The Cambrian

Student essay: It’s only a half-pipe - or is it?

The half-pipe of skateboard dream-time at the Cambria Skate Park.
The half-pipe of skateboard dream-time at the Cambria Skate Park. CAMBRIAN PHOTO BY BERT ETLING

Editor’s note: Starting this week and continuing through June 3, The Cambrian will include an essay written by a Coast Union High School senior as part of teacher Mary Ann Paul’s college prep senior English class. The assignment, inspired by an Andy Rooney piece on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news magazine dealing with how an object was “only a plate,” was to write an informal essay about sentimental, emotional ties to a material object. The first essay concerns one such object that has now become part of Cambria’s public resources — a “half-pipe” at the Cambria Skate Park on Main Street across from the Veterans Memorial Building.

You don’t realize how much you’ll miss something you love until the moment it’s gone. For me, that “something” was my beloved half-pipe, which I dismantled this weekend. In less than one hour, the 24-foot long, 12-foot wide skateboard ramp was cut into three sections and lifted by eight men onto a flatbed trailer and hauled away.

I began skating when I was 6 years old and begged my parents at every opportunity to buy me a skateboard ramp. It was one of those impossible requests that a child presents to his parents. I knew it was too big, too expensive and too much of a liability. Finally achieving my goal of getting this skateboard ramp

is why it holds so much meaning to me. However, with my up-and-coming graduation and moving away from home in the near future, it seemed like a practical idea to donate the ramp to the Cambria Skate Park.

I am one of those kids who never asked his parents for any material things. Sure, they gave me small items, but I have never asked for anything big. After the first day I “dropped in” at the Morro Bay Skate Park, I began thinking how fun it would be to have my own half-pipe in my backyard. This is when the begging and plotting began.

What I envisioned was not a small ramp that you go up and down on, but a huge structure that allows for a continuous run. The first obstacle to overcome was to convince my parents to let me cover up their precious lawn. My parents loved their green lawn. They diverted every bit of gray water to keep their lawn beautiful. It was always mowed and looked perfect. It seemed impossible to convince them to let their lawn die for this skateboard ramp.

Finally, when I was 13, my dad and mom caved in to the idea and gave me full responsibility of planning a blueprint and materials list, as well as a rough estimate of cost. This was an overwhelming task, so I got all my friends together and we drew out a half-pipe on a piece of paper. To this day I remain impressed as to how accurate our blueprint was and how exact our material list was. We calculated the amount of wood we needed and how much it would cost in our head, and put it in writing for my dad. This was our first building project and we had no personal resources for information on how to do it. You would not believe our enthusiasm!

As we were rolling our cart down the long aisles of Home Depot, I knew my childhood dream was about to come true. It was a lot of fun for my friends and me to gather all the wood onto the cart after dreaming about it for so long. This was only the beginning; the difficult part still lay ahead.

Building the ramp was no easy task. It took just under a week to build it. My dad supervised occasionally, but the hands-on labor was done by my friends and me. We worked tirelessly from sunrise to sundown to complete this project as fast as possible. In our minds the first glorious run was just around the corner. Finally, when it was complete, we spent hours upon hours going on runs until my parents would make us come in so our neighbors could have some peace and quiet. This will always remain a special memory of my dad because I did it with his love and support.

After four years of pleasurable skating, many modifications, and plenty of injuries, it is time to move on and let future generations of kids have the enjoyment of my ramp. I can only hope that it will bring them as much joy as it has brought me.

Transferring the half-pipe from my backyard to the skate park was not as easy as it may seem. We had to cut the half-pipe into three sections and make a big gap in our backyard fence to fit the ramp through and onto a flatbed trailer. It took eight guys swarming around each section like an army of ants to lift the gigantic pieces onto the trailer. It’s only been gone for less than 24 hours and the fact that I cannot see it outside my window, makes me feel a bit sad. Before we moved the ramp downtown and before writing this essay, it did not occur to me how much symbolic meaning the ramp holds for me.

You don’t realize how much you’ll miss something you love until the moment it’s gone. With my dad supervising the construction and all my friends being a part of the project, this ramp is the icon of my youth. My backyard feels vacant, but the joy of seeing the young kids enjoy my creation will bring me great satisfaction. I know that it is “only a ramp,” but the memories and the symbolic meaning behind it make it so much more to me.

Tyler Melendy is the son of Dave and Linda Melendy of Cambria; his father died following a motorcycle accident in 2007.