Kelly Bellmar / San Juan Pool
In the late eighties, there really were no skateparks. We had pools and backyard ramps. We were on full pool missions back then. These were the Alva Posse times. The San Juan pool happened around that time. I was working at Alva in San Juan Capistrano. One day at the factory, a guy told me that he’d been to a Halloween party at this old mansion on a hill. There were actually two pools on the property. We went up there and the place was abandoned.
Something bad had occurred with the people who had lived there. There was a square pool and a round one. They were filled with green, crappy water. We stuck a garden hose in the square pool and drained it but it was junk. We put the garden hose in the round pool and drained it down a hill. It slowly emptied and it took days… Once emptied, it was so good. It saw some unreal sessions. The pool had several lives. It was filled with dirt, then it was jackhammered… and resurrected again. It was one of the best pools ever. Charleston Hanger ramp was fashioned after it by Tim Paine. The face wall was very round and it half-piped back into the shallow end. A bunch of heavy sessions went down in that thing. The Alva crew. It was ours. We were there all the time. - Dave Duncan
This Venice local Tonan, he was living in San Clemente at the time. He worked at Alva. He got wind of this abandoned mansion. I heard that a guy lived there and supposedly killed his whole family in the house. Crazy shit. Murder scene. Tonan got intel on the pool. We’d all go up there… We ended up draining it. I actually drained it with TA and the Alva crew. It is the only pool I ever actually recall draining with TA, so it stands out in my mind. When we first skated it, we were like, “Oh shit. This thing is unbelievable.” It was like a side-to-side capsule. Elongated. We called it ‘Time Capsule’ but Thrasher came and shot photographs for an article and they called it ‘Haunted Hole’. It was an amazing pool.
The shape was great. The transitions were really good. There was a deathbox on the middle of the face wall, firecracker coping, side ladders… It was great. The Alva Posse took it apart. It lasted awhile… It’s hard to recall how long it lasted anymore. It got jackhammered and then patched. John Lloyd lived near there and ripped it really hard with his brother Joe. The surface was slow after the patches were put in. When it was first going, it was pretty unbelievable the things that went down in that pool. There were only a handful of times that the Alva Posse ever rode together in a pool in the mid to late eighties. The San Juan pool was one of them.- Darrel Delgado
I remember when Alva moved down to the San Clemente area. Dave Duncan was the team captain. I remember Duncan saying that he knew there was a pool up on a hillside nearby at an old abandoned property. Finally one day, they went up and found two pools. They put a garden hose in there and started draining it. Everyday, it went down about a foot. Day after day, it looked better and better. One day, Duncan called me and said, “Dude. This pool is unreal. You have to come.” We got there and it was basically just us. The Alva crew and some friends.
The guy that really blew it was John Lucero. We told everyone, “Keep it quiet. Keep it quiet.” One day I pulled up and there was John Lucero. Tony said, “You better not tell anyone…” The very next day, Lucero showed up with a bunch of people and after that, everybody found out about it. He told someone and they told someone and it was over after that… we did have it for like a month to ourselves though. Just us. Overnight, it was crazy. Big parties. Someone lit the house on fire… out of control. It didn’t last that long. We’d go there and it seemed like a hundred people were there. Blown out. The local authorities quickly put an end to it. That pool had perfect transitions. I could do frontside inverts in it. Beautiful pool. The house had some bad vibes to it. The pool was quiet and peaceful though. I’d just sit there by the pool and listen to the birds… One of my favorites. - Eddie Reategui
I wasn’t one of the first to ride the San Juan pool. When I went there, the house was still standing. When I went back, it was destroyed. We skated it for awhile. It was filled in with dirt and it got dug back out. It was jackhammered. Kelly Bellmar and Chicken went in and patched it themselves. Tony Alva rode that pool really well. The shallow end had gnarly transitions. Steep. Most people avoided that area and would go into a figure eight line in the deep end. Tony would hit the face wall, come way into the shallow past the ladder, do a three block long micro edger and then head back into the bowl. I’ll never forget it. Some guys would half pipe it. The deep end was good. The coping was raw. It was as raw as it could be. Firecracker. Chris Miller ripped it. Here’s a Duane Peters story: We came early one day. Someone had spray painted on the pool wall, “Duane rules pools…” or something about Duane being awesome. Duane showed up that morning, grabbed some paint and painted over the words and then just left. That was pretty rad.
Kelly Belmar and I were going to see Devo at the Coachhouse nearby. We got there early, so we went up to skate the pool. We arrived and there were guys that had driven a ways that were camping there and bucketing the pool. We helped them bucket the pool and emptied it so they could ride. We went to the concert. When it was over, we came outside and it was pouring rain. The poor guys didn’t get much time to skate… Kelly ripped that pool. He did inverts, rolled in… He basically dominated.- Chuck Hults
The San Juan pool was a big part of the Alva Posse days in San Clemente. We’d go up there and ride every day. It was our spot. We had it to ourselves for a little while. The thing I really remember about that pool were the Texans. John Tex Gibson and Craig Johnson. Tex and Craig made that pool look like a mini ramp. They killed it. They were doing vert ramp sized airs and crushing it everywhere. They took a doubles run, doing figure eights together and then they both went over the ladders on both sides simultaneously… They were ripping so hard. They’d go to the shallow end, smoke a fatty, swig a beer and go back at it. Those two guys were gnarly skaters. The Texans… Besides Eddie Reategui, they were the best. John Lloyd too. He was gnarly. - Tony Alva
Thank you to Aaron Sedway for the beautiful images. Thank you to Chuck Hults for his images as well. Thank you to Darrel Delgado, Eddie Reategui, Tony Alva, Chuck Hults and Dave Duncan for their memories. Skate- Ozzie