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

The Rollodrome has been a family operation since its beginning. According to the business’s website, the building started out as “Fortin Bowlodrome” in 1947 offering state-of-the-art bowling with automatic pin setting. It began its long history as a mecca for roller skating when Alice Mailhot, her son Donald Larrivee, his wife, Pauline, and other family partners made some alterations and opening the business in June 1954. In 1957, an electrical fire destroyed a large portion of the rink, but repairs were made and the structure was expanded by 40 feet.

Here is more history, directly from the website:

“The rink was a popular place with Sim’s Diner, well known for their lobster rolls, across the street. The 1960s showcased many local bands.

“Saturday nights featured skating for the first half and dancing to live bands until midnight.

“The 1970s was a cool era. Bell bottoms, beads, and long hair faded away into the disco scene. The rink installed flashing lights, mirror balls, and rolled into the 1980s. This was a more difficult era for us with the passing of its founders, Alice Mailhot in 1980 and Donald Larrivee in 1982.

“The business was then operated by Pauline Larrivee and her two children, Rachel and Dan. Skating was not as popular at that time, as in the past decades but we stuck with it!

“April 1st of 1987 was not a good day for business along the Androscoggin River. A serious flood threatened our rink. With the help of friends and relatives, and nonstop sand bagging we were able to save our floor.

“Ahhh . . . the 1990s. With the development of in-line skates (rollerblades) it was once again cool to be on skates. Roller skating birthday parties became very popular and things went pretty well for most of this decade.

“Then again, on January 15th 1999, tragedy struck the Rollodrome. A large winter storm starting with wet, heavy snow which eventually turned to several inches of rain and ice proved more than the old roof could handle and gave way under the extreme weight. We thought this was the end of the family skating business. Thankfully, our insurance, a good local contractor, and 8 long months later, the Rollodrome had a grand re-opening. The Rollodrome now had a new roof, bathrooms, heating, electrical work, and a sanded and re-finished floor.”

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