Every so often I’ll throw in a diversion short story thats just got to get out. This is one of those. First let me preface this by telling my dear reader that I am now a chauffeur driving the wealthy and super wealthy to their destinations.
Picked up a family in Montecito last night at their double gated hilltop mansion overlooking the blue Pacific. I’m driving the black “limo van” because as it turns out I’m taking a family of 4 and two other guest to be picked up on the way in Brentwood all going to LAX to catch a flight. The youngest child a boy about 11 or 12 asked to sit shotgun. Sure dude, come on up” I say. All the way to Brentwood this little shit is telling me about how many gas stations his dad owns. “He used to own USA Gasoline till he sold it for $48 million and bought his own refinery. Now he owns the gas and the gas stations.” blurted the little dweeb. Soon we arrived in Brentwood to pick up the other guests who were waiting at one of dads gas stations. Jr. went to the back of the van. Then Mom moved to shotgun.
Much younger than dad which was no surprise, but still an attractive fading rose Mom starts with phone calls. Oh hello Madeline, Oh yes we will be staying in the Lesser Antilles up in the north island for a couple of weeks then we will be departing for Tuscany. Yes we will be staying in the Alps as well. Oh did I tell you? My Porshe Panamera was delivered to me last week. Well I don’t think I really like the color, I thought it was going to be a little more off-white.”
As we begin to enter the airport Mom gets off the phone and says to me “We are flying Air Tran are you familiar with them?” “Yes they are at terminal three.” I tell her. “Well we have never flown Air Tran. You see we were going to use our own jet but it came up for a routine maintenance schedule. We found out that it needed a part that we could not have installed in time so now we are forced to take this Air Tran airlines. I looked at her and simply said, “I just hate it when that happens.”
It’s been almost three years since I’ve decided to write this next installment. A lot has happened but thats another story. So lets close this chapter up so we can move on.
I discovered that being married was not much different from living together. We both did our thing and at the end of the day we were together at home. It worked out to be a really nice groove. Carol worked at the restaurant and I did odd jobs and surfed. Then one day Carol told me she was pregnant. Yep pregnant. I was stunned. I had been living in the bliss of ignorance for a long time. I’d never gotten a girl pregnant in my life until then. I thought I was shootin blanks. “Yeah thats it blanks.” Well you idiot you’re not shooting blanks she’s a very fertile catholic girl.
Carol was elated by her new-found condition. I on the other hand had to let it all sink in for a while before I could decide what I was feeling and I don’t think Carol liked that. It took me a week of soul-searching to come to grips with the whole situation. So out of necessity I warmed up to the idea that “I” was going to be a father. We told our friends about the blessed event including my in-laws which were “kinda” cool with it. So here we were 6 months into the marriage and with child. Things were changing faster than I could even imagine!
Having a new baby on the way meant it was time for me to really step up to the plate and get a good responsible job and maybe even a career. I never really knew what I wanted to be except when I was around seven years old. I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot flying F-86 Sabre Jets just like Steve Canyon. Well I was along way from that dream. So a meat cutter was my next option. At that time there was a large meat-packing facility just up the 101 freeway in Carpenteria about two miles from where we were living. I decided I was going to put in an application and try my hardest to land a job as a union working apprentice meat cutter. So I went in and filled out the long application and turned it in to the receptionist. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.” She said to me. “OK thanks!” As I left the building I really thought I was on my way to a new career. So I went surfing. For about a month. I kept checking back with the meat-packing house calling on the phone, showing up personally but I just kept getting the same answer. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.
Then one day I was looking through the want ads in the Santa Barbara News Press. “MEAT CUTTER WANTED WILL TRAIN RIGHT PERSON” I called immediately. “Hello?” “Yes I’m calling about the position you posted in the paper for a meat cutter. Is the position still available? Great I’ll come by today to fill out an application.” I spruced up and jumped into my Rambler wagon and sped off to Percals Meats on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. I met Jim the owner. Jim was a big thick meat cutter of a man wearing a blood stained apron. Percals was a retail and wholesale butcher shop supplying meats to the public as well as many restaurants in the area. Jim took me to the back office and we talked. I told him about my wanting to get into the packing house in Carpinteria and how much I wanted to break into being a butcher. He liked my dedication not to mention I was a 21-year-old man-child with a new baby coming. I got the job without filling out an app.
