Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding Part 2

“”What bothers me is the particular breed around here[…] M. Mehlman

Welcome to the second installment of Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding. During the late 1980s and early 90s, Mystic Connecticut, with its quaint and quiet streets and drawbridge that halted traffic 2,200 times per year, was the perfect place for a bunch of misfit kids to gather, ride skateboards, and have scorn heaped upon us by nearly ever merchant in town except Dan Curland at Mystic Disc. This was a time when lifelong relationships were formed and it is because of those relationships that I am able to cobble together the myriad memory fragments into something resembling a memoir. Welcome to part two: The Post High School Days.

As far as my crew and I are concerned, the skate scene in Mystic would have been very different if it wasn’t for “the booth.” The booth, located at 9 Water Street, was the place I worked managing the parking concession for The Landing Restaurant. It was there where I met the crew of dudes who I’ve now been friends with for over 30 years.

The booth very quickly became a refuge for the skateboarders of downtown Mystic. Back in 1987, we, the skateboarders of Mystic, were not exactly loved. As mentioned in part one, the merchants hated us, the jocks and jerks wanted to beat us down, and the cops did their best to arrest us. The booth was a place my friends could ditch their boards, huddle around the tiny heater in the middle of winter, or peruse the collection of off brand pornographic magazines that may or may not have been purchased by the oldest kid in the group.

The act of skateboarding, being both a creative and physical pursuit, seems to cement friendships quickly. The guys who hung around the booth started packing themselves into my 1978 Mercury Bobcat to go on skate adventures. It wasn’t long before we, with a nod to the world-famous Powell Peralta Bones Brigade, were known as the Bobcat Brigade.

These adventures took us all over Connecticut, into Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and as far north as Maine. While visiting these places, we inevitably met other skateboarders who would occasionally share skate spot information, or better yet, lead us to their favorite spots. These were the years when skateboarding felt like the only important thing in the world. All one had to do was be willing to try, sometimes despite better judgement and usually at the risk of physical injury and pain, and the respect of other skateboarders was earned.

Through the countless connections made by being as mobile as an old Mercury would allow, we discovered numerous hidden gems. When we weren’t skating Kaplan’s, the parking lot, 12 Water Street, or the Mystic Train Station, we could be found at places such as the Norwich Pool, Fish Ditch, Rat Hole, behind Benny’s, Case Ramp, Firehouse Curbs, about a million hill bombs, Mansion Ramp, Blues Ramp, College Hill, Turtles, the Sk8 Hut, Water Bros., Newport, and many, many more. The more adventure we sought, the more we found. We were becoming skate nomads without ever being aware of it. We were dedicated to skateboarding because it never let us down. We consumed it as it consumed us. We weren’t just kids with skateboards, we were skateboarders.

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fishify

Writer of short fiction, poetry, and editorials.

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