Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
David G. Miles, Jr., is the godfather of skate in San Francisco.
In this podcast, the founder of the Church of 8 Wheels joins us to share his life story. David came from a multi-ethnic family and grew up in Kansas City. On one side, his grandparents were Irish and Indian, while his dad's family hailed from the South. His single mom, a nurse, raised David and his sisters. The Black baseball legend Satchel Paige lived in their neighborhood.
His parents had divorced when David was 6 or 7 and he wasn't close with his dad at all. It was the Sixties and he didn't care much about differences in people. His mom eventually fell in love with her high school sweetheart and moved to San Francisco to marry him when David was 20.
"Kansas City is a place you leave," according to David. And so, after a bit of urging from his mom and a brutal winter in Kansas, he saved up bus fare and got a one-way ticket out west.
The bus dropped David and the other passengers at Seventh and Market, which was quite the contrast from anything he'd seen before. His new step-dad drove him around town as a welcome to San Francisco.
The family lived in Daly City at first and David was infatuated with BART. He recounts his first visit to Golden Gate Park shortly after his arrival here in February 1979. Folks lying on the grass in front of the Conservatory of Flowers didn't impress him much. But what did catch his eye was thousands of roller skaters in the park that day. He was hooked.
Roller skating was huge in those days, but there was a growing drumbeat of outrage and bans were being threatened. It was around this time that David met Rose, whom he courted and eventually married.
In Part 2, David picks up where he left off in Part 1. He had just met Rose, whom he would eventually successfully woo. It was the heyday of roller skating, with thousands of skaters flooding Golden Gate Park on the regular. But there was a large and growing number of naysayers.
Early in his San Francisco skating days, David joined Skate Patrol at the park. It's a colorful story that he tells in this episode.
David and Rose got married in 1984. They were both managers at different Kentucky Fried Chicken locations around town. The company pressured managers intensely to raise profits and lower costs, which caused David to think of another way to make a living. In 1989, Rose told him to go for it with teaching skate lessons in the park.
They had three kids during this time. David tells the story of how his daughter Melanie won the Red Bull national skating championship in 1998. The next year, his other daughter, Tiffany, overtook her sister ... by one point. His son, David, came to roller skating by accident, winning a spot in a contest in down in Venice and coming in seventh overall.
David also shares the story of how the Church of 8 Wheels went from an ad-hoc location in Golden Gate Park to a brick-and-mortar actual former church on Fillmore Street. It started out as a one-off. Then it moved to weekly. That was eight years ago. Now, it's the Church's home and HQ.
According to David, there's no Church of 8 Wheels without Burning Man. David has been going to the party in the Nevada desert for 20 years. He's got his own group there called the Long Riders. The Critical Tits contingent had asked them to essentially run security for them.
We end the podcast with David reflecting on what it means to still be here in San Francisco.
We recorded this podcast at the Church of 8 Wheels in November 2021.