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.