Duke Rennie: When We Were Kids Pt.1
Part 1: Taking Giant Steps.
- By Duke Rennie
Fred Blood and I became friends quickly after I watched him Rollerskate into 10th grade English class. I was a decent speed skater and had skated at a few meets in my youth. The point is, I love rollerskating and had to know everything about what he was doing. Our English teachers name was Dr. Hoimy. I’m sure that’s not the correct spelling. Fred informed me that he was going to the Skateboard Park that had recently opened, “Skateboard World” in Torrance. I was familiar, as my brothers and I had been there several times on our skateboards. He was very animated and enthusiastic, and I told him, “I’m a pretty good rollerskater, maybe I can meet you there and check it out.” Fred seemed happy enough about the idea, so I agreed to meet him there.
Skateboard World had a Freestyle area that was a piece of flat concrete with a single bank if I recall. We start there and quickly establish the idea that to do this properly; we would skate with our feet pointing in opposite directions! We called it “Side Skating.” Well, what Fred didn’t know was that all speed skaters could skate like that. We did it to annoy the coach and be silly. I was extremely proficient at this long before Skateboard World. I was also into Surfing, and this style of skating on banked concrete was more like surfing to me than skateboarding. I felt like I’d been turned loose and set free.
Next stop was the Vortex Bowl. It was maybe 8’ deep and had sloping banks that formed a circle. We carved around in there a few times, and Fred suggests we take on the halfpipe. The Skateboard World halfpipe was intimidating. It was a snake run that fed into an 8-foot halfpipe and then finished with another turn or two and then a nice bowl at the end.
Image: Duke Rennie, Jay Adams, and Billy Yeron, early days at Marina Del Rey Skatepark. 1978. Source: @dukerennie
Everyone else had a skateboard, and we were middle of the age bracket. Fred and I were 14, and the guys ranged from 12-18. We took our place in line. They would call out for “Carvers,” these were skaters that would go through the whole run and finish out the end without stopping. The carvers would go maybe five at a time, maybe more depending on the crowd. Then it was the “Boinkers” turn. They went one at a time, and when they made it to the half-pipe, they rode back and forth frontside and backside, they called it Boinking! I still laugh a little when I say it out loud.
The Boinkers would try to get to the top and get three wheels out or do an early tail tap! I rode through with the carvers several times; it was awesome! Fred was a Boinker and was quickly blowing people's minds by flying out of the halfpipe and getting some air. After a few initial visits I warmed up to the ways of the Boinkers quickly and soon was challenging Fred for most radical airs out of the halfpipe, and so the competition began. These were the baby steps. We progressed very fast, and I will outline with as much detail as I can recall in the next few installments.
Be well and skate hard!
- Duke Rennie