[Me and The Helmet
at the 75th Anniversary Celebration]
at the 75th Anniversary Celebration]
If you haven’t yet read about the awesome event that happened earlier this month celebrating 75 years of Roller Derby you can read my summary of it here. It was filled with celebrity skaters from the past and was an excellent opportunity to rub elbows and talk shop with some of the greats. Knowing this event was going to be a star-studded evening I had the foresight to bring a spare helmet to have autographed so that later East Bay Roller Derby could auction or raffle it off as a fundraiser. I did buy the helmet however. Now, if I had better foresight, I would have drafted a letter 2 weeks prior and asked to have the helmet donated, but hey- next time. Let that be a lesson to you other struggling leagues out there. On another note, there is a “single-impact” helmet issue coming up in California legislation soon. Basically, once the helmet has experienced a serious impact the integrity of the helmet is compromised and it needs to be replaced. I went to a local skateboard shop with an indoor ramp to buy the helmet and the ones they had were on display, (not in boxes) and were presumably used by boarders on the ramp. I was hard up and needed the helmet and wasn’t planning on wearing it anyway so I bought it, but obviously these people knew nothing about safety and single impact helmets, because the guy totally sold me a marked up, used helmet for 40 bucks. Douche bags. Anyhow, I figure since some of the signatures are not legible it would be useless without a full description of those who had penned their name to it. While there were many, many skaters at the event that night I failed to ask, the John Hancock I regret missing the most was that of Mary Youpelle, the oldest living derby legend. Nevertheless, I did get some terrific people if I do say so myself. Thank you everyone! And without further ado…
Jerry Seltzer- Son of the original creator of the sport of Roller Derby, Mr. Seltzer has been a promoter and supporter of roller derby for decades. “The Commissioner” as he is also called, is responsible for the revival of the International Roller Derby League, which he took over as the second and last owner, in 1958 until 1973. True to his father’s vision for the sport, Jerry is a fervent advocate of a 100% legitimate game. Also a fan of the current resurgence of roller derby in its all female flat-track form, he continues to promote the sport by regularly attending games and events. A recent endorser of the National Roller Derby Association, J. Seltz strives to place Roller Derby in the Olympics. In addition to being a life-long steward for the sport who has seen every possible evolution imagined, Mr. Seltzer also co-founded BASS Tickets and served as Vice President for Ticketmaster. Still a promoter to this day, Jerry is constantly plugging his blog or Judi’s Flowers. He’s a great guy, completely down to earth and hilarious. Not to mention, all of us are indebted to him for continuing his support of our own version of the sport. Friend him on facebook and show your gratitude.
Loretta “Little Iodine” Behrens- Little Iodine became a professional skater at 15 years old. Ms. Behrens started training in December of 1949 and was picked up by Billy Bogash, who was rounding up NY skaters, and skated until 1969. Behrens loved being aggressive: she kept a safety pin in her mouth, and when the referee wasn’t looking, she'd stick her opponents with it. "One time I almost swallowed the pin," said Behrens. "I only used that gimmick a few times." Always a firecracker, Loretta burst into The Commissioner’s keynote speech at the 75th Anniversary of Roller Derby declaring, “I was the first Jew in roller derby!” Loretta has plenty of stories to share herself about her heyday as a skater. Read her derby memoirs here, and friend her on facebook! You can check out her skating below:
Carole “Peanuts” Meyer- Carole started skating in 1959 at age 15 with the San Francisco Bombers during their golden days as ‘America’s Roller Derby Team’. Roller Derby appealed to her because she liked being tough. "The only sports I knew of that women were doing were speed skating, tennis and volley ball. They weren't rough. There wasn't any physical contact…I climbed trees, and played football with the boys; and I was tougher than they were!” Also known for being wed to fellow Bomber star Tony Roman, the two made an incredible duo. Both briefly skated with the Midwest Pioneers before returning to the Bombers; the two shared 3 MVP awards between them. Later Peanuts went on to skate with the World Roller Federation. Peanuts and Tony had 4 children, one now skates with the new Bombers of ASDA.
Cliff Butler- Mr. Butler began skating when he was only 6 years old, and was selected to skate professionally at the age of 14 in 1965. He skated with the International Roller Derby Association during the Jerry Seltzer revival and was named ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1966 by the Northwest Cardinals. One year later he received the Silver Skate Award for sportsmanship and good conduct shortly before transferring to the S.F. Bombers where he would begin his coaching career. Cliff was affiliated with the bombers in some respect either as a skater or coach until 1980 and holds the title of ‘youngest roller derby coach ever’. He is presently the Vice President of the National Roller Derby Association and assists with coaching and skating skills in LA California.
