an unknown story, why blood transfusions may be the reason Roller Derby is here today.


Brown Paper Tickets Blog.

When you click the link above, you will get the information you need about the blood drives in Northern Califrnia that start this week. And just added, September 6 in San Jose with SVRG.

But what you don’t know is the reason the drives are so important to me personally……and how it could have affected you.

Back before Roller Derby was created by my father I became very ill with violent dysentery, at just 6 months of age.

The doctors were puzzled….no treatment seemed to work.

Obviously no computers, centralized data……I was dying and they didn’t know why.

Dr. Bilderback checked all the symptons and came up with the correct analysis: I had somehow contracted the only recorded case of cholera in Portland, Oregon, in the past 50 years. Antibiotics were not in general use, and one treatment that was necessary was blood transfusions. Well, unlike today the only method was directly from one person to another (thank you, Red Cross and other blood banks). They searched frantically for a match, and it turned out to be Buster, the son of my dad’s partner in movie theaters in Portland.

I recovered of course. They weren’t certain how my life expectancy would be affected (Ha, lol). My father who had flown to Portland from Chicago was able to return, and I will post on my facebook page a photo of the telegrams that my uncle sent to my father about my continuing progress.

So, if I died, would my father have stayed on the road with Walkathons and eventually created the skating game? I honestly doubt it…. and carrything the thought further, if he had, and I wasn’t around to continue it in 1959, would enough people have even been aware to think it would be a wonderful thing to be what it is today for both women and men.

If you are in the Bay Area I want you to choose one of the dates above, register and give this life-saving gift; over 660 lives saved last year when Brown Paper Tickets, The Amercian Red Cross and Roller Derby came together to start these drives. I can honestly say, there has never been a company like Brown Paper Tickets and thank William Jordan, Steve Butcher and all for their commitment to the good of the community.

And at Rollercon over 80 leagues indicated their desire to extend this program nationally…..and you all will hear from us to get even more involved (something you may not know: over 750 leagues used Brown Paper Tickets in the last two years, and the company could care less if you use us or not when it comes to helping our communities).

The story does not have a completely happy ending; Dr. Bilderback misdiagnosed my mother the same year and did not recognize breast cancer. In spite of my father’s efforts, taking her to the Mayo clinic and elsewhere for treatment, she died in March 1942. Sorry, I would have rather she survived than Roller Derby.

Pleae register today, at http://www.redcross.org, keyword “Derby”.

you are 79, whither thou skateth?


In spring of 1935 Leo Seltzer was having dinner in Ricketts restaurant with his managers from the walkathon he was operating. He had taken over the management of the Chicago Coliseum and was starting to book events in the historic arena: the site of many of Chicago’s shows and expositions, including the 1896 Democratic National Convention.

They were discussing what to book after the “walkie” ran its course in the summer. The building was not air conditioned (none were at that time) so there were no tenants looking for a place to book.

Leo had just read a factoid in the (now defunct) Literary digest: that over 90% of all Americans roller skated at some time in their life. “You know”, he said, “we could make a roller skating game.” The others scoffed: “Leo, that is the craziest idea you have ever had, and you have had a few”

So on August 13, 1935, he presented the first Roller Derby to Chicago and the world: a marathon on skates, a team a man and a woman, and the object over 30 days to skate across America (as pictured by a map on the wall with electric lights), and the first couple to achieve it would receive a prize of $500.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/roller-skating-derby-in-new-york click link to see the original marathon.

So approximately 10 couples took off on a race to nowhere in a game that has evolved, survived several shutdowns, and today is played by almost 2000 women, men and junior leagues in 49 countries.

And very soon the game will be 79 years old and the birthday will be celebrated by leagues everywhere.

Rollercon this year showed the maturity of the modern game. (by the way, next year Rollercon will be 10, Roller Derby 80; how will Ivanna deal with the convergence?). Every day there were game after game, showing the diversity of the rules, the players, and enjoyed by all on hand.

But all is not serene in skateland. Those who have read my previous post and the comments of Sandi Mustang Johnson on her facebook page know that there is some discontent throughout the skate world. And all who participate should look at the problems, if you acknowledge there are any.

