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Scooter Sk8rs: 1922

Scooter Sk8rs: 1922

September 15, 1922. Washington, D.C. "Scooter skates." On the right: Clarence Sherrill. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

New and improved,

And now for 1972, a completely new thrill, 'Skate Boards'! I built my first in 57-58 from an old pair of steel wheel sidewalk skates. The ride was awful, bumpy and tooth loosening, but the rush from roaring down 'Dead Man's Hill' at, no doubt, the blistering speed of 15 mph, STANDING UP!, was addictive.

Middle boy's shoes

I was intrigued by the middle boy's shoes. I was this age in the 1950's and remember this style of double t-strap being marketed as "barefoot sandals" by Sears, Wards, Penney's, etc. They were always offered as boys or girls, i.e. unisex, and typically came in white, red, and brown, with black and navy blue available on occasion.

Most of the time they were offered up to a youth size 3. The white ones were a staple for little boys serving in weddings. Today a few manufacturers offer this style, although generally only to toddler size 12, which eliminates older children. The most common term today is "English sandals". For whatever reason most sellers list these as girls shoes, although retailers who offer these as boys shoes report that most are sold for little boys.

I recall many of my peers (boys) wearing these in the 1950's, although my mom preferred black/white or brown/white saddle shoes for me, a style that I still wear very frequently. I do have double t-straps in black, brown, navy blue, and red in adult sizes, and wear these often with jeans in the winter and shorts in the summer. Payless occasionally has them in adult sizes, although offered as a womens shoe, and Muffy's has them in red and navy for both genders, with the latter being a more dressy shoe.

This style is a timeless classic.

No helmets, bikes you could "grow into"

Not to mention being able to spend the whole morning or afternoon doing what you wanted, where you wanted without parents trying to stuff you into knee and elbow pads, a helmet, and make you call home every three minutes.

I had more scraped knees, elbows and shins from falling off the bike which, if I stood on the ground, I could barely reach the handle bars. I got bare toes caught in the spokes, and fell on the bar in a manner that any child (boy or girl) remembers for the rest of their lives.

Despite the odd concussion, I survived to tell about it and still fondly recall riding out into the country early in the morning to have a cookout breakfast over an open fire or spending the day racing up and down the unfinished highway.

Those were the days -- and we'll never get them back!

Bruised tails

We used to do that same thing back in the 1950s.

I remember after a day's worth of riding, we actually had
some big-time bruises on the lower backside.

Young Clarence

Made his first appearance on Shorpy three years ago!

His father, Col. Sherrill, was superintendent of public buildings and grounds in Washington. Also a keeper of public morals:

Such Fun!

I remember attaching skates to pieces of plywood and riding down Mockingbird Lane in Fort Smith, Arkansas. If any of you know the area, that was quite some hill for 10 year olds! Both girls and boys took turns without the benefit of safety gear or much to hold onto.

All had fun and I do not remember injuries but I do remember parental participation. This would have been in 1963.

Crack a smile at least?

These boys all look so grim it looks like they are being tortured by an exercise sadist. "You WILL hold your legs up for one more lap!"

Sk8 '68

A link to my own little kiddies doing the same thing on skateboards in the late 1960s. Daughter in front, youngest son in back (with the glasses). Photo by their Uncle tterrace:

Luckily no one backed out of the driveway while they were rolling along.

Top that!

We used to do this on our hill, but with a folded-over shoe skate. You couldn't see the skate and it looked like you were gliding in defiance of physics.

Dennis the Menace

Middle boy - complete with cowlick!

A board attached to a roller skate

must have provided great abdominals workout, but I picture some skinned knuckles, too.


Not only are they horizontally skating, they've exercising their abs.


These were obviously the forerunners of the land luge.

Those Were The Days

Before we covered our kids with helmets and elbow pads, and knee pads, and wrist guards, and blinking lights.

Ahh! Freedom!

The "greatest generation"

The "greatest generation" before they grew up, and before extreme sports, helicopter parents, law suits and knee and elbow pads. In the 1960s my brother and I "borrowed" my sister's roller skates and did the same thing.

These lads

Look like they could have fit right in with kids of the 50's. They probably don't know or care that this would be a great exercise for the core.

Look Out for Potholes!

I see skinned knees and knuckles ahead. My money's on Clarence in this race. Kid on the left is in the lead but too close to the curb. Boy in the center looks a little uncertain about this.

Good to see Mom dressed Clarence in a necktie before sending him out to play.


Look Ma, no hands...
Look Ma, no feet...
Look Ma, no teeth!

Girls vs Boys

Here's the difference: When girls injure themselves it's by accident. When boys injure themselves it's part of the plan. Occupational hazard if you will.


The only thing that would make you think this was from that era is the fact they had a street free of cars. That could easily be me and my brothers from the late sixties/early seventies.

That looks crazy fun

Crudely made, no helmets or elbow pads. These would never pass safety laws today, and we as a society are poorer for it.

I would bet these guys probably didn't show their mothers what they had built. Dad, on the other hand, probably would take one out for a spin after the boys' bedtime.

I want to build one for myself, and I'm 32.


this has a timeless look to it. It's also darned cute!

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