Category Archives: 1983

409: Congrats Bernie O’Dowd 34 years skating. Jim Murphy undergrip Layback air at Tom Groholski’s ramp.

murph undergrip layback air

Jim Murphy somekind’a Andrecht grip layback air Groholskis ramp NJ Early 80’s

Photo: Doh’s Darn Deitz Bruthas!

So Bernie typed the other day that he is beginning his 34th year skateboarding. Here he is circa 25 years ago (Green Pickleheaded Helm) waiting for a go on Tom’s ramp. Knowing Bernie most likely dropped in did 15 tricks and exited the ramp onto the platform (very annoying to the skaters like myself who basically skated till they bailed or slammed whichever came first, and not after too many tricks mind you)  It is safe to say Bernie has put in enough miles on vert ramps, both backwards and forwards to have traveled to the moon and back. 

Nice work Bern, hope the next 34 are just as good fer ya.


330: A young Jim Murphy…God knows where. I know when! 83-84

Jim Murphy circa 83-84 Where abouts yet to be determined.

Photo: To be announced


I have received a wealth of  early N-Jay(NJ) pics. Here we have a young Jim Murphy (fakie ollie?) It is up to the collective consciousness of The House of Steam to determine where this is…how insane a pic this is needs no determining.  As to our contributor I say hats off and keep them flowing, welcome on board.

Jason Oliva

264: Its the Bruthas Dave and Matt Padulo…checking in! Dan Tag’s ramp 1983’ish (Yikes!)

Jason Oliva The House of Steam

Got an email from New Jersey’s one an only David Padulo, it read like this:

Stumbled across The House of Steam through a link on You Tube. Amazing archive of stuff here. I think you knew my brother Matt growing up in Warren. I’m sure we must have crossed paths. I skated with Dan, Jeff, Weeps, Rocky, Ben and the Kanes through the end of high school and unfortunately really lost touch with everyone when I went to college. Seeing all the photo’s brings back a flood of memories.
I have a ton of old photos of the first ramp Dan Tag and I built in his woods when he still lived on Red Hill Road and I lived on Olsen Drive. I have a bunch of our ramp as well, including a lot of shots from our driveway on the quarter-pipe. I’ll attach a few pics here from the ramp at Tag’s place. Thats me doing a backside grind while Dan looks on, the other is the full ramp with Dan landing a mute air, and goofy one of Rocky, Dan and my brother Matt. We must be around 12 or 13 years old. Amazing.
These might be too old school compared to the incredible shots you have here, but I thought you might get a kick out of them.
Keep up the great work!
David Padulo
Awesome pictures (exactly what I am looking for!!) here and hopefully more to come. I most certainly remember you (The Padulo brothers), we skated your quarterpipe and ramp on many an occasion. Great to be back in touch.
Dave Padulo at Tags Ramp 1983
Dave Padulo Mute air Dan Tag’s ramp (Dan Tag on deck)
1983 New jersey
Dan Tag at home 1983
Dan Tag New Jersey at Home 1983
Rocky Vertone Dan Tag Matt Padulo 1983
Rocky Vertone, Dan Tag, Matt Padulo..NJ 1983 Dan’s ramp
Well these are all total gems, cant wait to see more
Nice one Dave!!!

228: “What about the Captain?” Bernie O’Dowd writing about Team Steam’s Capatain John Ballon and good ‘ole’ En-Jay.

“What about the Captain?”

Why did Team Steam have a Captain? Why not? Ours was none other than my
life-long best friend John Ballon of East Brunswick NJ. He had no official
duties, he wasn’t voted into position and didn’t enforce any rules.
(Although there was one official rule of Team Steam and that was to write
Team Steam on your board.) He just had a certain power of Captain-ness
about him. To Tag, Rick, and Darren he was a bit of a scary authority figure
who ripped. He was older than them, tall, and had the driest sense of humor
ever which was confused by many to be no sense of humor at all. Imagine Star
Trek’s Mr. Spock skating and you’d be pretty close to that of the Captain.
Super alien nerve-pinching strength pulled him through many a Wheel Barrow,
Andrecht, Indy air to back truck and other ramp shaking maneuvers.

