Dear Diary......Vancouver trip may 24 2004
I awoke at 7:30 in the bedroom of an East Vancouver house. The sun was shining and the dog was sleeping on the couch. I quietly put my clothes on and grabbed my bag containing the tools of my mid-life crisis.... kneepads and skateboard. I was heading for the door when I noticed my wife was on the other end of the couch with the sleeping dog.
"Where the heck do you think your going?" she asked. I told her I was going to get her some coffee and proceeded out the door into our van and then drove to Hastings Skate Park. Just a couple morning grinds before I went back with the coffee.... The skate park contained twoother early morning skaters of around my age. Funny how the guys 35/50 ish choose the morning to get a few sweet lines in before the daily crowd of young shredders make it near impossible to ride this intense park.
70's pool boards
Hastings is like a snake-run of bowls all steel coping into a 12 foot bowl. It’s an old schoolers haven! I padded up and made my first run, trying to find the line and end up slamming on my left hip…. I had forgot to put my hip pads in my shorts. PADS PREVENT PAIN! Anyway the sun was shinning and I worked the park the best I could. With the help of the other two guys, Stew and Tony I was able to find a line. Then one of the top late 70’s Vancouver skateboarders showed up and padded up…. Wee Ming Wong. I saw Wee skate Hastings Park last year and I have to say I sure enjoy watching old school style, and Wee is one of the best. I waited my turn and managed to make the run into the big bowl, riding it like a half pipe I was able to get to the top and hit the coping. " Shwing "was the sound my trucks made and I finished my run by laying on the ground trying to get my breath back… I forget to breath when I ride this park. It was now time to go and get back to the wife, dog, and friends. Arriving back I realized I had forgot to get coffee!
"Hey why don’t we go and check-out the Vancouver Museum today?" I ask my wife.
"That would be great honey!" she responded.
The plan was made and we ate some breakfast then load up for some crazy downtown stunt driving. We arrive at the museum and managed to get a primo parking space. Parking is non-existent in Vancouver. At the ticket booth for the museum the teller is wearing a t-shirt that has SKATEBOARDING VANCOUVER on it. My wife looks at me and now realizes why I wanted to go to the museum. The museum has an exhibit of skateboarding history and a display of skateboards from 1920 to the present day. The collection of skateboards are from PD’s Hot Shop in Vancouver and can be seen on www.skullskates.com It was almost too much for my small brain to take in all at once and I wondered the exhibit aimlessly saying "Holy sh*t, look at this and look at that…. HOLY SH&T!" Trying to focus I started again at the beginning and took in the strange steel wheeled apparatuses from the 20’s 30’s and 40’s. Roller skates hacked in half and nailed to a piece of wood to build it yourself kits offered by roller skate companies.
Moving on you stand in front of another display of 60’s era sidewalk surfers. Clay wheels or steel wheels where bolted on, Roller Derby, Skee-Skates, Zippees and even a Genuine Skateboard from Canada and a Dominion Surfskate from Ontario. In the 1967 Simpson Sears catalog you could order a Super Skate steel wheeler made in Richmond B.C. These Canadian skateboards must be rare! It was an incredible treat to see these particular skateboards! Near the end of the sixties a few skateboard companies started to experiment with design and a few of these boards started to have kick tails and get away from the surfboard shape. The beginning of the seventies a guy named Frank Nasworthy introduced the urethane wheel. Cadillac skateboard wheels where the answer skateboarders needed and the sport exploded with speed. The seventies also birthed some great skateboard companies like Hobie, Logan Earth Ski, Santa Cruz, Powell & Peralta, G&S, and Sims where the big guns. Canada was also represented by Wee Willie Winkles, Head Honcho, and GNC skates that later went on to be Skull Skates.
The display area for this was made to look like a swimming pool. Another "Holy S#it" entered my head. I was looking at a handful of seventies greats… a Z-Flex, Alva, and an original Wes Humpston Dogtown Big Foot. All the pigs where there! These where all the boards I dreamed about in the seventies as I rode my yellow fiberglass banana around the streets. (I couldn’t afford to own them back then and the collector value of these boards today makes it so I still can’t afford to own one!) The eighties came along and drastic design changes where made. The pig boards where being hacked up, concaved and graphics where starting to become a big feature. Pushead was decorating those Zorlac skates, Jim Phillips was splashing the Santa Cruz skates, and Skull Skates was art attacking a style that still speaks Skull Skates today. The eighties display area was huge and I had to wipe my eyes a few times to take it all in. The eighties also had some of the raddest skaters, Hosoi, Cabellero, McGill, Gonzales, Gator, Roskopp, Natas… ahhh I could go on and on before I would even mention Hawk. Display cases contained memorabilia from skate magazines to helmets even a walk through time with different wheels.
The nineties were a low era in skateboarding and the skateboards changed to a generic Popsicle stick shape. Two kick tails… Skateboarding in the 90’s was taken back to the streets and upright 60’s style was taken back from the vert/ramp/park/bowl skating of the 70’s and 80’s. The nineties era to today was not quite as strong of a display but have no fear it was just a calming before the storm. Marketing… today skateboarding is big bucks. I personally am not in favor of the mass marketing but on the other hand it means a lot of great skateboard parks are being poured. Good parks too! Like Hastings. Now as usual most museum exhibits have some sort of video presentation and I found myself stuck in front of the TV. Good music and tons of vintage footage from movies to old 70’s half-pipe skating. The video presentation was about an hour long and I think I watched it all!
Looking around I realized that maybe I better go find my wife. I found her in the first nations woven basket exhibit. She smiled at me and I tried to show some interest in the baskets. My mind was still on all the skates in the next room. We enjoyed a few of the other exhibits and then we rounded up our friends and headed back to their house to rest on the porch with the dog. The phone rang and it was Jones & Monk from the Jak’s Team inviting us for a little skate hockey at the Hastings Park. My friend Todd and I told our wives we were just going to run up and get a coffee. On the way to the coffee shop we snuck in a some skate hockey and I even got to go for a few more lines in the Hastings bowl. We arrived back at the house with out the coffee. Our wives were’nt fooled and told us we stunk. My wife and I said our good byes to our good friends and headed out to catch the ferry home to old Victoria.
So if you’re an old wood pusher or a young gun and want to check out an amazing skateboard exhibit… you know where to go now eh! The exhibit runs through August, 2005.
-ricky long (old man curb grinder)
70’s Wee Ming Wong front side air from PD’s Hot Shop poster.
Photos:Ricky Long shot at museum.