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   xoxoxoBruce  Friday Apr 15 11:47 PM

Apr 16th, 2016: Roller Skates

In 1971, Melanie sang the double entendre laden…
I've got a brand new pair of roller skates
You've got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and
Try them on to see
I been lookin' around awhile
You got something for me
Oh, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
Everybody understood, because roller skates had been around forever.

These 100-year-old skates are the type first made in 1897, and are a rare example of 'Road Rollers', which were
hugely popular with London businessmen in Victorian times - who skated to and from work wearing the contraptions.

Each boot features two five-inch high spoked wheels, placed one behind the other - like modern in-line skates -
and skilled users could reach speeds of up to 16mph along smooth surfaces. They were fastened to the wearer's
legs by straps attached to stilt-like pieces of yellow wood, and weighed more than 40lb each.
Roller skates were invented by Dutch-Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin in 1760, were hard to steer and stop.
Legend has it he introduced his invention by skating into a ballroom playing his violin, but hadn’t figured out the steering
and stopping yet. He promptly crashed into a mirror, smashing his violin, and nearly killing himself.

Inline skates designed to work like ice skates during periods of warm weather, were invented by Louis Legrange of France
in 1849. They had the same problem of being hard to steer and stop

In 1863, James L. Plimpton in Massachusetts, patented the forerunner of the modern roller skate. Safer and easier to
use than existing versions, which were little more than wheels attached to rigid boards, his "rocker skate" allowed skaters
to steer simply by leaning left or right. This quad wheel skate is the type everyone thought of when Melanie sang,
although the clamp on skate that used a key was passé by the 1970s.

The first inline skate patented in the US was in 1953, by Ernest Kahlert of CA. They were used by Olympic skaters and
hockey players for summer training. They weren’t available to the general public until Rollerblades hit the market in 1987.

Now, the whippersnappers won’t understand Melanie’s dirty lyrics.

Diaphone Jim  Saturday Apr 16 12:11 PM

Great foresight providing built-in splints for the inevitable broken ankles.

The song has always reminded me of the "Confucius say" joke about the boy who loses the key to his girlfriend's apartment.

infinite monkey  Saturday Apr 16 12:24 PM

My mom's name was Melanie. I had that roller skate song on a 45 when I was a kid. She was named after Melanie from GWTW, but still when I hear that song I get weepy. My mom rocked.

lumberjim  Saturday Apr 16 12:37 PM

A kid bit me once when I was 5 because I wouldn't let him try my skates. They fit over your shoes and you used the key to tighten them. Metal wheels. One tiny piece of gravel, and down you go.

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