When Roller Derby the marathon became Roller Derby the game.


The Miami News – Google News Archive Search.

Please click onto the link above. My cousin James Meyers found this newspaper account from January 1937 covering the Coral Gables Derby “race”. As you can see from the standings, the first team to skate 2850 miles would win. Usually the meets would last from 30 to 35 days. And Johnny Rosasco’s team (he and his woman partner) was in the lead, as most of the teams had covered the same distance, but they had lapped the field more than anyone else.

http://hbrd.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/derbypost.png click to see photo of winning couple!

It was at this meet (one and half years after the first Roller Derby in Chicago) and months before the fatal bus crash that famed Sports writer and columnist Damon Runyon became friends with my father and together devised the five and five team game that is the basis for all Roller Derby today……and was skated in all subsequent events.

Please note on the final night of this event, the jam was not timed, so the field could be lapped many times (ugh, powerjam). This of course was not a factor in the game format that followed.

Irving Wayne, mentioned in the article, was my mother’s brother and James’ grandfather. Keep track of the history so you can tell your grandchildren all you know about the game you love.

Hazel Roop Shares her experiences of being a roller derby star in the 1930s | blindfilmmaker.com


Hazel Roop Shares her experiences of being a roller derby star in the 1930s | blindfilmmaker.com.

Click the above link.

You will find this fascinating. David Block who is legally blind follows the history of Roller Derby and recently interviewed Hazel Roop who is 97 years olds and skated in Derby starting in 1936. Her granddaughter currently skates with Penn Jersey. Please read David’s other posts.

Because of women like Hazel there was developed a sport which has been passed down to you in its present form. Please read and share.

are you kidding me?


Two weeks from today I will reach an amazing birthday.

I was born in the depth of the Depression, and have lived under 13 presidents…..would have been more if Roosevelt hadn’t kept running.

Lived through at least 5 wars; I am not certain what counts as a war now.

And I have been around for the entire length of Roller Derby, and two things always surprise me:  those who think I created it (don’t worry, Leo, I keep correcting them), and those who think it is just 10 years old.

I have seen cures for polio and other diseases, the emergence of television, air conditioning, jet travel, flights to the moon, and so many other unbelievable things.  It is amazing to know that more changes have occurred during my lifetime than during the millions of the years previously.

For Roller Derby alone, I saw it change from a marathon to a game; I saw it become one of America’s leading attractions, its disappearance and most unlikely revival.

And I will live to see it attain its rightful place as one of the world’s leading sports.  There is way too much awareness and interest for it not to happen.  So let’s all get real busy.  I will be starting another page on facebook (oh no!) asking for everyone to help in making Roller Derby reach its proper position in the sports world; those who do not want it to happen, that is fine; for you it will stay the same.  For those who want to see a legitimate professional game with teams (why not some of the present ones) of paid skaters, let’s at least discuss it.

I know it is going to come about.  And I probably only have another 20 or 30 years to be a part of it.

Now for the wayback machine


I just watched the last program of the Prohibition series on PBS.  No I don’t remember Prohibition, but I was born around that era.

And when prohibition ended in December 5, 1932, I had just turned 6 months old and was fighting for my life.  I had come down with what appeared to be a severe case of dysentery, but ordinary treatment was not working.  And then the doctor (Dr. Bilderback) analyzed my system and determined that I had cholera, the only case reported in Portland, Oregon, in over 20 years, according to the report in the Oregonian (newspaper).

The only effective remedy was blood transfusion, and it had to be directly from a donor at that time.  My father’s partner in Portland had a son named Buster who gave me transfusions, and apparently I bounced back from death’s door.  I don’t ever recall meeting Buster, but I certainly owe him a lot.

So I grew up in Portland during the depression.  We lived a comfortable middle-class life and honestly I was never aware of the terrible effect it had on America.  Leo Seltzer was on the road with first walkathons and then the Roller Derby, both kind of traveling road shows, with very low prices and high appeal at this time when there just wasn’t much money.

Almost from my very first memories, I was aware of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our president, who was pretty much revered and reviled at the same time.

You have to remember that Roosevelt declared a bank holiday – closing them all and then re-opening them with guarantees for the depositors -  and started a whole series of programs to help create jobs, including the conservation corps which put thousands to work rebuilding our infrastructure.  The bankers, big business and extremely wealthy hated him.

Yet, he was our only four-term president, although he died shortly after winning his fourth term, throwing an entirely unprepared Harry Truman into that high office.

Roosevelt had suffered severe polio as an adult, but he managed to keep the fact that he could not use his legs from the public.  There were never any pictures of him in a wheel chair or him struggling to walk.  The press fully cooperated; could you imagine that today.

But what I remember of Roosevelt was his marvelous speaking voice, his sense of humor, and his ability to reach all Americans without television, jet airplanes and certainly without social media.

I remember my third grade teacher asking our class who was the finest orator (I am not certain she used that word) in the country and we all knew it was our President.

Fireside Chat. Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York.

He held “fireside chats” in which he talked to all Americans by radio to let us know what the state of the country was, and what he was doing to make it and our lives better, as well as why it was necessary for us to go to war and why we all must sacrifice (which we did).

When I hear his voice today I know it doesn’t have the majesty or resonance I heard; certainly recordings weren’t capable of capturing the full essence.

Obviously, he was a man for the times, and his wife Eleanor, who I did get to hear speak in person, was the woman; the first first Lady who really expressed herself to America.  Quite a duo.

You should have been there.

Please like my fan page on facebook:  “Gerald Seltzer”.