Scott Foss was a wunderkind … he was a child prodigy. He came onto the northern California skateboard scene like a comet, burned far brighter than most, then disappeared –seemingly–forever. He started riding very young. He grew up in San Jose and lived in Hawaii at times in the mid 1970’s. He surfed and skated like many kids his age. Scott rode Aala park, Wallo’s ditch and other OG spots on the island while living there. Scott told me about one of his early boards – ” I had this little narrow skateboard. It had ‘Bossman’ written on the top. I scratched the ‘B’ off and made it an ‘F’. My board said ‘Fossman’ and I rode that thing into the ground. I rode all over Hawaii and I was riding the ditches over there at the same time as Tony Alva and the others. Once I came back to San Jose, I rode ramps and found my way to the Los Altos pool.”
“The Los Altos pool was a very integral spot for northern California pool riding. Robert Schlaefli, Tim Lockfeld, Steve Weston, Kevin Thatcher, Rick Blackhart, Joe Fong, Peter Gifford and the Tunnel team all rode there and ruled. Keith Meek and I rode together but we were very young… we were 12 or 13 years old. We took a two hour bus ride to get there. It was an experience. After our first trip, I could think of nothing else. All I wanted to do was get back to that pool! It was everything. ”
Scott told me that –even then–Blackhart was a legend. – “He was awesome. A ghost. You either knew him or wanted to know him. He had an aura. He was our TA.” Scott admitted that he picked up pool riding pretty quickly. – “At first it was scumline carving , then over light, then tiles, then coping… it was a progression. I had an immediate passion for it. Keith Meek was a carver and I kickturned more. I recall being a little jealous of his carve so I pushed myself to learn carving. We fed off each other.” Scott knew –inherently– that by being a surfer, he understood the basics of style. He added- “Doing a move wasn’t as important as how you did it. It is the way we do things. Style.”
He went on to explain what happened to their scene once the Los Altos pool was gone. He met Bob Denike at Hicks reservoir. He was there and took them all out on a pool mission. They rode four or five backyard pools that day. Scott told me that he started riding with Bob Denike and the others as often as possible. Once Alameda and Winchester skate parks opened, they were always riding together. Scott related that shortly after Winchester opened, Judi Oyama got him on Santa Cruz.
Scott said – “This was a pivotal moment for me. I had great equipment and could concentrate on my skating. I progressed rapidly and after Campbell opened, I found myself on the Campbell team. That was where I met Steve Caballero. I was there the first day he ever showed up. He was tiny! He was dressed head to toe in red sweats and had elbow pads as knee pads… he was so small. Who would’ve thought he’d become what he became or have such a massive impact on the skating world?!” Steve Caballero and Scott Foss learned quickly.
Scott then told me that Caballero went down to an Escondido contest with his friend Clay Townsend and when they came back, they were sponsored by Powell Peralta. Scott sighed and went on- “When they came back and they had the new Powell Peralta boards and stuff, I was thinking- “Man! I want that!”… Clay stopped riding shortly after though but I kept riding for Santa Cruz and learning as much as possible. The next thing I recall, I was with Bob Denike down in LA for the Big O contest. I met Stacy there. He was so genuine … I was young and sort-of starstruck. After the contest, he said to me – “If Santa Cruz doesn’t take care of you, give me a call.” Scott Foss hesitated then asked him if he really meant that. Stacy said – “Of course.”
Scott Foss laughed in my ear. He chuckled and said – “Once I was on Powell Peralta, my life took on a Forrest Gump- type of existence. Everywhere I looked and anything I did, had a special meaning! My first contest was at Del Mar and Stacy was hyped! He was going on about the significance and it wasn’t lost on me one bit. The ‘Z-Boys’ had their team debut at the 1975 Del Mar contest and Stacy was unleashing the ‘Bones Brigade’ just four years later at the same place! The previous day, Caballero and I were picked up at LAX and as we pulled around a corner near Stacy’s house, we saw McGill and Gelfand laying in the street with Stecyk taking photographs of them. It was for an early Powell Peralta advertisement. That day, we drove into LA and shot the pictures for the ‘Class of 1979’ Bones Brigade advertisement. My mind was whirling.”
Scott explained the details of the trip. He said that Ray Bones Rodriguez picked them up in Del Mar after a bus ride from LA and they practiced for the contest. He then filled me in on something that I didn’t know. Scott said– “The whole thing was perfect. The team, the equipment, the riders… it was magic. Stacy arrived before the contest. He had yellow t-shirts with a World War II bomber and ‘Bones Brigade’ on them. Vans had just released the brown hi-top skate shoe and the team was the first to get them. We were all just blown away! I felt so much energy and stoke. We all felt the significance of that time, that place, that moment”
Scott- Upland Hester- look closely- right: Wally and Losi, look closely – bleachers: Waldo, Ray Bones, McGill, Hirsch, Elguera, Seigfreid and Desoto and others— Timeless!
It must have been unreal and I had to agree when Scott told me that it was a dream come true all in one week. The hubris wouldn’t last however. Scott Foss exploded onto a scene and sport that was imploding. It changed so rapidly that few could keep up. Skateboarding couldn’t offer Scott Foss what he needed to stay. “I had grown discontented with contests and lost my heart for competitive skating. I began surfing more, hanging out with the ladies and skating less. ” One week there was a contest and Scott didn’t find a plane ticket waiting in his mailbox.
Scott mumbled a bit dejectedly and admitted that it was his own fault. – “Stacy knew that I hadn’t been skating and keeping up. Eventually, I just sort-of walked away.” Around 1983 or 1984, Scott rode a great pool called the Belle Bowl with Tony Alva, Rick Blackhart and Kevin Thatcher. It lives as one of his best skate memories. He told me that he still thinks of that session. Scott Foss went on to party and surf. In his own words- “The 80’s were a blur and once the 90’s arrived, my kids were born.” Scott raised his children and moved on with one eye always peering at the skateboard world. He told me that the legacy they left for others has been a source of pride for him. “Every once in awhile, someone will tell me that I inspired them. It means a great deal to me. These new guys really pushed it far! Skateboarding is a whole other animal now.” Scott told me of his admiration for Stacy. He said that it must have been hard to cart around a bunch of kids every weekend and look after everyone. Scott adds- “Stacy was my inspiration and a mentor. He gave me genuine friendship, respect and that meant everything to this 16 year old kid. He is a phenomenal person and I am lucky to have had him in my life.” Scott Foss remarked that he recently skated with Keith Meek and Eddie Elguera. He told me that he hasn’t experienced that feeling in a very long time…
I want to thank Scott Foss for opening up and telling me his story. He provided many of the images from his personal archive. Thanks to Glen E. Friedman for the opening image at Colton. Thanks to Ted Terrebonne for the final image at Winchester. Thank you to Keith Meek for scanning and ruling. Skate- Ozzie