My name is on it along with the real author Keith Coppage. I gave him some stuff and photos but Keith (the OFFICIAL Roller Derby historian) did all the research and writing. (Oh, the book is Bay Area Roller Derby, part of the America series by Arcadia Publishing which has done a great job on bringing America’s stories to us….check out their site, www.arcadiapublishing.com. You will probably find a book about your town, county, or state). Please click on to the link above as his school where he has taught for 25 years is honoring his cultural contribution to the school, the children and the community.
And the book is available at http://www.amazon.com.
Is the book just about the Bay Area? not really. Because Bay Area Roller Derby became nation wide in the 60s and 70s when our videotapes appeared on over 120 stations (in the US and Canada), and the original Bay Bombers became America’s team. Superstar Charlie O’Connell was from New York, “Golden Girl” Joan Weston from LA, and the one and only Ann Calvello, an honest to god San Franciscan. Tony Roman originally from back east, Francine Cochu from Montreal. And they were loved and played to sold out Arenas and stadia everywhere.
I had the pleasure of taking Keith to his first modern Derby game at Craneway in Richmond, CA, and he understood the excitement. Keith had become a fan at 9 years of age when his father took him to a game at the Antioch Fairgrounds, really a terrible place to see your first game….outdoors, the track over dirt. windy and cool, and not well skated. But Keith was hooked. He convinced his family to take him to the Cow Palace and other venues (many miles from where they lived).
I would love to say that Keith ran off and joined the Roller Derby; instead (and this is so sad), he went to Cal Berkeley, became an outstanding English and writing teacher at a high school in Concord California and is the man (see Glee) who brings great Broadway productions on no money to an area that is long on immigrants from all nations.
So how did I meet Keith? Hal Silen and Peggy Brown and I started BASS Tickets, the first independent computerized service in the Bay Area in 1974. When I would wander in the phone room (bad ADD), I would run into someone who was definitely different from our other operators – older, and didn’t look like he needed the job as much as others.
Then strange things started to happen: I would find cryptic messages on my desk: ”on this date in 1965 the first Founder’s Cup (our way of honoring Leo) was played at the Cow Palace. The Pioneers defeated the Bombers 38 to 31.” I knew Hal and Peggy weren’t doing it. Eventually Keith and I started talking. He had taken the job after school hours to be near the Legend!
Of course we became friends. I found out that Keith had attended Joan Weston’s training school she had operated after we had shut down the Derby. He had info on everybody (no, not like TMZ, just good stuff). And he had writings and photos from over the years, so when Baron Wolman (the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone) and I decided to publish “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” we commissioned Keith to write it. Baron edited it and added the wonderful photos he had taken at Kezar Pavilion in the sixties and everyone was happy with the results, except Rollerjam had folded shortly after it was published.
So now Keith had to find new material for the new book, and what is in it amazes me…..photos and stories I didn’t know existed, and pictures he took of the BAD girls and others from leagues that were submitted.
August 8th was the official day of publication, just 5 days away from the 77th anniversary of the very first game in Chicago (no, I wasn’t there…..damn it, it was my father). You can now find it at any book store, or at www.arcadiapublishing.com, or at certainly at Green Apple Books to get those rare dedications from Keith and me. You really want the dual set; the few remaining copies of “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” are available at www.rollerderbycommish.com.
If every league in the world (1299) orders 4 copies, I bet we get on the NY Times best sellers list.