Lois Moloney Riedinger - in collaboration with Richard Jones, Septemer 2022
Ever since I was 6 years old, I wanted to be an ice skater. I had seen a Sonja Henie movie. She was the world and Olympic Skating Champion from Norway in the ‘30s who initiated the ice show industry. I also loved to draw; should I be an artist?
Unfortunately, we had no ice in Cincinnati. I lived on Woodlawn Avenue in Price Hill across the street from Whittier School and roller-skated in their schoolyard throughout my youth. When I was old enough, I went to the Sefferino Roller Rink and later to the Price Hill Roller Rink. Finally, in 1948 the Terrace Plaza Hotel opened downtown with an open-air ice rink on the eighth floor; the following year, the Cincinnati Gardens opened with skating sessions. I took lessons at both. The Gardens brought in major touring ice shows. I probably saw them all; they inspired me more to become a professional skater. I skated the years I attended Seton High School, took art classes, and made lots of posters. I had joined the Gardens Figure Skating Club and, in ‘52 and ’53, skated in Club ice shows.
After graduating from Seton, my love of art led me to attend The Art Academy of Cincinnati in Eden Park. While there I had a co-op job at the downtown public library, designing and carrying-out major displays. Still skating, I was determined to join an ice show. I had auditioned three times when Shipstads & Johnson Ice Follies came to the Gardens, but they never needed anyone at those times. Finally, they did in November of 1956. The Art Academy had given me a scholarship that year, so I had to make a decision; this wasn’t hard, having just been hired by the Follies. I promised all my art professors that I would visit every art museum across the country – and I did.
I signed a three-year contract to skate and travel to at least 20 cities each year. This was all so much more than I had imagined. There was the “glitter & glamour,” but also sweat and hard work! But what a thrill to wear the unique and exquisite costuming, doing 5 or 6 changes in every show. We usually did shows all days except Mondays; those were for rest and extended travel, which we did mostly by train. Generally, we skated three shows on Saturdays and two on Sundays; during the week they were in the evenings, so we could sightsee, unless we had rehearsals or skate and dance classes.
We had a week vacation before Christmas but had to be back on Christmas Eve to be ready for our traditional matinee the next day in Philadelphia. We had six weeks’ vacation in late April and May, then returned to San Francisco (headquarters) for months. We performed the “old” show nights and rehearsed the “new” show days, then went to LA for the Big Opening in September; and then toured the country again.
It was a bittersweet time when I left the show at the end of 1959, but there was The Someone waiting for me at home. I had met Fred “Fritz” Riedinger at The Art Academy. He was a Price Hill boy and, at first unknown to me, lived a few blocks away on Sturm Street near St. Lawrence Parish. He was an extremely imaginative and talented artist. After five years at The Academy, he was awarded “The Wilder Traveling Scholarship.” He chose to tour Europe and was traveling there when I was touring the U.S.; somehow our letters (usually magnificently illustrated) got to their destinations. Fritz and I married April 8, 1961. We had three children, Mike, Leslie, and Lisa, and we settled in Finneytown.
In the early ‘70s, two new ice rinks opened, Northland Ice Center and SportsPlus; also, Cincinnati Gardens built an annex rink for figure skating and hockey. Without much “urging.” our kids became interested. Mike spent all four years of high school playing on newly formed hockey teams. The girls and I joined the “Queen City Figure Skating Club.” Lisa skated some, but Leslie spent her high school years taking lessons, competing, and performing in club shows. Dad and Lisa had taken-up horseback riding.
The Figure Skating Clubs of Cincinnati and the Junior League had the honor of hosting the “1979 National Figure Skating Championships.” Lisa skated in a flag routine for the opening and closing ceremonies. Mom designed, ordered, and placed “signage” around all the venues. Our “Nationals” were so successful that we were awarded the “1987 World Figure Skating Championship,” which took about three years of preparation. I had the honor of designing the logo for the entire event. The design was on everything, down to stickers and downtown banners. I also designed the awards platforms for both “Nationals” and “Worlds.”
Throughout all these years I had a job working T-shirt companies, designing art on sportswear. H. Wolf & Sons was awarded the job of printing tees, sweats, and sportswear for the “Worlds” with my logo on them. I kept skating but finally hung-up my skates in 2003. I continued to play music for the club sessions till The Gardens closed a few years ago. Now I reminisce through my photo albums and scrapbooks I had made of my early skating, the shows, and club activities. I feel blessed and grateful to have lived this life!
“Always stay determined!’