Outcast in Pennsylvania.


Ozzie- with Salba K-beam & rickety quarter pipe. 1978 (nice afro/hair farm)


Ozzie @ Hoffers halfpipe. No flat-bottom. 1979

Growing up in Pennsylvania as a skateboarder was very difficult. I had to pay dearly for my riding time. Weather, poverty, lack of skate pals; these all played a part in making my life a misery at times. We had a school yard that had an asphalt bank on it. Nearby, a few older skaters made a quarter pipe. Del Collins, Ron Hoffer & Scott Kreiser were early PA influences. They eventually moved on or couldn’t keep up with the progression.

My friend Jim Howell & I met there at the school but didn’t ride together much just yet. Del had a half pipe in his attic. That’s how it is back East in the winter. You move your ramps inside a garage, attic, basement or barn or build them there permanently. Baskin Ridge, NJ. barn ramp & Buster Haltermans’ are just a few examples. However, these came much later. I built my first halfpipe in  a backyard by my house in 1977. I had quarter pipes in the yard, basement, and attic before that.

Back then, I knew nothing of trick-to-trick riding. I built one side with 3 feet of vert and the other side just below vert. I would do a high kickturn on the vert side, then do a trick on the low side. This was how I learned. I would study the magazine pictures of Bobby Valdez doing his handplant (cast on arm in Powerflex ad), then go outside and kill myself for days. I used flat cinder blocks as coping & glued linoleum bathroom tiles under these to mimic a backyard pool.

We rode a U-shaped, no flat -bottom plywood halfpipe called Hoffers until its demise in 1980. It was splintered, with no decks, 4 feet of vert and only a 2X4 as coping. It was hell climbing out on that ledge to drop in for the first few times. On my first attempt, I landed on my head &  cried. Del & Hoffer grabbed me by my arms and legs; throwing me in a rosebush. I untangled myself;  bleeding & whimpering…then, climbed back up there and made the drop in the summer of 1977.

Those guys were no joke. They didn’t last though. It would be Jim Howell & I . We carried the flag after that. We eventually rode Cherry Hill, Virginia Beach, Spinning Wheels & all points in between. Youth. We just wanted to ride pools & parks like our California brothers…but it took a bit longer for us to do so. Besides the parks I mentioned, we had little to ride unless we made it ourselves. But, that is another story altogether. Remember where you are from & what you are. I am proud to be a skateboarder with 35 years of time served. Skate Long-Ozzie


12 thoughts on “Outcast in Pennsylvania.

  1. Decks on ramps are for sissys! Those no flat having u-tracks made you the man you are today! Thanks for the splinter memories!

  2. Hey bro, so cool to see old pics like that. I only have like 5 pictures on the first ramp I learned how to kickturn on. it was an abandon school. Someone build a quarter on the handball court. Super steep and tuff as a kid to figure it out! I notice lots of kids at the skateparks that don’t know how to kickturn, tic-tac or do 360’s. funny, but then again there are the kids that are killin too!!

    Good stuff!


  3. Reminds me of post-fro days; brewing pots of strong-ass coffee, eating 5 lb. bags of Marshmallow Maties, taking 37 mini-thins and skating in the Morton Building at Woodward until 2 or 3 in the morning. To this day, I swear, I don’t think Big Kurt ever kept his foot on and landed a GD boneless.

  4. wow Ozzie I thought I was the only one to do all the stuff you just wrote about !
    only my 1/4 pipes had plexiglass for vert with tiles glued to it and broomstick coping ,all my half pipe no flat and my first ones where vert on one side and a bank on the other ! nice to know that we both where doing the same thing way back then ….. skate long skate strong ,everywhere you are I am in spirt !
    thanks Ozzie you have done it again ! made me misty with memories !

  5. way cool of you to share pictures of you in the salad days keep the fire burning hope to ride with you soon.

  6. btw, can’t believe how much Damian looks like you! (and frighteningly enough, acts like you too.)

  7. I remember that half pipe! I remember watching ya build and ride it too. I wasn’t allowed over there tho and I can’t remember why. That pic is awesome…man, I loved that house. Miss it.

    PA had some kinda anti-skate thing going on, esp in our town. (maybe it wasn’t PA. Maybe it was just our town, which is probably more accurate.) It was so bizzare. I never understood it. Signs everywhere: NO skateboarding! No skateboarding on the sidewalks, no skateboarding in empty parking lots (even at abandoned buildings), No skateboarding here, no boarding there, etc. (although, roller blading was ok in most places.)

    By the late 80’s, it was as though there was an onslaught against skaters in our town, esp the teens. Nowhere for ya’ll to go at that time. (If I recall, you weren’t around the area much then.)

    Nice pics!

  8. Those were great times though. Some of the best times of my life are of you and I traveling and riding together. Awesome memories! Thanks for taking me back there.

  9. There are still some old pictures of me from 1980 riding in a parking lot with a nice bank. They are pretty amazing. It’s not every day you see pictures of a black girl with a full on head of relaxed hair doing a power slide! (Of course, now I rock locks and wouldn’t think of straightening my hair!!). I haven’t posted them on my blog only because . . . hmmmm . . . I’m not sure why I haven’t done so. Maybe I will!

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