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