curve ball and your opponent mashed a different button to swing the bat.  If he hit the ball right he got a single, double, or triple.  Miss the ball and he got a strike.  Hit it bad and he was out. The baseball game at the skating rink soon fell to the side when I found that girls would skate with me if only I asked them.

    The braver I got, the more girls I asked.  Sometimes I knew them, sometimes I didn't.  Sometimes I still struck out, just like on the baseball machine.  It became a grand accomplishment to take off the skates at 10 o'clock having skated with a partner for every skate, except for the "Ladies Only" time.  Of course there were the odd nights when a particular move on the floor or a foreign object lying there brought me tumbling down with an embarrassing thump.  There were also times when that less than graceful move resulted in the seat of my pants splitting wide open exposing the white of the jockey shorts underneath.  That graceful move usually cut the rest of the evening short and made contact with the girls less possible. Sometimes I tied my jacket around my waist and kept on skating.

    Joy Rubin Morris started going to Carter's Skateland when she was 13 and skated there for four or five years.  The songs she closely relates to Carter's are Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry" and the theme from "A Summer Place".  

    She met two of the boys she dated at Carter's.  Some nights they would leave the skating rink and walk over to the Starlight bowling alley.  There they ordered Seven-Ups and French fries with lots of ketchup and would talk.  Sometimes they would go over to the go-kart area and ride the go-karts. They would always return to the skating rink in time to skate to the last song. One event she dearly remembers was being asked to "go steady" while at the skating rink. “That was where we had met and it seemed a fitting place to officially start going together as a couple.” 

    “I remember dating one of the guys who wore a whistle and skated around the rink to make sure skaters were not going too fast or causing problems for other skaters,” she says. “I don't know what they were called and I can't even remember what his name was.”

     She has memories of drinking "suicide" drinks (a little bit of every flavor in one cup), requesting special songs to skate to, and being a part of “The Hokey-Pokey” circle.

     Michael Griffith, of the Lee Class of '66, remembers that he spent many Friday nights at Carter's Skateland, especially during his seventh and eighth grades. “I remember that Mrs. Carter usually stayed behind the glass enclosure where you came in the door,” Mike recalls. “She took the admission money and played the songs on a 45rpm record changer. Mr. Carter was often the ‘enforcer’ and whistled at anyone that he thought was acting in an inappropriate manner.”
    Mike admits that he would look though the glass to read the title of the 45rpm record that was on top of the pile to be played next. He knew the songs that would signal when they would clear the floor and call "couples only or two-step!" By knowing when that about to happen, it was easier to maneuver close to the girl that he wanted to ask to skate. He has fond remembrances of many fine (as he remembers them) young ladies from this experience. One, which he will identify only as JoAnn, put the definition in short-shorts for him. 

    Sherry Adcock White is proud to say that Carter's Skateland was a big part of her teenage life.  “I loved it.  I skated Friday nights, except during football season, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons, and sometimes on Wednesday nights.  I could hardly wait to get in the door, pay my money, get that little ticket, and get out on that wooden skate floor.”

    I remember the pom-poms we made for our skates (after cleaning and polishing them first of course), the skate cases, the skating skirts, the falls, the bruises, the two-step, ‘The Hokey Pokey,’ and the conga lines.”

    According to Sherry, they even had a few non-skating "Sock Hops" at Carter's.  “I always felt safe there; and never thought about anything bad happening to me.”
Barbara "BJ" Seely Ridgeway Cooper says, “Talk about a major factor in my high school social life!  I spent a lot of time there and gained some much needed self-esteem by learning to skate fairly well.  My two younger sisters also skated when I did. To the credit of my family, and to the detriment of my social ambitions, one or both of my parents sat on the sidelines the entire evenings.  We were chaperoned to the hilt!” 

    The Carters were friends of Barbara’s family, and not at all reluctant to report to her mom what they thought was improper for the Seely girls. 

    And I would be amiss if I left out the memories of a non-skating activity I remember about Carter's. As closing time neared many would take the opportunity to seek some "private time" by leaving the building and "going outside" with a member of the opposite sex. The inside of the skating rink was full of people and there were no places for the teens and pre-teens to say goodbye. Most of the early skaters (especially the females) did not have vehicles and were dependent upon their parents to pick them up after the skating ended. On the side of the building not facing the Parkway there were many passionate good night kisses exchanged. Since most of the traffic came in from the Parkway side of the building the opposite side of the building giving some aspect of privacy from approaching cars. I still remember hearing those words, "Do you want to go outside with me?" I still remember more the nights the girls I asked said "Yes." 


        Memphis, TN - For 10 weeks now I have been doing a countdown of my favorite Huntsville places of the past. I have now reached the top of that list and now wonder if any of you have any suggestions as to what you would like me to write about next. We have a Veteran's Day issue coming up next month, but I have a couple of weeks before that, so what do you want to read about? Please email me with your suggestions.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:   Bradley's 

Belinda German Talley

HHS ‘69

    I am Escoe’s little sister, and my best friend was Pam Parsley’s sister, Marsha Parsley Snoddy.

    Escoe and Pam thought that we were way too young for Bradley’s. Thank goodness we went anyway. Oh, what fun to dance in that basement. Of course, we had to leave early. We had to be picked up, at ten o’clock in front of the Lyric Theater. My dad took us home from a movie we never watched. But, we sure did watch those other kids doing the Dog!

    Missing the memory of Bradley’s would be missing the magic of growing up in Huntsville.

    Thanks for helping us to relive that magic.





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