Goodbye Roller Kingdom 15

Last weekend I passed through Woonsocket as we headed up to The Hub for Connie’s coming out party.

As we cruised up Diamond Hill Road (the spine of East Woonsocket), I saw the dilapidated wreck that was once our afterschool and weekend evening haven: the sweaty den of iniquity known as Roller Kingdom. The site of many forgotten great events, and some not forgotten.

It was the location of the famous “You’re pushing me Warrior!” event (although some might think this occurred at Brunswick, which is not the case.)

I also recall Jon going toe-to-toe with a slightly older family friend of mine. Jon quipped to the slightly unstable boy “You forgot to take your pill,” to which he quickly retorted “and so did your Mom when she had you!” Not a major event, at least not like my first (I think) girl hand-hold with Barrette there in Junior High. Nervous, sweaty, body odor-laden. Good times.

I don’t think the place was air conditioned, was it? How nasty did it get in there if it wasn’t? I can only imagine the pubescent stench of feet filling the place.

I recall bad food, uncomfortable melamine seats, not really knowing how to skate (or more accurately how to stop), and being intimidated by older kids (including cruds / Cumberland Farms Crowd)– especially those on in-line skates. Those seemed like the wave of the future back then.

The Call has a couple of pieces about how the place was built and how it was burned to a wreck.

Any other memories?


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15 thoughts on “Goodbye Roller Kingdom

  1. Reply Jon Jun 8,2007 16:52

    1st, I don’t remember people having in-line skates at roller kingdom. The last time I stepped foot in there was, at the very latest, the first half of 9th grade. I actually think it was the first half of 8th grade, which would make it the fall of 1985, but maybe it was the fall of 1986.Did they have in line skates then?
    I do know that all of a sudden, someone declared RK uncool, and we, being cool, stopped going.
    I actually was ok on the skates due to the hockey skating experience, but I was never comfortable with the stopping shit. Any time I had to exit the rink, I got nervous (kind of like that phobia I went through on the ski slope where I feared that I wouldn’t be able to get off the lift and would have to go back around in the wrong direction. As a result, I used to elbow people – read: Glen- out of the way to make sure I got off, but I digress).
    Second, who the hell was your slightly older family friend to whom I made that wise ass comment? No recollection of that at all. Who are we even talking about?
    Third, I could have sworn “you’re pushing me warrior” was at Brunswick. I’m still of the belief it was at Brunswick. I don’t recall that game being at RK. I remember Paperboy, that game where you navigate the marble through the maze, and a car racing game, but that’s it. Anyone else want to weigh in on this dispute?
    I recall eating a lot of frozen pizza there during the early bird 6:00-9:00 pm shift. Only a few cool kids got to stay for part of the second 9-12? shift. I was always jealous. Other memories include lots of people (but of course never me) making out in dark corners of that place. I also recall a lot of sitting in those awful booths making minor small talk but generally saying little because of the Hair Metal blaring over the loudspeakers throughout the evening. Lot of Ozzie Osbourne and, later, Bon Jovi.
    I also recall long waits in line in the vestibule area waiting to purchase tickets to get in.
    And then, of course, trying to find whomever’s parents’ car to pick us up in a parking lot that was as crowed as I-93 in Boston at 5 on a Friday.
    Nice trip down memory lane.

  2. Reply Jerome Jun 19,2007 13:53

    MY only memory of it is that I never set foot in the place. What was I doing every Friday (or was it Saturday) night when you guys all went skating?

  3. Reply Jon Jun 19,2007 14:01

    You were probably doing something handy on Friday nights back then (Friday was RK night; although we may have gone to RK on a Saturday night once or twice, it quickly became obvious that Sat was not a cool night at RK).
    Didn’t your dad know someone who tripped while on roller skates and broke all his teeth or something? Or maybe he knew someone whose skates got all tied up, causing him to twist his ankle in such a grotesque fashion as to result in amputation just below the knee.

  4. Reply Jerome Jun 19,2007 14:16

    Right. I was working on my backyard build a rocket kit or something.
    Maybe I was learning wiring. I recently wired a new light in my house, while when G$ tried it, he electrocuted himself and shot himself across the room.

