Friday Night’s at Babbs

babbs-hedAnother year of screaming teachers,
bad grades and warnings of being grounded –
Having to sit on the same school bus and behind desks
for Catechism class on Saturday mornings –
No surprise that my hair grew longer in rebellion.
But when September arrived the bright lights
and smell of leather skates and laces called us back
to Friday nights at Babb’s.

I’d take the ride with Mom & Dad to the Southwick V.F.W.,
and as they helped run Bingo, across the street I would jet
to the Gomez home, to get Brett,
to wink a flirtatious smile to Stephanie,
and catch up with Doug Hawthorn and Jim Markvart
if Farnsworth doesn’t come along, then off we go.

Not too far or bad a walk down the road
then off the path and into the woods
through some rich guy’s yard, who had video cameras,
and to say we didn’t often ‘give a gesture’ would be a lie.
Then through the tree farm where we’d grab a bamboo stick
to beat each other with, like adolescent hellions that we were.

Though Miami Vice is the hot new t.v. show and
Don Johnson’s suave look was in,
I sported my Sammy Hagar’s red cargo pants
and red Reebok sneakers to match.

Our gang would hit the skating floor
with little to rein us back, except Rich the floor guard,
who catches up to us to tell us
that we, “can’t drive 55” or our even faster speed
to by pass all the slower moving people!

But what can we do, when they start the evening
playing Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil, followed by
Quiet Riot’s Mama, We’re All Crazy Now!
With so many anthems like Rebel Yell, Wild Boys
and I Wanna Rock, the flame of puberty
in our growing bodies was fanned.


With the tensions of a growing cold war,
and our cowboy actor and president Ronald Reagan,
conflicting moods were ripe.
Movies like “The Outsiders” rang true to us.
Southwick’s own “Road Rats,” thought of as greasers,
stood up against the rich and preppy Suffield boys.
Many of us heard the rumors of rumbles.

Bryan Adams song Cuts Like A Knife, still
brings back memories of those days, and Scandal’s
The Warrior reflects the same.
Outside the rollerskating rink at Babb’s
some of us saw the infamous fight
between Henry Englehardt and Todd Gomez.
I don’t remember who won, but does it matter now ?

But it wasn’t all so grim –
like some of the older classmen bragging
about dating one of the McDonell twins
so they could dedicate Steve Perry’s Oh Sherry to her
during those slow skates for couples.
And songs like Crazy For You could heal
the wounds when you had a mad crush on a tomboy girl
named Brenda Davies – another heart carved
into a wooden seat or locker.

Enough tough memories and onto the floor
For a chance to win a prize
in the spinning wheel numbers game, or to win
your class while playing “Shoot the Duck”
in your crouching style around the floor
with one leg raised as they played
Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust.

Alas, as Night Ranger’s Sister Christian
reminded us that the end of the evening was near,
There was a last hoorah –
the speed skate for the fast and experienced.
It was almost like hockey, because if you fell down
there was no real rescue or escape.

This was my favorite part of the night.
One race – a few minutes for the girls
and then the guys, once again set
to the tempo of Van Halen’s Panama or the Crue’s
Red Hot or Knock ‘em Dead Kid.
Such a thrill and rush of adrenaline !

By the time 1986 had come
kids like me no longer went to Babb’s.
But those last two years of 1984 and 1985
Seemed to have lasted forever,
and will never be forgotten.

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