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Ice Skating

I grew up on an Island in Northern Illinois, where it certainly was cold enough to get two to four feet of ice in the lakes by winter's end. So naturally ice skating was a big thing. Growing up on an island in northern climbs, where the lake and channels froze-over every winter, it was natural that we should ice skate. I probably first learned to skate around the third grade, beginning with a pair of hockey skates. These were a little bit difficult since they had a flat blade across the bottom, making it difficult to get traction for the forward push and difficult also to stop, except by sliding them sideways, of which you needed strong ankles. They were also low topped so they didn't give much ankle support which is necessary, especially to have success when just beginning. As I remember, I very soon got from Mother a brand new pair of figure skates and was easily able to tell the difference between figures and hockeys.

The figures had a lot of advantages that the hockeys did not. The figures had a fluted or double edge along the bottom of the blade and jagged teeth in the front. The transition from hockey to figure skates was difficult however. With hockey skates one leans forward on the front of the blades and digs in sideways for traction. Naturally one would do the same with figures, except that figures have those jagged teeth in the front, so that every-time I would lean forward, the teeth would dig into the ice and I would fall to my knees. This was very hard on my kneecaps and they didn't have knee-pads in those days.

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