Today I commemorate the death of American songwriter Stephen Foster.  Known as America’s first professional song writer, Foster sold Oh! Susanna to a publisher for $100.00 in 1848 and went on to publish some of the most widely known songs in American history, but died on this date in 1864 a penniless alcoholic.  Mr. Foster composed more than 200 songs including Camptown Races and My Old Kentucky Home.

Yesterday I walked to the ice rink at 9:45 so as to step on the ice when they opened at 10:00, but when I got there, there was no one to take my money.  The cash drawer was pulled out and the trailer was locked.  There was no signage anywhere indicating the rink was closed, only a tee-pee sign on the sidewalk inviting people to skate; so I walked across the street to city hall and asked the security guys to look at the rink’s web page, and I used their phone to call the rink number, and by all measures, including lovely hard ice, the rink was open.  There was a sign that said “unauthorized use” of the rink was a misdemeanor, but the ice is so rare in Reno, and my desire to skate so strong, I donned my Ultra-Tacs and hit the ice … the unlawfulness of the act was a constant thrill …

Glorious … alone on the ice I swirled in figure eights the entire 52:38 of my specially selected tunes, and when the music was over, I asked a homeless looking guy if he would take my picture.  Admission to the rink is an outrageous $7.50, and all I brought was a ten, so I gave him the ten-spot, and after taking a couple static photos, he said, “Hey … how about some action shots …”  So I skated in a tight, high-stepping, circle in front of him and egged him on to take lots of photos, and he did.  After the photo session, I decided to poach a couple more laps when a smug woman in a truck and her young male assistant arrived to say, “Sir, please exit the ice … the rink is closed …”  Could have fooled me … They did not say another word to me but looked at the ice as if I had injured it … thus went the best public skating session in forty-eight years on skates.  The evidence: