Pop and Grace Schneider at the counter.

Pop and Grace Schneider at the counter.

Once upon a time a 12 year old kid wanted a roller rink to skate in, and convinced a man to make that dream come true.

William "Pop" Schneider and his wife were staying at a Boarding house between visits to their 9 year old son Bill who was in Catskill Hospital for appendicitis, it was summer 1940. They lived in NYC but each of them had been making treks to the Catskills for vacations since they were kids. A sign on the building across the road said "Cabaret for Sale". Not actually interested in buying but trying to guess the price till his wife, Grace said why not just ask. Well, George the owner said,"I want X dollars." Pop countered with Y dollars, the dickering had no results, nor did later negotiations. Yet weeks later he suddenly found himself owning the building and having no idea what to do with it.

The building had seen it's better days, having been a factory, then a nightclub in the roaring 20s called the Purling Palace and had seen the likes of such talent as Jimmy Durante; but now it was tired. Little Jimmy Campbell kept after him and for lack of any other idea he rented some skates and a loud speaker and went into business. Of course it wasn't that easy, Grace could tell of the long days they put in fixing the place up. Also truth be told, Pop had a soft spot for kids, he was one of eight in his family and Grace was one of eleven; maybe having only one around didn't seem right. Skating was not unknown to Pop either, as a child he ran errands on roller skates weather permitting.

The Rink originaly had a pine floor that would give splinters to anyone unlucky enough to fall down. Pop put in the maple floor, extending it later to make the Rink bigger. In 1945 the "snackbar" became a "Cocktail Lounge" complete with a little train to deliver snacks and a shot glass on the last car. If you could get it off without spilling it your first drink was free. He was always thinking up fun things to help his customers have a good time, all kinds of special events and parties.
Pop hosting a Halloween party on wheels.

Pop hosting a Halloween party on wheels.

There was even a bus that made stops in Kingston,Saugerties,Hudson, Catskill, and Leeds then brought you to the rink for skating and took you back after. It cost 95cents for the round trip bus ride and skating admission, and he made coupons worth 15cents to give the driver. Pop and Grace and son Bill Schneider.

Pop and Grace and son Bill Schneider.

After many years Pop handed the reins over to his son Bill, and his wife Sally, herself one of eleven children. They had seven children who grew up excellent skaters. His son Billy is now the third William Schneider to greet you at the Cairo-Purling Roller Rink. Little of the building has changed, though the cocktail lounge was replaced by an ice-cream and soda fountain, then that was replaced by another snackbar. The hours have varied over the years as skating goes in and out of popularity, a cycle that has affected it since it's invention.

There are still games and contests at the Rink to add to your fun, and the music adjusts to the times. Sadly you do not see the skating excellence of years gone by. The couples in perfect step with each other side-by-side or even waltzing, the precision of four skaters doing a full double kick conga in flawless unison, the rings, splits and turns. But skating is popular again with the re-invention of the blade(don't believe me? check the invention page), so maybe the skill leval will grow again, though inlines do not manuver as well as the quads.

So when was the last time you skated?