John Marquis enjoys a leisurely night out at the Rollodrome in Auburn in 2018. Marquis, who acknowledged that “It’s my thing. It’s me. When I put my skates on, that’s it,” died a few weeks ago at the age of 82, sending the local roller skating world into a period of mourning. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo

My, how John L. Marquis loved to skate.

Gary Girard, top right, with his wife, Ginger, in the orange shirt, pose with their children and friends at the Rollodrome in Auburn. “It’s been an amazing place through the years. You can pick 20 people from this area at random and I guarantee you, you’ll get stories from the Rollodrome from just about all of them.”  Submitted photo

Back in 1954, when a new skating rink called the Rollodrome opened in Auburn, Marquis would walk four miles to get there and another four to get back. 

At the time, he had to share a single pair of skates with his eight siblings, which wasn’t optimal, but he made do. 

“We’d skate back and forth, take them off, give them to the next one,” Marquis said in a 2018 interview with the Sun Journal. “If I got to skate it was a miracle.” 

But Marquis did skate and once he started, he rarely stopped. He was a different person when on roller skates, Marquis said. He was happy and complete. 

Marquis died about a month ago, on Aug. 26, at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer. Those who knew him best say Marquis skated at the Rollodrome almost to the very end, completing a near 70-year run on eight wheels. 


At the news of Marquis’ death, many in the roller-skating community went into a spell of mourning. In a way, he had been the face of the Rollodrome, and for a very long time. 

Yet, as it turns out, the rink has many faces. Over the years, the Rollodrome has transformed the lives of untold numbers of people who skated, grew up and built their lives, and then skated some more, passing the tradition on to their own kids and so on and so forth through the generations. 

With the rink presently up for sale, its future uncertain, we decided to ask our readers for their Rollodrome memories. We heard from so many enthusiastic skaters, we couldn’t possibly talk to them all, but we talked to some and each responded with great passion about that special place in Auburn that had so shaped their lives. 

Gary Girard: Making friends and bouncing off the walls

In the early 1970s, Gary Girard was just another kid struggling to get by in downtown Lewiston where he lived with his mother and sister. New to the downtown streets, Gary was desperate to make friends and to develop connections. 

He would find those friends, as it happened, through one grand, unifying location across the bridge in Auburn: The Rollodrome, a place that would continue to be a part of Girard’s life even 50 years on. 


“I made a bunch of new friends in the area,” he says, “and all the downtown kids would go roller skating on Fridays and Saturdays. For me, that’s how skating fever started. “Being a teenager and growing up on Knox Street in Lewiston in 1973, the Rollodrome became my home away from home. You’d go there with your friends but then you’d also make new friends at the rink.” 

Skaters crowd the Rollodrome in Auburn in this photo from the late 1950s. Courtesy the Rollodrome

Times were lean for Girard’s family, but his mother recognized that roller skating on weekends was a rather harmless endeavor and one that would likely keep her son out of trouble. 

“My mother always made sure that me and my sister had some money to go,” he says, “but good lord. I didn’t know how to skate at all when I first started. I was 13. I had to use the walls, literally. But as time went on, I learned. I grew and I made friends.” 

By the time Girard came along, the Rollodrome had already been around for nearly two decades. A former bowling alley, the ‘Drome first opened its doors for roller skating in June of 1954. It was run by Alice Mailhot, the original owner, her son Donald Larrivee and other family partners. Later the business would be taken over by Don’s wife, Pauline, and their two children, Rachel and Dan, who run it today. 

“They were just wonderful to everybody,” Girard says of the Larrivee family. “They touched the lives of so many people. . . . There were so many wonderful times there. People who meet up there to skate together — people from all over the state would come to the Rollodrome — and you had things like birthday parties, graduation parties, just so many different gatherings.” 

Girard, now 61 and living in Poland, never parted ways with the Rollodrome, even as he grew to adulthood, established a career, got married and had children of his own. Over the years, he’s introduced others — cousins, nephews and nieces, his own children and his wife’s — to the magic of the rink. 


“I’d take all the kids skating and we’d go as a big group,” Girard says. “I’d see friends who were my age and the kids would see their own friends. Those were special times on the weekends. Everyone looked forward to going to the Rollodrome. It was a part of life. For me, it was just so much fun spending that time with my family, and the Rollodrome was a big part of that.” 

The way Girard sees it, the entire community — Lewiston-Auburn and beyond — has been in some manner shaped by the long existence of the Rollodrome. Men met their future wives there. Lifelong friendships were begun on the maple hardwood track. The roller skating tradition was passed on from generation to generation and still remains a part of the social fabric here. 

“It’s been an amazing place through the years,” Girard says. “You can pick 20 people from this area at random and I guarantee you, you’ll get stories from the Rollodrome from just about all of them.” 

Turns out he was right about that.

