August 2009. Tony Farmer and I were sweeping out a pool on Acacia Avenue. It was hot. We were quiet. Sweating. Steve Alba was taking buckets of pine needles and debris out of the pool and dumping them around the corner beside the house. He always said that if you dump them right on the deck, the wind will blow it all right back into the pool and you’ll have twice as much to clean out the next time. That Salba… he sure makes sense. Sometimes. We were almost done cleaning out the Anthony pool. It had four fingers of buck-toothed painful coping on its uppermost edge… but we were used to that. When you ride as many pools as we were riding, you come across such things often. You can’t avoid it. Push with your back foot… hard.
We sat on the shallow steps and Farmer and Steve spoke about John Swope. They talked about his ability. He was one-of-a-kind. They both spoke of his pool riding ability in hushed awe. I didn’t know him. I had only heard stories. Legendary. There were only a few video clips floating about. San Fernando Valley. Blue pool. It was called the ‘Corral’ pool in the 1970’s. Jerry Valdez, Kent Senatore, Stacy Peralta, Arthur Viecco and others would ride its perfect bowl regularly. As things happen sometimes, the pool had a rebirth in the late 1980’s. It was painted blue. It was known as the ‘Crack’ bowl at that stage… squatters. You can guess what went on inside the dilapidated house. The pool was sessioned hard and John Swope ruled it. These are the stories I heard. Recently, I contacted John and spoke with him. I sent him a photograph. He was humble and dismissive about all of the past. He said, “In this picture I was a junkie. Aaron Sedway would come and take photographs of me. I don’t think I could score that day. So, I told him some lie to ditch him, like the lie I was telling myself. Sorry Aaron, you were too kind. Twenty-two years later, the only itch I have is skating.”
Thank you to John Swope for being who you are. Thanks for speaking with me. Thank you to Aaron Sedway for the image. Skate- Ozzie