Patti McGee Boarder to Border Tour at Skull Skates Vancouver Canada

Those with a deep love for skateboarding understand we are all standing on the shoulders of the ones that came before us… Everything we do is building on top of what has already been done. Knowing this, one can see how important someone like 1960s pro skateboarder and icon Patti McGee is to the larger community. We all share in Patti’s lineage and were very fortunate to have our own matriarch willing to spend time and share experiences in surfing, skating and living life on her own terms.

On Thursday, August 16, 2018 the Patti McGee Boarder To Border tour touched down at Skull Skates/ PD’s Hot Shop in Vancouver Canada for the final stop on an eleven city tour covering the West Coast of the USA and Canada. With a mix of varied skateboard practitioners in the house, Patti extended warm welcomes to all and expressed a generosity reserved especially for her large and ever-growing skateboard family. The stories flowed and those in attendance came away with an ever greater feeling of being part of something very special as skateboarders .

Special thanks to Patti McGee, Mells Bells, Jeff Cole, Silly Girl Skateboards, Juice Magazine and all that helped to make this event happen.

Words by PD
Photos by Olga Aguilar

Patti McGee was the first female professional skateboarder and she set the world record for the fastest girl on a skateboard at 47mph during Dick Clark’s World Teen Fair 1964 held at the Orange County (CA) Fair Grounds. She was paid by Hobie/Vita Pak to travel and demonstrate the Hobie skateboard on a national level and, during the tour, Patti appeared on the TV game show What’s My Line? on May 16, 1965 and on The Johnny Carson Show. Patti McGee was featured on the cover of Life magazine May 14, 1965 and the cover of the fourth issue of Skateboarder in October 1965. In 2010, the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) held the “2nd Annual Skateboarding Hall of Fame Honors Six of the Most Influential Skateboarders of All Time.” and Patti McGee was the first female to ever be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.

Patti is an avid supporter of women’s skateboarding, along with her daughter, Hailey Villa, who founded O.G. Betty Skateboards and Teal Press, an impressive screen-printing conglomerate producing top-notch goods for the skateboarding industry and beyond. Patti McGee is a proud brand ambassador for Silly Girl Skateboards, a progressive girl-centric skateboarding company that supports the efforts of female skateboarders worldwide.

As Patti explains, “From a girl’s standpoint, it’s all about the girls. We can’t be catty and we have to be there for each other. It was so competitive when I was 19 or 20. You didn’t give away your tricks. Now you teach them.”

It wasn’t easy to be a pioneer in skateboarding for a woman in the ’60s. Even after winning the 1965 Woman’s first National Skateboard Championships, Patti had to push her way to a revered spot on the Hobie skateboarding team and she shares her story of that journey in the 75th issue of Juice Magazine.

“I won that contest, and then I took my act and my 8×10 glossy photos to Hobie and said, “I want to be on your team.” I’d actually changed a tire for a lady on the Santa Monica Freeway and she gave me $10, and I went, “Wow! I’m taking that $10 and my plastic gold trophy and my 8×10 glossy photographs and I’m going to go down to Dana Point and I’m going to tell Hobie that I want to ride for him.” As I pulled into the shop at Dana Point at 5 o’clock, Hobie was racing out the door in his suit with his folders and skateboards and all of this stuff in his arms. He said, “I haven’t got time for this.” I said, “But look! I’m the Woman’s National Skateboard Champion and I want to be on your team!” He said, “Can you babysit?”

Despite various roadblocks and the challenges of a path never before traveled, Patti successfully gained a sponsorship with the Hobie team, yet she continued to face an uphill battle as she ventured out alone into the unknown, doing skateboarding demos at department stores all over the country.

“I was told to report the next day to Macy’s Department Store. I said, “Well, how do I get there?” They said, “You go down to the corner and cross the street.” I think I was up on 54th and Lexington. They said, “You go one block and then you take the subway and get off.” I said, “Okay.” I didn’t know where I was going. I get down to the corner in my white Bermuda shorts and my orange Vita-Pakt Hobie top with a skateboard under my arm. I tried to get a cab and I couldn’t and I just stood there and cried. I was like, “What am I going to do?” Finally, somebody got me a cab. They wouldn’t pick me up because there I was, this girl with Bermuda shorts standing on a corner barefoot with a stick with wheels on it.”

Yet Patti never gave up and she relentlessly rolled on to become the first and only skateboarder to ever be honored with a cover of Life magazine. The iconic photograph of Patti’s handstand, seen throughout the world, not only gave legitimacy to skateboarding, it also made Patti a hero of the new skateboarding “craze” that caught fire around the world!

As Patti described the experience, “Then Macy’s department store called me and said, “You won. You won over the Vietnam war and the tsunami in Alaska. It’s going to be you on the cover of Life magazine!” I said, “No way!” I had to hold my breath for a couple of days. It didn’t seem real. I was only 19.”

As you read Patti’s story and get the chance to meet this fearless woman, a single truth should become evident above all others. Women can do anything they set their minds to and women continue to contribute to modern day skateboarding and the sisterhood that now includes generations of girls.

PATTI MCGEE interview by STEVE OLSON: The handstand that was for LIFE… MAGAZINE, that is, pretty cool too… Patti McGee, the blonde on the cover from the past into the future… One woman’s stories about how it was to NOW… Life is interesting that’s for sure… Just ask Patti McGee, she’ll tell ya…

Order Juice Magazine #75 featuring Patti McGee here.

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