Though skateboarding began in the 1950s, when skate wheels were attached to flat pieces of wood (a variation on the rickety scooter), it rose to prominence in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, skating fell in and out of favor, but never really lost its footing, so to speak. These days nearly everyone skates, even the youngest kids with their “new old” boards.
If you skated back in the ‘70s, when the Dogtown skaters were setting the trends, you probably don’t skate now for fear of sustaining a crippling injury. Some of you might still get on for a roll around the block. A daring few might actually hit the local skatepark with your kids to try the vert ramp, reliving your heyday albeit (hopefully) with a helmet and more pads on.
Or not …
If you were a skate fiend in the early days, and want to share your nostalgia for your youthful passing with the kids, here are five awesome ways to do so.
1. Kenny and Company
When I was the age of the children in this film, back in 1976, I thought the lead and his pal were the coolest. Their days were spent skating around their neighborhood, hanging around, building go carts and flirting with the cutest girl in school. They also, being complete dorks, got beat up a lot. But if you forward to 7:13 in the clip above, you can hip your kid to what it used to be like to skate. No ramps, no rail slides. Everything we did was done on flat surfaces or hills – like the two-person catamaran, which my friends and I perfected on one particularly steep hill near our houses. Watch the whole movie, and you’ll probably cringe at the bad acting and hyperbolic “lessons” for kids. But you can rest easy in the knowledge that this film was made by Don Coscarelli with the objective of raising the money for his groundbreaking horror film “Phantasm.”
2. Freeformer Skateboards
If you can find these vintage boards online, they’ll cost you a few bucks, but in the ‘70s, Freeformer was the largest skateboard maker on the market. Known for their yellow boards and custom split-tail design, Freeformer was the first skateboard I ever owned. I learned everything I knew — and still know — on a Freeformer. And when other kids started buying the wider decks, I stuck with my Freeformer till the tail was worn off and the urethane wheels were coned beyond use.
3. Penny Boards
If you have a hard time finding a Freeformer, but want to give your kid an awesome board that captures the ‘70s retro vibe, Penny’s are super-popular right now. They’re awesome to look at and smooth to ride. You and your little skater will have a blast using the interactive board-builder at Penny’s website. The color combinations and styles are endless, and the boards are relatively cheap.
4. Skateboarder Magazine
This was must read material for skateboarders when I was a kid. Looking through the issues today, I get painfully nostalgic. If you want to turn your kid on to the evolution of skateboarding, you can do it through this and similar ‘70s skate mags. They’ll recognize a few faces, too. Like the way-young Stacy Peralta, who was one of the original Z-boys …
5. Dogtown and Z-Boys
If your kid is into skating, this 2001 Sean Penn-narrated documentary will make him or her salivate. Pairing archival footage with modern-day interviews, Dogtown captures the energy and excitement of the salad days of skating, when legends like Tony Alva were earning their legendary status by creating new moves, landing big-dollar sponsorships and breaking into empty backyard swimming pools to launch themselves, for the very first time, above the lip.