I was visiting California from Pennsylvania’s Woodward skate camp in 1994. It was cold at the airport in Philadelphia. Snow was falling and they kept de-icing the huge jet wings, while I sat there and watched. I idly wondered in my own macabre way, if I was going to crash on the way up or once aloft. Somehow, the thought of hurtling at 300+ MPH into the earth…. kinda felt nice.
Anyway, we finally arrived and Andy Macdonald picked me up in San Diego. The next morning, Andy, Jon ‘Bacon’ Hobbs, Rhino, Preston and I, drove up to Salbaland to ride backyard pools. Salba met us outside his garage. We loaded up, buckets, pumps, brooms and a turkey baster. I looked sideways at Rhino and he quickly informed me that, ”…the turkey baster gets the water out of the drain hole, when you cannot remove the drain cover”. “Oh…..” I mumbled. It was the start of a brave new world for me.
We went to numerous pools that day. It was a blur of dirt, graffiti, broken beer bottles, refuse, human decadence, poverty and filth. It was also one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I had found exactly what I had been looking for all my life. That may sound odd. I love pool skating. When I rode with these guys and carved over the light– grinding– it was epic. I felt the speed and knew I needed more.
I remember that I didn’t do well that day. I rode vert often, my trucks were too tight and I kept kickturning…a ‘no-no’ in pool riding, because you lose ALL of your speed. They were patient, probably because of my enthusiasm. The final pool of the day was one that Salba found. He called it ‘Pepper’. It was a Master pool by Jim Hendricks. Pepper was a right-hand kidney with smooth, shiny bullnose coping, a deathbox left of the light and steep side hip stairs. The surface was fast and smooth. Palm trees hung in the sky overhead. It was an image straight out of ‘Skateboarder’ magazine.
Salba told us the crazy story of finding and draining it the first time. “When we found out and bailed it for the first time, I was scared shitless because wasps were using the water for their wasp nests. There were hundreds –if not thousands– of wasps. I am allergic to bee stings…’epi-pen’ bad! Anyhow, Slide 540 was just laughing at me and swatting those wasps away with his hands. It got so bad that I jumped back over the brick wall, until Slide got the rest of the water out. Pepper lasted for about a year and a half, just sitting there ‘H.U.D. house’ style….then this Mexican family moved in and we thought it was finished. But much to our amazement, they let us ride, for a case of beer. After that, I got to know them real good…in fact I took my boys there often and they played with the kids there………mind you– my kid Jesse was like two to three years old at the time. He would sit there, playing in the dirt with his cars and motorcycles when we rode the pool………epic!” Salba had us laughing with his memories of the pool.
On my visit, we rode there until dark that night. I saw things that defied logic. I saw Andy Mac pull waist high FS nosebones. I saw Salba roll-in, then fly through the pool, going over every obstacle. I saw standup 5-0 grinds on the shallow end coping. I saw Bacon pull FS boneless & FS airs. I was drop-jawed in amazement! These guys destroyed that pool. On the long ride home, in the dark stuffy confines of Andy’s Honda Civic, I made up my mind to move to California. I knew I would live here and ride pools. Visiting ‘Pepper’ pool was a turning point for me. I will never forget it. Thank you to Tom Groholski for the images. Skate-Ozzie