There was a place… and there was a time… a place that was the Mornington Bowl and the time that was the late 80’s. That was my first real spot and the first lot of friends that were the first crew I belonged to. The people you remember with rose tinted glasses, people you compare those who follow to.
Every weekend I’d make my way up to the bowl, walking up the hills and coasting down the other side. Half the fun was the journey. Later I’d go there during weekdays too, in the summer months ‘till 10pm. I never rang anyone and no one ever rang me. Instinctively you know around 10am in the morning during the weekends and after school during the week there was always someone there whatever the weather.
Skating was not dark and hard, like the B-grade movie Thrashin’. It was more likely to be fluorescent pink, orange or green. Bones, skulls and fire were popular a motif, but in a humorous way. It was a style that is funny compared to today’s mainstream fashion, but it was a style that was exclusive to skateboarders. I guess no one else would be seen in some of those creations. I often wonder how we took ourselves seriously, but I guess we didn’t.
When it rained people went and sat in the tree or under the tree and if things got really bad at a shelter at the nearby tennis courts. I don’t think the skating mattered as much as the people that you were spending your time with. When it was sunny, and sometimes too hot to skate, we had water fights or played games like batter down. Around Guy Fawkes the ground was littered with the red paper from crackers. It was our place, not just a skate spot.
There was a natural sort of order. There were only two bowls then. The big scary capsule bowl and the smaller spoon bowl. The small bowl was the most popular. There were two main lines to the little bowl, and two queues associated with them. Skaters yelled “In!” and then entered the bowl. Usually the first yell took the line. The big bowl was less popular. People would skate it occasionally, but typically in the mid afternoon the older guys would pad up and session the big bowl. Everyone else would stop and watch. I thought the older guys were old, but looking back I realise they were all still at school. Skateboarding was young and so were its participants. There was a respect for each other and a definite pecking order.
The boards were 7-ply Canadian rock maple. The boards were thick, wide, heavy, expensive and hard to come by. Boards typically were protected with rails, noseguards, tailguards and even ski tape. They were passed from hand to hand, foot to foot, most having many owners in their lifetime. The wheels were big and soft, often being coloured. The trucks wide, some models coming with copers (plastic truck protectors), and other models being made from a composite plastic compound or magnesium alloy.
Shoes were economical. Chuck Taylors, and later clones from Vision, Airwalk, and Vans Madrid Flys all made their appearance, all eventually held together with duct tape.
I knew people who could do kickflips, but flips were not the major trick category like they seem today. A skater’s skill was more likely to be demonstrated by carves and grinds. The kickflip was about as technical as it got.
It was a magical time. Skating existed elsewhere, but all that mattered was contained in that bubble that was Mornington. There were videos, but I hadn’t seen them, there were magazines but I hadn’t read them, there were other spots but I hadn’t skated them.
Eventually the bubble slowly dissolved. Miniramps were built all over town and we discovered them and the streets. We also discovered the magazines and the videos. We still met at the bowl, but we skated the streets to other spots. Eventually we met at those other spots and the bowl ceased being important. Scenes, fashions and spots changed and merged one from the other. We grew old, lost our innocence and the magic slowly disappeared...