The Night Chicago Died and other antics

  • Posted on December 5, 2009 at 11:39 pm

So, I was gettin’ my Mojo on in the car tonight as I was tooling around town and this song comes on, some might know it and some might have to look it up on  Anyone remember "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace?  The song instantly brought me back to a moment in time that was some of the best times in the world for me as a young girl.

There’s definitely some pluses and minuses to living in Indian Public Housing on the reservation.  One of the major pluses, for me and my sister, was the basement of the rambler type house.  It was about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide made of solid concrete – floors and walls.  There were three or four metal support poles down the middle that reached from floor to ceiling.  (No we were not pole dancing in the basement.  LOL!)

It was in the 70s, when we were in elementary school, that this basement played a key role in the entertainment of the children.  I remember our mother telling us in the winter to go downstairs and play.  And play we did.  I was probably in the fifth grade when we got strap on metal (four wheel) skates.  These were the kind that you strapped on over your shoes.  We would put on the stereo and rollerskate to the music.  This, of course, being at the age when your flexibility was much greater than it is when you are forty-one. 

One must recall that this was also when "Roller Derby", the movie, was out in the theaters.  We would race laps around the basement grabbing hold of the far pole as we whizzed around it to head back in the other direction.  Mind you again, this was a concrete floor and the injuries were substantial if you fell or perhaps were pushed to the floor. 

When we didn’t feel like having our own roller derby we would flip on the stereo and begin roller disco.  We played roller limbo with an old broom stick propped up on boxes or held by friends who had joined in the games.  We roller jumped over the broomstick one time; and only one time, trying to see who could jump the highest.  My sister didn’t make it over the stick and fell flat on her face on the floor.  The game ended.  Mother was not happy.  


You have to listen to the song whilst reading this to get the full affect.

We spent hours and hours in that basement skating and learning new tricks all the time. This was back in the day when I could skate backwards, forwards and sideways without missing a beat.  During "The Night Chicago Died" we learned to cross our feet back in forth in front of us.  Neither one of us ever fell.  We were doing the old touch your toes jumps, holding hands and skating in circles, flinging each other around the basement like ragdolls, pulling each other through our legs and spinning like tops.  It was a lot of fun but it’s a wonder we didn’t kill ourselves.  Just close your eyes as the song plays and imagine two little kids skating on a concrete floor smashing into concrete walls and holding onto red metal poles for dear life.  Loads and loads of fun I tell you.  However, you might not want your kids to try this.

When we tired of skating we would drag out as many boxes as possible and play gymnastics seeing who could dive over the most boxes – we had an old mattress from a futon that we used to land on.  We would do cartwheels and back flips and all sorts of tricks.  In the winter our summer swingset circus moved indoors to the three ring circus in the basement…poor dog and cat we had….but I digress.  We were mostly acrobats for the circus and even made our own balance beam out of planks of wood.  It’s a wonder we didn’t kill ourselves.

4 Comments on The Night Chicago Died and other antics

  1. Abra La Mente says:

    Dredging up the memories–Paper Lace–I loved The Night Chicago Died & Billy, Don’t Be A Hero. I, too owned strap-on-roller skates, and had many bruises and scars to prove it–lets just say, I’m not light on my feet or on wheels attached to them. 😉 Lots of neighborhood games where I lived as well, as well as a few basement zones at friends’ (ours was dirt, we didn’t go down there unless absolutely necessary). Thanks for sharing.

  2. jimlindlauf says:

    I never did the roller skating, but “The Night Chicago Died” was on the radio all of the time. You probably listened to it on KFYR radio out of Bismarck, as I did. Don’t you dare tell anyone, but the song is on my i-pod right now!

  3. Ms. C says:

    PW~I never mastered high-level roller skating skills (otherwise I would have long ago joined the roller derby), but I did love the song – thanks for the flashback. I love the way memories are so often wrapped around music. :-)


  4. Far Side of Fifty says:

    Oh I loved these memories..what sounds like you all had lots of energy to burn:)

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