172: THE House of Tom!!: EAST COAST PRIDE by Tom Groholski.



Skateboarding was way underground back in the early 80’s

after the parks closed and lots of people bailed. The fire was not

out though, not in our neck of the woods. Ramps were built in

backyards, the woods, and, yes, even barns. If you wanted to

skateboard in the Northeast, you had to work for it — build it yourself —

get out there and help others build theirs, and get it going.

The weather was also a huge obstacle. Rain was always a bummer,

but snow and ice was where it got interesting. Shovel the ramp before

the driveway. When the driveway and sidewalk were done, the ramp would

be dry. Chipping ice and melting it with space heaters was common.

Getting to ride was the payoff.

The one place shovels weren’t needed though, was the Barn. The

Kane brothers, along with Jay “Damn it!” Henry and the future Team Steam,

beat the elements with a 12′ wide, 8′ tranny, and 1′ vert ramp with angle iron

for coping. 12′ Wide was cool, but 16′ was better, and soon the ramp was

widened, layered with masonite and topped with pipe coping on the dark

side and some chunky rock top pool coping on the other.

From my vantage point, I couldn’t see the coping on the next wall

from the deck due to the beams that held the lights and the barn together.

Your hands would sometimes hit the beam if you flailed. Bats would fly,

rats, possums and raccoons dug the place and kept it interesting.

Skating at night was a bonus, but when someone would trip over the

extension cord outside, you’d better hope you weren’t riding.

You never knew who would turn up. The door would open

and “No way!” You were greeted by friends you haven’t seen in a

long time. The locals would session all of the time, but Wednesdays

and Saturdays were when the out-of-towner’s would know there would

be a session. Heavy sessions went down. Total aggression. Punk and

metal blasted, and so did the skaters. It was all happening fast, so you’d

better be paying attention.

Unreal times, great memories, and lifelong friendships, all thanks

to skateboarding. Talk about East Coast pride — mine stems from the

places we built and rode, but most importantly the people I’ve been

fortunate to get to know along the way.

Tom Groholski

For The House of Steam 2007

Tom Groholski Barn 85 Jason oliva The House of steam

Tom Groholski 85 The Barn NJ

Photo by I CHING

Not gonna say much here, Tom said it all…

I will add though the chunky pool coping was taken off of my folks back yard pool!!

thanks Mom and Dad.

Along with this crazy good essay Tom has sent us 12 seriously vintage photos so lets call it The House of Tom while I get em all posted.

Thanks to Wendy and Tony for getting it all together…(Check out Squindo.net)

Squindo Skull The House of Steam

and Tom for the big Ole stamp of approval!!! You Rule!!




55 thoughts on “172: THE House of Tom!!: EAST COAST PRIDE by Tom Groholski.

  1. Bryan

    Reading this really brought me back there. Jay and the Kanes taught me to drop in there, and then eventually taught me Indy airs there as well. As a grom, I was filled with complete awe every time I went there, like a church must feel for a lot of people. East coast pride!

  2. jake egolf

    Snow on the ramps, been there. Build it in the woods, did it. See Groholski shred Jacksonwald skatepark ? Seen it. Wish our crew knew of “The Barn”.
    Thanks Tom, Jake Egolf, Dehls inc.

  3. Taylor

    If I remember right the pool coping was taken from your parents pool twice. At the end of the barn someone stole all the pool coping off the ramp.

    We drove around other towns and looked for any sign of a ramp that had pool coping and tried to figure out who did it.

    Luckily enough your parents had enough block to put it back in place & that stuff was heavy getting it up the wall.

    Tom, thanks for the memories and most of all thanks (to Murf also) for being cool to everyone you encountered along the way.


  4. Bernie O'dowd

    Tom set an incredible example for us all on the east coast. An amazing skater but an even more amazing guy.. If I didn’t meet him I’m sure my skateboarding life would never had been as great as it has turned out to be. From being able to see someone rip first hand, to being able to skate his ramp, to being invited on all kinds of road trips, even some free boards here and there. Oh yeah and not to mention the time he drove all the way to arkansas to save me and tag after tags car exploded, but that’s a whole nother story. He’ll always be one of my all time favorite skaters and friends. I must say that even though I love skating as much as ever I’ve missed the energy and brotherhood of my roots. Being here in california has it’s advantages, weather, good stuff to skate, no shortage of old guys to skate with. But we don’t share the same memories so it’s just not the same. That’s why I’m stoked on this site (thanks jason) it’s nice to have a virtual barn ramp where we can meet and when someone new shows up like Tom wer can all type NO WAY!!!!

