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September 17, 2021

Funny Papers Again Column | A Skater, A Dancer and in Loco Parentis

Way back in the mid-60s when just a lad in Greenfield, I owned a “skurfboard”; you read that correctly, a skurfboard. This was one of, if not the, earliest skateboards sold to an unaware public. The name an obvious combination of “skate” and “surf,” the board was nothing more that a piece of plywood, flat, about 18 inches long and 6 inches wide, cut square at the back and rounded at the front. It was mounted on what appeared to be metal wheels from skates, thin and small in diameter.

The thing was brutal. One could only ride it in one direction, attempting any turns or, heaven forbid, tricks was a sure-fire way to end up spraddled on the ground. The smallest stone would stop a wheel without problem and a nose-dive to the cement was sure to follow.

Well, that was a long time ago and skateboards now outnumber bicycles in the younger generation (I don’t know if that’s a fact, but it sounds good here). They are wider, curved upwards at both ends, the top surface like sandpaper for better foot grip and on the underside four wheels that were probably designed by NASA. Also, the price of the things can lighten a pocketbook quicker than a politician.

So I was interested in the present state of skating, or boarding, whatever the correct term is, when last week I attended the ribbon-cutting event at the refurbished city skate park. First thing I noticed was just how many boarders, let’s go with that term, there are in town and how many of them are girls.

I realize I am part of a generation when girls were offered far fewer sporting opportunities, but I knew boarding could be hazardous because my son was a boarder for some years and he dinged himself up fairly good a couple times, broken bones once. So to see these young ladies negotiate the ramps and curbs and jumps with the same acumen, and aggression, as their male counterparts was an eye-opener for me.

There was at the event a pro boarding group whose members put on a display for the crowd, and being celebrities in the world of skate, they signed a lot of boards for young admirers. I got a few minutes conversation with Tony, he’s the guy seen airborne in the front-page photo of last week’s issue. He is from the San Pablo Bay area city of Martinez; he climbed on a board at 7 years old and never got off it.

Tony did his early boarding in the towns of the Bay Area, honing the skills required to do all the fancy and, to a non-boarder like myself, dangerous maneuvers one sees them do in skate parks. He was a crowd favorite; I even got the opportunity to introduce Tony to Rachel, a boarder learning the skills. I know Rachel and her sister because they are dancers. And that leads us to this …

Also on the front-page last week was an article about a local dancer, Ashley Madrid, and her quest to become a prima ballerina. While the article did justice to her efforts, I wanted to add some personal observations. I can do this because I have had the extreme pleasure of being associated with nine productions of the Monterey County Dance Theatre, two backstage and seven times as one of the guest performers, so I have watched Ashley grow as a dancer over several years.

Now, I don’t claim to be a dancer, especially a ballet dancer, but after many hours of rehearsals, even a dullard like myself picks up a few essentials and begins to better understand what it takes to put on a production. I watched hours of feet placements, arm movements and finger positions, dance sequences come together in graceful movements after hours of often agonizing effort. That is the world these ladies live in.

And as you read in the article, Ashley Madrid is passionate about her art, and dedicated to it in a way that has made her known to the larger world of ballet instruction; she is on her way. But to get there I have seen frustration to the point of tears, sprained ankles and bloody toes as she pursues perfection. And she is not the only dancer in the studio who has experienced that, and she won’t be the last.

At the end of next month MCDT will hold an event, so if you want to see the Ladies of Dance and help support Ashley and her fellow dancers, this will be an excellent opportunity. For more information, get in touch with Monterey County Dance Foundation on social media.

For those of you who are aware that “in loco parentis” is a legal term, let me say I don’t mean it in that context for today’s Funny Papers. The term, which translates as “in place of parents,” applies here because I was raised in Greenfield; and back when I was young it was a small town, and you folks raised in small towns know you can have more than one mother.

Every childhood friend from my old Fifth Street gang had a mother who could, and would, act “in loco parentis”; later when we moved across town to Ninth Street, there was no change in that situation. “Second mothers” they were known as; here are just a few of mine: Ruby, LaNell, Virginia, Diane, Mary, another Mary, Miriam, Faye, Peggy, Hilda, Lois, Frances, Margaret, Eva and Ann. A fellow didn’t get away with much with all those eyes on ya; but that is the way it was, and looking back on those days I’m glad that is the way it was.

A couple days ago I joined family and friends in saying goodbye to one of my second mothers of years ago, a lady I was fortunate to know to her last days. I got lucky as a kid because Ruby was the best, as her family and friends attest to, and I got to experience just a little of that.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist

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