Re: The ice skating rink on 48th

10/07/02 - posted by emiliano echeverria

what memories! happy and sad

I remwmber the first time I went there in late 1958. Dad had become aquainted with Mr. Hendrickson, the managing partner. Hugh Hendrickson had been an Ice Follies star (1943 - 1951) He was an extremely nice person, with his wife, Polly and two young children, Tim & Scott. Hugh was 31 then and Polly was 29. I also remember Joe Thurston, Rose & George Mc Grath, (George was an old school biker)Emery (who ran the skate check out room), The Thomas Twins (ice skating duo) who married Joe Mc Dermott and Joe Sullivan, Merle & Skippy Baxter (Ice Follies vets who were later connected to Charles Schultz's rink in Santa Rosa) and lots of others. We hung out there EVERY Friday nite and my dad and Mr hendrickson became good friends. There were the little "ice shows" jeld in the spring, for kids to participate in to learn stunts. I skated there for four years. I was to be in the 1960 one but a week before the show I fell and almost tore off my lip GRRRRR. so I missed out. But the real show stealer was Skippy Baxter duing back flips on ice to climax and end the shows. He was at the time reputed to be the only skater who could back flip on ice.
But tragedy lurked there, and forever after I associated August 12, 1959 with the "San Francisco Ice Arena". By early 1959, the rink needed renovations if it was to stay open. I beleive that it had been built in the 20's. In any case the original plant was exhausted. So the rink was closed in June 1959, for what was to be a 2 month shutdown.
My dad was on the crew to help repair and renovate the plant. The refrigeration plant included a "Brine Room" in the basement, near the front of the building. This was a dark & spooky place. The brine pumps ran brine through the cooling pipes in the ice to maintain feeezing. On August 12 Mr Hendrickson was in the brine room working on the brine pump holding a drop light when the brine pump went on and splashed water on Mr Hendrickson, resulting in his electricution. He was DOA at Park Emergancy Hospital.
Polly , then 30 with 2 young boys, 4 and 6, and all of us were devastated. One of the few times I saw my dad weep. He was a great guy, kind and generous. It just wasnt right. While Polly settled her affairs, my mom helped Polly with child care chores for her boys, so the boys & I became playmates for awhile though they were a a few years younger than I. Eventually Polly sold her interest in the SF Ice Arena to Joe Thurston, who eventually acquired complete ownership. He was the final owner. The rink reopened in late September '59, but it wasnt the same, and a few years later we drifted away...........

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