A day to myself in Lincoln, Nebraska, with temperatures up to 90 degrees. What is a roller derby girl going to do with herself? My perfect plan of the day was visiting the National Roller Skating Museum. Thanks so much to James Vannurden, the director/curator of the National Roller Skating Museum, for coming in to open special for me.
He gave me a thorough, quick tour of the place, starting with the exhibits of the earliest known rollerskates. I recorded my interview for my road trip audio documentary, and hopefully you’ll be able to hear him sometimes soon. I’m sure James thought I was nuts, my eyes huge, holding a microphone out to him and grinning like I did when the doors opened 5 minutes early at the Nisswa Rollerena when I was 11 years old.
It’s not a big place – a room really, but it’s a quintessential slice of Americana that is captured in every little detail in the joint. Like the roller skating in the White House exhibit. I think James said that there were 5 known cases of rollerskating in the White House where sitting presidents allowed their kids to skate. The last was Amy Carter, and there was a cute picture of her in her 80′s bespectacled glory, holding her cat with a pair of white Garfield the Cat rollerskates in front. There was also an exhibit from one of the women who ran for Miss America in 1989. She didn’t win the crown, but did well in her talent competition of roller dancing and donated her trophy and tiara to the museum.
And then there was derby. Sigh. Starting in 1935, Chicago entrepreneur Leo Seltzer created something called a Transcontinental Roller Derby where teams of a man and a woman were pitted against each other in a marathon across the country. He eventually created the game of derby in 1948′s post-Depression America with a banked track that became wildly popular on television and radio. It’s waxed and waned in popularity over the years, but now has a HUGE resurgence across the countries – some say there are 100 new teams forming across the country every year! The museum had a nice display of the past AND future of roller derby.
I asked James- the-curator who were the regular visitors of the National Roller Skating Museum. “Kids on field trips and busses from nursing homes” he said, “or, if there’s a national roller skating competition going on in town.”
And, of course - Butterscotch Bitch – a 42 year old derby girl reliving the joy of youth on skates while my husband is attending the roller derby referee clinic before heading out to the National Roller Derby convention in Vegas.
Tomorrow is Magic’s last day of the ref clinic, and I’m planning to go to the scrimmage with the No Coast Derby Girls of Lincoln, Nebraska. Can’t wait to watch and learn!