It had snowed. The boy sat on his bed and read through a tattered skateboarding magazine. Skateboard World. He read through the advertisements, letters to the editor and scanned the photographs endlessly. He could quote the captions. It was his Holy Bible. He had started skateboarding in nineteen seventy five on a skateboard that his friend Bradley had given him. Bradley had stood on it once and just as quickly found himself on his back. He was glad to give it away since he didn’t want to ever stand on it again. Learning curve. With this welcome gift, the boy started skateboarding and was surprised that when he stood on it… he could ride. Sure, he fell off, but he realized that he had a natural aptitude for it. He loved the way it was always there for him. He would spend hours, carving and kick-turning around. Growing up, he lived in a small town. There were barely any good sidewalks or places that were smooth enough to skate. The winter snows and ice made the asphalt crumble and buckle. Cinders were spread on the roads and plows gouged the surfaces. He built a small quarter pipe in his dads barn. It was basically a large piece of plywood nailed to two by fours and propped on cinder blocks. He attached a piece of metal pipe on top and bent the nails over to hold it in place. He wanted to grind some pool coping like the skaters in Skateboard World Magazine. Grinds were particularly fun and he slashed at the lip until his shins bled from missed attempts.
His Skateboard World Magazine subscription arrived in his mailbox once a month. He dodged slush and puddles as he crossed the road to retrieve it. The air bit at his lungs and he shivered as the winter wind whipped at his clothing. He peered quickly at the cover. December 1977. Jim Muir. Hot Times In Dogtown. “Oh man…” He quickly made his way back inside the warm farmhouse and up to his room. He studied like a Chemistry student and the magazine was his lab manual. It would always be this way.
Over the next year or two, he saw skateboarding turn in a radical new direction. There were skateparks popping up everywhere in California and the magazines continually showed new tricks being developed and hot new riders were making names for themselves. Several skateparks had pools put in and contests were held. The Hester I Series was a showcase for the heaviest skaters of the time. Tony Alva, Rick Blackhart, Chris Strople, Tay Hunt, Stacy Peralta, Scott Dunlap, Doug Saladino, Steve Alba and others were featured in the magazines. Airs were being done. What the skaters had taken from the banked schoolyards and into empty swimming pools, were suddenly being intensified in the new skatepark bowls and pools. He went to his barn and skated hard. His ramp had now become a halfpipe. It was U shaped and had smooth round transitions. He had installed cinder blocks on top of one deck so he had concrete to grind. It was what he had. He looked at the William Sharp photographs from Skateboard World Magazine and tried to figure out how to do the tricks. He learned airs. He slammed so hard learning rock-n-rolls that he actually pissed bloody urine for a few days and had a hard time doing chores.
The following summer, the magazines were published with photographs from the Hester II and the Gold Cup Series. Duane Peters, Eddie Elguera, Steve Caballero, Eric Grisham and others were taking skateboarding into fresh new territory. Surfing style and flow were being usurped by tricks and technicality. Inverts, foot plants and back to back airs were becoming the new standard. His barn ramp became a splintered mess as he rode in isolation, trying to keep up. He moved the ramps farther apart and added some flat bottom between them. A new plywood surface gave him more speed. A skatepark opened up a few hours away and periodic trips gave him new perspective. He once felt isolated and alone. Alone with everybody. He walked through school. Head down. Jocks pummeled him into lockers. He smiled inside. He belonged to something special. It was something they could never have… or understand. Skateboarding.
Years flew by. Skateboarding had fallen on its face when he was just out of high school. He didn’t stop. Why? Why would he? There was no reason to eliminate the one good and positive thing in his existence. He drove to other towns and visited others like himself. Small plywood half pipes. Scenes. Friends. Skateboarding. It was underground and undernourished. They didn’t care. They rode anyway. After a time– its veins nearly bled dry– skateboarding experienced a new surge and heartbeat. It came back. New magazines brought recognizable faces back into the public eye. There were new heroes as well. Skaters that were young at the first fall, had kept skating during its downturn. They were now on top. They were electric. Lance Mountain, Christian Hosoi, Allen Losi, Neil Blender, Jeff Phillips.
In time, he found himself in California. College had eased his way into a good job and he soon found himself riding pools and places all over San Diego and Los Angeles counties. He constantly looked for pools to ride. His parched youth in a cold, bleak state had given him an obsession. The hunter. He soon found a house outside of Los Angeles that had a really good pool in the backyard. He had become friends with many of the skaters he once saw in the magazines and they skated the pool together. He eventually met William Sharp. They decided to work on a book project together. They wanted to tell the stories of all of the legends that had paved the way for so many others. They wanted to show respect to as many of these people as they could. They would use the photographs that William had stored away from that seminal time in skateboarding’s history. They wanted to… and they did.
Please join William Sharp and Ozzie Ausband on Saturday December 16th from 3:00-5:00pm at Dogtown Coffee in the original Zephyr / Jeff Ho shop for the book launch and signing of Back In The Day. Thank you to William Sharp for the previously unpublished images and MRZ for the other images. Skate- Ozzie Ausband