I had been working at Percals for 6 months learning the ropes. I mostly learned to chop up chickens on the band saw. Then I learned how to de-bone chickens with a boning knife. Then I learned how to make ground beef with different percentages of fat content. Then I learned how to make sausages. I also drove the delivery van to the restaurants with their orders. I really liked my job and felt like this was what I wanted to do. Then one day the swell got really, really good. I hadn’t missed a day from work in six months and I was never late. So I decided to take a day off to surf. I called in and told Jim that my car had sprung a leak in one of the freeze plugs so I was going to stay home and fix it myself. He said “OK” So I jumped into my car and headed down the coast to my old stomping grounds the pier at Mussle Shoals.
The surf that day was soooo good! I surfed with some of my buddies that lived at the Rincon Cliff House Johnny, Dave, and Chuck. We surfed all day till dusk. I got home exhausted. Carol asked me how the surf was “Awesome!” I said. Then she handed me the note that had been stuck on our front door earlier that day. “Came down from the shop to take you to work. Didn’t see you or your car. Must be running OK. Surf looks really good too!” Mike was another surfer that worked at Percals. He knew what I was doing and he was jealous. “I hope it was good enough to lose your job over.” Carol said. “I’m not going to lose my job. Shit I haven’t missed a day since I started working there. Fuck! all I did was go surfing!” The next day I was fired.
Carol was getting pretty big with that baby in the oven and I was pretty pissed off at the world after that SOB Jim fired me. I had to find another job pronto. I looked, and looked, and looked. Nothing. We were just getting by week to week. Carols parents helped us out with some cash to live on. Then I found another job in the paper. WANTED LIQUOR STORE CLERK Oh yeah! I jumped on it! My interview went very well and I got the job. In retrospect I think people kinda feel sorry for you when your young and have a baby coming so sometimes getting a job is easier. Anyway I was now working in retail as a liquor clerk and I was also in the Retail Clerks Union. I was making $8.50 to start which was pretty good in 1976. I really loved working at Miratti’s Liquors. They had several stores throughout Santa Barbara and I worked at the main store on the corner of Mission and De la Vina streets. The clientele were awesome, my boss was cool, and the hours were great 3pm till 11:30pm friday through thursday. I was to be employed there for 5 years
Life was getting pretty darn good going into Carols final trimester of pregnancy. I was holden down the fort with my income from Miratti’s I was surfing in the mornings and on my days off. Everything was flowing. Then it got really, really sad
It was mid February and I had the day off from work so I walked down the road from the house to surf Rincon. It was late afternoon and I was starting to get a little edgy about leaving Carol alone this close to her due date. Then one of my water buddies told me that my wife was on the beach calling me. I looked back down the point and saw Carol in the cove wearing her Hawaiian moo moo waiving her arms and calling for me. “uh oh looks like it’s on.” Right away I caught a wave and rode it to shore. Carol had a really bad look on her face. “Are you OK ? Do we need to go to the hospital? Did your water break?” Carol looked at me I could see tears welling up in her eyes. “Whats goin on honey?” “Your sister is up at the house.” “Yeah so whats up?” Carol started crying. “your brother Guy has been in an accident.” “Now what?” I said. “Did he get into another dirt bike crash?” “No” “Did he do something surfing?” “He was hit head on by a drunk driver.” she could hardly get it out. I could not believe what I was hearing. Instead I thought “Oh boy he’s gonna be really banged up for a while.” We walked back to the house where my sister Gail was. When I walked into the living room and looked at her she looked like she’d been through the ringer. She gave me a hug and started crying really hard shaking in my arms. Thats when I started to grasp the reality of the situation. “How bad is he?” “He’s really bad we need to go to the hospital.” So we all got in the car and headed down the coast to Thousand Oaks crying the whole way. As I was drivng I asked Gail what happened. “Guy and Joe were coming back from a high school basketball game when a drunk driver in a four wheel drive truck hit them head on.” “Hows Joe” I asked. “Hanging on by a thread” Gail said. “Then hows Guy?” no answer. I knew then how bad it really was. I went into the emergency room where my brother was being kept alive with machines. I held his hand and told him how good the waves were that day. Then I kissed his forehead and told him how much I loved him. We buried Guy Leslie Miller a few days later with a stone that read. “May the Wind Always Blow Offshore”
Four weeks later Carol gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Olivia. In 18 months I had got married, lost my brother, and had a child. I was only 22 years old. Then Carols parents decided we needed a bigger place so they put down a down payment on a house in Ventura CA. five whole blocks from the water. All we had to do was pay the mortgage. I left Carol and Olivia after two years to march to the beat of a different drummer. Or so I thought.
