OLD-TIMERS ON WHEELS

Gary Moskowitz

SOUTHWEST GLENDALE -- It's been a few years since Julian Jackson had a

stroke halfway through a cup of coffee here at Glendale's Moonlight

Rollerway Skating Rink.

Since his initial recovery, 66-year-old Jackson has continued to drive

up from Compton every week for "Old Timers Night" at the rink to see his

friends and roller-skate.

Jackson's friends show up every Tuesday night, a lot of them a

half-hour early, waiting to get in their turns and spins at Glendale's

Moonlight Rollerway Skating Rink. Some of them come from as far as Hemet

and Big Bear Lake.

The majority of the crowd is older than 55, and most of the 30 or more

senior citizens that attend come every week to roller-skate and listen to

owner Dominic Cangelosi play the organ.

The roller rink has been in operation since 1950. Built in 1940, the

building was originally used as a factory that produced airplane parts

during World War II.

At 8:30 p.m., Cangelosi dramatically began his rendition of "Unchained

Melody" for a romantic couples skate. The lights were dimmed and a disco

ball spun, shimmering white lights in a slow, circular motion around the

maplewood floor.

Herb Potter sat out during the couples skate. He came up from Los

Angeles, and has been skating at the rink since 1972. Potter was a

prototype machinist in Glendale for 50 years and now makes his own type

of detachable skates. It was a chilly January night Tuesday, so he rubbed

his hands together to keep them warm.

"I love this," Potter said. "I used to bring my friend, Harvey, here,

who was blind, but boy, could he skate! As long as I kept him away from

the walls, he was good to go."

Potter continued to point out various skaters and discuss their lives

and skating styles when suddenly the mood changed as Cangelosi broke into

a hopping version of "In the Mood."

Skaters picked up the pace, including a gray-haired man from New York,

who whizzed by in his Rangers jersey, helmet and roller-blades. Potter

informed me that the New Yorker is also an ice skater and hockey player.

Cangelosi knew the tunes so well that he was comfortable playing the

organ and two keyboards, flipping pages of sheet music and talking at the

same time.

"See that guy 'rexing' over there?," Cangelosi asked, pointing to a

tall, elderly man in a flannel shirt skating backward. "He's had a couple

of heart attacks, and he's on a breathing machine. He's a regular."

Cangelosi took ownership of the rink, formerly known as Harry's Roller

Rink, in 1985. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he's lived in Burbank since

1960.

"Back in the '50s, it was more common to play live music at the rinks,

like music with a bouncy beat," Cangelosi said. "It's for nostalgia,

now."

The rink came alive when Cangelosi started playing at 8 p.m. He

casually bounced through medleys of songs by Glenn Miller, Les Brown and

Tommy Dorsey, and threw in a few numbers by Elvis and The Beatles.

Whenever someone in the rink would fall, one or two friends would help

them up, smile, pat them on the back and get back to skating.

"We're one big family," Potter said. "We like to sit around and shoot

the breeze."

There was a distinct air of community at the rink, floating above the

aroma of the rental skates and popcorn. Families regularly come in for

birthday parties and holiday pot lucks, Hollywood celebrities have

parties there, and instructor Bob Jones gives skating lessons every week.

The staff is made up of kids in their teens and adults in their '40s.

"This is my favorite thing to do, besides living," Potter said.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO GO:

WHAT: Moonlight Rollerway Skating Rink.

WHERE: 5110 San Fernando Road.

WHEN: Mondays, 8:30 to 11 p.m., must be 18 or older; Tuesdays and

Wednesdays, 8 to 10:30 p.m., all ages; Fridays, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., all

ages; Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 to 11 p.m., all ages; Saturdays, 10

a.m. to noon, 12 and under and their parents; Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30

to 4 p.m., all ages.

COST: Prices vary from $4.50 to $6.75, and skate rental is $2. For

more information, call 241-3630.

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