Hello! Is there anyone else out there who also attended the first Ice Follies Show? It was 77 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when the spectacular show of ice skaters opened for the first time. That was 1936 and I was five years old. (Okay, do the math.) My love for skating was born that night and has never gone away. I saw the Ice Follies every year until I left for college in 1949. By that time, the Ice Capades was also coming to town. It began in 1940. And, do you remember Sonja Henie?

We have an excellent ice rink here in little Santa Fe and a very professional program that offers training and shows. That’s what set me off this morning while reading the paper, drinking my tea and eating my cookie. The young skaters are putting on a show.

I began ice skating when I was about six years old because my dad was in charge of ticket sales for the big venue where they also had hockey and other large events. I could skate for free but I didn’t skate too well until I was 36 years old. At that time, I took skating lessons in an adult class run by an Olympic speed skater who was also a figure skater. A lot of top skaters used the rink where I skated in Los Angeles and I was able to watch them up close. What fun!

My Dad knew Sonja Henie because she had her own show and she was such a smart, hard-headed business woman, as well as the leading skater in the world, that she went to the ticket office at the end of every show and supervised the show’s “take.” This did not endear her to my father, but she became extremely wealthy.

She made a famous movie, “Sun Valley Serenade,” and skated on an outdoor rink at the Lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho. As an adult, I got to skate on the same rink and loved it.

I owned a Sonja Henie doll when I was a child. The Sonja doll had her own ice skates. I never played with her; she sat, beautifully, on my bed together with my Shirley Temple doll. They were Stars, not like my huggable Teddy Bear.

There are quite a few websites on the subject of figure skating. A good history of Sonja Henie is in the New York Times archives–sadly, her obituary.

COMING NEXT: Some Yarns About Knitting


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