Old fashioned roller skates on display at White Rock Skate Center. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Old fashioned roller skates on display at White Rock Skate Center. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Deuback Skating rink nickel (Photo courtesy of Jim Cox)

Deuback Skating rink nickel
(Photo courtesy of Jim Cox)

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As many bid farewell to White Rock Skate Center and bask in shared nostalgia, let us roll back the calendar to the 1940s-70s, when another rink ruled in what is now the Lake Highlands area.

At the time, the region around Greenville-Royal was known as Vickery, and the place to be was Deuback Skating Rink, located at 7800 Greenville Ave.

Back in 1939, a young John Deuback, whose parents owned the rink, was one of our city’s top skaters, according to a 1939 Dallas Morning News article. He won a race against Dallas’ champion speed skater, but not the official championship race, held that year at Fair Park.

In 1954 John Deuback and his brother Victor acquired the rink from their parents; John lived with his family in an upstairs apartment, and Victor lived in a guesthouse next door.

The whole campus burned to the ground in 1956, causing an $80,000 loss to the uninsured business, not to mention serious injuries to John, who crawled around the burning second floor searching for his 9-year-old son, John Ronald Deuback.

“After finding the boy, Deuback tossed him outside and into the arms of Victor Deuback, 29, his brother and partner in the skating rink,” reported the Dallas Morning News in August that year. “The skating rink has been a landmark on a 3-acre wooded tract in the Vickery area for 19 years,” the paper reported.

The youngster sustained burns and bruising. The Deuback daughter, Carolyn, 13, spent that night with a friend.

Against the odds, John and his wife managed to rebuild a larger and improved Deuback Skating Rink by 1957, and it remained open into the 1970s. Many Lake Highlands residents recall spending their youths there.

“It was old and rickety but I loved that place,” notes Dean Ingram on a Lake Highlands nostalgia Facebook group. “I went every Friday night from ages 9-12.” The pickles, purchased with special wooden nickels, were the best, several neighbors say. “I still have my wooden nickel some 40 years later,” says Jim Cox.

“I worked there in the snack bar when I turned 16. Sold lots of those pickles,” notes Susan Henneman. Teresa McCullough says the Deubacks “took me all the way to nationals with my speed skating.”

“My former physician, Dr. Franklin Casey, married a Deuback daughter in the 1960s,” notes Bill Wachel. “He’s probably 80 and is still practicing at Presby Dallas. Franklin grew up in Garland and met her at the rink, if I remember correctly. I grew up with skating parties at Deuback’s.”

But the business faced tough times. Flooding always has been problematic in the area. A 1966 article describes two firemen clinging to trees near Deuback Skating Rink after raging creek waters carried off their station wagon and equipment.

In 1971, John Deuback watched helplessly from his home/business as a woman and her child were swept away in White Rock Creek floodwaters. A young man who attempted to rescue them also drowned in the deluge.

The incident infuriated the rink owner because, he said at the time, he had previously pleaded with the city to provide emergency relief to the flood-prone area.

“Deuback said he suggested in letters and conversations with officials that a 400-foot channel be cut to straighten the creek and eliminate a bottleneck downstream from Greenville, which causes backup water,” according to a Dallas Morning News article. “If I had been successful,” he told reporters, “I am confident three people would still be alive.”
The city retorted that his plan was ineffective and that they had a better idea — to widen the roadway and expand the bridge near the rink — which would be carried out sometime around 1975.

John’s daughter Carolyn Deuback in 1963 was crowned homecoming queen at North Texas State University, and she won the Miss Richardson competition in ’64.

Her talent? Skating, of course.

Read the story of White Rock Skate’s recent closing

1956 Dallas Morning News article

1956 Dallas Morning News article