Buddha Pool Daydream

Ralph Valencia
Summer 1976

I love the old pools. Buddha Pool. Elephant Country. Dogbowl. Gonzales. Magoo’s. Mondo’s. The list is long and I’m quite obsessed. Perhaps it is because they were unattainable to me in my remote youth living in Pennsylvania. The sleepy seasons would come in October. Leaves would fall. The branches of the trees were stark and black against the stony sky. Clouds would constantly anchor overhead and turn my northern soul all the more gloomy… I’d already moved my wooden ramps inside and I’d hole up and wait for spring. Sun. Warm days that never seemed long enough. I would sit in my drafty room at home and watch the snowplows move up the road nearby. Yellow revolving lights would wink and spin a lazy arc across the frost and ice. Tire chains sang on the buckled asphalt.

I turned my eyes back to Skateboard World Magazine and my mind moved me to California. I was there then. I stood in the shallow end at Buddha Pool. Jerry Valdez had just pushed in and carved hard… all eyes on him. He hit the lip and pulled on the nose. His tail slid up the bullnose coping and he hung there… Life stalled and weightlessness took its place. Magic. He dropped back into the pool and flowed like water that wasn’t there. Kent Senatore pushed in quickly while The Jer was still walking out of the deep end. He carved past in a long arc and shot at the side shell ladder… The Jer stood by the hip, transfixed. Kent on coping, sunlight spilling through the trees, a blue sky above, the sweet smell of Thai Stick in the air… I was there. I saw it all.

Marc Smith

Ralph Valencia

The impossibility of it would strike me then and my mind would return to where I was. Cold. Home. Alone. The snow and wind outside spoke to me of what I was and what I would remain… “No matter how close you get someday, no matter how well you skate, no matter who you know, you are nothing and they are everything. You are an outsider. A fan. No more.” Winters throat growled at me… and I knew it spoke the truth.  I looked back at the magazine and closed its tattered pages. It mocked me then and mocks me still.

Thank you to William Sharp for the images. Buy it – BACK IN THE DAY

Addendum / Remnants

If you’re interested, look at this old photograph of Ralph Valencia from 1976. Look around the deck… I was gardening at the house the other day and went on a treasure hunt. Its remarkable what is still in that yard forty plus years later…

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Fifty Five

Fifty Five. It’s not the years, it’s the mileage. So the saying goes… It takes me three times longer to land anything these days and I was never very good at consistency anyway. You do the math. I started in 1973 on a steel wheeled skateboard and hardly ceased rolling since. Concrete and I are close friends. We have napped together often.

Ripperside Shawn Ahringhoff

Kevin Burke

Marlon Whitfield

John Zask

I hurt and time’s heavy hand feels like Mike Tyson punching me. I don’t have much left… I invited most of the regular people I skate with on a normal basis and we got some turns yesterday. I’m sitting here wondering where in the hell the world is going. Politicians pumping hookers and paying them off with political contributions, rappers sitting down with the head of our country and actually taken seriously, people walking into traffic and getting killed while looking at youtube videos, skateboarding going to the Olympics, judges to our highest court living by the lowest moral standards, bleeding hearts oozing about all of their ‘rights’…  freebies doled out so often and for so long that there isn’t a damned thing left to help our own, skateboarding legends believing their own hype and nonsense. “Live a life worth posting.” Come down off the high horse dudes…

Gopa Ahringhoff

Dansas

Yeah… yesterday was a good way to end things. William Sharp came out and took some photographs, as did Ray Zimmerman. They put a collection together for everyone. Thank you skateboarding. Thank you to William Sharp and Ray Zimmerman for the images. X Ozzie

Tom Majewski

Cam Dowse

Brad McClain

Howie O’ Dugan

PARTING SHOT

Lance Mountain

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Departure

I started in 1973. Nash. Steel wheels… For whatever reason, when I stood on a skateboard, I could do it. I had that tricky balance thing early on that kept me from breaking my ass every minute that I stood on it. So I kept at it. Here we are all of these years later. I never became any good at it but it sure has been fun. You’d think that after doing something for over forty years, I’d be pretty polished. Not so. Skateboarding isn’t like that. I’ve spent so much time bailing tricks and falling off my skateboard that if I calculated all the distance and times I’ve fallen…. It would equal the distance that I could easily be dropped from the Space Shuttle above earths orbit to crush myself into the earth far below me. Hard on the body. Here we are… I turn fifty five years old tomorrow. I wake up daily with my bones burning. The bones in my feet are particularly destroyed. I’m tired of hurting. I work all week at a very physical job and then skate pools on Sunday. Monday through Wednesday, I’m limping around. I love to run and workout and I can’t because I’m so destroyed from pool skating. I run and workout Wednesday through Friday and then repeat the cycle. I’m tired. I had a birthday session yesterday. One last hurrah. I invited the regular people I generally roll around with from time to time. They didn’t know it, but it was basically my last session. I’ve had a good run and seen some amazing things that resulted from my involvement in skateboarding all of these years. I saw the seventies skateboarding boom and subsequent fall. I watched the rise of vertical from pipes to pools to parks. I built ramps in my hometown.

Jami Godfrey at Cherry Hill

I rode Cherry Hill with my best friend Jim Howell and saw Jami Godfrey, Mike Jesiolowski and a ton of locals hold it down regularly. I saw Shogo Kubo at Cherry Hill. I watched Mike Weed and Roy Jamison ride a plexiglass halfpipe when I was twelve in a JC Penney shopping mall. I traveled to California in the military and rode Del Mar and Upland Pipeline.

Neil Blender Finlan’s

I rode Pete Finlan’s Oceanside ramp with Tony Hawk, Britt Parrot, Brian Ridgeway and others. Jim Howell and I would drive to Virginia Beach for the Trashmore contests in the eighties. During the practice session, we watched Steve Caballero, Kevin Staab and Lance Mountain practice their runs. It was boiling outside… no shade. After awhile, we watched as Tony Magnusson and Micke Alba basically held a two man demo for the hundreds of spectators in ninety five degree weather… everyone else gave up and those two guys just kept hammering at it.

Lance Mountain at Trashmore

I rode Cedar Crest Country Club. Jay Henry, the Sigafoos brothers, Buster Halterman, Brian Kentucky Boyd, Fred Smith, Opie, Devin McQuire, Mike Mapp, Metal Man, I think Sean Jones was there… Actually, on one weekend, I think every vert skater on the east coast was there. It was madness. I recall three dudes dropping in at the same time. They kept skating. No one would step out…We were screaming! Unbelievable energy and fun.

Cedar Crest Country Club

I rode Easter Vert with all of the greats, Charleston Hanger with Blaize Blouin and ultimately ran Woodward in Pennsylvania from 1992 until 1997. I saw craziness there that had no end. A young seventeen year old Tas Pappas completely destroying and daily vert sessions with Mike Frazier, Neal Hendrix, Tom Boyle, Buster Halterman, Andy Macdonald, Paul Zitzer, Chad Vogt (yes he rode vert), Matt Dove, Brian Howard, Mike Speranzo…  the list is endless. We had visiting pros on regular rotation as well. It wasn’t unusual to have fifteen guys on the deck throwing down. I watched Christian Hosoi do ten foot high airs across the ramp while he sang reggae…

Neal Hendrix at Woodward

Mike Frazier at Woodward

I saw Tony Hawk film his Birdhouse video ‘The End. I recall showing up to the warehouse to skate and wading through spool after spool of spent film laying in heaps by the flat-bottom. Tony sat in a chair in a sweak-soaked heap… mumbling. I got to watch the sun come up after riding the Nude Bowl all night with a million people… I rode ditches and pools everywhere. I rode around with Steve Alba in his truck and he took me to Baldy for my first trip. I drained more pools than most pool skaters will ever see. Tony Alva and I rode pools all over Los Angeles… and that was just one day out of many. I was arrested for cutting the chain on a foreclosed home to get into a pool and thrown in jail. I lost my RN license over said infraction. I’ve been chased by dogs, homeowners and criminals. I wrote a book on skateboarding with famed photographer William Sharp about all of my childhood influences and heroes. I started a skateboarding blog. I met all of you… some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. I am very lucky… and so it ends. I put my board and pads in storage today. I’m all good.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to shoot a photograph with Ray Zimmerman on the Vans vert ramp. I wanted to do something for my 55th birthday. I tried a fastplant. I almost ran out of daylight but I put it down. No trick should take over two hours… I don’t know why its this way for me, but it is. The pain was once worth it. No longer. I’ll always ride but I’m done torturing myself. I am going to focus on martial arts and writing. That’s where I’ll be. Thank you skateboarding and thanks to all of you. Peace – Ozzie

Thank you to Jim Goodrich, MRZ, Pete Thompson and Bryce Kanights for the photographs. Be good to each other out there. X

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Elephant Country

Elephant Country

ELEPHANT COUNTRY

Memories are vague and shadowy things. Truth can become something altogether different after decades go by. Such is the case with the Elephant Country pool. This is a story of a pool that, according to the original article in Skateboard World Magazine, lasted only one week. Summer 1977. Kent Senatore was riding with someone in a car and they were heading back to his house in Studio City. As they drove, Kent noticed a steady stream of water gushing down a side street and onto Laurel Canyon Boulevard. He immediately had his friend turn around and they followed the water path back up the hill and into the neighborhood. His pulse quickened. “That’s way too much water for it to be someone washing a car or something…” Kent mumbled to his friend, as he pointed towards a steep driveway at the top of a hill where they watched the water spilling down the blacktop — turn in heavy cascading waves — and disappear onto Laurel Canyon below them. Kent didn’t hesitate. He never did. This was his neighborhood. He had been riding empty pools, ditches and reservoirs long before most. The heavy stream of water was an invitation. It gurgled thickly in the gutters and Kent knew what it meant. They moved up the steep driveway and soon eyed a blue rubber hose spewing water. They quickly found themselves slipping on a green ivy hillside as they strove to see the source. In no time, they stared in disbelief… Through a green hedge, white plaster burned their eyeballs in the hot sun. Pale blue tiles wrapped around in a long arc as a perfect kidney pool spread out in front of them.

Kent Senatore

 

The Elephant Country pool would soon find itself featured in Skateboard World Magazine.  For those of us a million lifetimes away in Pennsylvania, Idaho and God knows where else… the pool was all of the things we longed for. It was a world few could exist in. Skateboarding’s forefathers, hilltop home, scenic views, palm trees, a massive pool that seemed made, more for pushing the limits of skateboarding, than for its more mundane use in swimming. Pool skating was in its infancy and those that did it regularly were featured in the magazines. The photographs of Elephant Country pool were dutifully Scotch Taped onto walls and soon it was lost in the gulfs of time. Decades flew past. Skateboard World Magazine slipped into obscurity and copies were rare to find. Unlike better known pools like Gonzales, Fruit Bowl, Dogbowl and a few others, the Elephant Country pool faded away.

Jerry Valdez

I looked at every photograph I could locate. Elephant Country was like an obsession for me. I always want to find the old pools and stand there… where all of our history began. Elephant Country. If one looked closely at the images, elephant tusks could be seen in a living room window behind the pool. I spoke with Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez, Tony Alva and William Sharp at length about Elephant Country and soon found myself driving in the Hollywood Hills. With Kent on the phone, I drove up one street and another looking. He knew the area but it had been several decades since that unbelievable summer. “We only rode it a few times… I remember workers were working on the landscaping and the house. We walked up and they let us look at the pool. I remember turning around and seeing the huge elephant tusks in the picture windows. They were floor to ceiling in a big white arch. This is why we called it Elephant Country.” At some point, Kent and the rest of the skaters, would show up after the workers had gone for the day and they’d ride the perfect pool. It was huge and open. Lines were drawn and the sessions were heavy.

Tony Alva

I sat in the truck and looked at the driveway as it ran up away from me, the rest of the property obscured by trees and fences. A heavy black wrought-iron gate passed ominously across the driveway and I saw a camera and an intercom system. No trespassing. I peered at my phone. Satellite showed that there were two houses up the driveway and it seemed as if the top one was Elephant Country. The roof line seemed the same and I scrolled through old photographs of Elephant Country looking at the intel… hip lined up with middle roof line angle, deep end edge was almost directly in line with corner of roof. It all matched. I walked up and left a carefully worded note in a mailbox. I smiled at the camera as pleasantly as possible and took note of the name on the mailbox. I would need the information for later.

Johnny Altieri

This all happened in 2013 and my inquiries at the house were met with silence. I started doing some investigations on the name that was on the mailbox shortly after William Sharp and I published our book ‘Back In The Day.’ I figured that if I could inform the owners that their pool was in a published skateboarding book, maybe the driveway gate would open up for me and I could finally stand on the deck of that amazing pool. Time crawled. I left messages. People must have thought me insane. “Our house? Skateboarding and trespassing in our empty pool?! In the nineteen seventies? What?” I had finally put the pool out of my mind and moved onto other things and one day the phone rang. It was someone from the long list of numbers I had called regarding Elephant Country. A distant relative. After I assured her of my good intentions and emailed her an image with Kent Senatore skating the pool with the house and elephant tusks clearly visible, she warmed. She swam in the pool many times and knew it immediately. She seemed fascinated. The woman put me on the right track and offered me a number. I knew I was getting close.

Tony Alva

I finally spoke with the woman that lives there. The house has been in her family since it was built. She lived at the house all of those years ago and to my complete surprise told me that she had let them skate the pool. I was astonished. Almost everyone in the book ‘Back In The Day’ remember it being an evening barge session after the construction crew had left. She laughed when I told her this. “I recall the boys coming to the door. They were really nice… My mom and I were there. We let them skateboard as I once rode a skateboard myself. We knew that the pool was going to be filled again within a few days so it really didn’t matter. I watched them when they rode. It was all pretty amazing.” I asked her about the elephant tusks and told her its name in skateboarding history ‘Elephant Country’. She seemed to really enjoy that fact and her next words made my heart leap… “You should come up and visit sometime. I’d like to see the book. By the way, we still have the elephant tusks. They’re right here in the window. My father was a big game hunter in the nineteen fifties and early nineteen sixties. He went on several safari trips back then and he shot that particular elephant. Such things are frowned upon now but… that’s how it was then.” I assured her I’d bring her a copy of the book soon.

Memory Lane with the homeowner and her copy of Back In The Day

I met her one summer afternoon. It was hot. I took her a copy of the book and walked through the well-appointed house. A big game hunter had lived there. There was no question. I saw tiger skins. Antelope heads stared vacantly at nothing. I saw photographs of her father. His hand was heavy from the past. The elephant tusks were actually no longer by the window of the deep end but had been moved to another room by the shallow end. I saw the pool out of the window glimmering…  it called to me. I stepped out on the deck through the glass doors. I stood by the deep end. Thick meatloaf coping now surrounded the edge of the pool. A long loveseat sprouted obscenely out of the sidewall. Then I saw the bottom of the deep end through the water. It was no longer deep. I heard her voice next to me as she followed my gaze. “Yes… the entire pool is now six foot deep. We had it refurbished. We had the entire backyard done.” I nodded. Such things happen more often than not. My heart was full. I had come a long way. Pennsylvania and the dreams of my snow-covered youth were being fulfilled.  I stood there looking at the trees and the stone wall near the pool. I saw Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez, Tony Alva, Johnny Altieri, William Sharp… I was with them and life was perfect. Thank you to the homeowner. Thank you to Kent Senatore, Jerry Valdez, Tony Alva, Johnny Altieri and William Sharp for the images. Special thanks to Kent for getting me up the right driveway and thanks Lance Mountain. Its good to share the road with you. X Ozzie

Get it now – BACK IN THE DAY

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Journey

Marlon Whitfield

Sometimes when I’m driving the grid searching for pools, I think back on life, people I’ve known, sessions I’ve been in and the strange journey we all take. I know that I’m not alone when I marvel at the number of people who were once an integral part of my life and have now moved on. Through the hand of fate, employment, financial upheaval or some other reason, people come and go in our lives and I find it difficult to understand how quickly time gets behind me. When I was young, there was always time to do things “tomorrow”. I never ran out of tomorrows… until I did. Now I find that every session counts. Every day is a gift. I try not to look back and I keep my tired eyes always forward. Regret is expensive and my account is tapped out. If you are drama, you are gone. Journey. We are on one and it seems to me that by the time we figure how we are supposed to be and what we are here to do, it is almost too late to do anything about it. I attempt to make everyday count. If I can make one person happy, I’ll do my best to do so. When I look at the state of the world, it seems that everyone is drowning. Going under. Swirling black undertow…debt, frustration, technology, politics that don’t matter and an emptiness which seems to be the only thing filling people to the eyeballs…

Andy Neal

Brad McClain

I have friends and I love them. They know me and still like who I am. They accept the weakness and fragility that I possess as a human being. My friends understand that they are not always that different. Black, white, male, female… no matter the flag or the religious belief, we are the same. It is the human condition. When my friends come to visit, I do my best to give them a good time. Luckily, I hunt for pools and I’ve become fairly proficient at getting them going. I think that much of my luck is simply because I do what I say I’m going to do. I respect the homeowner. I know it is a stretch to allow strangers to play in the backyard. If I had a perfect back lawn and a bunch of guys wanted to play soccer on a Sunday afternoon in my yard, I’d find it hard to allow. I don’t want a bunch of guys running around my property on my weekend off. Shoe on the other foot. Empathy. The homeowner… How does it feel to be him? I understand and do my best to give them something up front. Then I get to know them and form a relationship. It’s a journey.

Rick Stine, Andy Neal, Bulldog

Jon Bulldog and Andy Neal came to town, which they do every year. They are both professionals and hopping fences and riding barges — though it is always fun and an integral part of what we do — is daunting when thinking of the unlawful aspect of it all. Being arrested for trespassing will cause heavy problems with licensing institutions and the like. These two are men with families and children. It is not a solo road they are on. I called Josh Peacock on the phone the week before they came. He and I always help each other out and he assured me that a Fresno day would give us more than enough permission pools to round out the trip. Saturday we met up and rode a few local favorites and put down some lines with BLKPRJKT, Marlon Whitfield and Brad McClain. The next morning we left in the darkness for Fresno.

Tom Majewski

Josh Peacock

Nick Creighton

Seth Sanders

Travis

Nelson Not Decked

We were in our first pool of the day by seven in the morning and it continued that way until mid afternoon. At that point, an entire crew of pool crushers descended on us and we had a chance to meet up with Nick Creighton, Seth, Nelson, Joe Heffington, Fryle, Travis and a few other wreckers. The new hype and infusion of stoke quickly lifted the session to a new level. Things were done in rapid machine gun fashion and we soon drove into the fading sun for one last pool to ride. The final pool was well off the beaten path. It was a huge old Rossmore that hunkered down, forgotten and alone beneath a clump of old palm trees. Dust blew in from the surrounding fields and the trees swayed and spilled debris into the pool. We cleaned it up quickly and everyone threw themselves at this new pool as afternoon waned on this seven pool Sunday.

Jo Jo Heffington

Bulldog

Rick Stine

Driving home, we were exhausted and elated at the same time. Of all the people on this chunk of rock in space, how many people had played football, golf or soccer on this day? How many people had ridden skateboards? I pointed out that it would’ve been astronomical… Yet how many people skated in seven empty swimming pools today on Gods great big green earth? Very few we surmised. It left us feeling pretty special… We are grateful for the journey, the pools and the chance to meet new friends. Thank you to Peacock and the crew. I appreciate everything you do. Skate- Ozzie

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EGC / FINI

Eddie El Gato Elguera
Del Mar Skate Ranch 1979

A grand idea which is properly executed will always be remembered. It has legs. Longevity. Such is the case with Pastor Eddie Elguera’s brainchild the – El Gato Classic. We just departed the desert after a weekend of legendary skateboarding, fun, food and friends. This was the fourth installment and reportedly the last. Each year was filled to overflowing with daily events and craziness in one form or another. The Rock Church (Pastor Eddie presiding) in Coachella Valley consists of some rather amazing people. I know because I’ve met a fair amount of them over the last few years. The church members volunteer and help at each El Gato Classic. They put their money where their mouth is… courage of conviction. Real people. I find it interesting that Eddie has the most skateboard savvy parishioners on the entire planet. “Christian Hosoi? Steve Alba? Steve Caballero? We got that…!” They give of themselves and carry it off with polite, calm integrity. Eddie Elguera knows how to organize and throw a party. This year was no exception. Honor the past. Champion the future. This has been his mantra… his mandate these past four years. He’s developed and completed four amazing events since its inception.

Legendary skateboarding photographer William Sharp

This year he had a book signing and photographic display of William Sharp’s work from the Back In The Day book project. Back In The Day features photographs that legendary skateboarding photographer William Sharp shot in the early years of skateboarding. The images cover 1975-1980. People mingled and took in the photos on display. Books were sold and signatures were being inked all night long as legendary skateboarders filled the building.

Steve Caballero and Scott Dunlap talking through a copy of Back In The Day together

Hester I Spring Valley Winner Steve Alba

Freddie DeSota and Lonny Hiramoto

Kevin Anderson, Larry Bertlemann and Steve Olson

William Sharp and Gregg Ayres

Some folks realize the gifts they’ve been given. Robert Vargas is one of these. He could be the greatest phone repair guy on the planet but the world is a better place with him doing that thing he does. A true artist. Robert Vargas came to the event and displayed his near-magical abilities with some rather amazing portraits while we stood watching in awe.

Laura Thornhill / Robert Vargas Art

Lance Mountain and Robert Vargas

A legends Forum was held and David Hackett, Jay Smith, Rick Blackhart, Arthur Viecco and many others were questioned at length regarding the past and their place in it. There was a great deal of laughter and storytelling… You could feel the stoke in the room.

Eric Dressen, Dennis Martinez, David Hackett, Arthur Viecco and El Gato

El Gato, Tony Jetton, Gregg Weaver, Gregg Ayres and Henry Hester

Saturday brought out the legends. The skatepark was overrun by some of the greatest skateboarders the world has ever seen. They were special then and they are special now. Legends lined up around the bowl and flow area to skate for the crowd of excited onlookers, family and fans.There were quite a number of catcalls and people being put on blast…  but all in fun.

Eddie Elguera hip transfer

Mike McGill

Jami Godfrey

Salba

Clay Kreiner did not remain seated on the airplane with his lap belt securely buckled. We are glad.

Julz, Tate Carew, El Gato and Clay Kreiner

Contests were held through the afternoon and prizes awarded. While we were all watching the ripping going on by Brad McClain, Tristan Rennie, Josh Rodriguez and Trey Wood… Clay Kreiner must have fallen out of a passing airplane and landed in the middle of the session. This promptly earned him a first place finish. Julie Kinstrand smashed every wall for a top slot for the ladies and Tate Carew punched the park in the nose for a grom win.

His Eyes Have Fangs

One Less Zero

One Less Zero

Later after dark, everyone gathered to hear music from One Less Zero and His Eyes Have Fangs. The entire event was an absolute knockout and all I ever saw were happy faces, legends at every turn and honor and respect placed upon all. Eddie Elguera said, “Honor the past. Champion the future.” We did exactly that.

