Buena Lives! The Skateboard World's Oldest* Cement Pond Gets a Sweet Facelift....
Updated: Sep 17
* Well at least I think it's the world's oldest backyard pool that is still currently skated. First reports from the homey Rodney Rodrigues pinpoint the Reed brothers skating it in September 1973! I figured my old friend Bill Ackerman may know so i headed to Bills Wheel's and chopped it up a bit with ol' Bill....... He claims his first roll in the year of our centennial (1976) when the Dogtown stories were taking over skateboarder magazine. Bill and his crew weren't going to let the SoCal dudes get too far ahead of the game so the hunt for empty pools was on and the first choice was the pool Bill used to swim in as a kid. Apparently his dad was a Groundskeeper Willie of sorts and the Ackerman family had full use of this sweet backyard paradise in the 60's and 70's. Bill's hunch was correct and sure enough the pit was dry! Drop by Bill's Wheels in Santa Cruz and peep that sweet photo of Bill himself ripping a frontside air at this very pit in that very year and it will most likely be a question you ask yourself as well - is this longest skated backyard pool in skateboard history?
"Bill and his crew weren't going to let the Dogtown dudes
get too far ahead of the game"
While you check the record books to verify the validity of my claim I can tell you i've been personally riding this pit since the late 80's. We went there so much we fancied ourselves the "local non locals" and we definitely warranted that title due to our constant trips through hwy 17 from the valley. That's right, straight valley kooks with an appetite for this pools sacred walls so big there was a period we were at Buena almost every weekend trying to satisfy our hunger ...... the ritual ran deep within the crew and luckily we had a skatebarders intuition to take advantage of the spot because the inevitable happened - they filled the pit up with dirt like a cat covering up his poo. With no trace of the pool our Buena era was done and myself and the crew were on to other adventures... but Buena would go down as one of the fondest skate memories in my life
"That's right, straight valley kooks with an appetite for this pools sacred walls "
Luckily it takes more than a pile of dirt to keep skateboarders away from a spot as special as Buena and the locals un buried this spot no less than 4 times...... clean it out skate it for a while then the owners would fill it back up, clean it out skate it for a while then the owners would fill it back up, clean it out skate it for a while then the owners would fill it back up...... so on and so forth for years. I would hear through the grapevine that the spot was back and go get a least one session in every time it was uncovered but the good ole days were definitely over. I became soft over the years from the perfect skatepark tranny's and aging knees so no more lipslide's in the deep for me but the roll around the pool and the ritual of heading to the Buena exit was always fun as fuck.
"clean it out skate it for a while then the owners would fill it back up......
so on and so forth for years"
Then a miracle happened: someone bought the land that didn't care if you skated the pool. If I remember right he was a local sheriff? Whatever the case he definitely was cool as fuck for letting the locals take the pit back and as long as the skaters kept the place clean Buena was once again open for business. I was mostly behind the camera during this period and no amount of surgeries or shark fin soup was going to get me back to my former self but luckily the crew I was filming at the time were down as heck to spark up one more summer of Buena.
Years have past since the rebirth..... nostalgic feelings only last so long and our stoke only lasted one summer. The fact that there are way smoother and fun places to skate these days led to a short lived excitement for the Fiesta Bowl. Getting back to Buena would take a special miracle at this point but keeping in line with Buena's magical past it happened again - the OG Nathan Horton put fresh coping around the whole damn pool sans the jagged face wall! Buena hasn't seen coping since Bill's era- some fuckers took the original block out in the late 70's (at least that's what i was told). Not only did the coping get updated (Nathan did a fantastic job BTW) but Shane from Bill's Wheels family now owns the property - what the fuck? Talk about full circle...... 30 years since my first roll at Buena and It was time to make the pilgrimage once again through HWY 17....... no questions asked, no hesitation, it was clearly time to head back to Buena.
"the OG Nathan Horton put fresh coping around the whole damn pool"
The sesh was hot! Lurkers from way back in the day were still under the tree and the young guns fucked the spot up something proper! The Birthday Cake caught a proper beating and once again that old Fiesta feeling was back! The new coping was sweet but the the pool was still chunky as shit though ..... years of abuse were showing some gnarly wear and tear in the flats - If only the pool gods could fix that flat bottom too Buena would be back stronger than ever.........
"The Birthday Cake caught a proper beating and once again
that old Fiesta feeling was back!"
....... Well my bitches miracle number 3 happened! A hero by the name of Jesse Gullings relayered the pool and it's almost as good as new. The Insta posts coming through looked saucy and you guessed it, time to pack up the car again and head back to Buena! Luckily the stars aligned for a sweet crew of rippers to show up and test out the new facelift and while calling out tricks can sometimes be detrimental physically and spiritually, could this be the day Francis does the corner air to disaster? It's been on his bucket list for a minute and the sweet new makeover could be the boost he needed?
"Luckily the stars aligned for a sweet crew of rippers to show up
and test out the new facelift ?"
Compared to the the 90's Santa Cruz scene a shit load of new warm up spots have popped up from downtown to Watsonville so Derby is no longer the only local park to get your groove on before heading to the sesh. So while our boy Rodman had to finish his work day our crew headed out early and gave old faithful a spin as well as that new track in Aptos..... by the time our young hero rolled up the the legs were limber and the cameras were ready....... and shit went down quick! Jesse's new layer of love smoothed out all that cracky business in the in the flats and the pool was better than ever..... I think I may have shed a tear over the beauty that is once again Buena. Yes, of course the trick got crossed off Rodman's list and another Buena mission was added to the books after all these years........ Could this once again be the "Summer of Buena"?
Words And Photos: BROdela
Seacliff Gabe, Random Dudes
Filmers: BROdela and Jesse Boudreau