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Sidewalk Surfing



Sidewalk Surfing
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.94

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ESPN, kicktail, best-known, traction, skateboarder, skateboarders, popularity, surfing, repaired, Gelfand, downs, rails, maintain, rates, imagine, manufacturers
     content words:    Bill Richards, North Hollywood, Pacific Ocean, Sidewalk Surfing, Roller Derby Skateboard, Wide World, Richard Stevenson, Richard Nasworthy, Boy Scouts, National Skateboarding Association


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Sidewalk Surfing
By Jane Runyon
  

1     Let's imagine for a moment that you are a ten-year-old boy. You live in a small, rural town around 1905. There isn't much to do in your town. Television hasn't been invented. It will be another seventy-five years before the first video game is played. What are you going to do for excitement?
 
2     While looking through your barn, you find your sister's old roller skates. They are the kind that slide onto your shoes and are locked into place with a skate key. Your sister has outgrown the skates, and they have been sitting in the barn rusting. Next to the skates is a piece of wood left over when your father repaired the barn. The piece of wood is about two and a half feet long. It is about nine inches wide and two inches thick.
 
3     You start to walk away when a wild thought enters your brain. What would happen if you took the wheels off the roller skates and put them onto the piece of wood? You could put two sets of wheels at the front of the wood and the other two sets of wheels at the back of the wood. Then you could stand on the wood and push yourself around town. The idea sounds like so much fun, you try it.
 
4     Believe it or not, that is basically how the first skateboards were invented. Children had been building their own skateboards for years. It wasn't until 1958 that a man with vision saw the possibilities that could come from manufacturing such a product. The man's name was Bill Richards. He owned a surf shop in North Hollywood, California. He sold surfboards and surfing equipment to the hardy souls who dared to ride the waves in the Pacific Ocean.
 
5     Richards noticed several surfers who had put wheels onto the bottoms of their surfboards. They then used the wheels to maneuver the long surfboards through the streets around the beach. He put in an order for some wheels and attached them to some of his surfboards. He advertised them as "sidewalk surfboards." Rock and roll was becoming very popular at the time. A singing duo named Jan and Dean recorded a song that same year called "Sidewalk Surfing." That spread the word of this new sport to all parts of the world.

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