In the discussions generated by the previous postings, the following seem to be of the greatest concern:

1. The game had become boring to fans and spectators, and attendance was decreasing sharply in many areas.

2. As the sport keeps growing, there were too many leagues in compacted areas.

3. The smaller leagues were suffering because of the rankings, and perhaps the rules should be modified for leagues not in the top tier,

4. Perhaps there should be clear divisions, with the larger cities in the top tier, and the smaller in a lower tier, only completing amongst themselves.

And more, which you are welcome to add to.

Some skaters only want to train and skate games and do not want to be encumbered with fund raising, ticket selling, or concerned with the costs of presenting games to the public, which brings up the valid point, should many leagues even be in the “promoting” business. The examples of softball and soccer were brought up: why not just play for fun, not charge admission, and exist by the dues of the players and contributions by family, friends, and sponsors?

Obviously some leagues are doing well, and can sell tickets and merchandise and get sponsorships so they can support travel teams, etc. But others complain of difficulty in scheduling because of venue availability, other leagues in the area playing the same dates, and when the emphasis is on the travel team, the lesser players – who pay their dues and fulfill all the functions – have a lesser role.

At 79 reality is really settling in……should there be a quick rule modification to satisfy skaters and fans (unlikely), should leagues in compacted areas merge? Should you consider other rule sets?

If you are facing any of the problems stated, or know others, it may be the right time to try to come up with solutions. Some leagues in Canada and Australia have formed regional leagues to help with scheduling and meaningful competition. Some players (V-Diva from the Philly Roller girls) have formed independent teams to go around and play other rule sets, and some like Teresa TC Mueller and her cohorts have formed Detour Derby, a no drama, no cost to players event that occurs once a week in Colorado….and on and on. And let us not forget the LA Derby Dolls and TXRD for making the skaters and fans happy.

If survival without stress is a concern, take some time to look at your options.

Happy Birthday.

Clatsop County Roller Derby? are you kidding me?


(1) Tara Hopman Dyrset.

Pictured in the link above is Shanghaied Roller Dolls, out of Astoria, Oregon……see if you can pick out my friend, Tara Hopman Dyrset…..of course you can, immediately.

So much of my family history is in Clatsop County. Every summer for as long as I can remember we were in Seaside and eventually had a home there. Seaside is on the Pacific Ocean, just 16 miles from Astoria, which sits at the mouth of the Columbia river on the ocean. I fished in the Columbia and actually caught a 38-pound Chinook….not sure you can still catch any in the River.

Tara’s day job is at the Columbia Hospital, an excellent medical facility serving the county……Her fun job is Roller Derby.

She does the merch and tickets for Shanghaied Roller Derby….I can only assume the name comes from the former great seaport of Astoria and those unfortunate enough to have been slipped a mickey and awaken on a sailing festival far out to sea.

Astoria is named for the prominent pillager of animal skins and other travesties, John Jacob Astor…..the Astor tower sits far above the small city and you probably saw it in Arnold’s Kindergarten Cop which was filmed in Astoria, and Tara sent me a great photo of her team around the statue in front.

This is a league for fun; they got rid of the drama last year and have made it easy to come and skate and learn and enjoy…..great participants in the local communities and parades and gatherings and functions….just what you would want to be when you think of Roller Derby.

And a number of women are from Seaside, near Seltzer Park.

Last Saturday they had a game at the Fairgrounds in Astoria; ironically where we had scheduled Willie Nelson for a benefit to raise money for Seltzer Park….Obviously we succeeded with other fund raising and benefit concerts by Willie again in Seaside and one by the Smothers Brothers.

And their game last weekend sold out, drawing 500 people to the building and it was fast and hard hitting and everyone had a great time….who won? I don’t know and don’t care.

By the way, they sold out their advance tickets through Brown Paper Tickets.

Five Strides on the Banked Track, the classic now available on Kindle or ebook!


Facebook.

please clink on link above.

Roller Derby on the road.

Appeared as a short version in Sports Illustrated.

This classic sold out almost immediately and was never reprinted…..available at up to $600 from amazon.

this version will all the original photos and copy (and with a new forward by The Commissioner) is available at a very reasonable price. read the above information on how to get your copy.