A lady stands before an open window
Staring so far away
She can almost feel the southern wind blow
Almost touching her restless day
She turns from her window to me
Sad smile her apology
Sad eyes reaching to the door
Daylight loses to another evening
And still she spares me the word goodbye
And sits alone beside me fighting her feelings
Struggles to speak but in the end can only cry
Suddenly it’s so hard to find
The sound of the words to speak her troubled mind
So I’m offering these to her as if to be kind:
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
There’s a way to go
And you’ll soon be gone — that’s just as well
This is my opening farewell
A child’s drawing left there on the table
And a womens silk lying on the floor
And I would keep them if I were able
Lock her safe behind this open door
But suddenly it’s so clear to me
That I asked her to see what she may never see
And now my kind words find their way back to me
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
You got a way’s to go
And I’ll soon believe — it’s just as well
This is my opening farewell.
“Jackson Brown” This is My Opening Farewell
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in this corner of the world as I awake groggy from my Saturday night affairs. I make a pot of java and get a quick shower. I have no pressing engagements or responsibilities to uphold, don’t you love days like that?
So I decide to drive the 15 miles down the freeway to the only open music store in the area. It’s called “Guitar Center.” I find a place to park and I walk in. I need a capo and some picks so I go to the accessories counter and pick-up my stuff. I don’t get to this store very often so I decide to go look around in their “acoustic guitar room” a glass doored room filled with beautiful high quality acoustic guitars hanging from the walls saying “Play Me” So I grab a beautiful Martin 12 string to play. It sounds and plays absolutely amazing. As I finish another customer with his female friend comes into the room. I see him pick up another Martin and begin playing a beautiful melody in the key of E. He is finger picking and plays very well. I decide to pick up the 12 string I was playing earlier and acompany him with some lead phrases. We are sounding great together. He looks over at me, I look over at him and his friend. We all smile. We play for about 3 minutes and end the jam perfectly. “Wow!” he says that was awesome.” “Excellent playing dude!” I respond. “That was fun!” I put down the 12 string and walk out the door of the “acoustic room”.
As I’m leaving I hear a rare song over the store sound system called “It’s a Shame About Ray” by The Lemonheads. It’s one of my favorite songs and you will never hear it on the radio. I get a really big case of the goose bumps and for a moment life is really good!
”A few days later Carroll and I went down to what was once the place I lived. I went inside and grabbed my clothes, a few photos, my two guitars, my other surfboard and I said goodby to La Conchita and the single life.
It wasn’t to long that Carroll and I settled into the lifestyle of a young couple working and pooling our resouces together to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. I was able to buy a car from my friend Steve Padroni who lived at Rincon Point. It was a blue 1968 Rambler American station wagon with a six cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. It also came with a big bright orange bumper sticker that said “NATIVE CALIFORNIANS UNITE” I loved this car it was the perfect surfing vehicle. I continued working at the Plastic Factory. I was working three 12 hour days with four days off. I was also busy one night a week mopping and polishing the floors at Casa Ayala. This allowed me to eat there whenever for free.
Carroll and I had been living in her apartment for about two months under the guise that I was looking for my own place. Which I kinda was. I had checked with a few people in town that were renting rooms or small studios. But whenever I brought these up to Carroll she would get all teary eyed and sad and ask me why I wanted to leave. “Well basically your parents don’t like our arrangement” I told her. “I know” she said “They don’t like the idea of us ”Living in Sin” “OK then I’m looking for my own place so we arn’t living in sin and then your parents won’t be on our case” “Do you really want your own place?” she asked me “Well to be perfectly honest I could live with you forever if your parents didn’t mind.” Really? forever?” “Yeah probably” I said. ”Then lets get married” Gulp! “It would be just like we are now but legal and then my parents would be happy.” “Maybe we could look for our own little place and get out of my apartment.” The wheels in my brain began to turn all the positives and negatives, you know weighing things out. “Humm maybe we could find a little house on or near the water. Do I really think I can make a long term commit… fuck long term, you mean a fuckin lifetime commitment to one women. That was the hard one. ” I don’t know Carroll that’s a really big step I gotta think about it.“ “Whats there to think about don’t you love me?” Whoa! now we’re throwing that word out on the table. It had suddenly occurred to me that I had never said “I love you” to her. She had me pinned down with her marriage proposal and the “don’t you love me” thing, a one two punch to the soul. “Of course I do baby” I blurted out. “But let me think about this and I’ll get back to you OK?” “OK” she harrumphed. We didn’t talk much that evening, I was doing some serious soul searching. But I still thought she was hot!
