Riverside, California. Founded in the 1870s, it is the birthplace of the California citrus industry. Judge John Wesley North, from Tennessee –who was ostracized back home after he talked a crowd out of lynching a black man– brought a group of associates and co-investors out to Southern California, and founded Riverside. A few years after, the navel orange was planted and found to be such a success that full-scale planting started. Riverside had then grown to become the wealthiest city in the country, due to the riches of the navel orange. The wealthy built huge houses throughout Riverside. Orange groves, bright-red bouganvilla & huge California King Palms surrounded these properties. In the summer, the heat rises above 105 degrees. Pools were quickly built on the spacious lawns of these homes during the pool- building flurry of the 1950s & 1960s.
Mission Inn - Riverside
At the end of a dusty dirt lane in Riverside, lies one of these pools. The Spanish -style windows & porches of the home are shaded by huge trees that almost hide the property from view. The home had once been a bright place. Family wealth. Assured destiny. No more. By the 1990s, the house had fallen into disrepair. Wooden shingles sagged & the sun-washed paint had blistered & faded. The trees & shrubbery had overgrown. The pool sat unused. Black water. Mosquitoes.
The home became a ‘Halfway House’ for men leaving prison. One of those paroled was a one-time skateboarder. When he saw the pool & its size, he made a few phone calls. Christmas eve 1998. Rhino, Andy Mac, P-Stone, myself & others, went up & rode the pool. It was unreal. The pool was named ‘The Convict’ & has since retained its moniker. Over the years, the pool has been an ‘on & off’ sort-of deal. Riverside Ed, worked out an agreement with the owners & it has been a ‘permission only’ situation ever since.
Zach & Chris Miller
Chris Miller & I were talking during the week of the Protec. He said that he was interested in coming out & riding a few backyard pools with his son Zach. I phoned my friend Riverside Ed & he looked around & found a few permission pools for us to session. I made the arrangements & on Sunday morning, we met up in Riverside. The cars crept up the dusty driveway as a pale sun hung overhead. The Sunday crew was : Chris & Zach Miller, Peter Hewitt, Paul Wisniewski, Brian Fick, Tom Remillard, Riverside Ed, Kevin, Josh & myself. Once inside, we all swept & readied the pool. I am still on the mend, so I sat around & maintained the “peanut gallery”.
Everyone cruised around & warmed up. Jokes were bantered back & forth & then the skating began in earnest. Remillard rolled in & flew through the pool. Lien to tails & FS Light/box were on his menu. Zach Miller cruised around & worked on FS ollies. Paul hit rock-n-rolls in the cup. Peter Hewitt worked the shallow end for FS grinds & Chris threw up a stylish FS air immediately followed by a FS lipslide. Gosh! Everyone was stoked & the weather was perfect. At the pre-planned time, we gathered our things & headed to our next pool.
Ed has some good pools & it was kind of him to share them. We drove over to a pool called ‘Clays’. It’s a deep old Rossmore kidney. The evaporation stains etched into the concrete make it clear that the pool probably hasn’t been a swimmer for a long, long time. The surface is hard & fast though, and the loveseat was just sitting there waiting. An ice cream truck chimed outside on the street & Tom bought us some treats. The sun was beginning to scorch. There was a canoe propped up at one end of the yard. It made a perfect spot to sit under & was the only shade in sight. Some of the crew posted up underneath while Chris & Zach Miller took a few turns.
Miller & me… busy.
Zach Miller-earning five bucks
Father & son made a wager on which one of them could get over the loveseat first. $5.00. Zach smiled, pushed in & went straight over! Papa Miller was shutdown. We were all laughing. Peter Hewitt tossed up a BS air & the rest of the crew put some trucks on coping in the time that we had left. We then decided to try to ride Jose’s pool. We drove in a caravan through the hot, dirty afternoon sun & when we arrived, received the ‘go-ahead’ from Jose. His relatives were there but he gave us a session. It would prove to be an amazing hour- long pool school.
Hewitt & Miller- bucket brigade
Zach & Paul- scoop it all…
We had to bucket some water & muck out of the pool & I am pretty amped when I see the images from that pool cleanup. Chris, Peter, Paul, Tom & Zach are all in the deep end bucketing & working. Zach Miller grabbed a Gatorade bottle, made a scoop & cleaned out the murky drain! It was great to see such skaters doing the work… paying for their fun.
Peter & Tom quickly conquered light/loveseat & then the tricks escalated. Peter concentrated on BS tailslides, Tom focused on FS lipslides over the loveseat & Paul pulled rock-n-rolls near the hip. Riverside Ed made it over the light/loveseat with a bit of encouragement & was rewarded with a heavy ‘high-five’ parade from everyone.
Peter Hewitt- light/loveseat the hard way
Tom Remillard- 5-0 loveseat
Paul Wisniewski- BS Deathbox
Riverside Ed- light/loveseat
Sunday crew- Brian Fick, Chris Miller, Zach Miller, Peter Hewitt, Tom Remillard, Paul Wisniewski, Riverside Ed & Kevin.
All-in all, it was a great day of pool riding & everyone left feeling tired but happy. Riverside had welcomed us. The pools that were built in the ‘glory days’ to help keep the heat at bay–at first glance– had been used for an entirely different purpose. Yet perhaps, they are one in the same. They were designed to refresh & entertain. After the session on Sunday, I believe they did that very thing. Thanks to the crew, Riverside Ed for the arrangements & Brian Fick for the images. Skate- Ozzie