Roller skating in Olive Hill
By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It’s hard to imagine it today, but downtown Olive Hill was once much more active, with a thriving Main Street and not one, but two roller skating rinks.
The first rink, opened by U.S.G. Tabor in December of 1908 was located on the second floor of his “amusement hall” and reportedly “exceed(ed) the expectations” of the owner/manager.
“So heavy was the demand for skates, and the attendance so much greater than anticipated, that a rush order for skates was indispensable,” the December 10, 1908 Olive Hill Times reported.
“The young folks are most all turning out, becoming greatly interested…and are learning the use of the ‘roller shoes’ rapidly,” the article continued.
Indeed, the young folk were apparently so enthralled by roller skating that a second rink followed the first about a month later.
In the January 14, 1909 edition of the Olive Hill Times the paper reported that, “(a) second skating rink is soon to be ready for patronage in Olive Hill.”
This new rink, under the ownership of “financially interested parties” George Brammer, John E. Wallace, and W.H. Scott was planned, “to be something like double the size of the Tabor rink,” allowing them to accommodate more customers and providing folks more space to skate. The foundation of the lot had already been laid at the time of the article’s publication, at a location on West Main Street, and the developers were simply waiting for materials to get the rink under roof.
It certainly seems like someone in Olive Hill was enamored with the idea of roller skating – patrons, investors, or both. But the town wasn’t without amusements before the establishment of the two skating rinks. It should be noted that Tabor’s rink was an addition to his “amusement hall,” and there were other things to do as well.
An article from October of 1908, for instance, noted that local youth had enjoyed a fall hay ride accompanied by the “musically educated guitar” of Prof. Harry Johnson that, due to the rhythmic banging of “Prof. O’Daniels’ number 11s ‘gainst the side of the wagon” was dubbed “the March of the Jolly Band.”
Good times, indeed.
Editor’s Note: This is the 35th in a series of articles drawn from historical newspaper clippings in the collection of the late Jack Fultz.