"I came here as a child and I bring my children here today," said Lewis Cranston proudly. "If you come here, you know what you're in for and that's what you want to do."
But times have changed.
In question is the floor. Areas of surface dip and curve, while other areas rise an astonishing one and half feet, creating ramps and chutes that can easily twist or even break the leg of a small child.
It all began during a heavy rainy season in 1955. "Flood damage was pretty much beyond repair," says seventy-six year old owner Harlan Brown.
So he did something innovative that saved tens of thousands of dollars in repairs at the time. He hired skilled woodcraftsmen to incorporate the flood damaged warped floor with the rest of the surface. The resulting waves and dips became legendary to skaters tired of the same old "round and round."
"This is the real ROLLERBALL," Harlan stated with enthusiasm. "It predates it by twenty years. We've asked James Caan several times to make a special appearance at yearly events, but he's never replied. We keep hoping."
ROLLERBALL is a 1975 American dystopian fiction film which starred James Caan and was directed by Norman Jewison from a screenplay by William Harrison.
On the day of this interview, a carpentry team was carefully preserving a large area known as "The Four Horsemen" containing four humps. A large protective purple felt cloth was evidence of the care and seriousness taken when maintaining the warped integrity of the rink.
"It's not cheap to keep the floor warped this way," Brown said. "But I love this damn rink. See these old timers doing the repairs? They are master wood workers who actually belong in the Woodmen of the World fraternity. You don't see that everyday. It's like running into a group of stonemasons who are also members of a Masonic lodge."
But it comes with a heavy price to patrons. At least once or twice a week, for the last half century, an ambulance rushes an unfortunate skater to the emergency room. Distinct blood stained spots mark repeated impacts with areas that are too difficult for the average skater to negotiate.
"We've seen compound fractures and two legs broke at the same time. But it's never against their will. This is like anything. Like driving a car or falling down a flight of stairs. It's part of life."
Several attorneys disagree.
"He has two options, shut it down or repair the floors. Anything less will result in multiple lawsuits. It's incredible he has stayed in business this long. Some out of town parents drop their kids off and sign a release without even looking at the laminated horror inside. It's worse than anything you can imagine. I've gone myself on a weekend and saw several people injured and crammed into the ambulance. I'm certain the EMT workers delayed departure, waiting for another 'accident' to occur. It's an abomination," said attorney Isaac Goldstein.
EMT workers would not comment, but it is a well known fact that the nearest hospital is over thirty minutes away and may be clouding their judgment, resulting in a type of questionable "ambulance pooling."
Workers at the rink beg to differ with attorneys, citing that the rink has been the same since the mid 1950s. "We're not going to change the way we do business just because some city folks moved here and want everything Disneyfied," said an employee behind the skate counter who asked to remain anonymous.
"Look, sometimes, people get hurt. But they almost always come back. They just might avoid Big Bertha or Sneaky Pete for a while," he said with a chuckle. "What size shoe do you wear? You look like a ten," he said.
"Big Bertha" is the largest ramp on the floor, while "Sneaky Pete" is what amounts to a pot hole that has no smooth exit ramp. Photographers were not allowed to take pictures of most of the rink. Skaters unlucky enough to find themselves in the sunken area must leap almost ten inches to reach the normal rink level. If they retract their legs too slowly or not enough, the impact could dislocate a kneecap.
One six year old broke his pelvis in Sneaky Pete.
"That was a tough drive," one of the EMTs commented, while his partner reminded him they had no comment.
"We're not changing," Brown said. "If you don't like it, go skate in Little Rock with the flat babies. We don't allow cell phones, either. You want to talk and text, you can do that in Little Rock as well."
A local judge will have to decide. To get into the roller rink, a release must be signed by the parents or legal guardians. Brown seems covered.
"It's no worse than dropping my kids off to ride skateboards on giant hills of cement at the skateboard park," said Barbara Wentworth. "What's the big deal? I don't see it."
Judging by the large line of kids and adults waiting to get inside, most agree. But the ambulance that sits outside every Friday and Saturday night is a morbid reminder of how one false slip can result in disaster. The pleasant aroma of French fries, hot dogs, and burgers belies an undercurrent of impending doom and possible disfigurement.
"This teaches kids about real life. How can that be a bad thing? What's really fun is when we do the all out speed skate to surfer music - kids and adults flying and jumping and getting stuck on the floor. It's far far more than just a roller rink," Harlan Brown said.
"It's Super-Speed Skateland," he laughed. "And it drinks the blood of the innocent and guilty alike. Just as it should."