Guest Post: Kevin Donahue
This is a slightly modified version of a post in response Craig B Snyder
sharing a picture of me doing an Ollie at Cherry Hill Skatepark
(A Secret History of the Ollie
, Thursday, July 16). Craig suggested I share my story here as well.
I’ve attached a picture below of me doing an Ollie in the right kidney (end pool) at Cherry Hill. This one is from fall ‘78 shortly after the park opened. I made the deck and created the logo which was actually done in black magic marker. The wheels and T-Shirt were courtesy of Tony Alva (it was literally the sweaty shirt off his back…I washed it of course). I’m not sure how many people were aware of this but there was a short time when Alva was making wheels. I was surprised recently to read that Brad Bowman said he was the 2nd to do an Ollie in '79, and if true, means that I was actually 2nd.
I was a surfer so I was more of a style guy (not that I had any, but I tried) and not really into “tricks”. The primary reason I started doing Ollies was because I couldn’t bend down quickly enough to do a traditional air. The Ollie & Rock & Rolls were pretty much my the only moves I would call tricks. Otherwise it was basic carves, grinds, and slides. I could spend hours in the L-Bowl and used to enjoy roll-ins in the half pipe and blasting frontside into the ¾ pipe.
Working at Cherry Hill was the best high school job anyone could ever have. Yes, there was a ton of the best skating ever and the pics and comments from the legends of the sport prove that out. The most fond memories however were the relationships I built with people like Larry MacDonald, Steve Durst, Bob Hurley, Richard Hartline, James K Tait Jr, Gary J. Spatola, Bart Keagy, Tom Hartline, Jim DeFrates, Patrice Pagano, and a whole list of others that were the people that created and ran the place that today still gets so much praise.
Another HUGE benefit of working at Cherry Hill was getting to know some of my heroes of the day on a much different level than the kids that lined up for their autographs. Partying with Shogo, TA, and Jay Adams at Steve Durst’s house, eating cheese steaks and pizza with Alan “Ollie” Gelfand and Mike McGill, skating a session with Stacy Peralta and having him say “Nice Run” (it really wasn’t, he was just a super nice guy), splashing paint on boards, sneakers, etc. with Brad Bowman in the “party” room above the pro shop and watching him work out moves when the park was empty (BTW, nobody skated the keyhole like Brad Bowman…he rolled into that beast to line up frontside airs across the channel), hanging out and drawing pictures with Ray “Bones” Rodrigues on a weekday when the place was empty, getting the latest updates from Duane Peters and Steve Olsen on the LA Punk scene, getting to skate the Turningpoint Ramp with the Senatore brothers at the New Jersey state fair and riding Jimmy Plummer’s Moto-Board around the Trenton Speedway. I also enjoyed watching guys like Mike Jesiolowski (master, perhaps creator, of the Rock & Roll board slide), Jami Godfrey, Victor Perez, and Jamie Mosberg get “sponsored” (translation…free gear, bragging rights, and potentially getting your picture in a magazine).
This post is already WAY too long but if I get a few beers in me I could go on forever. Special thanks goes out to Larry MacDonald for hiring me on the spot in the summer of '78 when I was a scrawny 16 year old kid with a skateboard strapped onto the back of my Moped…that was the beginning of what turned out to be one hell of a ride that continues to this day.
— Kevin Donahue