Thank you to Eddie Elguera, Dawna Elguera and The Rock Church for everything. Thank you to the Palm Springs community for having us all. Thank you to William Sharp for putting up with me and allowing me the space to do what I think is right. Thank you to Orlando Welsh, Glenn Miyoda and William Sharp for the images.

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Honor The Past / El Gato Classic

Upland Pipeline Combi
Hester II

They came from everywhere. San Diego, Northern California, the beaches… pro skaters, amateurs and spectators made the long drive to Upland and the Pipeline Skatepark for the Hester II final contest in 1979. The Hester I Series had been the year before and it shook the skateboarding world. It was a ‘put it on the line’ event where legends were made and egos were battered. The magazines at the time were pushing their own agendas.

Bobby Valdez

Doug Pineapple Saladino

Scott Dunlap

Peter Kiwi Gifford

Hot shots and pin ups were finding their way into skaters bedrooms around the world as glossy photographs were Scotch taped to walls. Heroes. The skaters involved were too busy to notice at first. They just wanted to skate and progress. Most spent the day at whatever local skatepark they had, perfecting lines and tricks. Some were inventive. New tricks were unveiled at each contest gathering. The surf style, speed and lines of the Hester I Series were quickly swept to the wayside as bigger airs, innovative tricks and unique lines were being put down by contest riders in the next contest season.

Eric Grisham

Dave Andrecht

Hester II ushered in a new list of names and the magazines scrambled to feature these skatepark heroes. The veteran riders of the contest series found that they had to evolve. Skateboarding was changing so quickly, some could barely keep up. Some found themselves on top of the skateboarding world and a year or so later, they were virtually ignored by the magazines and sponsors. The Pipeline skatepark was a heavy scene. It had a full pipe, huge bowls and the massive Combi bowl. The Pipeline Combi was not for the faint of heart. Massive vert, huge coping, rough flat bottom concrete and a heavy local contingent of vertical masters were enough to intimidate virtually all who ventured to the Badlands. The heat and smog were another issue. It was like going into a dragons lair.

Steve Olson

Micke Alba

Steve Alba

Tom Wally Inouye

Some couldn’t skate the Combi and others didn’t even try. Local brothers Steve and Micke Alba were — by all accounts — the absolute rulers of the Combi pool at this time. Make no mistake, the lines drawn in the Vans Combi of the current generation were born in the Alba household. Heavy hitters of the Hester II made the drive to Upland on that weekend. The Upland final. It was a brawl. What those few riders did on that weekend will echo forever.

Eddie El Gato Elguera

Eddie El Gato Elguera is an innovator. He brought new tricks and combinations to every event. He was responsible for a dramatic wave of progression in himself and those that followed in his footsteps. Eddie Elguera raised the bar for generations to come. His El Gato Classic event has been a huge success. He began by paying tribute to the legendary skateboarders of the Hester Series and Gold Cup eras. He endeavored to educate the current generation of skateboarders of where they come from. He built an event that marvels history and all of its traditions, yet isn’t bound to it. Skateboarding is doing just fine. Men and women are pushing skateboarding into new territories. The future is in good hands and the El Gato Classic will forever remind that future of its incredible past.

Please join William Sharp and I on Friday at 7:00 pm, January 26th at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. There will be an art show and we are having a photographic exhibit and will have books for sale and signing. Tony Alva will be there as well as many other legendary skateboarders from this era for signatures. The event is free and a Legends Talk will follow. Tickets for other events at the El Gato Classic are available here – EL GATO CLASSIC TICKETS / INFO

For direct online purchase of Back In The Day click here –  Back In The Day

Thank you to Eddie Elguera for the initiative, influence and hard work. Thank you to his kind wife Dawn for all of her involvement. Thank you to his church for all of the volunteer efforts. Thank you to William Sharp for allowing me to do this book project with him and for allowing me to pillage his archive. We will see you this weekend X Ozzie

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