Last Sunday morning I found myself driving through the neighborhood I lived in back in 1974, the year I re-discovered skateboarding...and my thoughts turned to Avalon Street.
I had just graduated from Morro Bay High School, my seventeenth school in thirteen years, thanks to my dad's career as a medic in the Air Force. A day or two after graduating I was hanging out at my friend Larry's house and found an old Hobie wood laminate skateboard with clay wheels buried in the ice plant. To this day Larry has no idea how the board ended up there. We cleaned it up and took turns riding it around his basketball court, we were stoked, we were having fun. My life was changing, I just didn't know it.
After a couple of months of riding that old Hobie and some other homemade boards, some of which were very strangely shaped we were skating the sidewalk along Morro Bay Boulevard one night when a high school friend, Bob Gannon, showed up with some yellow Cadillac wheels on his Black Knight. A few days earlier I had seen an ad in Surfer Magazine for Cadillac Wheels, you know the one...Gregg Weaver. I wanted to do what Gregg was doing. A trip to William Dennis Surfboards in Ventura, the nearest shop that stocked Cadillacs was made the very next day. On the way home it began raining, so we ended up at my place of employment, the local newspaper, installing our new wonder rollers. Not knowing exactly what we had, we ventured out onto the wet sidewalk for a test run, a short lived test run. After ending up on our butts a few times, we went back inside and rode our boards around the press room for hours.
The difference between clay and urethane was amazing, I knew that something special was happening, I just didn't know what.
I soon recruited my younger brother, Vince, into our tribe, I wanted to share this incredible discovery with him. We were soon on the lookout for bigger, steeper hills. And that's when we discovered Avalon Street, though we knew it was there all along. We had ridden our bicycles up and down it hundreds of times...we just looked at it a bit differently now. It was very steep at the top, also quite wide. We would start by carving back and forth, then set up for a head-dip in the overgrown grass that bordered the street, followed by a quick drop onto the street that intersected Avalon. It was almost like dropping in backside on a very steep wave, at the bottom of the "wave" you would cut back towards Avalon, getting tubed under the overhanging mailbox. We would then throw a few more quick carves across the steep, attempting our best "Weavers". The hill then mellowed out, a nice easy, three block cruise all the way to our house.
We would ride the top part of the hill for hours on end, and then in the time honored surf tradition, we would take that "one last ride" all the way home. Of course we would never mention that it was our "last ride", everyone knew what would happen if you actually said those words.
So there I was thirty years later, sitting in my car at the top of Avalon Street. I turned and looked at my skateboard in the backseat, checked the traffic level, and climbed out. I stood there for a few minutes, trying to decide whether to go. Something was missing, my brother Vince. I decided to wait until he could join me on that "one last ride"...of course we won't call it that.
Avalon Street - Fall 1974.