Gallatin Skate Center Built in 1964

June, 2017 — Judy Elbert will be selling between 75 and 100 pairs of roller skates from the Elbert’s Skating Rink. The collection includes white high-top ladies’ skates and black three-quarter-top men’s skates and children’s skates.

After years of unuse, the Gallatin Skate Center is getting cleaned up to house a flea market. Approximately 75 to 100 pairs of leather roller skates are being offered for sale by property owner Judy Elbert. Although in storage for 25-30 years, these skates can be easily reconditioned for use.

The skates will bring back lots of memories for those who can recall gliding along the wooden floor in an endless circle and leaning into corners while going perilously fast. Others will remember the bumps and bruises from spins and flips and zigzags gone wrong, and may still have the scars to prove it.

The roller rink, located on the south edge of Gallatin, was once a popular activity for children, teenagers, and adults.

The skating rink has not been in business for many years and Judy said she has only sold a few skates in the past.

“People who used to skate at the roller rink would ask to buy a pair just for the childhood nostalgia,” she said.

Recently, when James Hawks asked to rent the lot bordering the rink for a flea market, he suggested that Judy put the rental skates up for sale.

“They’re still usable; they have good wheels; they’re all in pretty good shape,” Judy said. “They’ve been sitting for 25-30 years so they’re a little dusty. But they’re made of good leather and can easily be cleaned and reconditioned and put back into use.”

Edward Elbert (Judy’s father-in-law) and N.C. Bennett were partners in the building of the roller rink. N.C. was the contractor, and it was built it in 1964. Mr. Elbert and Mr. Bennett ran it together for five years. Mr. Bennett eventually lost interest, so Mr. Elbert bought his share. Mr. Elbert ran the roller rink until he passed away in 1975. After that, his wife Margaret Pauline ran it for the next two years.

Carl and LaJoy Abbs leased and renovated the skating rink in 1977.  After that, Bonnie Lowe had a video business in the building for a number of years. That was the last time the building was rented out.

This photo, dated June 22, 1977, accompanied the newspaper article announcing the re-opening of the Gallatin Skate Center. Shown, from left, are youngsters Roger Woody, Teresa Frost, Kim Abbs, Kelly Elbert, Beth Schweizer and Slade Elbert with adults Carl and LaJoy Abbs who leased the rink. These young people — plus Jim Elliott, Mark Abbs and Chris Elbert who were not present for the picture — cleaned 787 ceiling tiles, and rebuilt 192 pairs of skates, including 1,536 wheels and 23,296 ball bearings, for the center’s re-opening.
Carl Abbs offers a steady hand to Denise Focht. Carl and his wife, LaJoy, reopened the center to the delight of many throughout the Gallatin community.

By far, the Elbert’s Skating Rink heyday was in the mid to late 60s.

“During those years, it was quite popular with the young people around here; there was skating every night,” said Judy. “On Friday and Saturday, there was an early night and then a late night session. Whole church congregations and other organizations would rent the building for skate parties on Sunday.”

Eddie Elbert was still running the rink during the heyday. “He loved skating, even when he was in his seventies,” Judy said. “He’d skate with the kids and have a wonderful time.”

Judy’s late husband Spence was also involved with the skating rink and would go down every night after working at the department store and stay until the rink closed.

Part of the fun at roller skating rinks involved contests testing skater prowess, as demonstrated here by Todd Evans in 1977.

Speed skating around Stacy Kirkendoll is Jerry Barlow in this photo snapped during the re-opening of Gallatin Skate Center in 1977.
Jessica Eskridge, left, was all smiles rolling onto the skating rink.
The skating rink was a favorite place for area youth to meet and make memories to last a lifetime. Shown are childhood buddies Denise Focht, Stacy Kirkendoll, Shelly Williamson and Candi Love. By 1980, Gallatin Skate Center housed a video business and skating rolled into nostalgia.
Youngsters enjoying their roller skating are Jason Love, Loren Adkins, and Alan Wood (1977).
Friendships strengthen as youngsters depend on each other to learn how to skate. Shown here is Jenny (?0, Stephanie Bradley and Amber Burns in 1977.
Debbie Pittzenbarger and Shelley Fales demonstrate “skating low,” a skill necessary to compete in The Limbo contests.
Roller skating served up plenty of humiliating moments… but all in fun. Here Alan Wood weathers a spill yet still laughs at himself in such a splitting predictament.
Candi Love demonstrates how the athletic agility of girls can rival that of the boys in roller skating. (1977)