A week later we were engaged to be married and the planning began in earnest. Carrolls parents were elated to marry their first daughter and they were going to spare no expense. Then about two weeks before our wedding day we found our dream house. We had heard from a friend that a small cottage located on Bates Road was available for rent. Bates Road is a small two lane coastal canyon road that follows Rincon Creek back up into the avocado and citrus infested coastal mountains. It’s the divide between Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The small wooden bungalow was located right at the mouth of the canyon on the side of a small hill. It was lush with vegetation like a jungle and all you had to do was walk down to the point to ride world class waves. I was sooo stoked to get that place. I knew this marriage thing was a good idea. We were to move in one week before our wedding day.
The days and weeks flew by and before you knew it the big day was upon us. We got married in the historic Santa Barbara Mission and held the reception at Rockie Nook Park just around the corner. It was just another typical lavish wedding. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all. The best part was coming home to our little house on Bates Road.
I was really into Carroll and we started to see each other regularly. I was still sleeping on the couch when I stayed overnight and we were starting to burn more and more passionately every time I was there. But we didn’t fuck. We wanted to but there was something stopping her from going over the edge. Then one evening when we were really goin at it she asked me to go to bed with her. I was a little taken aback because I knew this was a big step for her and it meant alot. I asked her “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Yes” she said. She took my hand and we walked down the hall to her bedroom a room I had only been in once. She turned towards me and we kissed hard, deep and passionately. It was on, and it was good! Hours later as we lay in her bed with a full moon and a slight evening breeze bringing with it the smell of night blooming jasmine through her open sliding glass doors, Carroll began to cry really hard “Whats the matter baby” I said “Oh nothing I’ll be fine” “No your not going to do that. I want to know whats wrong.” Thats when she told me about her rape.
Carroll came from a wealthy Catholic family growing up in Orange County California. Her father had a successful thriving commercial painting business with some huge contracts. Her mother was right out of “Real Orange County House Wives” a real high maintenance glamour queen. They lived in very affluent upper class community. Carroll was an excellent student going to one of the best private schools in the area. She was also involved in community volunteer work with her church. She had one younger sister Judy. Judy was one year younger than Carroll and just as beautiful. These girls got what ever they wanted from mom and dad. Not spoiled but real close.
It happened a little over a year ago when Carroll and her girlfriend Connie decided to go to the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii during the Pro Surfing contest season. They thought it would be really fun to hang out and meet some of the Pro Surfers and locals that winter and watch some of the big wave contests. It was during a post contest party at one of the Pro sponsored dorms that Carroll ran into trouble. During the partying Connie and Carroll had no problem meeting a variety of surfers from all over the world some famous, some not so famous, and some just local neighborhood hangerounds. Carroll met the latter. He offered her a ride back to where she was staying and she took the bait. He drove her out to a secluded sugar cane road had his way with her and left her there bruised and battered. When she told me about this it turned my stomach with anger and thoughts of revenge. I had seen so much violence against my mother growing up and Carroll was such a sweet girl it just really troubled me very deeply.
After she confided in me she said that I was the first guy she really felt comfortable being with since her tragic experience. She felt comfortable being around me, hanging out with me, and now sexually. I began to spend more and more time at her apartment. Then one day when I was at “Smiths Food King” getting some things for supper at Carrolls I ran into my roommate Dave. “Hey dude we havn’t seen you around much at the pad” “Yeah I know” I said. “Well I should let you know that I’m moving out next week and I think Antman is going back to his parents house on the rock” Whoa! your moving out of Shangrala? Yeah I’m going up to San Luis Obispo to work with my dad driving a big rig.” “Cool, you’ll make some good money workin for your Dad.” I said. “Thats the plan bro. What are you gonna do?” “Uhh I don’t know, I’ll figure out something.” “Well if I don’t see ya take care and good luck!” I didn’t like the way he said “good luck” it had a sarcastic ring to it. “Yeah whatever” I said.
