| On April 30, 1932, the Winter Garden organization opened the Winter Garden Rollerway at 725 Gallivan Boulevard, located approximately where the Expressway off-ramp is now located between Staples and the gas station at Hallet Street ? maybe set as far back as the Expressway itself. Every summer beginning in June,1933, the roller skating activity moved to Nantasket to allow the use of the facility in Dorchester as the Riverview Ballroom where many traveling name bands performed, including Rudy Vallee, Fred Waring, Isham Jones, Cab Calloway, Larry Clinton, Gene Krupa, Fats Waller, Ina Ray Hutton, Tommy Dorsey and many others. Note, however, that "jitter-bugging" was never permitted at Riverview, while the Old Time Dance Tempo of Ed Andrews caught on and became popular with dancers of all ages.
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The Winter Garden Rollerway celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1942 with the publication of a booklet with photographs of many of the personnel of the organization as well as many of the skaters. The Winter Garden Tattler was published here until 1936 when its name changed to Roller Skater's World Tattler. By 1942 this weekly publication had a circulation of 7,500 each week with demand coming from all over the country. Fred and Lou Freeman managed the entire organization.
The Winter Garden organization opened a second rink in a building at 11 Rhoades Street that was known formerly as The Morton Arena. This building was located at approximately where the police station on Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street is located in 2003. The Annex Rollerway operated at this location from Feb. 1, 1936 through Dec. 25, 1938, when it became the Chez Vous Rollerway.
The Chez Vous operated at least into the 1950s. The Gallivan Boulevard facility was known at some point in its history as the Sholes Rollerdrome.
See also the Sholes Riverview decal.
Young people would organize themselves into roller skating clubs and take excursions to different rinks. Some of the clubs were the Midnite Rollers Skating Club of 1436 Dorchester Avenue whose first anniversary party was held at the Winter Garden Rollerway, the Winter Garden Roller Skating Club, and The Breath of Life Club.
Occasionally viewers of this site offer their own comments.
From: "Susan Liss" July 27, 2005
Re: Overview: Roller Skating
I skated at the Chez Vous skating ring everyday after school. I belonged to the skating club from there. Dick Dontrimont (sp) was our teacher. I have a lot of fond memories from that time. I still have my gold skate key that i got after taking a test to complete my program. The judges were all over the rink; it was some very happy times.
From: "Ronald Santosucci" January, 2007
Re: Postcard #720: Sholes Riverview Skating & Dancing
I used to skate here in 1955-56. The organist's name was Harry Garafola. I grew up in Dorchester, and South Boston.......and I not only skated at Shole's, but also at Chez-Vous on Rhoades st. Back then, between the side entrance of the Morton theatre, and the auto parts store,(which used to be a car dealer), there was an old wooden fence which had a hole in it, and we used to cut through to get to the diner,(which used to be where the doughnut store is now). The last that I heard, Sam Sholes was living in Florida,(don't know if he's still alive). A pity that the young people have lost interest in the sport, and opted for video games. Trying to keep a certain culture is like trying to stop the tide................Ron
From: Ronald Santosucci
Not to be a "know it all"...but....the Sholes rink at Neponset was located where Staples is now. Across the street where Bickford's presently is, was Linda's Fried Chicken. That's where we went, after skating,(if we were fortunate enough to have the extra 0.15 cents), to get an ice cream.
Hi Earl: As a young lad back then....with no car, or license.....I didn't have occasion to go near the Lincoln-Mercury property. I used to arrive via trackless trolley at Neponset Ave. and Gallivan Blvd. and walk to the rink. The drive-in was there, along with the Keystone Camera Company, as well as...of course.....the rink. Rayco auto seat covers was next to the car wash at the circle,(I don't remember how long the car wash has been there). There really wasn't a lot on Gallivan Blvd., don't forget....the expressway wasn't even there in 1956. That's supposedly the reason that they destroyed the rink,(for the X-way). Hope this helps....Ron
December 31, 2008
From: jj solari
Comments my parents knew fred freeman, my dad melvin solari i think managed freeman's first rink. my mother mary byrne won some medals in figures and was one of the first roller skaters to use the maribel vinson boot design. from what i'm told. jjs
October 4, 2008
From: Kathy Ferreira, RS Gazette Editor
An Interview With a Friend of 68 years!
