It was 1959. As far back as he could remember, his father had him swimming and diving. “He has a natural aptitude for the high dive.” they said. Coaches. Talent scouts. When his father asked him about his ability to throw himself off of high diving platforms without any observable fear, he would shrug. It really never seemed that scary to him… after all, he was jumping into water. How bad could he get hurt? Through his teens, he won every local dive competition and several regional tournaments. Trophies piled up. His family lived in Fontana, California. It was really hot in the summertime but they had a small swimming pool in the backyard. This made it nice when temperatures soared above one-hundred degrees. One day after a San Diego area dive competition, he was towelling himself dry and his parents were approached by a man named George Contessa. He was quickly introduced. “Hi there. You are quite the talent. Your form is amazing and it was a real pleasure watching you dive today.” He smiled and thanked Mr. Contessa… it was always awkward to receive compliments. George Contessa told his family that he was a talent scout for the Olympics and he wanted to see if he would come train and try out. Handing a buff-colored business card to his father, George turned and left. His words were a promise in the air.
Months flew by. He traveled to dive several times a week in Palm Springs and periodically would dive in Los Angeles with other young divers from around the country. His father decided to build a special pool in their backyard in Fontana. They had a large enough property and the new pool would allow his son to practice diving without having to travel too far from home unless necessary. It was installed in the spring of 1961. The contractors told his father that they’d never built such a large private pool before. It was almost fourteen feet deep. His son needed the extra depth for his high dive training. What his son needed, he provided. It was a shared dream. As far as the young man was concerned, he was like most young men. He wanted to live up to his father’s expectations. He began training in the pool almost immediately after its completion.
1961 became 1962. The young man’s life was transformed as he excelled in diving. His father’s sacrifice and the special pool would help immensely but he would eventually leave home for college as his Olympic dream would remain unfulfilled. A university offered him a full scholarship. A small consolation for him and his family. He would go on to teach and pass along his knowledge and skill. The 1960’s slipped into the future as all things must. Vietnam. Conflict. Hard times fell on the area where his parents lived. His father and mother couldn’t maintain the large property. They’d sit on the porch quietly. Dour. He phoned and visited as often as he could. Eventually, he saw that the property and home were simply too much for his parents. It would be sold and its long history of ownership transfer would soon be written.
1990’s. Fontana, California. Steve Alba drove slowly down an alley. He peered left and right. It was early on a weekday morning. He knew that most people were off at work and there were less people in the neighborhoods. It made it easier to take a look around for empty pools. He eased the car over to the side of the alley he was driving in. About thirty feet to his right, he saw a privacy fence along someone’s yard. There were trees on either end of the yard but none near the center. Perhaps there was a pool. He approached and listened for dogs. It was quiet. Peering through a slat in the fence, he saw the biggest roman-end pool that he’d ever seen in a backyard. It was massive. He felt his heart beating. He walked along the fence and checked the pool. There were three death boxes, ladders, lights… it had huge transitions. “Damn. This thing is like a colossal skatepark.” He mumbled. He’d never seen anything like it.
Over the ensuing years, Steve Alba and his friends would periodically have opportunities to ride the huge pool that he named, ‘Colossus’. The home changed ownership often. The pool was off and on. One time a permission… the next time a ten minute barge. Steve Alba and his friends made the best of the time they had.
They would do their best to get over every obstacle. They would try airs and tricks. Lines were drawn that had never existed before. The Colossus was a pool that was perfectly suited for skateboarding. Sometimes, Steve and his friends would sneak in during the early morning hours. The house was sitting empty. The pool sat in the very back of the property. They would catch the dawn session. Ghosts.
It was good that they did. It wouldn’t last. As quickly as the house changed hands, the pool was soon lost. The pool would be destroyed. The new homeowner spoke of insurance liabilities. The pool was massive and sat empty. “Someone might get hurt and I’d be in court.” One winter day, Steve Alba drove past and decided to check on the Colossus pool. He was shocked to see piles of dirt and debris littering the deep end. Huge holes had been jack-hammered into the floor of the pool in the deep end. It was almost too cruel. An end of an era. The Colossus lives on in the memories of those that had a chance to skate there.
Note: This story is a fictional portrait of the Colossus Pool and its history. Thank you to Steve Alba, Peter King and Seb Carayol for the images. Skate- Ozzie