I had just started a new job in Carpinteria at Percal Plastics. I was operating an injection mold machine at a place that made everything from skateboard wheels to those dark green soil pots for all the wholesale nurseries in Carpinteria. That night over eggplant parmesan I told Carroll about my roommates departure from La Conchita. “Well now that your working why don’t stay here with me. We’re practically living together as it is” I thought about what she just said. I had never lived with another girl let alone one that I was romantically associating with. “Yeah but what about your parents” I said. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. But I couldn’t sit there and think for to long. “We’ll worry about that later” she said. I had to respond. “Yeah lets do it!” Uhh Oh…did I say that?
I was doing some odd jobs like working in a large wholesale nursery filling thousands of plastic pots with soil, picking avocados, and house painting. Basically just getting by. I didn’t have a car so I had to bum a ride into town or hitch hike up Pacific Coast Highway to get to town. I was also limited to surfing the beach across the street unless someone offered to take me with them on a surf trek elsewhere. It was on this beach one hot sunny afternoon in the summer of 1975 that I met Carroll. She was a beautiful women of Italian and Mexican heritage. She was tall about 5’7” with a beautiful olive complexion and long straight dark hair down to her narrow waist. She worked as a waitress at a local mexican restaurant in Carpinteria. I had gone to this restaurant several times so I recognized her lounging in her sand chair soaking the afternoon sun. I noticed she was reading a book that I had just recently finished called “Stranger in a Strange Land” “How do you like it so far?” I asked her. Huh? she said as she looked over to where I was parked. “That book your reading, how do you like it so far?” “Oh it’s great she said, have you read it?” “Yes, I just finished it.” “Hey don’t you work in Carp at that mexican restaurant Casa Ayala” I added. “Yes” she replied. “Yeah I go in there every now and then” “Yes I know I’ve seen you but I’ve never waited on you because your never at my station.” “Well how do I get your station?” I asked. “Next time you come in just let me seat you.” “Are you working tonight?” I said “Yes, in fact I need to go in about an hour. I start at 3:00” “I’ll come up tonight for supper” I said. “I’ll look forward to it” she said. We talked until it was time for her to go. Then I helped her with her beach gear and walked her to her car. “I’ll see you later on.”I said “OK I’m there till 10:00” She slid her long sexy legs into her Opel Manta as I closed the door. “See ya later” she said. “Count on it” I said. That evening I got cleaned up and put on my Guatemalan embroidered peasant shirt , my best Bermuda shorts and my “Rainbow” flip flops. Style n for dinner.
I walked out the front of my house, down the steps from my deck, across the frontage road, and across the railroad tracks to the side of the highway and stuck out my thumb. I got a ride right away into town. I walked down Linden Ave. to Casa Ayala and walked into the front entrance. Casa Ayala was a family owned restaurant that had been a fixture in town for many years. It was a modest place that seated about 40 people. It had a nice atmosphere with tall maroon upholstered bench seats at every booth offering privacy. The lighting was dim but not too dark, and the food was consistently excellent! As was apparent by all the locals that frequented the place. I often saw many of my surfing peers chowing down when I went in to eat. “Hey Keith!” “Hey Brad, Hey Mike!”
I went up to the hostess, a beautiful girl named Elsa I told her “Carroll’s going to seat me tonight” “Oh so Carroll wants you all to herself” Elsa replied. I chuckled “I hope so” Carroll came through the double sided flapping kitchen doors carrying dozens of plates of food for one of her tables. She caught my eye and gave me a big brite smile. She was glad to see me. She came over to me and in a cute way like she had never met me said “Where would you like to sit sir?” “how about here” I said as I took a booth all to myself. “Perfect” she said as she gave me a menu. “Would you like anything to drink while your deciding?” “Yeah, I’ll have a Modello please” “Coming right up” She walked back to the bar to get my beer. I was checking her out as she turned to walk away. She was wearing a short black skirt that really showed of her legs and a white embroidered peasant top tucked into her skirt with a wide black belt around her waist. She was wearing some sandals with a slight heel on them that complemented the whole package. I liked what I saw.
