By Florence Palmer Jackson
It looked like a Currier and Ives scene, rosy-cheeked children bundled up against the biting cold night air. Anxious parents skating close, but not too close, to the youngsters. And teen-agers -- boys with green jackets and bright yellow and white stripes on the shoulders eyeing girls. And the girls, all in groups of threes and fours, giggling and sharing some secret as they left the ice and headed for the hot chocolate stand.
It wasn't on a frozen lake or moonlit canal it was another Tuesday night ice skating session at the new Herbert Wells Ice Skating Rink in College Park.
Kevin Shelley, a member of the Bowie Hockey Club, finds the Wells Rink convenient for practice sessions. His two companions had other reasons. Charles Cerulla was having a tough time because he's a beginner and this was his first time this year. But that didn't seem to be much of a detriment to having a good time. And he admitted that meeting girls was also one of the benefits. Another friend, Nolan McCoy of Seabrook, was working on strengthening his ankles so he could skate better.
As the teen-agers were enjoying both the exuberance and the social aspect of the sport, it was hard not to notice the tiniest skater of them all, 3 1/2-year-old Laura Hale, bundled up in pink and white hat, sweater and gloves, shyly talked about the ice skating lessons which she has just started.
Her mother has been taking lessons for two years. By starting Laura skating at an early age. "We will both be able to enjoy the sport together," her mother said.
The night was one of the coldest this year and Ron and Mary Kinsley, of Columbia, were trying to warm up over some hot chocolate. While loosening his laces, Kinsley mentioned that he was trying out new skates and so far "they haven't improved my performance."
His wife Mary was on a scouting expedition for her office. She said she works nearby and wants to bring friends from work to skate at lunchtime.
The skaters continued around and around until the announcer asked everyone to stop and reverse direction.This caused obvious consternation among the beginners. Groping for the railing, they started on the new direction.
Eric Blum, a government worker from Hyattsville, was making his first attempt at skating and, with two friends holding him up on either side, he had his initiation into the world of skating.
Meanwhile, watching anxiously from outside the rink was Blum's wife Linda and their year-old son Seth. Because they couldn't get a baby-sitter, the Blum's had taken turns skating. Now it was Linda's turn to watch Seth.
"They didn't have skates small enough for Seth; but if they did, he would be on them" said Linda.
What seemed like one of the lonliest jobs at a skating rink, that of taking tickets as the skaters entered the doorway, didn't seem to bother Chris Cline very much.
Though it was his first night on the job he said, "It wasn't bad at all because I get relieved every so often so I can go out and be a skate guard."
Cline said that since the rink opened on Oct. 31, Business has been pretty good with capacity crowds on weekends.
Munching on Munster cheese was a 59-year-old woman from Landover Hills. Originally from Canada where she had skated since childhood, this spry, energetic woman eagerly related how she introduced her husband and children to skating. She was still trying to learn how to skate backward. "That's my goal" she said.
While some may be at the rink for exercise, to practice for hockey, or to practice perfect figure eights; there is always the common denominator -- fun.