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US Tour Opener – Dave Swift Photography

US Tour Opener

Opener

My First Solo Trip As A Skateboard Photo Journalist

June 27-July 27 1989

Opener
Gomer Istvanick and Henry Gutierrez.

This is the first trip I went on as a Writer/Photograpaher or as others might call it, “Photo Journalist.”  I got in the car with two of my best skate friends; Owen Nieder and Mike Youssefpour and it was on. TWS gave me a credit card for gas and hotels and we packed up my Honda Accord and headed out for a 30 day summer adventure. We really didn’t have a plan other than stop at as many skate hot spots as possible in the amount of time we had. First stop was Kennedy Warehouse in San Jose and then we headed due east to Nebraska where we knew a few people. Somehow we ended up skating in Omaha first and that is where we lost Mike to a harsh injury to the taint area. For the rest of the trip it was just me and Owen.

Nebraska
Cory Lawrence, Rich Flowerday and Mike Hanson.

After that we headed to Milwaukee where we skated The Turf with the Beaudoin’s, Pete Diantoni, Weez, Gomer Istvanick and 16 year old Al Partanen. For us Cali boys, The Turf was the destination of choice in 1989 as it was pretty much the only late 70s concrete park still in existence in North America. We had a shit ton of fun but after two days we headed east. A metal vert ramp in Indianapolis, an indoor mini Ramp in Cleveland at a roller rink and lots of sweat. Oh yeah, first time I ever saw lightning bugs.

The Turf
Nebraska, The Turf and Cleveland.

 

After that we kept heading east, tried to skate in Michigan but the ramp was at a swim center or something and for some reason we weren’t allowed a free pass. Or maybe the ramp wasn’t open, can’t remember but in any case, we did not get to skate. We just pointed the car toward Pennsylvania and ended up at Cheap Skates the next day where tons of skating went down. I knew Sean Miller from a previous trip, so we met up and shot some photos in between sessioning and also in the mix was a young and ripping Brian Schaeffer. He did some sick Indy airs and I can vividly remember he was riding a Vision Tom Groholski skeleton graphic as that was all I saw when looking through my fisheye lens while lying on the deck.

After that we went to Baltimore, Centerville, VA, Ocean City, and Virgina Beach. I think that’s in the correct order. No vert in Baltimore so we hit the old ass Landsdowne Park and Edgewood with Tom Groholski and Chuck Treece for some 70s action and bolted straight to Cedar Crest Ramp just over the border in Virginia. Fuck, that ramp was amazing—perfect trannies, metal surface, pool coping (first time riding that on a vert ramp), a channel and plenty of sunshine and humidity. Mike Mapp, Terrence Stuckey, Fernando Carr, Metal Man, Jeff Thompson, Brian Boyd, Leonard Trubia, Fred Smith, Troy Chason, Todd Johnson and some others trickled in to skate on our all day session. It’s crazy that we only spent two days at this ramp before heading out to Ocean City. It was so good that we could have just stayed there for at least a week but we didn’t and that was a mistake.

 

Cedar Crest And Cheap Skates.

 

Ocean City was cool. Weird place in the summer with all the tourists (no finding a hotel here) but the park had a great ramp, which we skated with Bernie O’Dowd and Geoff Graham (probably a couple other locals as well). The clouds rolled in and at some point it rained harder than we’d seen to this point on the trip, “Cat’s And Dogs” was probably an understatement. We spent the night and bailed to Virginia Beach in the morning. The drive was pretty epic as I’d heard stories about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and it’s 26 mile span (I’m just guessing that’s the correct distance) over water. First and last time for me.

US Tour
Mike Crescini, Tom Groholski and Jeff Thompson.

Virgina Beach in 1989 was a vert ramp paradise; I think they had three—Mt Trashmore, Lynnhaven and Bayville. A heavy session went down at Trashmore with most of the Fork Crew in attendance—Sergie Ventura, Mike Crescini, Eddie and Henry Guttierez, Peanut Brown and fucking Mike Conroy! I’d heard of him before but holy hell was this dude amazing; definitely a standout on this day. After that we went to Bayville with Henry, shot a few photos and said goodbye to the East Coast. For whatever reason, we decided that we’d head straight to Dallas, Texas from VA Beach; to this day I kind of regret that decision as I’m sure there was plenty more to skate on the East Coast.

VA Beach, Ocean Bowl
Mike Conroy and Bernie O’Dowd.
Virgina Beach.
Sergie Ventura and Eddie Gutierrez.

Fucking hell the drive was endless to Dallas. We probably stayed in a hotel one night but my memory of any of that is completely blank. We had the newly opened Jeff Phillips park on our mind and nothing was gonna stop us from getting there. I do have a vague memory of torrential rain beating down on the windshield for most of this drive. We drove 1300 miles, through eight states in the next 24 hours, something I hope to never do again as it was totally draining.

Once in the Dallas city limits we headed straight to the park and met up with Mark Roach and Pat Sherman who would be our guides for the next couple days. Jeff Phillips was out-of-town so we didn’t get to see him fuck up his signature park—so bummed on the timing of this as it would have been amazing to shoot some photos with Jeff.

In Dallas we spent most of our time at the park riding the wooden bowl and the forty-something foot wide vert ramp. It was the widest ramp Owen and I had ever ridden at the time. It felt good to be out of the car and indoors out of the blazing Texas summer sun (definitely over 100 degrees the whole time we were in Texas). Mark also took us to a mini ramp where we also met future G&S pro Mike Taylor. Mark and Mike killed the ramp and while not skating we kept cool by lurking in the pool in the same backyard.

 

And Dallas is where it all ended. After a few days enjoying the skating we headed straight home. Somewhere along the way my AC stopped blowing cold air and we thought we were going to melt to the seats. It was good to be back in California after a month on the road where the weather was much more mild. Thanks for the memories.

Texas
Mike Taylor, Dany Hollenback and Mark Roach.