Z.T. Maximus

Ah... Every once in a while someone comes into the shop and brings up Z.T. Maximus. i must be starting to show my age, because i am actually starting to enjoy reminiscing days gone by. There's no time like the present, nostalgia is the enemy of progress, etc etc but man, you've got to hold on to those good times and those stories that made you who you are.  Thoughts of Z. T. Maximus always bring a smile to my face.  It was both a rite of passage and bonding topic for any of us New England skaters around in the late 80's and early 90's. Most notably entertaining was the first time i made it to that historic park. My mum drop a friend and i off at a Red Sox game in Boston. Back during this time period they actually gave away tickets to see the Sox.  Rent a tuxedo, buy a certain amount of clothing at the mall, whatever - here's a pair of tickets.  They sucked.  You could bring a cooler into Fenway and picnic out in the bleacher seats. i hate baseball, but to this day i never turn down an excuse to go into Boston.  My mum dropped us off and went back to one of my relatives to watch the game and would pick us up at Alewife station after the game.

i forget how many innings we actually held in there but it wasn't long before we decided to go out and explore. Back when social networks were just something someone heard someone's older brother tell his cousin - the info on 'that skatepark in Boston' was just whatever you could piece together from stories around the cafeteria. My friend and i knew it was not far from Alewife station in the shadow of the housing towers.  That was more than enough information to get us on our way, and the recon mission began. Onto the T, end the redline in Alewife, exit the station, and just head towards the towers.

Boston is pretty gentrified today, but there used to definitely be sketchy parts in the 80's and into the 90's.  Although technically Cambridge, the towers were definitely 'the projects' at that time. So two white kids from the suburbs go wandering in because dammit, there's a skatepark! To paint a little better a picture for a frame of reference in this tale, i was a teenage punk (not all that different than now) wearing my Doc Martins, suspenders down, and a flight jacket while my friend had kind of an outdoors-y look going on with long hair and day-hiking boots on (a future rec major).

After a little exploring we came upon three guys our age smoking crack on the corner.  My happy-go-lucky friend decided asking them directions was a good idea. i remember just thinking 'fuck, did he really just do that?' Two of them actually raised their arms pointing in one direction.  The third just grunted 'fuck you' and the other two's arms quickly fell back to their sides as they remembered that they were supposed to be mean to white boys. i think my friend even said 'thank you' as i dragged him in the direction of momentary point-age by his flannel.

After passing a chop shop and getting stared down by a watchman on a moped circling the neighborhood we finally found Z.T. Maximus at the end of an alley. It was all we had hoped it would be with a small shop, ramps, and random couches to sit on.  We had neither our boards and pads, nor any parent to sign the waivers but we made it there for the first time and it felt like heaven as we just hung out and soaked it all in.

i have absolutely no idea how long a baseball game is supposed to last but eventually the both of us felt it was about time to head back to the station. As we headed out and back up the alley we noticed that while we were in there our new best buddies from the projects had gone and gotten some friends and they had all lined up across the entrance to the ally a little ways up. We knew they were not there to compliment my friend on his flannel selection and i was pretty sure i'd get in trouble if i ended up getting killed while i was supposed to be at a baseball game, so we decided to head back to the skatepark.

Just as we got back to Z.T. Maximus two local girl skaters came out the door.  Both had dark hair pulled into a pair of braids and their arms were heavily tattooed. My friend quickly in our panic told them of our situation. i completely forgot about our situation and was in some kind of bliss fog having just seen something even better than an indoor skatepark. One of the girls hands me her skateboard and takes her army surplus medic bag/pocketbook of her shoulder so that we'd both have something to swing if things went south.  The other girl looked at my friend and quickly determined that this hippie would be no help to us in a fight, and kept her gear to herself.

They told us there was a break in the fence a little way up and that we might make it to that before 'our new buddies' caught a glimpse of us. We quietly but quickly dashed to the break in the fence and seemed to have gone undetected but we sprinted for a few blocks once through just to be safe. Once we made it to a corner store the girls asked us if we wanted to come in to get something to eat. Before i could get my marriage proposal to escape my lips - my friend said we needed to get back for our ride, grabbed me by my flight jacket, and dragged me towards the station.

Despite making it back to Z.T. Maximus a few more times to actually skate it, i never saw those girls again.  Everything worked out for the best though, because i ended up marrying an even more beautiful girl who opened up a skate shop with me.

-tom