The Church of Skatin: Will Santa Barbara Ever Have an Ice Rink? Gosh Darn it!

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
~Joni Mitchell

The cold hit my nose and the tingling smell of ice made me feel eight years old. I love the smell of snow. I had not skated in a while and I was a little nervous about getting on the ice again. But I needed it bad. I was hating myself just before Christmas. I was feeling wrong in every way. A big blob of menopausal mud. I needed to feel like a kid. Like I was right in some way. Splendid and new. My body was feeling mangled and old.
Then I remembered something that I loved.
So like a veteran ravaged by war and sadness.
I found a church. My church of skatin.

When I was a kid in Santa Monica we had an excellent rink. An Olympic training rink. The same rink was used in the film Rocky. Adrian and Rocky have their first date at an ice rink. Every time I see the film I wait for the scene. I loved that rink. It had walls hand painted with a wintry scene in Central Park. The tog shop, snack bar and even the Zamboni's home, were illustrated facades. Like Disneyland's main street, the nostalgic renderings depicted a small towns rink side amusements. They celebrated a place and time near the beginning of the 1900's.

These paintings still exist as the 420 Broadway location is now home to the famous Fred Segal Store. Behind the racks of glittering be-sequined-gal-glamour-wear there are the paintings that illustrate one of the loveliest places I ever knew as a child.

On weekends my folks would drop me off at the rink early in the morning with a dollar or two and my warm skating "togs" which included mittens and a blue and yellow knit stocking cap with a long pom at the end of a long rope of yarn. It was a wondrous hat, the three foot long tassel would whip around my head and neck like a lasso as I skated. I would stay at the rink all day. With a dollar I could get four cups of coco from the vending machine. I learned to reinvent the watered down pale milk-less brown mixture with the Coffee Mate creamer at the condiment table. A lot of Coffee Mate would turn a vending machine cup of coco into a cup of creamy deliciousness.

I would stay at the rink and on the ice as long as I could. The fifteen-minute breaks for the Zambonie to resurface were an eternity. The Zamboni left the ice slick and shiny. I eventually taught myself to skate well enough that I could wear a skirt. Which meant I wasn't falling on my ass every five minutes and soaked by the end of the day. In my white worn out rental skates, gold tights and my plaid green and gold jumper, I was the essence of skating style. A rather pathetic style, but in those days I was creative and made do. I always wanted clothes that matched but I don't know, they just didn't. Except for my blue and grey Saint Monica's uniform with it's matching beanie.
But on skating days I tore my closet apart to come up with my best Peggy Flemming ensemble.

Now I have my very own skates. Rydel boots with Sheffield blades. All leather with a leather stacked heal. I got these incredibly beautiful skates at the Saint Vincent DePaul on Haley for $30! I always get great deals. Friends have deep resentments toward me over my thrift store juju. My first love was an antiques dealer and he helped me develop my eye. I know labels and makes. I know fabric and construction. And I think God likes me to get a good deal. My piece of heaven on earth is a great thrift store.

I Googled "Ice Rink" and found the Channel Islands rink in Oxnard. This is the closest rink to SB. There is a huge rink that is in the planning phase in Goleta. They have a website with photos of the plan and design. It looks like a magic ice palace. It has been a work in progress for over ten years. I would very much like for Ty Warner to finance this project. It would balance out the Ty Warner theme in SB. The Ty Warner Ice Center and the Ty Warner Sea Center:Ice and Sea.
It works right? It looks like an awesome project and great for the community. (Yes this is a shameful pitch) The land was thrown into the Big Box deal as a proviso. The folks developing the project have raised some part of the ten million they need to build the rink. I don't get it. This is a rich town who prides it self on community development.
So where's the rink? I want my rink!
Gosh darn it!

I did find a great class at the Channel Island rink in Oxnard I like the drive down the coast.
It's called the Lunch Bunch. It runs Mon-Wends- Fri 11am to 1pm. For $10.00 you get skate rental, rink time and a lesson. My teacher is Terry Tonius ( has been teaching for 40 years. He actually taught at my rink in Santa Monica! So on Wednesdays me and a congregation of gently-used not-so-young women gather on the ice. We have a range of experience in ice-skating. I start each session with "swizzles", forward and backward, one side and then the other. I am learning edges. There are eight. My progress is slow but steady. I feel strong after class. Sometimes my hamstrings feel like pulled pork. My back hurts, but I always have the convenience of lying on the ice. I walk straighter and I have a delicious secret. Ice-skating is like prayer in action. A prayer that says I still believe in my self.

After about four weeks of me coming home looking like sunbeams on a butter cream frosting cake and a lot of coaxing. My family came with me to the rink one Saturday. I knew, before they knew, the transformative power of the ice. My fiance had skated as a child in Maine and is an X-Olympic athlete; I knew this would get him. My nine-year stepson and twelve year old by birth, both had the same look on their faces when we entered the rink.

"It smells like snow Mom:this is so cool!"

When the "men" hit the ice it was awesome. The boys were a little shaky at first but their determination took over and they stuck to it.
First using the rail and then just dog paddling.
My fiance was a bouncing hockey skater in minutes and his usual pouty non-believer face was lifted. He was beaming. He just had a huge career shift and he had been lower than a short curb of late. And now he was beaming!
They were smiling and laughing and falling and wet.
They demanded coco at the Zamboni break.

This is one of the best times we have had as a family. I mean, what boy (man-boy or boy-boy) doesn't love hockey. The idea of hockey. It is quite simply good clean man-fun.

Now we are all hooked and the little vacation we can improvise with a trip to the rink is easy. We just hop in the car and go and play. Then we go to Chick-Filet, YUMMY! It is my dream day right now. A family skate and a fried chicken sandwich. It is an unusual slant on the traditional Church going, fried chicken dinner Sunday. But I think it serves the same purpose.
Right now this place is my church. It is where I go to say thank you to God for all that is good in me. Like a river I skate away on.

event calendar sponsored by: