Brad Bowman – aquires his blue Jay Adams Zephyr deck

Brad Bowman - Reseda Skatecross
Brad Bowman – Reseda Skatercross

Part 1

Lou Peralta’s SkaterCross was one of the first skateparks to pioneer vertical skateboarding. There were a few others but his was one of the first three in Southern California.

It attracted talent from all over the state in the same manner Carlsbad had done just prior to that.
In this photo just after grand opening, I’m riding my Zephyr Jay Adams fiberglass rocker, ACS golds and Tunnel Rock wheels.

When I went into Jeff Ho’s Zephyr shop, I was lightly vibed by the guy behind the counter. This was a fairly common thing back then in cult “sports” like surfing,skateboarding and motocross.

You walk into a surf, skate or motorcycle shop as an unknown kid and you’d better have a thick hide. I learned quick- mouth closed, eyes observant and not too many questions.

Anyway, the guy had seen me ripping around Santa Monica with my friends from a competing shop up the street (Con Surfboards), a scant half mile up the hill from the oceans edge.
“That’s where the real ‘Valley’ starts!” He muttered. Really!?? I thought. All the way eight or nine blocks over there huh? I thought again to myself.

He had no idea that I actually dwelled in the valley with my mother as she had made the move to west valley for “nicer schools” for me to attend.

Yet all the schools in Los Angeles at that time were close to the same. A smattering of kids from all over the map in each color, size and socio economic background. Immigrants from other states, nations and continents all seeking the same for their families as mom sought for me.

I was accustomed to taking three, sometimes four buses up to two hours to get over the hill to Santa Monica and Russell’s beach adjacent apartment on Pico Blvd and twelfth street where I would spend Friday thru Sunday every other weekend for a year or more.

I knew sure as heck that the Valley did not start on Twelfth street where Russell had worked in the Con Colburn surf shop. I was ready to bail on the whole purchase but damn, that smell of fiberglass, fresh neoprene and sex wax had me held. Surf shops were sanctuary and this was Jeff Ho’s place. The airbrushed boards were inexplicably beautiful handmade artworks. End part 1.

Brad Bowman - Reseda Skatercross
Brad Bowman – Reseda Skatercross

Part 2)

….Plus those shiny rockered Jay Adams issues wreaking of fresh fiber and resin had my fifteen year old self hostage in a semi-hostile environment. I handed over the cash and took possession of my brand new un-drilled navy blue Zephyr skateboard.

I was lit like a Christmas tree and could not wait to get the buses back home to my drill, ruler and parts. I was too excited and mis-aligned the rear truck mounting holes a few millimeters. This gave my frontside turns a quicker turn radius and snappiness, but the backside turns became more long and drawn out. I dealt with it as I was not going to put more holes in this deck.

It was worth every second of recovery from the fiberglass shards in hands and fingers. I sure wished I’d been able to hang onto that setup until today as with all my riders. Many relocations and garage sales have sadly seen all my previous riders into new hands or bins.

I feel that misaligned rear truck is the reason my front sides have always been more up and on top than other skaters. It’s wild to think those little adjustments can/have created differing styles of approach to maneuvering the magic rolling boards.

Our 1970’s era was pretty much “The Experimental Era” of skateboarding. There was just so much product on the market and to test out it was mental. No matter how lame someone thought a part or product was, there was always a willing taker to buy it and test out.

One can see these type of contraptions in the SHoF museum and in the pages of the early publications. The truth is out there. Seek it out. Talk to elders to listen and learn. Everyone has a skateboard story in them. Friends, parents, grandparents, great grandparents.

As any skater will tell you – the addiction is real!
I rode that thing until it was splintering so bad that every time you touched it you were picking fiber shards out of your hands and fingers.
One thing I still possess is the craving to get out and roll. Cheers dears! Go ride already.

– Brad Bowman