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
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
"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
"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,
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
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.