I ended up going to Carrolls apartment that evening. But it wasn’t what you think or what I expected. We talked into the wee hours of the morning and when it was time for some sleep she told me I could use the couch so I agreed. You see I found out that Carroll was a good Catholic girl so I respected her wishes and in fact liked them. I gave her as big a kiss as she would allow then curled up on the couch and crashed. In the morning we had omelets, coffee and english muffins then she gave me a ride home. She asked me if I would like to come back over to her place the next evening for a home cooked meal, naturally I agreed. Things where about to heat up both physically and emotionally.
1. Newpaper delivery both by bicycle and by automobile
2. Window washer
3. Ditch digger
4. Wood Chopper (for fire wood)
5. Butcher Shop Meat Cutter (Fired after taking one sick day to go surfing in six months)
6. Plant nursery (putting dirt in pots)
7. Production Welder (luggage racks for MG sports cars)
8. Fiberglass Chopper Gun Operator (boat hulls)
9. Injection Mold Operator (skateboard wheels)
10. Injection Mold Operator (shampoo bottles)
11. Milk Man
12. Salvation Army Truck Driver (collecting donations)
13. Liquor store clerk for 5 years (I liked that one)
14. Fiberglass Parts Sander (that was itchy)
15. Janitor/Dishwasher (paid with free mexican diners)
16. Sheet Metal Fabricator
17. Produce Delivery Driver (lots of free fruit and veggies)
18. Capet Installer (hard on your knees)
19. Painter (I hate oil base)
20. Gas Station Attendant (before self service)
21. Cutting Press Operator (cutting patterns for childrens nusery furniture)
22. Lathe Operator (gun parts)
23. Drafter/Technical Illustrator (first on ink and velum then on the computer)
23. Graphic Artist (A morph from technical illustrating)
24. Photo Film Maker (documenting and editing clean room processes)
25. Solo Long Haul Semi Truck Driver (I saw all 48 states in one year)
26. BMW Prototype Test Driver (to bad it was only temporary)
27. Pizza Delivery (I don’t like pizza anymore)
28. Auto Parts Delivery (mechanics are not happy people!)
29. Chauffeur ( Rich people don’t tip)
Well let me just preface this next little journey with the fact that I got a little more time. Last week I had my second heart attack within the last 5 years. I’m almost 53 years old. I think it’s a hereditary thing. I caught it in time, had a second stint installed and I have been taking it easy. I’m walking 4 to 5 miles a day as usual and playing some golf. The weather here in Southern California has been absolutely beautiful the first part of February. So I’ve been out there in it!
So with my ipod playing one of my favorite songs, “Indigo is Blue” by Catherine Wheel….
So here I was living on the waters edge in a really cool funky beach colony with new friends a good job, money in the bank, a cool ride everything is perfect. Except I have an addictive personality, watch me blow it!
I was working nights at Northrup Aviation my shift was three o’clock in the afternoon till midnight. I had been working this shift for about a year but when I finally moved to the coast all I ever wanted to do was surf. I live in an area of Southern California that has some of the most pristine world class point breaks in the world, not to mention the sandy beach breaks just a few minutes drive south. It is paradise. If only you could see the sunset out my window right now! But I digress. It was my exposure to this new environment that made me want to never leave it. You see as a surf addict when the waves are good you don’t want to go or do anything but surf. Even if that thing is work. Oh the dreaded “WORK” why oh why
do we have to work? To pay the bills. But I didn’t know that part yet. I started missing more and more days from work until….I got fired.
On the night I was fired I wasn’t disappointed but I knew deep inside that this wasn’t good. I just sorta pushed it aside and said to myself “I got some bucks stashed, no need to panic.” For about two months things went great. I surfed when there were waves. Hell I even surfed when there wasn’t any waves. I hiked and explored the back country of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. I went sailing regularly with my friend Craig. I went to parties in the U.C.S.B. college town of Isla Vista. Life was good. Then the rent came around again.
I was $150 short on the rent that month. I was out of my savings. I needed to find some work. Then my friend and neighbor Bruce said “Hey Keith how would you like to be my helper laying carpet?.” “Sure I need to make some money.” I said “OK we start Monday morning at 9:00 be down at my house.” “Great, thanks Bro” I replied. Now laying carpet is a tough job but I got good at it and for awhile things were going pretty smooth. Then the work started slowing down as it always did toward the winter season and I was no longer needed. Once again I was short on my rent. No I wasn’t short I just didn’t have it. Well that month we got our eviction notice to move out in 30 days. I let myself down. I let my roommate the Antman down. I was losing paradise. Then I decided to sell my VW panel bus so I could get some money. I sold it for $1200 and bought a 65 Chevy pickup truck for $500. Then instead of looking for a job I surfed for a month before I had to move out.
