Even the ice was cold

SANDUSKY Since when is it too cold for ice? Some outdoor events at the 2008 Arctic Ice Festiva
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Since when is it too cold for ice?  Some outdoor events at the 2008 Arctic Ice Festival had to be canceled Sunday because of the chilling temperatures and fierce winds.

The event experienced bad luck with weather all weekend when some of the same events were canceled Saturday because it was too warm, including ice fishing, ice skating and ice boat racing.

Maritime Museum Director Neil Allen said the indoor events still brought a decent turnout.

"I think it went well for our first year," he said. "We had over 150 people tour the museum and kids made ice boat models."

People still managed to come out Sunday, despite the thin sheet of ice covering the city, for guest speaker Russell Herner. Herner, of Bellevue, wrote the book "Antique Ice Skates for the Collector," and spoke on the evolution of the ice skate.

"It's one of Americas oldest winter sports," he said. "In the 1850s, all the family members went ice skating. They didn't have basketball to compete with entertainment, and they didn't have football because it hadn't been invented yet...It gave them good exercise and an opportunity to catch up on all the gossip."

Originally, the word "skate" got its name from the term "schake," or leg bone, from which the first ice skates were made. People would drill a hole through each side of the bone, attach harnesses to it, and strap the bone to the bottom of their shoe.

Herner brought about 50 pairs of ice skates from his 300-pair collection, which included a 750-year-old pair of bone skates.

Herner said the biggest problem with early ice skating was figuring out a way to keep the blade attached to the shoe.

"There are over 200 patents in Washington D.C. of (ice skate) fastenings and keeping them on," he said.

During the presentation, Herner also talked about an invention that never made its way to America, the Dutch metal belly warmer. The oval warmer hangs from the neck and rests on the stomach. It was typically filled with warm sand or oil in an effort to keep the owner from getting too chilled during long skating outings.

"If you had any brains, you'd put booze in there and heat it up," he said. "Keep your belly warm inside and out."