Culver City Rollerdrome
Rollerdrome Skating Rink in Culver City, California - In 1929 the company built and installed a Special 3/6 organ in the Rollerdrome Skating Rink in Culver City, California.
This organ stood unenclosed in the West balcony of the Rink (opposite the entrance) and, thanks to "Billy's" special voicing, thrilled many thousands of skaters throughout the many years of its use.
This organ is now the property of Daniel F. Haworth of Burbank, California. Mr. Haworth worked for the William Wood Pipe Organ Company from June 1927 through October 1929. The photos and much of the information used in this story are through the courtesy of Mr. Haworth.
All Skate, We Did!
I remember the rink form the many Saturdays and Sundays I spent there. On the far end of the rink was the snack area.
They had hot dogs, hamburgers and soft-drinks. It was on the outside of the skating area and had a blank hard-rubber floor made up of two-foot squares. The hard rubber slowed people down so they could not race in the snack area
There were bench seats all along the peripheral of the skating area adjacent to the rails and there were benches on the outside walls. We would leave our coats and shoes there and girls would leave their purses without a thought of theft! Theft just didn't happen in those days.
Proper Equipment Was A Must
I remember the smell when entering the rink. It was of polished wood flooring and skate shoes they had for rent. Quite often one would have to trade up or down in sizes because they were pretty well stretched out after years of use!
The floors off the risk were wooden or rubber (like in the bathrooms and food areas)
Hundreds of pairs of skates. I finally got my own black skates with brakes on them. They looked like the ones below but the wheels were wood!
This was cheap entertainment and a lot of fun. When we brought dates or met someone there it was exciting. Of course we had to save up our money to have enough to take a girl.
Skating rules would change as the day or evening progressed. All-Skate, couples, reverse, ladies only, men only! I liked the Grand March! Trios were interesting, specially if you came as a couple. The sign would light up and off we went!
Family was important to Harry Culver. The Rollerdrome was a perfect example of how Culver wanted to provide for Culver City parents and their children. Today that site is Tellefson Park, a bicentennial dedication in 1976.
People came from miles around to skate at the Rollerdrome. It was a wooden structure with a gently rounded parabola-like roofline. The height offered by this curve accommodated a mezzanine in the front of the building, where the organist played. Many, like Virgie Eskridge, remember Mr. Osterloh, the musician who filled the building with cheery roller skating music. Then there was the bell, and "Clear the Floor," to prepare for a variety of skating opportunities like "Ladies Only." Virgie included trips to the Rollerdrome as an example of the freedom children had growing up here in earlier days, and just one of the entertainment options.
The Rollerdrome was "a grand place to go, just wonderful." I remmber the skating differed, with variations of "Men Only," "Ladies Only," "Singles Skate," and "Couples Skate." Themla PErkins, our neighbor, was an instructor at the rink in the 1940's.
Suitable dress for the Rollerdrome included skirts and blouses for the girls, and slacks and pants for the boys. Ethel elaborated that "jeans were for work or hiking" at that time. In later years, when women could wear pants, they were in the form of pantsuits.
A Letter Received April 2009
I was researching the rollerdrome, where my parents met and married 62 years ago. My grandfather was Carl Osterloh, the organist, mentioned on yourwebsite. My father is Richard Osterloh and a graduate of Hamilton High. My parents live in Palm Desert,Ca. Grandpa was a very talented organist and extremely funny. Grandma, Lillian Osterloh worked behind the snackbar. After the Rollerdrome Grandpa played the organ at P.O.P. I still have 78 rpm recordings of him playing. Please forgive any errors in this message,I do not type and I am just learning the computer. Philip Osterloh