In this undated photo, Norm and Lorraine Clavette skate while celebrating a birthday party at the Rollodrome in Auburn. The couple met at the rink decades earlier when they were each 14 years old. Submitted

Lorraine Clavette: Love on wheels 

Lorraine Clavette, now 78 and living in Lewiston, says she started skating when she was 8 or 9 years old. She has a lot of great memories of the rink, does Lorraine, and they include a slow roll to the marriage altar. 


“My special aunt had bought me my first skates, came in a bright red shiny case,” she says. “I would go with my neighborhood friends during Saturday or Sunday afternoons, and loved it very much. Used to love the strawberry soda. I was very shy, hardly sociable, but got a lot of practice.

“I later became friends with many, and met my husband, Norm Clavette, there one weekend when I was around 14 years old or so. I was told that he pretty much lived there — would scoot out right after the daily rosary at his home. I eventually made myself a skating outfit, and made it reversible so I could mix the colors. Norm knew everyone there, had lots of friends, and was an avid skater with dance gestures. Vests were very popular then, the music was divine. I still remember many songs that we skated to. My favorite: ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ and ‘Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You!’ Norm’s was ‘Freight train, freight train, going so fast…’ and boy did he speed!” 

The bond Lorraine and Norm formed at the Rollodrome turned out to be the real thing. It was love on wheels and the couple kept on skating, even as the years progressed and things got serious in their lives. 

“We eventually got married in 1965, and still went when we could, in-between having three children, Bonnie, David, Linda,” she says. “They were quite young when we taught them. They formed a love for the place very early, and I expect you may be hearing from them, too. For our 60th birthdays, 18 years ago, our grown children decided to make a party for us, so they rented the hall on what was a very special evening. Well, we had a blast one more time! Our five grandchildren were there too, so I think it’s safe to say, they can all roller skate! 

“Those days,” Lorraine says, “are beautiful memories for us.” 

In a more recent photo, Linda Clavette Quigley and her father, Norm Clavette, enjoy a moment at the Rollodrome in Auburn. Submitted photo

Linda Clavette Quigley: The next generation


Lorraine’s daughter, Linda, lives out in California these days, but she’ll admit that some of her heart is still back at home, at the Rollodrome. How can she help it? It’s in her blood. 

“Our family has a zillion memories there,” Linda says.

She distinctly remembers the zeal for skating her parents still possessed even as they became adults with adult responsibilities.

“They taught me how to skate there at the age of 3 and I continue to skate now in Southern California where I live,” Linda says. “Every time I go back home to visit my family, I still enjoy a fun skate with my dad, who is 78. He turns into a teenager before my very eyes. I am very grateful for the Rollodrome and the joy it gave me and so many others. I remember Don, the original owner, so well. He knew us all so well and of course I used to skate there through my teens every Friday night with my siblings. To me, the Rollodrome is home. It is where I spent my childhood, my teens and my adulthood. I will cry when/if they close, but I will also hold these memories close to my heart, always.” 

Linda Jones Burgess: Miss Personality 

Linda has such fond memories of the Rollodrome, she still has a number of newsletters, contest announcements and other documents she’s saved for more than 60 years. 


“The Rollodrome days were so much fun,” the Lewiston woman says. “Looking forward to Fridays and Saturdays every week, meeting with friends for good old fun. I was Miss Personality of the Month once. How exciting.” 

She’s not lying, either. Linda still has an old Rollodrome announcement naming her as the rink’s Personality of the Month. That announcement is from 1959, which was Linda’s freshman year at Lewiston High School. 

“A part-time employee at Peck’s, she loves to work and keep occupied,” the announcement states. “Her free time is spent roller skating. Her opinion on rock ‘n’ roll is that it’s the greatest. Fabian and Annette are her favorite recording stars.” 

The award garnered her passes for 15 sessions at the rink, a gift certificate worth $2.50 from Ed Baribault, a jeweler on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, and her choice of records from the Bumps ‘n Falls library of records. 

Linda has plenty of memorabilia of this nature, but they can hardly compete with her actual memories of the glory days at the Rollodrome. There is one rink event she remembers above all. 

“My favorite was Jack & Jill,” she says. “Girls on one side of the wall and boys on the other. The rag doll was exchanged to pick the person you wanted to skate with and when the whistle ran, you went back to the wall. Sounds goofy, but I would get all excited to see who would pick me.” 


Melissa Pelletier of Turner, third from left, reunited with some friends at the Rollodrome recently. Submitted photo

 Melissa Pelletier: Roller skating therapy

“My girlfriends and I hung here every weekend growing up,” says Melissa, of Turner. “I grew up in Little Canada and in the ’80s and ’90s my friends and I spent every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night there. There was something about loud music and rolling around that I found relaxing. Back then there used to be a skate dance on Saturday nights — skate most of the night, then we look the skates off and boogied down. They even had lip-synching nights that made things interesting. Life was definitely great as a child and teenager with the Rollodrome in my life. Those definitely were the fun stress-free days.” 

If skating with friends was bliss when Melissa was a teenager, these days, it’s a comfort in troubling times. Recently, she returned to the Rollodrome with half-a-dozen friends after Melissa had gotten some bad news. 