Written by Rose L. Martin
The story of William (Bill) Best & Eldora Andrews Best?The first Senior Pairs Champions of the R.S.R.O.A.
Bill Best was born October 31, 1916, Eldora Andrews was born January 2, 1918. Bill and Eldora married on March 29, 1941. Bill and Eldora have two children, Jim and Cindy Best. It is with Cindy?s and Eldora?s help that I can write this story. Bill passed away on August 27, 1990.
Believe it or not Bill Best and Eldora Andrews both came from non-skating families. Eldora moved to Detroit when she was 2 years-old. Her family lived on Dakota Street in Detroit.
Eldora came to the Arena Gardens on Woodward Avenue with a girlfriend to skate the public session. She was amazed how big the skating rink was! The skating surface was 100? x 240?! She like the people and skaters in the rink and absolutely loved the big pipe organ played by Russell Bice at all the public sessions. This was 1936. It was in 1936 that the banked track speed skating championships were held. Most all the rink operators in those days were former professional speed skaters including Fred A. Martin, who was the rink manager at that time.
Eldora and I talked about the early Arena Gardens days. She was 18 when she met Bill Best. Bill thought Eldora was good to look at and skate with! At that time of roller skating development, the amateurs created their own association, the Amateur Roller Skating Association, of which Bill became the Chairman. Eldora remained an R.S.R.O.A. skater. Every day after work, they met at the Arena to practice their pair?s routine and also their figures and singles in Men?s and Ladies? Senior Events. Their ?Loop? figures were done on a powdered area and they actually did their loops on two wheels!
At this date of December 2007, Eldora is the last living member of that elite skating group. The dance champions were Lloyd Young and Virginia Mount, who skated for the Mineola Rink in New York, splitting the championships between the Arena Gardens and the Mineola Rink. Walter Stokosa was the Men?s Singles and Figure Champion and elite at skating loops in the powder patch! Jane Peace Holcomb (Taylor) was the Ladies Champion.
Bill and Eldora turned Professional and went to the Twin City Complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1943 until 1948. They developed many champion skaters for the ARSA. Bill continued to teach in Toledo, Ohio and Riverside Arena in Livonia, MI with John Dayney. Bill continued to be active in competitive roller skating and all kinds of sports until he passed away in 1990.
Bill passed his love of sports unto his family. Eldora bowled and played golf until just recently. I should mention she turned 90 years old this past January. Eldora was a participant in the Women?s Bowling Tournaments. During the 1950?s, she performed in the Detroit Civic Players in performances such as: Our Town, Elves and the Shoemaker, Street Scene, Little Women, Mid-Summer Night?s Dream, and In Chicken Every Sunday during which she played opposite George Peppard before he went to Hollywood!
Bill and Eldora's children both married. Son, Jim Best was born in 1952, married Susan Quinlan in 1986, and they have one child, Corey, now in college in New York City. Daughter, Cindy Best Burrier has three children Alexis, Melissa and Adam. Though Bill and Eldora's children skated, they never kept it up and went on to pursue other things.
This has been a labor of love, since these people were a big part of my growing up years. I was 12 years old in 1939 and surrounded by classy dedicated people who made roller skating so wonderful for me during those years and onward. I treasure my association with Eldora and Cindy. Both were indispensable to the writing of this interview.
Editor's Note: Rose L. Martin is still skating, though since her open heart surgery, she uses a walker for balance. She says, "It's still great to keep rolling." Rose also informs us that her skating partner Jimmy Carroll passed away in 1988 in California from cancer.
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Created: August 17, 2003 Modified: May 7, 2011