Towards the close of that year (1884) roller skating sprang up as a popular craze, and a fine and commodious rink was built on Pennsylvania Street. Of course a band was vitally essential, and one day I was offered an engagement at $14.00 a week to play nights at the rink. With the permission of my parents (although they did not want me to become a paid musician) I accepted the offer and found myself with steady employment at a stipulated wage, which, even if not much, was a tangible something. The bond was small one of only six pieces, with an instrumentation of two cornets, two altos, a baritone and tuba (no drums).
It was hard work to play three hours steadily (in a combination so small there was no rest for anyone) yet to me it was professional work. It was my first regular band engagement, and playing it all that winter I easily can recall its personnel. It was Jim Hall, second alto; Coney Schellschmidt, baritone, and George Mills, tuba. Some of these men are yet living. I met two of them only recently, and we talked over the "old times" with many a hearty laugh at incidents which had transpired hours everyday. I most assuredly was kept pretty busy. Yet even so, I found time to arrange a lot of waltzes, marches, etc, for that six-mouthpiece band, and the experience I gained from reducing larger orchestrations to meet the requirements of our small combination stood me in good stead and repaid my work a thousand-fold during my after life.
I recollect that there was to be a Grand Fancy Costume Carnival at the rink, and that the management requested the band to head the Grand March on skates. I could do any "stunt" on ice skates, but as I had never tried roller skating I was told to come over in the afternoon and practice, so as to be in shape for the Carnival at night. It was very simple when just skating up and down the floor, but becoming too ambitious I started trying to skate on one foot, cut the figure eight, and do other fancy skating hich had been so easy for me on the ice. I forgot there were wheels under me, however, and in trying to do the "outside-edge" I slipped and came down to the floor in an awful tumble which seemed to shake the building. I tried to get on my feet, but could not move because of the terrific pain in my knee, and had to taken home in a cab. The knee, which was badly dislocated, laid me up for some time, and I never have tried roller skating since.