Up till about 1984 we always skated other people's halfpipes. Now it was time to build our own. I remember thinking about how we were going to build this thing. When I was around 14 y/o I use to build balsa wood model airplanes. The main body shapes were made up of "formers" or "templates" and those were connected together with "stringers". It all seemed obvious to me on how to do this. We make one transition section.. and simply use that to make copies. Once we had enough of those cut out we could them assemble them together with 2"x4"s running on the horizontal. We used 2"x6"s in the bottom of the transitions and flatspace for extra strength.
The decision was made. We would build this thing at Jeff's place. (see related story). Wood was dropped off and once we got enough to get started we set the day and began. I had skeched out some scale drawings of the ramp design include sideviews to show clearly what the transition templates should look like. This was WAY before you could order "ramp plans" or anything like that. Back then, everybody who had a ramp had to figure out what worked best for them, in terms of construction design. Everyone agreed that this was the way to go for us.
The ramp actually went up pretty fast. Working long days didn't bother us because we all knew the sooner it was done the sooner we would be RIPPING! We had a small grill out there so we could make food and keep working. Back then there wasn't any close food options. You were out in the country. We started out with 2 layers of plywood but soon we had to add a third layer. After a couple of years the ramp had on it *think* 6 layers. It was pretty solid once it "settled".
The ramp went thru many phases. Basically it was different every year. The first version had 8' transitions, 12' of flatspace and was 16' wide. The next year we went to 10' transitions, with 16' of flatspace and 24' wide. Various vert extentions, escalator, pvc coping, steel pipe coping, cement pool coping. Bigger decks, always putting on fresh plys. even BIGGER decks, added a room on the one end. In its day, it was a pretty massive structure. In fact it was the biggest private half pipe in the state of Michigan.
Jeff held a series of skate parties that were called "Shred-a-mania". Shred-a-mania was not a contest. The only competition that took place might have been an inpromptu "highest air" or "longest grind" contest.This basically ment a FULL day of skating, grillin' mass amounts of food and general hanging. Not really any different from any other weekend except for the number of skaters who showed up. Skaters from all over the midwest made the trip for this one.
Its hard to start naming names when it comes to who skated and or helped in some way. The "inner circle" seemed to change on a weekly basis. I thought that was cool. Skaters just came and went. Some faded away due to injuries or whatever only to be quickly replaced by a new up and coming skater. Every weekend you could count on a session taking place.
Pretty much anybody who knew where the ramp was located could come out and skate. It did not matter what your skill level was just as long as you tried. The kid who came out and just sat around all padded up and never tried was the one who got heckled. And we always encouraged new people to learn. I remember this one kid who was trying to "drop in" his first time. He was scared.. you could tell. But we kept telling him to "just do it" and "the more you think about it the harder it will be". Ya know? general encouragement. Well there was this one poser kid who came out a few times. I dont think I ever saw him skate. He was sitting back watching this kid learn to drop in. Ok.. so the kid drops in . and eats shit. Just SPLATS in the flatspace. The poser kid starts laughing. We told the poser kid to shutup, leave and not come back. A couple of guys helped the kid off the ramp and helped him to some shade. After he caught his breath he gave it another try. He made it this time!.. That kid was SOOOOO excited! It was a huge moment for him. After a couple of hours he was droping in and pumping the ramp with confidence. It was cool. We never did see that poser kid again after that.
Sure we rode ramps before this, but it was this ramp that really taught us how to ride vert.
At some point around 1989 we decide we are going to try and move the ramp to my farm. So we took a sawzall and cut the top 4 feet off across the ramp. Then after looking everything over again.. we decide that we had just FUCKED UP and ruined the ramp. It wasn't going anywhere. When we built it, the last thing we had considered, was the day we had to tear it down. Welp.. its fucked now. Nothing much we could do at that point.
On a positive note, some of the local kids took it upon themselves to build small decks on each side and learn to ride. It was now the biggest mini-ramp around. So it was cool that a new generation of skaters, ones I never knew, were now riding it. Jeff had been wanting to get rid of the structure for some time now. Some of those kids took the wood from it and went back to their neighborhoods to built ramps. Probably quarter pipes or launch ramps. Who knows? Hadley's might be living on today in another form.
ALL the skaters of that time period who ever skated at Hadley's owes him and his family a HUGE debt of thanks for allowing a bunch of punk kids to take over the backyard.