The Modern Skateboard
I read the obituaries in the NYT every day. And I know I’m not alone. I take heart when those, to whom tribute is paid, were at least over 90 when they died. And I find even deeper inspiration from those who were still working away at something they loved. One of the best obituaries I ever read was for a blacksmith by the name of Francis Whitaker. He worked almost right up to the end and, miraculously, grasped a hammer on his deathbed. Today’s obits required two full pages. Never good. Some names held meaning for me in a distant way. Others I had never heard of. Larry Stevenson is one of the latter. I learned that in the Southern California of the early 1960s, he went from lifeguard to successful and innovative skateboard designer in the most linear of careers. He began building surfboard-like skateboards, but by 1969 he introduced a new design that incorporated a “kicktail”: that singular modification to the standard surfboard shape that allowed skateboarders to embark on those crazy airborne tricks that demarcate the skateboarding style that we see today. To his credit, he patented both the single and double kicktail. RIP Mr. Stevenson. Photos courtesy of Lion City Skaters.