  5. Reply Jerome Jun 19,2007 14:17

    and yes, I’m sure my dad did know a guy…

    he recently pulled that out for something. I almost lost it.

  6. Reply j Jun 20,2007 08:27

    yeah, that was surely at the RK. i don’t think i ever played video games at brunsick. they were too cigarette-burned for me.

    at least in my memory that’s where it happened.

    hey- the The Dream Machine still there? did they taxidermy the old checkers champion?

    i can’t believe Jeff never went. wow. we used to go there after school sometimes, didn’t we?

  7. Reply Jon Jun 20,2007 10:49

    Not sure on the after school part. All I remember is going on Friday nights in 7th-8th grade. We may have gone to some kind of CYO outing there during the day time, however.
    Still think you’re wrong on “you’re pushing me warrior”. We used to play videogames at Brunswick all the time, to the point Chris’ mom banned him from the place (he later defied the ban, was promptly spotted by his mother’s friend from work, who mentioned she saw Chris, and then he was really in trouble. . .). They had some good games at brunswick, like that hockey game with the overhead view, the first arcade pure karate game (Glen would know the name of it), and the Warrior game (what was it called?), among others.

  8. Reply j Jun 20,2007 11:42

    The game was Gauntlet. Not Gauntlet2 or 3. And there really was no way to push anyone in it.

    I think Jeff has it for dreamcast.

  9. Reply Jon Jun 20,2007 15:07

    Well apparently there was a way to push because whoever was the fucking Warrior was pushing that pyscho. I think he was actually referring to the fact that whoever it was was hurting his character.

  10. Reply j Jun 20,2007 15:58

    I think the big scary crud didn’t realize what all the lights and colors were.

    he was confused.

  11. Reply Jon Jun 21,2007 09:40

    I enjoy your retro references to “cruds”. I recently heard my dad use that term for the first time in years and it made me laugh. He’s who we got it from, right?

  12. Reply j Jun 21,2007 09:43

    your dad gave us many gems. yes, you took crud from your dad and into our vernacular.

    who spawned ‘cumberland farms crowd’? sounds like a g-money line…

    what are some others?

  13. Reply Jon Jun 22,2007 09:30

    “Cumberland Farms crowd” is a good one. You know, you don’t see people hanging out, “slacking” outside convenience stores and church parking lots like you used to.
    On an another note, I always enjoyed “the Junior Bimbos”. Was that Otto’s genius?
    How about the “Mustache Lady at Childworld”. Remember her? Poor thing.
    By the way, who was the family friend I traded insulst with at RK? Email it to me if you don’t want the name posted. It wasn’t Bottle Cap Joe, was it?

  14. Reply j Jun 22,2007 10:35

    Who the heck was bottle cap joe? i remember captain strut, but not bottle cap.

    Moustache lady? barely. I do recall Child World being absolutely huge, and often have dreams about it as if it went on forever, with new treasures down every aisle. Do you remember the Harris librarian with the funky long nails?

    it was a kid named brian from springfield. i think it was the only time we saw him as a group. he was pretty abrasive in general

    as for convenience store kids, it’s a strange phenomenon. knowing about these CF Kids did make the film Clerks a little more accessible, and in some ways makes me wish i’d hung out there. But then again, if i had, Jon’s RIC prediction for me would surely have come to fruition.

    Junior Bimbos. If only that has been a misnomer!

  15. Reply Jon Jun 22,2007 11:03

    Bottle cap Joe = J. Laflesh; nickname courtesy of Glen.
    Childworld in its heyday was the greatest toy store of all time. It was immense, and was much better than any crappy Toys R Us or K Bee Stores. They had a whole aisle of guns; a million matchbox cars; tons of Star Wars guys; video games, hell, even a ton of bikes.
    I doubt the Cumberland Farms Crowd was engaging in any conversation even remotely related to that found in Clerks. I’d say it was about 50 levels down the intelligence scale.
    My brother was literally terrified of the Harris Library Lady with the humongous Lee Press-on Nails. He seriously was afraid to go to Harris Library for a while after his encounter. I think he was around 5 years old at the time.

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