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The Huntsville Old School Skate Project
by Wighat
April 2001

Skateboarding for me goes way back. All the way back to 1970 when I was three. Some motorcycle decided to run me over while I was playing in the street or something and it broke my leg putting me in a cast from my chest to my ankle. My parents, being the resourceful people that they are, stuck me on a skateboard and let me "paddle" myself around. From there I went on to the Pro Class fiberglass deck and Makaha hard sole shoes (from JC Penney) until I really started skating somewhere around 1982 or 1983. My first deck (other than the Pro Class and banana boards) was a Powell-Peralta Ray"Bones" Rodriguez that my sister's boyfriend (now my brother-in-law) Buddy Rawls gave me. Back then it was such a different thing. I still remember the first time I saw someone skating that I didn't personally know. I was driving down University and they were skating the Ditch and I thought "who is that? What are they doing here?" There were no skate shops in town. We would gather as many people as we could and place a big order from Thrasher magazine - usually to Skates on Haight in San Francisco. There was only one ramp, a ragged halfpipe. First at John and Pete Erbach's house, then at Warren Ward's, then mine, then Shane Edward's house. About that time ramps started popping up on the South side of town. Big Dog, just off of Redstone Road and Donnie Hardesty's killer halfpipe. The next thing I knew Underground Skates had a park with two halfpipes outside and tons of ramps inside. Huntsville grew up fast! Skating lost it's magic for me about that time. It was no longer a group of friends out riding for fun. There were people getting sponsored, local skate teams and tons of contests. It was all about so and so catching huge air and so and so getting sponsored. I finally put my deck up for good about 1990 and have since only taken it out a couple of times.

Last week Buddy came out to California to see me. He said he wanted to go skate the Vans skate park in Milpitas. I'd been following the building of the skate park in Huntsville through Buddy. His son Cameron is old enough now that he's riding around a little bit and Buddy took him to the park. It didn't take much for the passion to come back for Buddy. He's part of the first generation of Huntsville skaters. He rode for Get-A-Way Skatepark and Sims way back in the solid wood board days. I still have a couple of his trophies from the late 70's. He even skated the ditch back then! There's a lot of history there! Seeing Buddy ride at the Vans park made me want to get rolling again. It didn't take much for the passion to come back to me either.

Buddy filled me in about the new Huntsville Skatepark. I'm so glad to hear there is finally a place for people to skate there. I remember trying to get the city to build us a ramp back in the 80's. We gathered names on petitions for a long time and eventually had several thousand names but the city didn't care. Councilman Bill Kling helped us through Tattooed Lady Comics and Lydia Gold and Allen Mills. We put together the proposal and Tyler Ledbetter and I believe Eric Felts met with the mayor in person. He gave us all of ten minutes and said it wouldn't happen. That was that. We continued to make it work ourselves. In retrospect I think it was better that way back then. We played by our rules.

Buddy and I went through some old skate photos that I had and remembered the good old days. Buddy wanted copies of so many I decided to just put them online and he could get what he wanted. So began this quest to try to gather as much as I can about the skate scene in Huntsville in the 80's. Those were truly the good old days. Street skating with Gary "Skrid" Holmes, John Erbach, Dan Perry, Lee Faulkner, Neil Brown, Dion Denton and so many more. Having the Ramp at John's/Warren's/My house/Shane's was cool for the vert rats. Joe Williams, Pete Erbach, Buddy Rawls, Curt Jose, Tyler Ledbetter, Steve Hobbie, Jeff Keagle, Eric Felts and more were around town tearing it up. We were thrilled when Allen and Lydia let us put ramps up in the Tattooed Lady parking lot. Things move quickly and another generation of skaters from the South side came around. Joe Turney, Paul Patterson, Donnie Hardesty, Jason Thrasher, Robert and Alec Carter and a ton of guys were just amazing skaters. There were so many skaters in Huntsville. It seemed like it happened so quickly but it took a decade! And we were the second and third generation in Huntsville. Now there's a fourth or fifth or whatever it is these days… and most have no idea that there is a real history in the Huntsville skate scene. That's what this site is for. That and to cause a few flashbacks for the older guys.

If you have any pictures or stories or zines or anything to contribute please send it to me!! If they are original I promise to return them in perfect shape. If you can scan images and send that, even better! I just want to get as much as I can together to make this as complete as possible. Please feel free to correct mistakes, fill in holes, throw tomatoes, whatever you want to make this site better and more complete. It'll be cool to hear from you!