Posted by: trish alexander | July 8, 2011

Chicago, gangster style

Skating amongst Gangsters & NSP to the rescue

Tom Grosspietch (foreground at left, Philip Graff behind Tom)  is an amazing skater and community builder. I had the chance to be in Chicago for a Skate Instructor Certification for three local skaters. I arrived early enough to do the Friday night skate which the NSP (National Skate Patrol) heads.

Tom has long been the person who develops the “themed” Friday Night Skates which in the past have included the Chicago Fire notable locations and The “Inline” Skate where the skaters toured all the hotspots which were so busy you had to stand “in line.”  Clever, for sure.  I think there have been some 55 different skates which occurred in passable weather .

My first Friday Night Skate was a tour of the momentous locations of the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre.  While some of the exact locations are in question, Tom did his best to verify the details which included calling an author of one of the books he was reviewed for our tour. Tom located conflicting information on the address of the garage where the ‘fake’ police car caught on fire so he researched and contacted the author to confirm the correct address  (1723 Wood Street.) We saw the hospital where one of the gangster was taken to (sadly died just outside). Along the way we learned additional details of the robbery that Tom had gleaned from his research.

Joining us on the skate were two other patrolers Philip Graff (my host in Chicago) and Gerard who picked up the rear to insure all was safe. Dan & Bachi, non NSP-ers joined in as well. According to Philip there were quite a few people absent as they usually enjoy 15 or so skaters.

Because it was my first trip to Chicago the leads veered from the map a bit to show me other parts of Beantown. As we meandered through the streets I couldn’t help but see the strong nightlife, the refurbished areas which offered a cool factor and true pride for the city by my rolling hosts.

The skate was easy in my “90s” and a brake was a good idea even though it wasn’t too hilly. We went over bridges, through the industrial area, under trains and along sidewalks. We stopped to regroup, often for a history lesson (e.g., which gangster lived where) and waited at lights which offered a chance to chat. It is of note that Tom skated the route twice before Friday to insure we had the best pavement possible and that it was a safe route.

These types of skates happen pretty much everywhere there is an NSP chapter.  I am not, as I sit on the plane, entirely clear how many NSP chapters exist, but given their success in getting weekly skates together, I think it suggests that a push should be made for more NSP chapters.  (13 Chapters, I’m told)

While I run educational programs for a living, it is not the only way to build our community.  If you live in a city with an NSP chapter, consider joining it. If you don’t, consider starting one.

Thanks to my fellow skaters for reminding me that the reason to learn to skate is to be able to spend time in the company of talented and terrific skaters.

I couldn’t find an actual link to an NSP site as it appears it run chapter  by chapter. Here is the Web/meet up for Chicago: Windy City Meet-up NSP

I couldn’t attach the copy of our map, but email me if you are interested in reviewing it.  My first trip to Chicago, but for sure not my last.

Here is a map of the route:  St-Valentines Day-RR-r4

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