Thank You Skateboarding

by jameswalk

About thirty years ago I opened the greatest Christmas gift of my life, a set of blueprints for building skateboard ramps.  As a ten year old you wouldn’t think that receiving a stack of papers stapled together would be something to get excited about, but there was no internet, you couldn’t download this stuff, you had to physically purchase it, so this gift was huge. Growing up on the East Coast there were very few skate parks, if I could find someone with a steep driveway that I could pretend was a bank, that was amazing.  I mostly just skated flatground, doing street plants and jumping off curbs trying to imitate my heroes like Mark Gonzales, Tommy Guerrero, and Mike Vallely.

A few days after receiving this epic gift my father and I proceeded to gather supplies and construct my first ramp. This was the late 80’s and according to our diagrams apparently everything still needed to have vert, even a five-foot quarter pipe.  My father, being an expert engineer, followed the blueprints with exactness and precision and our 5-foot-tall ramp ended up with about 6 inches of vert on what was probably a 6-foot radius transition.  It was gnarly. Upon completion, we both realized that this construction was not the most practically skateable obstacle for a ten-year-old beginning skateboarder and we cut the ramp down to about 4.5 feet. The transition was still super fun and challenging. This was the ramp that I learned a lot of my first maneuvers on, front side slashers and rock and rolls to name a few.  But more importantly it was the moment that I realized that my parents supported my love of skateboarding during a time when this particular art-form was somewhat marginalized, misunderstood, and definitely not mainstream, especially on the East Coast. I loved this ramp, with it’s crazy transition and PVC coping and I skated it every day until we moved, which we did a lot back then, and sadly I couldn’t find a way to take it with me.  So many glorious suburban driveway sessions were had on this well-loved ramp at a time when all that mattered was having fun.

Thank you skateboarding, I love you.