“We all got together to do the things we grew up doing together,” she says. “After my cancer diagnosis.” 

Pelletier is presently battling stage 4 lung cancer, which, she says, “I will continue to fight with the power of my girl squad.” 

Brittany King: Mom’s night out 


In the better-late-than-never category we have Brittany King, who didn’t experience the Rollodrome back in the day, but who is now getting caught up and discovering for herself what all the buzz is about. 

“The Rollodrome has been my escape and solace in being a new parent,” says Brittany. “Thursday Adult Night is my one night away from our new baby. Through a year of struggling with depression/anxiety that came from the changes a baby causes in life, that night most every week has been a reset and recharge to make it through the next. My husband finally caught on: ‘Go! You are a better mom when you skate!’ . . . Skating has been good for my soul and body.” 

Brittany sees the Rollodrome as a means of escape and a form of therapy for a good number of people. 

“Many people are there to drown out the exhausting frustrations of the week,” she says. “Some are there to drown out bad memories and addictions. It is a place you judge people by their skill, confidence and smile on skates. People of every socioeconomic level, political view, religion, age, and career can all get along and not think about those things. It will be a shame and break hearts if it ever goes.” 

A 1959 copy of the Rollodrome’s newsletter, Bumps ‘n Falls. Courtesy of Linda Jones Burgess

Aaron Merrill: Skating with cuties

On weekends, Merrill and his cousins used to stay with an uncle. That uncle happened to be notorious skate enthusiast Gary Girard. 


“He used to pack six of us in the old Subaru wagon and go there almost every weekend,” says Merrill, now 29 and living in Sabattus. “I have many many memories from the Rollodrome; been going there since I could walk.” 

Merrill was a young lad when he skated at the ‘Drome, so I had to ask: How was the prospect for a boy to meet a nice young lady on skate nights? 

“They always do the couples songs,” Aaron says. “I can’t tell you how many cuties I held hands with and skated and danced around with. They used to do Teen Night too when the ‘Drome was a dance floor for three hours; no skates!” 

Don Boucher: Old time rock ‘n’ roll

Boucher, now 70 and living in Greene, remembers not only the Rollodrome, but the wider community around it. 

“In the 1960s, I was attending Sacred Heart School on Western Avenue in Auburn when I visited the ‘Drome the most,” he says. “As I recall, the Rollodrome was THE Friday and Saturday night hangout back in 1960s. Sim’s Lobster Bar was across the street, which served the best lobster rolls around. Dinner there first, then over to the ‘Drome for youthful fun and camaraderie. There was always a large crowd gathered outside before the rink would open. 


Boucher and his friends would head to the Rollodrome either Friday or Saturday night, and often both. 

“And we’d have the greatest of times, skating around in circles, having snacks at the concession bar, and just enjoying our youthful energy,” he says. “The oldies music — it wasn’t old back then — was easy to sort of dance and shimmy to while maneuvering through the crowded floor. Everyone had smiles and good times. 

“I remember that some, including me, who owned our own skates, would take Dad’s file out of his tool box and file a small groove across one of the composite skate wheels in order to achieve that distinctive clack, clack, clack sound with every rotation of the wheel. Some found it annoying, but those of us who did it, thought it was definitely the COOL thing to do.” 

Heather Marsters and her niece, Harper, make some memories at the Rollodrome in Auburn. Submitted photo

Heather Marsters: In search of the old magic

Heather Marsters, of Bowdoin, recently went back to the Rollodrome after a decade or so away. This time she took her son and went to see if the old magic was still there. 

“I have fond memories of skating with friends at the ‘Drome in the ’90s/early 2000s and it was always a blast,” Heather says. “I hadn’t been in years. My brother (Brian) and I had been feeling nostalgic so we decided to check it out recently with (niece) Harper and we were delighted to see that it has not changed a bit! It’s exactly how I remember it from years ago! So we are getting to relive our childhood while Harper experiences the magic for the first time.” 


Rachel Larrivee and her father, Don, laugh while behind the counter at the Rollodrome in Auburn in this undated photo. Don, his mother, Alice Mailhot, and other family started the business in 1954. Courtesy of the Rollodrome

He’s still got it

Considering the kind of feedback we got to our Rollodrome query, it seems safe to say that many of those who experienced coming-of-age thrills at the rink remain enchanted by the place even decades later.

Girard, who started us out on this journey, is now 61 and says skating at the Rollodrome hasn’t lost any of its appeal, even after many decades. The anticipation of a night at the rink is the same as it was when he was just a boy discovering all the wonders of the world for the first time. The magic of the Rollodrome, he says, is still powerful magic. 

“I definitely still get that spark of enthusiasm — which starts waiting at the front door to be let in, all anxious to put your skates on and enjoy some skating,” he says. “The only things that have changed is the lighting and the sound system is much better now than back in the day. The crowd is still multi-level ages. They have everybody from 3-year-olds up to 80-year-olds. The music is always different. When you look around at the fellow skaters you can still see enjoyment and fun being experienced by everyone.” 

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