Hattiesburg women roller skates again after more than 75 years - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg women roller skates again after more than 75 years


Helen West is 92 years old, blind in both eyes, and has a bit of a rusty hip - but today she went roller skating.

The last time West had been around a rink, you rented metal clip-on skates for about twenty five cents she said, and the Great Depression was just winding down. But, even after all these years, she still thought about it often.

She was at Oak Grove's Extreme Skate Zone Thursday because her hospice social worker Chuck McRaney was sitting down, talking with her a little bit about her life, and she mentioned it.

"At one point she said, ‘Well I miss skating," McRaney, a SouthernCare Hospice social worker said. "And I was like, well tell me about skating."

Not so nimble anymore, West glided around the rink in a wheelchair, so it wasn't quite like when she was young.

"I could just feel myself, at times, it was like I was almost floating," West said of when she used to skate.

But, in some ways, it was still the same pastime she remembered, even now. "Her pushing me around brought back memories too though," West said. "Of just going around and around the rink. "

Rolling around the skate park in meridian every summer, West said she and her girlfriends would go every time they had the chance. And decades later, skating was what she talked about, what she wished; and that is what brought her here

"She was so excited," said her daughter Donna Bills. "When she found out she was just giggling and tickled."

West grew up skating and even met husband at a rink.

"He was standing there and I was standing there and so we just kept right on looking at each other and first thing you know he was moved up beside me. And we started dating then and got married, had four children, two boys and two girls," West said.

"She talked about it all of our growing up years. She talked about how she loved to - she never could dance, but she loved to skate, she loved the feel of her hair blowing in the wind, and her dress blowing," said Bills.

Helen went blind from Glaucoma about 30 years ago, but she has lived alone - taking care of herself and even cooking for others on occasion - until just last year. As she took laps around the rink, her friends and family stood by and watched, smiling, because, they said, she deserved to be happy..

"I watched her go blind, she never felt sorry for herself, she always depended on god to get her through and she has been a blessing to my life," said close family friend Gloria Miller.

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