Truck Bolts Blog / St. Pete Ramp

 
 

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By the early 80s, Skateboarding, an activity known to attract the odd balls and outcasts of society had left me still feeling a bit out of place. The few skateboarders at the time were either leftover classic rockers or “Skate Rock” punks. My tastes leaned more toward post punk as I discovered Joy Division and Gang of Four. Then on my first visit to John Grigley’s ramp in St. Petersburg Florida I let local Bruce Whiteside listen to my walkman with my mix tape in it while I skated. The ramp was really good and a welcome change from the poorly built or nonexistent terrain of the time. Suddenly Bruce pulled off the headphones and declared “Finally someone with musical taste!” The session ended abruptly as we headed to his house to spin records that would become touchstones in my life….. About a year later I jumped at the chance to move to the Tampa/St. Pete area to work with Paul Schmitt as he started making skateboards. So thus joining some of the square-ist pegs I’d ever met….. I felt right at home….

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This whole scene was possible due to the ever evolving ramps in John’s (and a bit of a few neighbors) backyards. The fact that John lived in the poor part of town made it all possible and offered it’s own set of challenges. It started very crude, virtually something from nothing…… no money, no tools. Locals John, Bruce and Cleo Coney were eventually joined by Paul who actually had real tools! Their ramps started to get better….they had to all the parks had closed. This became more than a place to skateboard though. It became a Warhol like factory with skateboarding as a fuel source. John was not only redefining handplants he was reinterpreting art…. Paul and I were pushing skateboard construction to keep up with ever increasing level of skateboarding on the by now state of the art ramp. We were listening to the first singles of bands that became legends and had mountains of thrift store clothing that any hipster would sell their soul for. The crew just kept growing … Bill Procco, Walter, Haircut, Mike Daly, B-Rad,D-Rad and myself. Pro’s like Monty Nolder, Billy Beauregaurd, Chris Baucom and Mike McGill all frequented the ramp to train. A skate zine was a must to keep the scattered skateboard scene connected….. So they made “Just For Fun” zine…. Paul developed film in his bathroom then John, Bill and Thom would staple and xerox it to life…..  In a few years time John’s backyard went from a tattered oasis of skateboarding to the main stage for skateboardings rebirth. Eventually the St. Pete Ramp jam would gather the entire skateboard universe in a small dirt alley in the ghetto. It was the first time all the lost Skateboard tribes left over from the great attrition of the 70s gathered to re-stoked the sacred flame and declare “this is far from over”

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This all happened because some miss matched band of friends tried to make things suck a little less. We spent most of our time hurling razor sharp sarcasm at each other that would cause most friends to fight but just made us fall down laughing. It truly was the best and worst of times….. and the Skateboarding……. I’ll never forget the Skateboarding or the life long friends.
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