My mother introduced us Schachter kids to ice skating when we were little. Sunday mornings in the winter found us at the outdoor Christopher Morley Park rink in Roslyn.
Only once a year did we go indoors, in the summer to Cantiague Park in Hicksville. For some reason, though, skating in July and August seemed sacrilegious.
I was never a great skater — I never learned to skate backward until I was 35 — but it was invigorating to be out in the cold, fresh air, and I loved it being a sport that anyone could enjoy and anyone could afford.
I wanted to spread the word about skating’s beauty. So each year I took my seventh grade social studies students from North Shore Middle School to Morley Park. Many of them had never skated before and were understandably nervous, holding onto the guardrails, but by the end of the session they were moving at a nice pace, happily vowing to return.
In my neighborhood, when the temperatures hit the teens, skaters would descend on the frozen Scudder’s Pond in Sea Cliff. After it was determined that the ice was indeed frozen, skaters would take to the ice. It was glorious. No rules! No time limits!
A hockey game would be organized — all ages participated — and 5- and 6-year-olds, who had so much padding that they were quite wide, were installed as the goalies. Few pucks got past them.
But, of all five Schachter skaters, the best one was my mother. Even into her mid-80s, Mom was a whiz on the ice, able to circle the rink in just a few strokes. Mom’s world was skating. Whereas other women’s wishes were for nice clothes and perhaps a fancy car, Mom’s desire was to ride on an ice-smoothing Zamboni. Alas, it never happened.
Mom was a regular at Morley Park, weather be damned. In January 2007, at 78, she arranged to meet my Uncle Charley, then 90, at the rink. It was about 12 degrees outside and, not surprisingly, they were the only ones who ventured out. A newspaper photographer happened to be on hand, snapped their picture, and the next day there on page 8 of the Daily News were Mom and Uncle Charley.
The most memorable day occurred a few years earlier, in 1980, when Mom took me to Morley Park. She noticed a young woman being helped around the ice. Her name was Gareth Guy, she was 24 and had lost her vision due to diabetes. Mom skated over, introduced herself, took Gareth’s arm and guided her around the ice.
From then on, every Wednesday, Mom would spend the day with Gareth. She would take her ice skating in the winter, swimming in the summer, and shopping on off-days. They did this for almost 40 years — until Gareth passed in 2021.
Recently, Mom asked me about her 50-year-old skates. She is 94 now, legally blind and was certain they were tossed out when she moved from our childhood home in Glen Head into an assisted living facility in Glen Cove five years ago. I said I’d look for them.
I have boxes of Mom’s stuff in my basement, and I started a search. I found them!
When I brought them to her, she started to cry. She looked up from behind her tears and said, “Wanna go skating?
” No,” I replied, “but maybe we’ll get you that ride on the Zamboni.”
n READER SAUL SCHACHTER
lives in Sea Cliff.