Some of the first birthday parties with friends, held out at a venue, that I remember involved rollerskating at a proper local roller rink. I can recall the first, which was with a group of school friends over at the Plaza Roller Rink in Hampton, in the third grade, perhaps (1980 or so). I loved skating parties because I could go “look cool” out there in the swirly, dark rink with loud music and disco lights in full effect. There was also the arcade corner (the first place I ever played Tempest) which was great fun, and the concession stand with plenty of sodas and greasy junk-food. If I was feeling crazy enough, I’d order a “Suicide,” a drink where they mixed all…the sodas…together! It was madness and it was awesome.
I didn’t get to visit Plaza very often though, as we lived in York County and it was way over on the far side of Hampton. Before long, however, a closer alternative popped up near home that greatly increased the frequency with which I could go skate with my friends: The Rink on George Washington Memorial Highway in Grafton.
From Daily Press, Thursday, March 10, 1983
The Rink Family Skating Center was opened in early 1983 by Dr. Ralph R. Novoa at the site of his former Peninsula Bargain Mall, a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that never really caught on with locals and closed its doors in early 1982. The recreational establishment was managed by Karen and Dave Emerson and Carman Quinn, daughter of owner Novoa.
The Rink had a rental counter along the right wall and a snack bar and an arcade room in the back. There was a definite feeling that things were done somewhat on the cheap there; the video games were titles I’d never heard of (I’m pretty sure one of the games on hand was Eagle, which I never saw before or since), the purple-painted rink floor could’ve been a lot smoother, and various other little details like that could be noticed. It didn’t matter though — the place was enormous fun and it was close enough to home that I was able to visit quite frequently.
In May of 1985 my family and I moved from the Dandy neighborhood in York County to Kingspointe in Williamsburg, and I’m afraid I never made it back to The Rink after that. I have such great memories of hanging out with friends in that place, and of that time in my life in general, really. I would love to hear about any memories readers might have of their visits to The Rink in the comments section.