The fire started in a dry riverbed just east of San Diego. Smoke blackened the sky and when one looked up, it seemed for certain that the end had come. The death of dreams. Finality. The fireman arrived as residents were leaving. The lonely battle. The uncommon dark. Helicopters. The crackle and hissing… Smolder. Afterwards, the media pointed its fingers. Who? How? Does there have to be a reason? Sometimes the world simply breaks. It gives us things to do… Houses were gutted and the dead black earth slept. A man on a nearby hillside looked over the remnants of his property. Ash colored his world. He kicked at a charred photograph album and decided then and there to build again. Spinning on his heels, he walked towards his truck. He passed by the huge Blue Haven cement swimming pool and noted that it was the only thing left virtually unscathed.
Fast forward forty years. A small ranch house now stood on the lot. The long rolling hills and sun-split boulders stretched away unimpeded into the distance. Neighbors were still a rarity and the area remained desolate. Remote. The dusty road leading to the house was festooned with rusting barbed wire fences. It stated clearly: No Trespassing. The old man had rebuilt after the fires, his kids had moved on and started families themselves. He grew old and eventually passed away. The property changed hands. The house became a renter. It fell into disrepair and occupants cared little for the home. They squandered long nights with their crime in their veins. Vice. They had long ago given up on doing any real good in this world. They moved through life in a vacuum. Rent was spent on escape. The owners saw no way out. The property suffered. The house soon became a bank foreclosure.
Seven months later, Billy Green sat by the side of a country road and looked at the list in his hand. He shook his head in annoyance. Turning the truck around, he soon pulled in at the start of a long meandering dirt road. It arced up and out of sight. “I guess this must be it…” He drove slowly. Billy cleaned up foreclosure properties. It was his job. He skated pools and did the best he could do. Don’t we all? He saw the house as he pulled to the top of the hill and looked over the recent foreclosure that had come his way. He slowly walked the property. It was a mess. Seeing a long dark wooden fence, Billy spotted pool tiles! He rushed forward. “All the way out here!?” He looked at the pool as it spread out on the back of the property. He couldn’t believe it. The pool was actually bigger than the house. Strange. The Blue Haven was deep in black water. Frogs were in the water and it reeked from a few feet away. The transitions looked massive. Billy made some phone calls. He would need help.
Billy called in some friends and the cleanup began in earnest. Brian Fick, Riverside Shawn, John Torchia and Mike Lopez all joined Billy in the draining mission. The pool was a mess. To all appearances, it hadn’t been used for its intended purpose in a long time. Decades. The crew laughed as the water and muck were pumped away and the pool’s secrets were revealed. It was stellar. They kept it to themselves and rode it for a few months. The area is virtually uninhabited. They were left alone. Eventually, it needed paint and the crew gave her a fresh new skin.
The pool was a secret. It was kept that way. The big Blue Haven sat so far out in the wilderness that it was a journey just to get there. The crew rode it for a few more months then it sat again. Neglected. Wasps and frogs moved back in. The house squatted there… the years moved by.
Ripperside Shawn and I crawled through the mist in my truck. It was winter and the mountains were cold this early in the morning. The Blue Haven lady waited. We drove up the long dirt lane. Shawn was going to check the pool for the first time in a few years. I had never been there. As we approached the house, we saw a car in the driveway and a trailer parked nearby. Surprise. Defeat. “Damn!” I frowned into the morning… Shawn said little but his disappointment was evident. “Well, lets go… its gone.” I told Shawn to wait a minute. I wanted to –at least– look at this pool that I had heard so much about. I got out of the truck and as I approached the house, I saw a man walking towards me. I smiled and waved. As it turned out, this man had bought the property. We told him the story. Pools. Skating. He seemed intrigued. He let us drain it then and there. He shared in our stoke. The pool was thrashed. Elements and neglect had taken a heavy toll. Shawn and I spent several weekends draining, sanding and painting the pool. We rode it and kept the crew tight.
We decided to get some pals together after we painted it and have a fun little session. We got the original crew together and had Billy Green, Brian Fick and the others all in for some fun. Sometimes… you can go back and do it all over again! One day the owner said that he knew nothing about skateboarding but he knew who Tony Hawk was. Surprise? Since this man had shown us so much kindness, I made a phone call. Tony Hawk, Josh Stafford, Brian Fick, Lance Mountain and Kevin Staab all rolled out together. The owner was so happy. He couldn’t believe it.
The session was fun. Everyone fought to keep their speed on the big transitions and there was quite a bit of laughter to be found. Tony Hawk didn’t play around. Rock-n-rolls, backside airs, tailblocks and ollies were thrown down in quick order. Lance rode like a champ. Inverts and loveseat frontside airs went into the books. Stafford killed it all day… We rode for a few hours and it was inspiring to see Staab, Stafford, Hawk and Mountain all rolling around in a backyard pool. I must admit that I was very pleased to have had a small part in making such a thing happen. In the end, good things went down. The sun dropped over the hillside and the wind picked up. Everyone left in good spirits. In the past, there was a bit of bad juju associated with the property. Fire. Loss. Drug use and neglect. Skateboarders flipped it all on its head. After sessions like these, we can make things right. Karma debt is paid. Peace falls once again over a quiet San Diego hillside. The birds are free and they run these grounds….
Thank you to the original crew. Thank you to Chuck for allowing this to happen. Thank you to everyone involved and special thanks to Brian Fick for the images. Skate- Ozzie