A Screeching Start

Surfing and skateboarding’s nascent handshake.

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The first iteration of surf-skate style incorporated wooden two-by-fours with metal roller-skate wheels attached to trucks that were split and then bolted on to the ends of the boards. Joey Cabell, Buddy Boy Kahoe, and a small group of then–Laguna Beach resident surfers used their homemade skateboards to mambo down Arch Beach Heights roads on beer-can slalom runs. 

Back then, it was all about mimicking the parallel stance, “feet together, bend-ze-knees-and-bend-ze-ankles,” arched body, arms low and spread wide, rhythmic surfing and snow-skiing style to negotiate the turns on the way down. Any and every paved slope around became fair game. 

As the surf-skate movement grew traction, a few of the more avant-garde and athletic young surfers—a group that was easily attracted to the activity—sought

even more-challenging and exciting terrain. A crew of Huntington Beach surfers could soon be found invading empty swimming pools in inland backyards on flat or blown-out afternoons. Seeing the pool’s curves as similar to the form of a wave’s face, they began flying high on the walls, mimicking off-the-lip maneuvers. This was a decade before it would hit big up in Venice.  

The 1960s fad eventually died out, as the metal wheels didn’t really grab the surface well enough, often making for brutal wipeouts that could sideline a surfer during swell—the worst possible consequence. However, by the 70s, the advent of sticky polyurethane wheels and improved trucks relaunched the whole deal in the story we all know, and it has never come down.

Feature image: A barefoot Herbie Fletcher in 1963, in a Jack Haley Surfboards team jacket, exploring the poles of gravity in a Stanton, California, pool. Photograph by Ron Stoner/SHACC.