Even as a restorer of some men’s souls, the seashore has less magic than it held until a few short years ago. Seldom nowadays can one seek and find solace and refreshment from a seaside wilderness — that desert of water, sand, and sky where the only sounds are the lazy pounding of a summer surf, the faint rustle of the wind in the dune grasses, and the occasional cry of a tern. No section of our shore is now free from the jeep and the airplane. It is difficult to become attuned to the ancient rhythm of the sea while assailed by rock-and-roll from a portable radio.
Taken from The National Park Service “Pacific Coast Recreation Survey” 1960.
I had been living with my grandmother for about six months and working at Northrup as a fiberglass fabrication technician. I still didn’t have a car and Thelma was my only way to get around and getting around meant going to work and back. Sometimes I would go to the grocery store with her just to break things up a bit. My life was very boring. Sometimes my old surfing friends from the Rock “Antman” and Marcos would come by on the weekend and take me surfing. How I loved those days when I could get out and hang and surf with my buddies. Not to mention the chance to smoke a little weed and drink some Mead Wine from a botta bag.
Then one day we went to Mussel Shoals to surf the pier. Our friend Arby had moved to the coast about a year earlier and was renting a duplex there right on the water. We parked in front of his house and went surfing. The surf was really good and we surfed for about six hours straight. Later that afternoon we were all kicking back on Arbys sun deck watching the other locals getting their wave quota in for the day. Really great surfers like Dan Riley, Mike Reese, and Ross Cave were tearing it up in the late afternoon emerald green waves coming through the pier.
It was then that I thought to myself “I wanna live here, not San Diego, not Huntington Beach, not San Luis, but right here!” Then Arby said something that blew my mind. “Hey if anyone is interested the place down below is going up for rent at the end of the month.” “Really!” I said “Yeah April 1st” “How much?” I asked “$450” said Arby. “It’s got two bedrooms but one is pretty small it has a nice living room and a really cool kitchen with a big picture window looking out at the pier”. I started thinkin.”I have some money saved up but If I moved I would need a car so I could get to work. Plus $450 would be a little tight for one person to swing. If I could split it that would be just fine. Plus I would need to give a first, last and a damage deposit.” Basically I needed a car and a roommate. I told Arby that I was very interested but I had to work some things out. He said “If you want it I need to know within a week and I’ll refer you to the owner.” “Cool, thats fine” I said.
On the way back to grandmas house I was determined to get that house on the beach. The money to pull it all off would completely tap my savings. Especially the car. I would have to buy a cheap transportation vehicle that would get me through the 40 mile round trip to work everyday. Then a few days later when Thelma and I had come home from work, Thelma was going through the mail and said “Looks like you got something, it looks important” “Shit not another legal surprise” I thought. I took the envelope and opened it. It was a check made out to me for $5000. It was a life insurance policy that was from my mother. I felt a tear come to my eye then I started to cry really hard. “What’s wrong Keith?” Thelma asked. I couldn’t speak I handed her the papers and check. It took seven months for my mothers death to finally hit me. “I’ll be darned” she said “What?” I said “I didn’t think they would pay on this because it was a suicide” “Well they did” I said.
I put the check in my bank account with the rest of my savings. I had enough money to move to the beach, buy a nice car and have plenty left over. All I needed was a roommate. I called Antman back on the Rock. “Hey bro whats happening” “nothing how about you?” “Well dude I called to ask you something” What is it?” “Remember when Arby said the unit down below him was going to be available next month?” “Yeah” “How would you like to move in with me and spilt the rent?” “Really” “Yeah really” “Man I’d be stoked to move in there dude, but I don’t have enough dough for the deposit.” “Tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll pay the deposit and you get the smaller bedroom. Deal?” “Fuck yeah bro that sounds great!”
I now had a roommate. The next weekend Antman and I went to Arby’s house to meet the landlord and look at the duplex. It was such a hip California beach pad. I gave them a check for everything and signed a year lease. As we were walking back upstairs to Arby’s place I mentioned that I needed to buy a car. “You looking for a ride bro?” Arby said. “Yeah” I said. Well there’s a guy right around the corner selling a really nice 1969 VW panel bus. You should go over and take a look at it.” I walked around the corner and saw the bus in the guys driveway. It was a very clean yellow VW panel van. I talked to the owner and drove it. I gave him a deposit to hold it for me for one week. I now had a car. Not just a car but a VW van to go to work in and keep my surfboard and gear in. In two weeks I would be living on the beach in Southern California. At age 18 the real “Surfing Lifestyle” was truly just starting.
Now all I had to do was tell my grandmother.