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Betty Buck: 1936

Betty Buck: 1936

Aug. 8, 1936. Washington, D.C. "Safety first for this Miss. Equipped with bumpers fore and aft, 4-year-old Betty Buck is taking no unnecessary chances as she tries her first pair of roller skates." Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Boo boos in color?

Had to colorize these sweet little girls pre run down the hills. Miss Betty's knees aren't so bad... yet. See it here.

Downhill racer

Young Miss Buck's precautions are understandable once one considers the slope of the sidewalk in front of the Bucks' home. (With some help from the 1940 census and Google Street View, it's easy to find this home at 4902 First Street NW, two blocks east of New Hampshire Avenue, in a subdivision carved out of the northern tip of the Soldiers' Home National Cemetery property.) The street and its sidewalks slope decidedly downhill for the entire block, allowing a roller-skating neophyte to build up great speed.

White shoes and roller skates

No mother in her right mind would allow her daughter put roller sakes on over those dress whites.

Badge of Honor

Even though we couldn't take our skates to school we would wear our skate key, with string, around our neck; it was a Badge of Honor.

She'd still need

knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet and a mouth guard -- at least if she were doing this today.

First airbag?

Probably didn't receive any royalties.

Skate Key Blues

Those clamp-on skates never stayed on my shoes either. I finally made a scooter out of them, or as we called it in my neighborhood, a "pushey".

Typical DC rowhouse

or maybe semi-detached. As built, there were usually no railings on the front steps. One touch of variety in my old Tenleytown neighborhood was the different railings that had been added over the years. Another common feature was a two- or three-step drop from here to the sidewalk. Look out, Betty!

Betty Boo Boo

Betty's going to be sorry but wiser when she learns that it's the knees that always get ripped up first by rookie skaters. My tomboy sister's knees looked like cheap 19-cent-a-pound chopped meat when she first took to skates.

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