John Ballon 1985 Barn NJ The House of Steam

Captain John Ballon The Barn in Ole En-Jay!

Photo Irene Ching

He has Captain-like smarts too, the kind that led to him quitting college after
three years of being on the Dean’s list because they didn’t get his ideas or
his own alphabet that he could fluently write in. He wrote a letter to
Thrasher after seeing Tom G. on the cover saying we’d like to skate his ramp
sometime which led to Tom’s dad looking John up in the phone book and
inviting us over.


click to enlarge

Tom met us at the Brunswick Square mall in a Camaro.
That’s so New Jersey, we probably went for Pizza afterwards. Shortly after
meeting Tom we built our own training facility in the woods behind John’s
house. Made of all stolen wood she was a grand 4 feet tall, with 4 foot
transitions, 8 feet wide and adorned with world-class PVC coping. It was
there that the Captain learned many a trick which would then be applied to the
slippery Lexan behemoth in Tom G’s backyard on fabled Saturday sessions.

Captain John Ballon Bside air the house of steam

The Captain John Ballon NJ 83 BackSide air

photo Bernie O’Dowd

Capatin JohnBallon Invert the house of steam
The Captain John Ballon En-Jay 83 Invert

photo Bernie O’Dowd

captain john ballon ollie the house of steam

Captain John Ballon NJ 1983 Back side Ollie (ZORLAC!)

photo Bernie O’Dowd

captain john ballon layback 83 the house of steam

El Capitan laback NJ 1983

Photo Bernie O’Dowd (taken from what looks like a tree?, jason)

Looking back at these pictures of a young John Ballon tearing it up on that
tight little ramp in 1983 it was clear he was headed for greatness. I
remember J.T. Murphy, John The Rubber Onion and Dan Bay (Groholski ramp
locals) being impressed with our progression after not seeing us for a few
The Captain and I have been away from NJ for 20 years now, it’s hard to


Bernie O’Dowd Invert to Fakie OC Captain John Ballon on deck

We went from Jersey to Ocean City MD. to Daytona and then finally
split up in the early 90’s. John headed up to Philly for a stint and then
out to Seattle where he still resides. He’s got a lovely wife, a house, and
a job that utilizes his creativity and smarts. John never gave up on
skateboarding but his body did. He’s just too worn out he says. It’s a sad
thing to not have you’re best skate-bud ride anymore but he skated harder
than most in the time that he was shredding. Hard enough to earn the rank of

Bernie O’Dowd 2007

Captain John Ballon 2007

El capitán del vapor John Ballon 2007

Jason Oliva The House of Steam

Nice one Bernie!!!

I think “ramp shaking maneuvers” or RSM’s as they will now be referred to sums up The Captain best. I can remember him (The Captain) busting out a random act of air walk and everyone on both decks at The Barn going ape . Those where the days.


Here is one last RSM of The Cap from Power Edge Magazine:


Post every and all Captain John Ballon story or recollection in the comment section…dont be shy, I am gonna leave this one up for a bit.

Dont forget to checkout the Team Steam Media Archive too.





Team Steam’s Media Archive

YouTubeSkate (Videos)


East Coast Pride by Tom Groholski

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187: The House of Tom: Groholski’s ramp. ’83-’84 New Brunswick, NJ. Words and Pictures by Rob Mertz

Groholski’s ramp. ’83-’84 New Brunswick, NJ.

We spent a lot of time at Tom’s ramp and let me tell you, he could rip it!!! The first time I saw Tom skate it-I was in complete disbelief. I never saw anyone skate so good, and that ramp was gnarly!!! Skinny and slippery as hell and unforgiving. I can still remember the sound as my hip would bounce of the plexiglass. POWWWW!!!!!! and the time my friend Jonathon went flying off the side of the ramp, over the fence, and landed in a pile of trash, and the time we drove all the way down there to find Tom’s little bastard of a brother hosing the ramp down and using it as a slip ‘n slide….damn good sessions went down there. I wish I could find more of my photos but, for now this will have to do Rob…

Tom Groholski The House of Steam

Tom grinding the extension!! The
ramp was only 12’wide and he threw
an extension on it!!! He could do
whatever he wanted on that thing.

