Don "Waldo" Autry - 2020 Skateboarding Hall of Fame Inductee

Don “Waldo” Autry – 2020

Don “Waldo” Autry – 2020 Skateboarding Hall of Fame Inductee

When most people think about early pool riding, the Dogtown crew immediately comes to mind, despite the fact that skaters in other areas like the Badlands, the San Fernando Valley and San Diego were also doing their part to advance bad-assery in bone-dry backyard basins. Unbeknownst to many, Long Beach was also an early hot spot, with guys like Perry Vance and Waldo Autry leading the way. Born on April Fool’s Day in 1957, some might say Donald Kevin Autry’s date of birth was appropriate, given his long history of practicing risky adrenaline-pumping activities on dangerous vertical and over-vert terrain. Starting out on a Black Knight, Don acquired the nickname “Waldo” in 1972, which was, in retrospect, appropriate considering his prowess for skating on the banked walls of the LA River and the Funnel, where he could be seen doing handstands at a time when others only dared to carve. Legend has it Waldo once even pulled off a drunken high-speed handstand down Signal Hill from three-quarters of the way up!
Early on, he built his own homemade nine-ply birch decks with fiberglass on the top and bottom called Waldo Skateboards. Claim to fame: If Waldo wasn’t the first to kickturn on vertical, he was certainly one of the very first. He also famously carved over the steps at the Fruit Bowl (which was captured in an epic Skateboarder magazine centerspread) before such feats were even considered possible by others. No wonder he was often referred to as the Amazing Waldo! In 1975, Waldo was the first to kickturn (and go over vertical) at the Mt. Baldy Pipeline, which Jim Freeman captured for the movies Five Summer Stories and Freewheelin’. Waldo did many a demo on the Pepsi halfpipe ramp, and received a pro model deck from Tunnel. Perhaps the height of his career was sessioning the Desert Pipes, which were shown prominently in his interview in the August 1977 issue of Skateboarder. In later years, Waldo cut hair at a salon called Upstairs Downstairs in Seal Beach, where he passed away at age 55 in 2013, leaving behind a wife and son.