Greg Bloodsworth grabs some backside air
Skatewave Skate Park, Mobile, Alabama Circa 1980
One day back in 1982, I was riding in the car to my Grandmother's house in Tillman's corner when I noticed this crazy, cement structure off of Highway 90. I asked my Mom if Mobile was getting a Six Flags because it looked like the kind of place you would put 'Scream Machines' and 'Mindbenders'.
My Mom said that it was just an old abandoned skateboard park. My little, seven-year old mind struggled to understand. No one played with skateboards. Why would there be a whole park dedicated to them? And why not a Six Flags over Mobile? That would be way more fun.
Remember, this was pre-Ninja Turtles and pre-Tony Hawk. The only skateboard I had ever, even seen was my neighbor, Jeffro's. Skinny, cheap, and plastic, the board wobbled and bowed like a mofo. I mean, lawn jarts were safer than that thing.
It's hard to believe but just a few years earlier, skateboards were on the top of every kid's Christmas list.
Teenager skates down Clearmont Street
The Mohian (1977), Murphy High School
In the late 70's, the country went crazy over skateboards. While skateboarding wasn't new, the advent of the polyurethane wheel extended skateboarding onto vertical surfaces and relaunched skateboarding as a hobby and a sport.
The city of Mobile embraced the craze. With its network of concrete drainage ditches and steep inclined streets, Mobile transformed - seemingly overnight - into a skater's paradise. By 1976, skating was so prevalent in Mobile, that it drew national attention. The Nation's Cities periodical noted that, "Skateboarding has become in Mobile what downhill skiing is in colder sections of the nation."
For its part, the Mobile Press Register kept skateboarding relevant with frequent photos and articles. Newspaper features like, "The Mini Page", targeted youngsters with skating related puzzles and quizzes.
Pop Quiz: "Eat it" is a skateboard term meaning...
Mobile Press Register, October 8, 1977
Not everyone appreciated the now ubiquitous skaters. Concerned citizens wrote the local paper complaining of skateboarders harassing them on sidewalks. Doctors became alarmed at the sharp spike in skating related injuries. Even the city council took notice with the City Traffic Engineer vowing to draft new ordinances to address the growing problem.
Many major cities responded to the growing skateboarding safety issue by building skate parks to get kids out of the streets and under some adult supervision. In 1977, Birmingham became the first city in Alabama to get a skate park, unfortunately named the Wheel-A-Wave.
This was followed shortly by the Flying Wheels park in Gadsden and then later by the Get-A-Way in Huntsville. Even our shirtless neighbors in Pascagoula, Mississippi had a skate park before Mobile.
Ok, it was just a ramp, but don't tell these "Pasca-hooligans"
Mobile Press Register, July 20, 1977
By the end of 1977, the ball finally began rolling for Mobile to get its own skate park. That December, the Mobile City Commission green lit a proposal for businessmen, Emil Graf and Bob McKinney, to build a new skateboard park on city property at Municipal Park.
While seeming like a cause for celebration, the decision to locate the park on city premises, would lead to a series of delays that would stall the park from opening for another three years.
Coming soon: The Rise and Fall of Skatewave Skate Park
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