Tom Groholski The House of Steam

Tom “The Jersey Devil” chucking a
frontside boneless off the extension.
I’m telling you-he could hit 20 walls
every run with no problem at all….

Tom Groholski The House of Steam

Whoa brutha…tom floating one of
his patented nosepickin’ lein airs.
Funny, that’s how I do ‘um now….

Tom Groholski The House of Steam

Tom had his ramp so wired…it was
just amazing to watch. His dad was
really cool too……..fakie ollie


Reprinted from with Rob’s Permission

Thanks Rob!!

I got to skate at Tom’s once with Dan Tag and Tom. Cant say I took to the ramp all that well. I remember it being ridiculously slippery as well. After I managed to pull all the tricks I knew at least once I called it quits and watched Tag and Tom do there thing… I always had a camera but not that day for some reason…too bad. I remember Tom Talking about taking the summer to skate with Wilkes and work on 540’s must have been 87 or so.


PS Checkout it rules and remains a precursor to The House of Steam in my mind. There are tons of pictures, accounts and where are they nows. All from Robs illustrious skate history….and alot of pink letters too!!

Oh yeah here is Rob Mertz in The Zorlac zero hour video…tell me this couldnt be 2007 by the tricks Mertz is pullin waaaaay back then (circa 90 maybe?)

Thanks again Rob!!


Thanks to Chris and Bryce at for posting The House of Tom as a news event!!

jason oliva

East Coast Pride Groholski The House of Steam Jason Oliva

Thanks to Wendy and Tony for getting all this together…(Check out

Squindo Skull The House of Steam

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


YouTubeSkate (Videos)




East Coast Pride by Tom Groholski

Skateboardings Golden Age

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160: Chuck Treece and Tom Groholski at Tom’s Ramp NJ 83

Chuck Treece Tom Groholski NJ 83 jason oliva the house of steam

Tom Groholski & Chuck Treece Tom’s Ramp 1983

Photo Mr Groholski


the foto was taken by mr.grohlski..tom’s father..

that’s tom’s ramp in north brundwick,nj.

that’s when we were both sponsored by MADRID SKATBOARDS,OJ WHEELS,GULLWING



this foto ended up in thrasher mad way back..


Well I thought I would wrap it all up with a classic… This picture is Iconic…and if you ever wondered who shot it well now you know!

Nice one Tom’s Dad!!!

I got to skate (more like survive) Tom’s ramp one afternoon 4 or 5 years after this was taken. It was me Dan Tag and Tom….. I should have stopped to take a few pics that day.

Thanks Chuck..have fun touring!


Hey Jason

That shot of Chuck and Tom on Tom’s ramp is classic. The airs always got bigger when Mr G. brought out the cameras. That’s JT Murphy sitting on the rail on the left. The guy in the middle is familiar, but I can’t place the name. I’m the skinny kid on the right. I was such a dork back then. Hard to believe it was 24 years ago

John Engels

Uprising has reissued “absence of sanity”

so click the pic and go check it out (buyit)

Mcrad absense of sanity chuck treece jason oliva the house of steam

McRad Chuck Treece Jason Oliva The House of Steam

wreckroom Chuck Treece Jason Oliva The House of Steam

jason oliva

subscribe to The House of SteamVideo page for The House of SteamForums for The House of Steam jason oliva

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Take the time to sign the map or add a skate spot to it.

37: In 1983 apparently “The Captain” John Ballon was sold on shredding


This was a letter written to Thrasher magazine in 1983 by Team Steam’s Captain Jon Ballon. The Bernie he is referring to is his best friend Bernie O’Dowd. According to Bernie this letter was read by Tom Groholski’s Father who Invited John and Bernie over to skate Tom’s backyard ramp. They all became fast friends and the rest is skating history folks….

…and Captain…THRASHER, Black Flag, DEVO and the Circle Jerks are still too cool!


Bernie O’Dowd frontside air at Tom Groholski’s ramp New Jersey 1983

Nice One Bernie!