Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 8, 2019, pg. 10
The "Brockway Block" at 315 S. Superior St. (the main floor housed Bullenís, A & P, Gambles, and Sanders Furniture through the years) once housed a roller-skating rink on the second floor at 315 Ĺ S. Superior St. beginning around 1938. The rink was first owned by Jack and Lois Maybee who moved here from Lansing. They sold it in 1939 to Albert (nickname "Diamond" Jasenas (of Lithuanian descent) and his wife Barbara "Babs" of Jackson. Albert also operated the Eagle Point Roller Skating Rink at Clark Lake. The Jasenasísoon moved to Albion after purchasing the rink.
Albert (1918-1984) owned Shari-Bill Manufacturing, a wood-working shop at 114 Linwood Street. In the evenings however, he and his wife Barbara (1919-1985) would operate the skating rink. Saturday nights were the most popular.
One of our readers, Barbara McCune, remembers skating there in the 1940s: "The rink used to have three poles down the center. There were a lot of guys that were called skate boys that would put your skates on for you. I have an autograph book that a lot of them signed for me."
The Jasenasíclosed the rink in 1965. Albert then became plant manager at Johnson Manufacturing Company and retired in 1981. Albert was stabbed to death in a robbery at his home on July 24, 1984 and was interred in Riverside Cemetery.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a green decal sticker from this rink showing a "winged" skate, and the text "DIAMONDíS ROLLER RINK, ALBION, MICH." Our second illustration shows how the former rink entrance looks today on the southeast corner of the building along E. Erie St. Patrons would walk upstairs through the double doors on the right.
Yours truly never was in this place, but I do remember walking past this entrance around 1960 when I was a child. The days and hours of operation were painted on the sign above the entrance. I distinctly remember that Thursdays was labeled "Colored Night." Culturally different music was played on that night. This apparently was part of the "Jim Crow" arrangements that had existed here in town. That ended in 1962 when a group of local citizens of both races led by Jesse Womack went to the rink together both days (Thursday and Friday) to challenge the practice, and were successful. Henceforth, all races were allowed any night.
Because the skating rink was a public gathering place on the 2nd floor, there was a metal steps "fire escape" with a balancing weights contraption that was attached to the side of the building that was supposed to land on the sidewalk when placed into action. It was eventually removed probably in the 1970s. Today, Albion is still without a roller-skating rink. How many of our readers skated at the Albion Roller Rink?
Roller Rink patch
Roller Skating rink entrance
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic