Skateboarding History

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Skateboard History
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Sidewalk Surfing

 

Skateboards were developed in the 1950’s by California surfers as a way to recreate the feeling of riding a wave. The first boards were wooden planks with steel roller skate wheels nailed to their front and back ends. Roller Derby mass-produced the first skateboards in 1959. Completely lacking features which nowadays are common for skateboards, the Roller Derby had no concave, kicktail, or grip tape -steel wheels offered little to no traction. In 1963 Venice Beach lifeguard Larry Stevenson founded Makaha. He made skateboards by hand in his garage in Santa Monica and developed the first skateboard with all pro components called the “SURF SKATE”. Makaha boards introduced two revolutionary components – clay wheels, and Chicago trucks (the first double-action, adjustable truck). They were ordered through the mail for $10.95 - shipping included. Top surfers rode Makaha skateboards, including: Mike Hynson, Phil Edwards, John Peck, Mike Doyle, Dave Rochlen Jr., Mike Purpus and L.J. Richards.

 

The “First Skateboard Contest” was sponsored by Makaha, and held in 1963 at the Pier Avenue Junior High School in Hermosa Beach (outside the present Museum) - about 100 people showed up. Larry also put together the first skateboard exhibition team in 1963 with Westside and South Bay skateboarders, including Bruce “Earth Ski” Logan of Hermosa Beach, “I was skateboarding on the strand, right in front of the Redondo Breakwater when the Makaha team pulled up in a Chevrolet Nomad station wagon. The whole team piled  out of the station wagon, and they all started skating.

 

Makaha manager Jimmy Ganzer came up to me and asked if I wanted to be on the team. We already had a team called the South Bay Skateboard Club, sponsored by Bing Surfboards. My brother had started it, and it was about as good as the Makaha team, but Makaha had a lot more to offer - travel, demos, department store appearances. They were the first to get skateboards into the big department stores. We were on TV probably half a dozen times.” A second generation Makaha team still included Bruce, along with other Hermosa Beach locals including Ty “Mr. Incredible” “Ty Stix” Page, and Mike Purpus (Hermosa Beach Surfers Walk of Fame). This team promoted the invention that changed skateboarding forever - the kicktail & double kicktail board. In 1965, the first National

Skateboard Championship was aired on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”, and Skateboarding got on the cover of Life magazine. Skateboarding became very popular, and companies were fighting to keep up with demand. Over fifty million skateboards were sold within a three-year period.

 

Unfortunately, since no one wore safety equipment, just as the sports momentum began to build, injuries forced the sales momentum to a halt. Skateboarding “is not a crime”, but was declared unsafe, and outlawed in many areas. Some boards were shelved, and didn’t reappear until equipment improved. Some people still rode, even though parts were hard to find and boards were home made.

 

A soft urethane wheel developed by Frank Nasworthy in 1972, and manufactured by Cadillac in 1973, revolutionized the sport. These wheels provided much better speed, traction and maneuvering – no longer did skateboarders have to worry about small pebbles and cracks flinging them face first off their boards. Tricks evolved, empty concrete swimming pools became popular skate parks, and safety gear began to be worn – gloves, knee/elbow pads and helmets. In 1975, Road Rider made faster boards with sealed bearings packed in grease – no more adjusting & oiling ball bearings. In 1976, Kryptonics created the resilient wheel. In 1977, more than 30 companies were producing skateboards with wider “trucks” - the part that holds the wheels with better steering mechanisms.

 

In the late ‘70s, cities began building skate parks to keep kids off the streets and sidewalks. Surf shops became surf and skateboard shops. Unity Surf Shop at 422 Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach made the first skateboard push by sponsoring Ty Page and putting out a popular, wooden kick-tail skateboard called the Ty Stix. Eddie Talbot fired back with his own ET Ripstix - a wooden, kick-tail skateboard designed by Kevin Anderson.  He has been with ET since the first day he opened the doors of ET Surf Shop. Anderson became the best vertical skateboarder in the South Bay. See and hear more about how Hermosa Beach “Skateboards Rule” at the Hermosa Beach Museum “Sidewalk Surfing” event.

 

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