What was once viewed as extremely unpopular thirty years ago has now become accepted, and darn near a “must-have” in the new skateboarding scene. I speak about protective gear.
The most precious and delicate: your head. The elbows and knees. I admit it: when I returned to skateboarding I didn’t always have the extra money set aside to purchase new skateboarding gear. I returned to skateboarding like I had first taken to it; no pads, no helmet. I skateboarded at my own risk, and maybe not within my abilities being a mere thought in my [then] young brain. I also dismissed a helmet as a potential lifesaver since I was thoroughly convinced I seldom, if ever, went head-first flying off my skateboard back in my day.
I never had an attitude of, “I’m invincible!” I likely thought since I was getting bullied daily in my public school transfers, then surely showing up at the a$$ crack of dawn in a skateboard helmet would have pegged me for a “retard” and dropped my unpopular status to a new all-time low. The only bare minimal protection I doned was my brother’s hand-me-down Clawz skateboard glove for my right hand. I never grew into that glove. My fingers barely poked through the finger holes. But I used it everyday and seldom removed it even when school had begun for the day. I really didn’t care about dress codes in school and loathed not being able to just break from conformity; from that cookie cutter mold kids are expected to abide by in school. They may preach diversity and being “you” but in reality, I found it was a contradictory in terms.
Dress codes aside, I never even strapped on a pair of pads. They were bulky on the half pipe and would have slowed my speed to a snail 🐌 pace once on the street and I would have viewed the protection as “dumb” and a waste of money since I wouldn’t have used it.
As a teenager, skateboarding to me was about going beyond my own limits. Speed-wise, my Independent trucks slowed me down more than anything. I still pushed off like a poser since I had no prior street skating experience and very little half pipe as well. I had maybe two or three months of half pipe by the time I quit hanging out with my brother in 1990. He sent me on my way with zero street skating experience. I was bummed out 😔 (depressed).
What began with enthusiasm turned into a lonely progression in my teenage years since I was also without my skateboard mechanic: my brother. At 13 I knew nothing of cleaning/ greasing bearings so the shields won’t wear out entirely. Speed rings… Come again? Those little tiny frustrating “rings” that just dropped out of my wheels need to be cleaned and oiled again?!
I did my best and enlisted the help from my stepdad who mixed graphite flakes and Vaseline together and helped me clean the shields, bearings, and it took us two or three hours to re-assemble. It didn’t lessen the annoying squeak my wheels produced.
New Old stock vs. New protective gear: worth it or leave it in the past?
In the fall of 2017 I was a housekeeper. And every day I always pushed my cleaning cart by a skateboard kiosk, when one day, something familiar caught my eye. No, not a spill. Not a discarded candy wrapper, not even a black spot.
“Screaming hand,” I murmured to myself. I snagged my spray bottle and cleaning rag and sauntered to the nearest trash can lid and began to spot clean the mirror surface. The skateboard was popsicle shape, not old school re-issued. A slight frown crossed my face. It was definitely Santa Cruz. I was very familiar they were also a surf board manufacturer as well. I always associated this company with the best skateboards money can buy. I also remembered my first Vision deck from years prior. Fat lady’s image never left my memory. I often wondered had my board survived all those years, or had the neighbor kid I traded it to, destroyed it?
Little good thinking of the regret I did would do me. Screaming hand was still there. Every day he’d get overlooked, except by me.
I turned down the radio chatter on my walkie-talkie, and taking a huge leap of ‘on-the-clock’ no-no’s, I had to inquire about the price.
Screaming hand was so iconic for me. It was like getting up close to a new vehicle and having the dealer welcome you to try it out and see if it suits you. A similar scenario unfolded for me. I wanted to go back: to re-visit a happier chapter in my life.
Without a doubt I knew the Fall of 2017 was the right time to take up an old love of mine. I never doubted I couldn’t still do it. I just had been skateboard-less for many years since me and “Big Bertha” parted company in 1993.
$185 for Screaming hand. He was pre-built. As time and money allowed, I bought a set of Spitfire wheels. Screaming hand was “my board”. I sat down on it, the kids gathered around and asked me questions about skateboarding. I was in uniform, and happily answered their curious questions. Young kids nowadays can’t comprehend what it was like back then. I did my best to explain skateboarding in simplified terms. I wasn’t budging from Screaming hand. A few of the kids all-of-the-sudden hounded their strapped-for-cash parents to buy them that particular board, the one out of several that appealed to me.
Before any of the parents could cave to the pressure their kids exerted on them, I contently shot the owner my reply; “sold” and I bought a layaway hold on Screaming hand and paid it in full in three installments. I slaved at my new housekeeping job. I also worked a second job to compensate. I was going to be Independent, just like a set of old 1980’s trucks the owner had scrounged up and I later wound up putting on one of my self-assembled decks of which I later sold.
Then came the pads: a new set. They get me by, but they shift on me. Any smaller and my circulation would be compromised. Given time though I would find what I wanted and needed all along: New Old Stock.
What was the best skateboarding gear in the 1970’s throughout the early 1990’s?
Rector. And say goodbye to swellbows.
And there was Pro-Tec. And more lesser-known skateboarding protective gear too. I recall vividly for me and my brother it was Rector. My brother had the blue set. I found both colors on the ‘bay recently along with an NOS Rector helmet.
It works…. kind of. The helmet fits great. The Rector pads are victim of time, sadly, and natural deterioration due to the age of the lining. To remedy the ‘rub off’ I cut up an old pair of shocks and pull those on over my knees before doning the old gear. The small pads, ha!! I laughed. They fit me like a dream! The new scent clings to them and the plastic cups seem to be in as good of shape as any for its age. Mind you, this is likely 30 ++ years of being in storage from some closed up skateboard shop somewhere. And there are no warranties, no returns of any kind. No nothing.
There are skateboarders who use old stock daily, if not, then whenever they can. I can’t vouch for any durability of this old gear, so if in doubt, buy new gear. I fall in that “one small size doesn’t fit all” category. But the initial test runs are still to come. I don’t skateboard for speed. I’m not about to bail on my board on a slab of concrete in a pair of old stock Rector pads just to see if they’ll hold up. And I’m not about to ruin a good pair of $1 matching tube socks. 😂 lol! But I’ll return with my verdict if Rector is a ‘go’ or a ‘leave ’em in the past’ blog post. Thanks for reading, liking, blogging, posting, etc. I always appreciate it and any comments always welcome!