The Rollerdome

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Family was important to Harry Culver. The Rollerdrome was a perfect example of how Culver wanted to provide for Culver City parents and their children. Today that site is Tellefson Park, a bicentennial dedication in 1976. 

rollerdr Culver CityPeople came from miles around to skate at the Rollerdrome. It was a wooden structure with a gently rounded parabola-like roofline. The height offered by this curve accommodated a mezzanine in the front of the building, where the organist played. Many, like Virgie Eskridge, remember Mr. Osterloh, the musician who filled the building with cheery roller skating music. Then there was the bell, and "Clear the Floor," to prepare for a variety of skating opportunities like "Ladies Only." Virgie included trips to the Rollerdrome as an example of the freedom children had growing up here in earlier days, and just one of the entertainment options.

Another of my favorite resources, Ethel Ashby, described the Rollerdrome as "a grand place to go, just wonderful." Ethel and her fiancée met friends there regularly on Friday nights and sometimes mid-week during the early 1930s. She remembers the skating differed, with variations of "Men Only," "Ladies Only," "Singles Skate," and "Couples Skate." According to Ethel, when it was a call for all men, they often raced around the rink "like a bunch of whippets." The "Couples Skate" was her opportunity to learn dancing on roller skates. During "Singles Only," Ethel said it was a time for "the young kids to show off." They exhibited a lot of turns and jumps. 

Suitable dress for the Rollerdrome included skirts and blouses for the girls, and slacks and pants for the boys. Ethel elaborated that "jeans were for work or hiking" at that time. In later years, when women could wear pants, they were in the form of pantsuits.