skate tool

Do You Remember What This Copper-Colored Object Is?

There are many little trinkets, tools, and gadgets from years gone by that kids and even adults under a certain age don’t know anymore. The objects especially that have several decades on them, it’s hard to find many people left who do know what they are. A photo has been floating around the internet of just such a mysterious object that’s got many people asking: What the heck is it? Search no further, we’ve got the answer you’ve been looking for.


What Is This Copper-Colored Mysterious Object?

A skate tool. Image via RelayHero

The photo in question, pictured below, is of a copper-colored mysterious object made of metal. It looks like it could be used to open a bottle or even be some kind of specialized wrench. None of these uses, however, are correct. 

No, this mysterious object is actually a skate tool. It was used to adjust the old-school roller skates. When we say old school, we mean it! We’re talking about the metal skates that people used prior to 1970. These were actually just (essentially) pieces of metal with four wheels and straps to attach them to your regular shoes. (1)

Old clamp-on roller skates
Old clamp-on roller skates

What Was The Skate Tool Used For?

The skate tool was used to adjust the skate to fit the wearer’s foot. You could adjust both the length of the skate and the width. While you were skating, most people wore their skate tool around their neck so that they wouldn’t lose it. Beyond that, its normal hang-out spot was hanging up in your bedroom.

As we know, these strap-on metal skates eventually gave way to the boot-style skates we see today. The old metal ones tend to wear out pretty quickly, and they ruined your shoes even faster. That being said, there are some companies making new-school versions of these old-school skates that attach to your regular shoes. This does make them more portable and feasible for carrying around.


A Music Inspiration

Skating and skate tools were a huge part of American culture, with nearly everyone hitting the neighborhood streets or nearby rink after school and on weekends. This past-time was so influential that it actually inspired several different popular songs during that time. The most famous of these is Brand New Key by Melanie. (2)

The song is about a girl who has a new pair of roller skates. She skates over to the boy’s house that she’s crushing on because “she’s got the skates and he’s got the key”. He never seems to be home, until finally the mother answers the door and tells her that he’s already with a different girl. 


The Song’s Origin

The origin story of this little ditty is a little strange. Melanie had been on a 27 fast where she drank nothing but water. At the time, she was reintroducing food by eating transitional foods like carrots. Suddenly, she felt an overwhelming urge to go get McDonald’s. With an urge so strong, she thought that it might be some kind of spirit voice guiding her, so she went. When she was heading home after her McDonald’s binge, she had the idea for the song.

She didn’t think much of the song until her husband and producer Peter Schekeryk had a listen. They recorded it, and while Melanie was away in New York, he added some background doo-wop-style vocals to make it more catchy.

His little trick worked, and the song went number one on the American charts and number four on the British ones. Another band, The Wurzels, even remade it. Their version, called Combine Harvester (Brand New Key) took the top spot on the British charts.

So while few people know what this mysterious object does not, it had quite a cultural impact back in the day. Who would have known?

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  1. Do You Remember What This Copper-Colored Object Is?Relay Hero
  2. Brand New Key.” Song Facts