We have time to go anyplace, and anywhere we go there will be something we can skate. There's no such thing as a bad spot," says Abe Zverow.
Just riding down the sidewalk they might pull a 360 flip. Find a curb, a bench, a concrete barrier or just about any piece of modern concrete landscaping and skateboarders will find some sort of trick to do on it. Locations most of us walk by are eyed by skaters for trick potential. And odds are, there's something there to do.
I happened upon a group of local skateboarders one evening this summer on the 7500 block of Augusta Street in River Forest. Polite, generous and friendly, they put up with me as I snapped photos and chatted. They agreed to let me tag along with them from time to time, explaining that they spend the summer skating, everyday and all day. About every third day they venture downtown (the Oak Park skate park, they say, is too hot in the summer, especially since helmets are required).
Judging from the time I spent with the group, Oak Park and River Forest high school students who range in age from 13 to 15, they rarely get much time to skate in one place. Inevitably, a security guard will show up to shoo them away, usually trailing behind, watching, until they're off the property and out of sight. Together they decide
where to go next, take turns doing tricks, watch and congratulate each other. Other skaters who turn up are treated with the same kindness-until another security guard arrives with another threat of arrest, and off they go to the next spot.
If you see a blackened corner on a concrete bench, it's probably the result of the wax skaters use to keep their boards sliding along. That might be ugly to most people, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as Zverow reminded me, and to skaters, it's beauty.
"It's the one time I'm really happy," says skater Dillon Perry. "I'm never more happy than when I'm on my skateboard. If I'm alone and on my skateboard, I'm perfectly fine. It's a gift."
Photo gallery of the skaters...