Still, kind of a fun story.
Roller derby first appeared on local television in 1961. It featured teams with names like: the San Francisco Bay Bombers, Portland’s Rose City Rollers and the San Diego Thunderbirds.
They played weekly on a local UHF television station. The four man teams, two blockers and two jammers, thundered around a short, elevated, banked, wood track. The goal of the competition involved getting the smaller jammers past the big and brutish blockers which resulted in points scored.
Competitors sometimes flew right off the elevated track into the fans. We marveled at the athleticism of the skaters and the violence of the head-knocking competition.
So, naturally, we had to have our own roller derby matches.
We held our roller derby events in the smooth cement halls of Phoebe Hearst elementary school. Our track started in the covered hallway running down the center of the school, then turned right into the open pathway running in front of the classrooms, rounded the side of the building then up the pathway along the back of the classrooms, only to return the covered center hallway.
We played four man teams just like the real roller derby: using the big boys as blockers and the smaller boys as jammers. Games lasted four quarters and the team with the most points in the end, won the competition.
Because the front and rear classroom hallways were so narrow, virtually all the passing took place on the wide, covered, center hallway. This made for some bone-bruising spills, but no serious injuries ever occurred. However, we often suffered scrapes, bruises and cuts in these enthusiastic competitions. I recall bouncing right off the walls of the building into oncoming skaters which led to bodies flying all over the halls of the school.
By the end of a hard-fought match, we were fully ready for a trip over to Bossie’s Drive-in or to the A&W root beer stand for a tall soda pop where we reviewed the events of the day and argued over which team actually won or lost the match – no champagne for the winners of the roller derby.
Eventually, like all things in the world, roller derby left the Sacramento airwaves and we lost interest in playing the sport. This probably spared us from suffering some sort of serious injury.
But the passage of time has not blurred the memories I have of these competitions – another bone-bruising Janey Way memory.