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Monday, June 08, 2015

I Was There At The Surfing 60's

I spent my high school years at the beach. 

Went to Newport Harbor High School.

 On the offshore wind Santa Ana's days I would be walking to school and there was this one spot on the cliff overlooking the bay where I could feel the wind heading out towards the ocean.

 I knew the wind was going to hold up the fast breaking Newport waves for awesome rides.

 So I would turn around and go back home to hit the waves.

I was in the water every single day all year round.

 Today my ear canals are somewhat closed up because of the exposure to so much water in my youth.
 The next day I would go to the admittance office and my girl friend Nancy Clark, who helped out in there at the time, would phony up an admittance pass for me, so I never got in trouble.

 I also had a back up, there was this hippy lady named Marcia Weed on my block who I would visit.

 She would call me in sick on those days by impersonating my mother on the phone.

 "My son David won't be in today, he has a touch of the flu."

Jack King,( the principle of Harbor High, who was nicknamed "Bring em back Jack" because he would go down to Blackies and catch those who played hooky), I beat you dude!

I was poor so I couldn't afford my own board at first. 

Then Steve Parkford, the water polo player, gave me his old Ramsey Jay long board.

 It was red and came with the wagon wheel contraption to tow it behind my bike.

 I got up real early when it was still dark out and would tow my board from 45th street to the river jettys in hope of catching a few waves before school.

 There were no wetsuits back then, or leashes.

So I stayed out in the water during the winter months as long as I could until I no longer felt  my feet because they were so numb from the icy water.

 If I caught a good wave I would be inspired and stay out even longer in the hopes that there would be a repeat wave...usually never happened.

 I would shiver for an hour after getting out, all blue and red with teeth chattering and my body twitching trying to get warm.

At Blackie's there were these fire rings that every one would fuel with the fences and wooden patio furniture from the nearby cottages.

 They had to remove the rings because of the surfers attempting to get warmed up.

 No police helicopter or quads to stop them.

We were mostly out on the beach alone in the mornings to do our surfer's mischief.

Surfing hadn't quite caught on yet, so the waves were all ours to enjoy.

In fact you got stoked if someone else was out there with you.

I wasn't very good at surfing like my friends but I enjoyed it just the same.

 I mastered skim boarding before anyone even knew about it.

 There were these skimboarding guys at Victoria Beach in Laguna that I had heard about.

 So I went down there and they kicked me out and told me to never come back.

 I believe those dudes started the current skim boarding craze of today.

I personally started skim boarding myself in 1963.

I was a part of surfing history with my friends. 

All of us would go on Safari journeys together up and down the coast looking for waves.

 Mike Grasso had this big converted US Mail truck that we could travel in. It held all of us and our boards along with the food etc.

Scott Clucas, Steve Parkford, Lee Pope, Mike Grasso, David Hargrave, Steve Ward, Mike Rucker, Jim Trapp, Clint Reynolds and myself hung out at 45th street in front of Scott's house.

 And of course there were the babes.

Scott's house was the largest house on the beach for awhile in the mid sixties. (Today there are bigger houses all over the beach.)

 It was this big white house with Japanese roof lines. Because there was no groins yet, I would use Scott's house as a visual marker to know how far I was drifting.

 I could start at Rivers and pass Scott's house at 45th street fast on those certain days when the current was eating away the sand towards the pier.

There were a few times where the sand disappeared right up to the foundations of the houses on the beach.

 It was the worst in the winter of 1967.

 The Army Corps of Engineers would replenish the beach now and then until they put in the first experimental metal groins.

 Chief Reed of the life guards swore it wasn't actually sand that was brought in. To prove his point he had planted grass in front of his house on the beach. His lawn spoke reams.

I think that the waves changed after the groins went in.

 It was a much better break before.

Although on certain swells the point could break like Hawaiian waves.

 It would really get some big sets rolling in.

And then there was the Wedge.

 All of us got bruised and scratched up, but we were never fearful of the bowl.

We would body surf the wedge when no one else would on big swells.

Sponging hadn't been invented yet. (Bogey Boards.)

Looking back now I realize how nuts we truly were...

There was a winter storm that had generated 20 foot plus waves.

 No one was out because the waves were so powerful and scary.

 I was just standing there when a drunk Steve Parkford paddled out into them on the red Ramsey Jay.

I honestly figured he was going to get killed.

 He paddled way out there until there was this small red dot bobbing up and down.

 As I watched he caught one of the massive walls and stood up at the top of it as it started to curl.

He runs to the nose and stands there in perfect nose riding pose as he slices the wall and actually makes it across the face without wiping out.

 The beach went insane with cheers and hollering...we were all totally blown away.

 Steve Parkford was the man of steel, he was epic, he was magnificent!

 The most awesome ride I have ever seen in surfing. 

No tow in, no life vest, no jet ski back up just in case, just raw humanity against nature.

And not one cam or picture of this historic ride.

 But I remember it like it was yesterday.

 Never have I seen such a thing since.


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