As a kid in Pennsylvania, the only thing I wanted to skate were pools. There were none. At least none where I lived. If I wasn’t in school or working, I skated. While I was doing those things, I was daydreaming of California and pool skating. I would eventually be running Woodward Camp in the early 1990’s and would visit California several times a year. I’d meet up with Steve Alba and he’d take a crew of us to some backyard pools. Those days will be seared into my memory cells until I am no more. THIS was the skateboarding I always longed for. Steve would roll into the deep end and do frontside grinds in the shallow end. He’d then go over every obstacle. I remember being completely in awe of how he and the pool skaters we were riding with would simply absorb the small transitions and obtain speed from every radius in the pools surface. It was a completely different experience for me. I’d push in, grind the facewall, run over the drain, almost die and then slam into the shallow end and that was that. At one point, Steve threw a truck wrench to me and said, “C’mon dude. Loosen that shit up.” It was humbling and exhilarating all at once. After I moved back to California permanently, I started looking for pools everywhere I went. This was in the pre-cell phone satellite times. You had to drive all day… dead lawns, HUD homes, real estate open houses, ghetto neighborhoods… prowling alleys and hopping fences. There was no “gimme gimme”. One had to put in serious work and money. More importantly, it took a huge block of time. Over the years, I’ve found a fairly large number of pools. When people ask how many, I don’t really have a number. I’m not wired like that. I recall certain tricks or milestones… certain sessions with people. I love finding the odd-shaped pool. There are so many shapes and sizes of pools out there. It is quite amazing.
Recently, Rick Stine and I located a new pool. It had a Rossmore shallow end and a deep end with two carvable corners. The transitions were amazing. We both realized its potential immediately. The lady gave us permission to drain it and we did it that very evening. The cancer was depressing. It was roughly seventy percent of the surface. We decided quickly that we’d patch and paint it. We spoke with the owner who was more than happy to have the pool kept empty and her landscaping done. A long road lay before us. Rick said, “How does one eat an elephant?” I looked at him blankly. “One bite at a time.” So it was.
Ardex is your friend
Rick - preparations
Me / First corner Ardex
We trimmed all of the vegetation and trees close to the pool. We scraped the entire surface and cleaned it and then we let it sit for a week. We came back and Rick rolled through it. Even with the cancer, he could keep his speed deep to shallow and back. We smiled. Once patched, we knew that the pool would be fast. We fixed the homeowners back deck, did landscape work and bought supplies. Ardex, paint, rollers, trays… Rick and I would meet up and do a section at a time. We finished the first corner and brought Charlie Blair and Brad McClain by one Sunday. We told them it was rough. We felt the pool was worthy. Both Charlie and Brad were definitely stoked on the round corners and big transitions. They attacked it and pieces of crumbling plaster billowed up above them as they crushed the poor thing.
I was injured for almost two months and couldn’t skate. Rick and I continued to work on the pool at every opportunity. We’d scrape, Ardex patch and go eat tacos. The elephant became smaller… We decided that the drain was right in the way of the double double pretzel line, so we filled it with gravel and a locking system, then cemented it in. We began painting the pool with flat white Kilz primer as well. The pool was starting to look fantastic.
too many kooks in the soup
We finally finished the entire pool and left it sit for a few days. We wanted it to bake in the sun. I knew from experience that –with so much surface cancer– we’d be having minor repairs after each session for a while. This proved to be the case. We were prepared though. We bought an extra bag of Ardex, had duct tape ready for any immediate quick patch and extra Kilz primer on hand. After a session, we’d simply clean off the duct taped areas, scrape them, whip up a batch of Ardex and fill them in. Our first big session happened to be a real hammer. Jeff Grosso, Peter Hewitt, Eddie Alioto, Lance Mountain, MRZ, BLKPRJKT, Rick Stine and I got into it pretty heavy. The surface took a beating, but held up fairly well.
The pool is pretty unique. Conventional lines won’t work. Each skater that has been there is perplexed at first. Once they ride, everyone starts working it out and seems to love the corners. The cost to repair the pool came in at a bit under four hundred dollars. MRZ, Bulldog, Andy and others have helped with the funding. I thank them here and now. Rick and I shouldered the rest. We’ve kept it pretty tight thus far. KB, Chris Reilly, Robbie O’Connell, Arto, Roche, Tom from San Diego and Howie got some turns, as those previously mentioned.
Robbie O' Connell
The homeowner likes to watch us and we recently had a BBQ at the pool. She sat and smoked cigarettes and drank beer while Brad McClain cooked up some burgers for us. I can’t recall ever patching a pool to this degree. We put five weeks worth of hard work into it. As far as Rick and I are concerned, it was worth every minute. Thank you to Deville, Arto and MRZ for the images. Thank you to Rick Stine for the endless help. To those concerned, (you know who you are) don’t barge other skaters permission pools. Find your own. Make your own scene. Work hard and give something back to skateboarding. Skate- Ozzie