I had $500 left in my pocket two weeks before moving. Antman and a friend of his had found a 3 bedroom house just up the road on the other side of PCH in the little coastal hamlet known as La Conchita California. I didn’t know if I would be included as a roommate after the debacle I had created at the last place. I asked Antman and Dave if I could move in with them and occupy the third bedroom. I knew that my $500 would ease the burden of the deposit and first months rent. They reluctantly said OK as long as I got a job pronto! So now it was three. We were not on the waters edge anymore but we did have an ocean view and we could see Rincon Point right off our front deck. I had bought myself another month and now I was broke. I didn’t even have money for petrol. I was beginning to live the same way I had lived on the Rock one day at a time with no concern for the future. Que Sera Sera…
Well it’s a cold, rainy, wet wednesday morning and I didn’t get to work today. I use my cell phone alarm to wake me, but last night I turned it off because some bill collectors have been buggin me. I thought I would turn it back on before I had to wake up. Yeah right! Needless to say I over slept and with my job you can’t just show up an hour late. You have to be there at a specific time or else you don’t work. So I guess the bill collector did manage to stick it to me. So with my ipod jammin some killer tunes and me poised at my keyboard lets go!
“Grandma I need to let you know that I will be moving out in a week.” I said “What! Why on earth are you going to do a thing like that? Your living rent free with a good job and saving money. Why on earth?” Grandma you know how much I love to surf and you know how much I love the beach and I’m not leaving my job. A place right on the beach has fallin in my lap and I took it. I’ve already made a payment and deposit so it’s etched in stone.” “You do whatever you want” she said in disgust. The following week was nothing but the cold shoulder. We said no more than 5 words to each other. It was awful, and I really felt bad. But at eighteen your gonna do what you want and I did.
On April 1st the Antman and I went up to Mussel Shoals California to 1578 Pacific Coast Highway, my new address. I loved writing “Pacific Coast Highway” on my mail. I brought my surfboard and gear, my clothes and that Indian rug I’ve been lugging around. Our place was partially furnished but we wanted to decorate it to our specs. So the next day we drove out to Glendale California in my new VW panel van to an import store that had everything we needed. Doorway beads, tapestries, brass, giant throw pillows, incense and a really cool water pipe. Our place looked like the inside of Lawrence of Arabia’s tent.
Two weeks after moving to the coast I went to working nights 3pm to midnight. Perfect for surfing during the day. I was in absolute heaven. I had money, a car and was living my dream. I met new people and made new friends. I loved the lifestyle and laid back attitudes of people that lived on the coast. It was a peaceful easy feelin. So I decided to throw a big party!
About two months later in June as the days got longer and warmer I decided to take some of my money and throw a huge outdoor party. I got together with the residents of the community and we all agreed to go ahead with it. Now Mussel Shoals is a small coastal hamlet, a little niche on the coast. At that time there was probably 45 to 50 dwellings many used just as a vacation home. Maybe two thirds were year round residents. Inside this community there was a large lot about the size of half a football field. The lot was situated at the entry to an oil pier with beach on each side of the lot and the pier. A perfect setup for a party on the water. I contacted my old friend Jimi Williamson the drummer from “The Purple Freight Train” the band I once sang in. I had heard of a project that he was playing in called “Clean Slate” and I asked if they would like to come up from LA and play, Jimi agreed. I had a band! Next on my list was to get some beer. Lots of beer. I went to Pats Liquor in Carpinteria and ordered 10 kegs of beer and a bunch of red plastic cups to be picked up on the day of the event. Party promotion was all word of mouth. Keep in mind this all took place in 1974 when you could freely do such things.
Saturday morning the day of the party. I awoke to the distant sound of wood saws and hammers going. I made a cup of coffee and walked down to the “lot.” It was a beautiful sunny day with no surf, but thats OK stuff needed to be done. Arby and a couple of his carpenter friends were building a stage for the band. Other neighbors were routing lights and electricity out to the stage. I was stunned at the enthusiastic participation of the community, you don’t see that anymore unless it’s a disaster or crime. I said good morning and thank you to everyone. I walked back to my house and the phone rang. There was a guy on the other end named Ronnie he said that he was in a band and he wanted to know if they could come up and play. I don’t know how he got my number but thats not important. My mind started thinking “Wow! two live bands!” I asked him for his phone number and said that I’d call him back. I called Jimi to ask him about putting another band on the bill. He said “No problem bro.” So I called Ronnie back and said “sure dude, pack it up.” “Right on man we’re gonna rock it!” “I expect nothing less Ronnie”
4:20pm Saturday the stage is built, Clean Slate arrives and starts setting up. Not long after Clean Slate Ronnie showed up with his band called “Dreams” I decided to set up Dreams on a concrete foundation slab next to the stage, the original spot for a band if a stage was not built. Clean Slate got the stage, Dreams got the slab. Dreams opened and Clean Slate closed. Entertainment schedule done.
6:45pm I take a shower and get all dolled up. I throw on a pair of Levis my flip flops and my favorite Yater Surfboards T-Shirt. I go out to the living room and the Antman is twisting up doobies for the evening. “Spark one up bro” I select one from the half dozen rolled on the table and spark it. I have not had a hit all day and I take a nice long pull. I hold it until I begin to feel the expansion, expand hold, expand hold, expand, I let out a huge cloud of smoke and start coughing violently “I gotta drive up to Carp and get the beer” I croak out to Antman.”Hey that reminds me” said Antman “Bruce said you could use his old Chevy pickup truck to put the kegs in then you could tap three at a time and serve it off the tailgate.” “Brilliant!” I said. I walked down the street and talked to Bruce about using his truck he said “no problem” he gave me the key and I gave him a nice fatty. I fired up the old 54 and drove up to Carpinteria.
7:07pm I went to “The Spot” and got a burger and onion rings for my dinner. Always eat a good meal before you start drinkin. I arrived at Pats Liquor and got my kegs, ice, buckets, taps, red cups and started heading back to Mussel Shoals. It was getting close to dusk as I arrived back. I pulled off of PCH into the little hamlet and I was stunned. There were already hoards of people arriving. Groups of people were walking down to the “Lot,” cars were funneling off of Pacific Coast Highway and jockeying for parking spaces. I saw Bruce and the Antman as I pulled in and crept the old Chevy through the neighborhood trying to get down to the Lot. “Dude this thing is getting huge! and it hasn’t even started yet!” said Bruce. As I got the beer wagon down to the Lot there was already about a hundred people there. The bands were set up and sound checking. A cheer went up when I pulled onto the lot and found a spot right in front of the “pier for the beer.” A crowd charged the truck as I got out to climb into the bed and tap the kegs. I heard a familiar voice yell “Hey Keith you need some help?” as I looked out among the growing crowd I saw my good friend Jeff that I met shortly after moving in. “Get up here now bro!” I yelled. Jeff plowed through the crowd and jumped up into the bed of the truck and helped me get everything flowin. “This is gonna be insane dude!” he said as we worked. “Yeah I know!” I said.
That night as soon as the last sliver of sun dropped into the blue Pacific “Dreams” launched into the Allman Brothers Statesboro Blues followed by Southbound and Whipping Post turned out these guys were big Allman Brothers fans. They also played songs from The Marshall Tucker Band and 38 Special and of course Lynard Skinner I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were.
Then “Clean Slate” hit the stage. Lights Camera Action! They played almost all of David Bowies’ Ziggy Stardust as well as Mott The Hoople, Lou Reeds Velvet Underground and others. They blew everyones mind.
People danced and mingled as a big bon fire was going on the beach. I got off the truck for awhile and mingled about. As I was walking through the crowd I had three different girls come up to me at different points and say “Are you the guy that threw this party?” “Yeah” all three of them gave me a big kiss. “That makes it all worth it” I thought.
I never got drunk that night. I got a little buzzed but I needed to keep things in control. Not that I could do anything about it if it got out of control but I felt a responsibility. But what was really amazing was the cops never came! Yeah thats right the cops never came. There were no fights. No car accidents or fender benders, nothing. Buy 3:00am everything was over except the clean up. I went to bed and got up around 10am and walked down to the lot to survey the damage and clean up. As I walked down to the lot I noticed no trash along the way no red plastic mugs, cigarette packs or butts. When I got to the lot it looked like nothing ever happened. Nothing! Even the stage was gone. You see back then communities pulled together for parties and disasters.