“Mizz” Georgia Hase- (or the “Demonic Dame of Derby”) Georgia Hase is perhaps the most infamous team manager in Roller Derby history. Skating since 1964, Georgia is affiliated with the Detroit Devils of the original Roller Games and Bad Attitude of the TV series RollerGames. She is best known for being a ‘heel manager’. As Caitlin Donohue wrote in her article about the Bombers’ Home Opener “Hase rose to fame as a super villain on the ‘90s TV show RollerGames, where she screamed at her own players when they fell, broke up sister-sister teams and made families everywhere screw up their faces at the boob tube and say ‘I don’t like her at all!’” Now the manager of the Brooklyn Red Devils, she is still active in the sport of roller derby. Her hardheaded sense of justice gives her a tendency to stir the pot. Not afraid of controversy, Hase filed a complaint with the World Alliance of Rollersports to refute the preferential treatment to particular skaters and has earned herself the stigma of ‘one of the most hated individuals in roller sports, ever’. (Caitlin Donohue) Check out her RollerFans.com profile here.
Darnay McPherson- Mr. McPherson started skating with the Nebraska Braves in 1967. He skated with them for 5 years before joining the Pioneers. When he left the Pioneers in 1978 he briefly skated with the NY Chiefs and the Red Devils before he finally ended up as captain of the Jolters. He remained with the Jolters as captain from 1979 until 1984. On the evening of the 75th Anniversary, Darnay confided in me that he has still not seen a modern day flat track game! I encourage any teams in the area to extend an invitation to him, he is eager to see some modern day derby in action! (Seriously, message me, I have his contact information).
Gloria Mack Gardner- Gloria started training in Chicago in 1951 at age 20. She met her future husband Bill while training there, but was initially placed on the NY Chiefs while Bill skated with the Chicago Westerners. Once Gloria was transferred to the Westerners they were able to rekindle their romance and wed in May 1953. The two skated on and off for two decades; Gloria taking breaks to have children, and Bill taking breaks to serve in the army. The Gardners started skating with the NY Clippers around 1962, and then called it quits for good when they moved to California in 1967. Gloria still gets on the banked track when she gets a chance, and hopes she will make it around for a couple laps again this year for her 79th.
‘Billy’ Gardner- Bill came from a Roller Derby Family. When he started skating at age 18, his two sisters Mary and Helen were already skating in the Roller Derby, and later his brother “Punky” would also pick it up. Bill trained in Chicago before skating with the Philadelphia Panthers, Minneapolis Raiders, Chicago Westerners, New York Chiefs, San Francisco Bombers, Brooklyn Red Devils, New York Clippers and Canadian Nationals. He retired from skating around 1970 after a brief stint as a ref. He and Gloria have been married for 57 years, have 3 children and 4 “wonderful and beautiful” grandchildren.
Rita Williams- Rita had an outstanding Roller Derby career spanning 20 years. She had a rough start skating with three different teams from 1970-1972, her first three years in the sport, with the Braves, Pioneers and Jolters. She returned to the Pioneers however in 1973 and skated with them for 5 years before transferring to the NY Chiefs. In 1978 she skated with the Chiefs and the Red Devils, before another one-year stint with the Jolters. From 1980-1983 she returned to the Pioneers again, but left in 1984 to join NY Dynamite, and then the Bombers in 1985. Unable to stay away, (or unable to give her up) Rita returned to the Pioneers one last time from ’86-’87. She finished up her career in 1990 while skating with the Detroit Blaze. Rita was known for her ability to use her small size to outmaneuver bigger players, and while she played with 7 different teams over her career, she is predominantly remembered as a Pioneers skater.
Bob & Joe Cordero- Joe trained in the 60’s and both brothers were coaches around that time. I would appreciate some more information on these two. If anyone out there can provide further background I would love for you to send it my way so I can update this!
So there you have, the Diamond Anniversary Helmet and those who've signed it. Stay tuned for details on when it's getting auctioned, (or raffled, or whatever). I’m thinking however, that I should talk Kutthroat Kandie into allowing me to auction off her pimp cup instead, since it seemed to rule the night. After being informed by The Commissioner that Ann Calvello herself toted a similar party mug -it was ON. The goblet made its way into everybody’s hands at some point. I sipped it in the hotel room during our pre-party (and before everyone else’s nasty germs got on it) and let me tell you, it was disgusting. Some concoction of soda, energy drink and liquor. Consequently, I tried to warn everyone for the remainder of the evening but no one would listen. I guess the lure of free alcohol in a gaudy pimp-tastic blinged out goblet was just that irresistible.
[Adventures of the Pimp Cup]