  5. Dennis Kane

    Wow, great to here from ya Tom. I was just on YouTube last night watching Tom G. videos. And then today this cool piece. Tom was/is one of the coolest and most skilled skaters I ever had the pleasure to meet. He opened his house, ramp, and full knowledge of skating to anyone who had the desire to step on a skateboard and push off. Not only that, but he would invite anyone who had the guts on a crazy road trip. One of the best for me, was the Va. beach contest where Tom took me and offered up his Vision sponsored Hotel room to crash. Half the Barn clan came down too and we all got busted sneaking into Tom’s room. His “boss” and Vision owner Brad Dorfman had to be contacted and pay extra for all of us. The Best part was when we all walked in and Gator was napping on his bed. He was none to happy. No wonder he snapped, punched a cop and killed his girlfriend. Team Steam drove him over the edge. When it was time for all the Pro’s to warm up for the big contest, Tom insisted I stay and skate with them. He introduced me to evryone on the deck. I will never forget that sesion with the many of world’s best. Tom also took me to that widow maker Cedar CrestCC. His jokes were sick. I was just recalling the time he fell and ruptured his spleen at the barn. My mom found him in the fetal position in the back of his truck and asked if he was OK. He told her it was just some bad fast food. A few hours later he was in emergency surgery… That is Tommy G. for ya. It has been too long. Thanks for the flood of great memories. Dennis

  6. Nancy Kane

    Hey Tom, Dennis gave ma a heads up about your comments….What a treat it is for me to see all you guys reliving such an awesome time in your lives. I will NEVER forget the day you got hurt, when I found you lying in the back of your truck, telling me it must have been the Hamburger you ate….I know no one wanted to let me know when they got hurt, just in case I would shut it down.. Then we got the phonecall you were in the hospital…Bless you, you were such a soldier… But weren’t you all… I probably have more memories than you guys ever suspect, some of which I won’t post…. lol… So happy you all had such a GREAT time… Love to you all, Jim and Dennis’s Mom, Nancy

  7. jasonoliva Post author

    “No WAY” Mrs. Kane!!

    Thanks for saving Tom’s life!!

    Always a pleasure to know you are still watching out for us..even in our “Virtual Barn”, as Bernie put it.

    Bernie really summed it up..to see someone rip first hand in the flesh was the most motivating factor of it all. It wasn’t about flipping through magazine pictures and day dreaming it was about being there. I think people dig THOS because everything on the site actually happened.
    Mike P. choked me up when he commented “lets do it again”
    I guess we are…

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  25. jasonoliva Post author


    Seriously though…I am so stoked. I always wanted to be a writer so its all a bit of dream come trueness. Gonna do my best to keep it goin, keep it pure and keep reeling new peeps in till we have the number one Archive/photo blog in the universe.

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  43. Steve Silver

    Thanks Tom for EVERYTHING ….Hooking me w / decks , wheels ,trucks , couch space and great conversation . Metallica , Reading , Cheap Sk8’s , Hell Hole , Dust Bowl , Down Hill , Ocean Bowl , Lansdowne , Ralphs’ Pool , Edge Wood , Cedar Crest , Hanger , Sk8 Zone , Stone Edge , Kona , Ocala , Blue Ramps in PA + NJ + FL , 9 Bowl NJ , Penn Wynne banks, Streets of Daytona , Herbert Street 1/2 , Band X , Forgotten Sessions , The Best Road Trips and the Best of Times . Admirable , Integrity, Honorable , Exemplary . I’m not into team sports , but in my minds eye you are The Doctor J of Skateboarding .
    Sup Brutha !

  44. David in New Brunswick

    Wow, I spent numerous Saturdays in your backyard. I can still recall going to that Italian Deli with like 73 cents to try and get something to quench a days worth of thirst. I remember your little brother used to ride the ramp using the roll-in deck (late 80’s) and I remember your younger sister and her friends. I recall a kid named Chris Volpe who was pretty nice, and of course Mike Vallely who I got to skate with in New Brunswick and a couple of times at the Skate fests in East Brunswick in the parking lot. I just googled your name and ‘halfpipe’ because my own son (he’s 7 now) started asking me to get him a skateboard and wanted to watch skating videos on youtube. I used to skate in the City too…Brooklyn Banks, Chelsea Houses, Hells Kitchen, Soho and East Harlem. Great times. I gained alot of agility and coordination from skateboarding, and you are right…we had to be carpenters! I built many a ramp and then threw it on my board to push to a park somewhere.



  45. Jay Reed

    Hey Tom, I used to ride with Brad Constable and Steve Herring on the Army base housing in Eaton Town/Tinton Falls back in 78-79. Steve and I were like best friends at the time, until I moved back to Oklahoma. Any idea how I can get in touch with either of those guys? I would love to make contact again.


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