The winter is in full grip here on the East Coast but the desire to ride transition is stronger than the cold weather. While on the left coast for The El Gato Classic, it seemed to me that there is a sweet skate spot around every corner. Back home on the right coast, opportunities to skate are fewer and far between – especially for a fifty year old with two active kids and a business to run.
When it was listed I would be attending The El Gato Classic, Brian Finn reached out to me to see if I wanted to skate. He built a huge vertramp in his warehouse. I gladly accepted his offer and made several trips to his house to get back into skating again after a long hiatus from skating vert. For me, everything seemed new again since my skating sessions were few and far between over the past twenty years. Brian’s ramp is big and gnar. Over two feet of vert is not the way to ease your way back into the challenges of skating. The sessions were fun – just me Brian and Anthony Anastasio. There was no pressure, just three friends enjoying that feeling of weightlessness on vert. At first we were all a bit rusty, but soon we were all getting back in to the swing.
After three or four sessions at Finns ramp, Anthony mentioned that friends were building a pool in a warehouse. He showed me and Brian a picture of this virgin pool that was still curing. From the picture, I knew I wanted to ride it. This pool is reminiscent of the pools that spoiled me during my days as a full-fledged Bones Brigade airman. It’s also the reason I faded from skating for so many years! No concrete. No curves to carve for decades faded my desire to challenge Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity for many years!
Jami Godfrey - El Gato Classic
It’s Eddie Elguera that reconnected me with this lost love. The invitation I received from Eddie to go to his reunion of my Gold Cup Series competitors sparked a flame. I asked Anthony if we could go up upon my return from the El Gato Classic. I was fresh home from California with some great pools and loads of old friends to stoke me. I made the effort to get a group to skate this fresh new pool. I contacted Anthony, Brian, Tom Boyle, & Charles Treece. All were hopeful to skate, but in the end it was just me and Brian that were able to commit. With Anthony unable to skate, Patrick Guidutti reached out to us since he has access to the key. The last time I skated with Patrick Guidotti was also the first time - almost two years ago at Falls Township public skatepark in Bucks County, PA. Patrick’s style and bag of tricks was bewildering to me, especially since we were riding a mini ramp that he rips like it’s a vert ramp. I was stoked for the chance to see him ride this new pool and grateful that he invited us to go along.
It was February 12th and winter was still torturing the Right Coast! Brian and I met on the PA Turnpike to start our journey for a two hour drive to this fresh secret pool. The ride with Brian passed quickly as we drove through some heavy snow squalls and spoke of my recent sojourn out West. We spoke of many we knew from our past like Tom Groholski and how he blazed on at skating long after I took a hiatus from skating. We spoke of Sean Miller and how the rest of the world was discovering his talents just prior to his tragic death. Brian Spoke of Tom Boyle and how he lives so close to him yet rarely skates! I told Brian that I knew we’d get to skate with Tom soon. Just a few winter sessions with good friends is all it took for me to realize why I still skate. At fifty years of age, looking back, I realize the talents I mastered as a teenager have withered a bit, but I can still do it and do it cautiously! In 1980, no one thought that some of us would still skate, but if you can do it why lose it!
As we got to the supposed location of this warehouse we called our host Patrick and there was no answer from his phone. We knew we were in the right area but we were just not sure which door was the right one. The door that held secrets from the throngs of other skaters that wanted to skate a pool. We came this far and were not going to turn around just yet. Finally a man opened one of the many warehouse doors in this alley where we stood freezing. I asked him if he may know of a secret pool in one of these warehouses. He quickly replied that it was just three doors down from this one.
I banged hard on the door for several minutes. Finally a man with a full beard answered my knocking.. He asked who I was since my board was still back at the car. I told him I was a friend of Patrick Guidotti and anxious to skate.. He introduced himself as Rob and was the key master as well as the pool’s originator. I entered the warehouse and was awed by its existence. Before me a left hand kidney sits in the front of the warehouse and a nice standard mini ramp lies in the rear. It was twenty five hundred feet of pure joy hidden in this unassuming warehouse . It was close to 9:30 when we got there and a session was already in full swing. The only one I knew skating was Patrick, but he was not the only one utilizing the bowl to its full potential.
Brian and I quickly got our gear on and went straight to the pool. Each concrete pool is unique and hence its attraction! I was under the assumption that most of the fellow skaters were locals to this privy pool. Turns out Bill Pribble and his friend Ray Conklin were from the Washington DC. Area and drove five hours for the lore of new carvable concrete. A guy named Chris – I didn’t get his last name – was another rider that night and he possessed a smooth, clean style that got my attention. Corey Rubin was also a new friend that rounded out this private session.
All in the warehouse felt a warmth and closeness even those not skating. A good skate session is like a good party. We all made new friends, shared smiles, and felt the buzz of the energy that our bodies and wheels had made. This is often the case with a good pool session. People that don’t even know one another seem to feel a closeness just from their abilities as fellow skaters. Here at this session I only knew Patrick and Brian yet we all shared in the energy of the moment. We admired the lines and styles that are inherent to each skater.
After two hours of skating we all felt a bit younger in our heads from the energy we created indoors. At close to midnight on a week night with kids and wives waiting for us, it was time for Brian and I to wrap up our session. We said our thanks and good-byes and were all pleased with the course that our night had taken.
As we opened the warehouse door to the biting chill of the windy twelve degree night a smile came to my face knowing that the desire to skate can overcome anything – even the cold grip of winter! I anxiously await the next opportunity to skate this spot again knowing it will be there for another session. I am hopeful to share with both new found friends and those I have yet to meet!
Thank you to Jami Godfrey for the words and John Falls for the images. Skate- Ozzie