Skateboarding in the Stone Age

My Real Memoir

My buddies and I invented skateboarding. Kind of. There were two types of skates back in the stone age:

1) Pro skates with smooth “clay” wheels that you could rent at the local roll-a-rama. You’d glide around the rink, and Hokey Pokey to the center, hoping to “put your left foot in” just as that cute girl in the poodle skirt did.

2) Metal skates, the kind you’d steal from your buddy’s kid sister, strap onto your sneakers, and rumble noisily down “Death Hill” in, hoping nobody stretched a water hose across the sidewalk.

Metal skates were cheap and flimsy, and the only kind anybody I knew had. But, hey, they had wheels, and any kind of wheels were better than no wheels. Plus, we’d discovered you could pull the skates apart, nail the wheels to the bottom of a board, then stick a fruit crate on the front and, voilà, you had a crate-scooter! Of course, these tended to disintegrate, sending splintered wood and body parts everywhere. Still, they were kinda like surfing. And surfing was the gnarliest thing on the planet!

Then we heard about something called “skateboards.” Apparently, surfers would sometimes build crate-less scooters and go “sidewalk surfin’!”

We built one the next day!

Our first skateboards were metal skate wheels nailed onto two-by-fours. They lasted roughly as long as our crate-scooters had. Which is to say, exactly one trip down Death Hill before hitting a rock or a speck of dust and becoming airborne. But, hey, we were sidewalk surfin’, and there was no going back!

We soon discovered the sidewalks at our grammar school were smoother and featured virtually no cars backing out of driveways. We went everywhere on our little stone age skateboards.

Until one day…

My dad brought home a commercially-made “Chicago” skateboard, with better metal wheels, and a thinner board you could actually turn! Sort of.

Then, a short time later, a surf company started making “pro” skateboards. They had stringers, clay wheels that turned like a dream–and they actually looked like surfboards!

I got one for Christmas. A friend even got a “longboard.” It was so big that three of us could ride it, trading off roles as Captain, Engine Room, and Rudder Operator.

Skateboarding eventually became an Olympic-level sport, leaving us cave dwellers in the dust. Or splayed across somebody’s driveway, at any rate. But I’ll never forget the day…

My buddies and I invented skateboarding.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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59 Responses to Skateboarding in the Stone Age

  1. mic says:


    Liked by 1 person

  2. You brought back many fond memories of the early 80’s. Thank you Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That is hilarious. You really deserve your own Wikipedia page for this contribution to mankind. 😄

    Liked by 4 people

  4. As a person who loved to roller skate (4wheels only,lol) as a kid w/ my favorite uncle, I truly appreciate this post. The images are hilarious, I’ll have to share this w/ my son & grandson , the skateboarders in the family. I also recall tennis shoe skates as a kid. They looked just like a pair of sneakers w/ wheels on them. My younger brother got a pair for Christmas, but wanted new shoes so he took the wheels off and tried to wear them as shoes, but the metal constantly scraped against the pavement. We still tease him today about that.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I loved my metal skates and you only needed one pair as they were adjustable. It was a craze in our road. Sometimes we sat on our bikes with our skates rolling on the road. I was a Tomboy!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Holy AARP Cards, Mitch! You could be telling my story! Or our story–me and the guys in the neighborhood. I still remember how ticked off my dad was that I took my roller skates apart to create my first skateboard. Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Pingback: Newspapers and Talking Birds | Mitch Teemley

  8. Our skate boards some old fence boards and metal skates. Well, until Mom found out which part of the fence ’donated’ the board … as I recall Dad’s lecture on “why we don’t steal fence boards” went for a record breaking two hours, while my friends got away with just losing their allowance to help pay for the board.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. My brother and I both had a pair of those old-fashioned metal skates.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Rocky says:

    I remember making my own skateboard way back in the day. Of course, we were in Missouri, not California, so it wasn’t sidewalk surfing, it was just board skating. It was probably 5 years later that I saw my first commercial skateboard. Great, dangerous, times! I wouldn’t trade them for all the X-boxes stuck in China.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. trE says:

    I don’t know why, but I can’t imagine you skateboarding. Lol. This is awesome, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yernasia Quorelios says:

    💜 Girls 👧 ARE Smelly EveryOne; but We Stinky Boys 👦 Have to Love Them EveryBody 💕



  13. Gotta share this, especially since I live with the largest open skateboard park in the world as of 2021: Somehow I think it would have been more fun to watch you and your untamed friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I loved my metal roller skates back in the late 50s and early 60s. But skate boards scared me, for some reason. I preferred to zoom down the hill while sitting in my red flyer wagon. At least it had sides to grab onto, just before I crashed. 😀

    Liked by 6 people

  15. From keying on skates to roller rinks and then onward to prototype skateboards to turn our mothers’ hair gray, if a neighbor tattled on us about the enormous hill we shared with cars.. oh gosh, thanks for these memories!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. pastorpete51 says:

    Yes I made one though we used a 1 by 8…took time to sand it down and then painted it blue. How ridiculous I thought when people began paying hard earned money to buy a cheap imitation store bought version!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane. I remember the skates that got attached to the bottom of my saddle shoes and how rolling over the pavement tickled my feet for the first twenty minutes.
    I also remember a couple of decades later, trying out the cheap plastic skateboard my daughter had bought at a yard sale, rearranging my vertebrae on the sidewalk, and spending 45 minutes lying on the chiropractor’s table, getting the lecture of my life as she tried to put everything back.


    Liked by 3 people

  18. I remember making one exactly like the picture with a 2X4 and skates. What fun!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Those old metal skates brought back memories of my one and only kind of childhood athletic prowess.  I had skates like that and managed to stay upright, even while actually skating.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Tim Harlow says:

    Thanks for the fun post, Mitch. It brought back good memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. murisopsis says:

    Ha! You and Marty McFly! My skates were hand-me-downs so the leather strap on one was broken. My dad cut a piece of clothes line and I had to tie that around my ankle. They worked fine but I had to keep retying the cord every 10 minutes… We’d skate on the driveway and play “Roller Derby” just like on Sat afternoon TV!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I love this! The blessed privileges of a generation that was expected to “go play outside” and come back at dinner time. I enjoyed my metal clamp-on roller skates until using the real ones rented at the roller rink. Incredibly great fun and adventures. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Jeff says:

    Love this! I was never allowed to have a skateboard. They were “dangerous.” Unlike me riding my bicycle in small-town traffic . . . all over town . . . with no helmet. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. rwfrohlich says:

    Ah, those clamp on skates. I’d fasten them to my shoes and head out along the sidewalks in Queens, NY. It was fun until you hit a crack and one skate would come loose. But just screw it on tighter and move on. Those skates were my earliest form of transportation.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t include a paragraph about injuries–the bruises, scrapes, and road rash endured during your skateboarding days. Our sons helped keep Johnson & Johnson in business during their years in the sport. Thankfully no broken bones!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. In 1965 I had the metal skate version. One day while going down my favorite sidewalk hill, one of the wheels came off and my body slid and finally crashed into a postal mailbox. My knees were bloody through my torn blue jeans. Didn’t get on a skateboard again until 7 years later– and only once– to check out a newer model. Loved watching the modern kids during the Olympics. Amazing stuff now.

    Liked by 2 people

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  29. Ray Stiles says:

    Mitch, we were known as the Lords of Dogtown where I was born on the mean streets of Dogtown in Venice Beach Cali. If you remember, during the droughts of the mid-to-late 60’s which coincided with a sharp rise in the popularity of skateboarding, Jan Berry and Dean Torrence recorded “Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me.
    Don’t be afraid to try the newest sport around
    Bust your buns, bust your buns now
    It’s catchin’ on in every city and town”

    Lords of Dogtown (2005) on Netflix – Trailer

    Liked by 1 person

  30. mitchteemley says:

    Jan & Dean recorded “Sidwalk Surfin'” “with” you? What do you mean by that, Ray?


    • Ray Stiles says:

      No Mitch, if you remember with the popularity of skateboarding, Jan and Dean recorded “Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with “Me”, but I was actually sidewalk surfin’ at Surfrider Beach at the Malibu pier when the great brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine were recording Surfin’ Safari Live in 1962?

      Where were you in 62?

      Surfin’ Safari Live

      Liked by 1 person

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