Clark - Solo Sport Adventures
Posted on 21 February 2019
A short rambling story
I started surfing when I was 8 years old in 1958. I lived 2 blocks west of Narbonne High School. My friend’s father would drive us to Torrance Beach in the Summer. I started on blue & yellow canvas mats and graduated to a chambered plywood paddleboard built by my friend’s father from plans out of Popular Mechanics. I remember it had bathtub and no slip strips on the deck. We learned quick to wear a t-shirt to avoid chest/stomach rashes. We could only ride straight in and we were a general nuisance and hazard to everyone on the beach but we were stoked.
My family moved to Cocoa Beach Florida in 1959. It wasn’t until 1962 that I surfed on a polyfoam-surfboard. It was the spring of 1962 PAFB Cocoa Beach Fla., the day my universe changed. I got on the cerebral meat wagon for school & was summoned by my friends to the back of the bus - the highest courtroom in my world. My friend Bobby says "... things are going to be different for you this day forward. We're going to be surfers. No more Brylcreem, top buttons & brown shoes for you buddy boy. Drop by my house after school, Campbell Surfboards is delivering my new board. You with us? Cuz if you're not, you'll be branded a Hodad & an outcast." Took me about 2 seconds to cave to the peer pressure. After school Bobby & I waited in his front yard. A little later a Woodie pulled up and a man (probably 20) got out & pulled Bobby's board from the back. Carrying it to the porch he said, "I'm going to spend a few minutes showing you how to take care of your new board." He opened a box of Gulf paraffin canning wax and started to show us the technique of waxing the board. There was this over whelming sweet fragrance of still curing resin that by today's standards was getting me stoned. It must have been the fumes because I was mesmerized by the demonstrations and the colorful design of the board. I knew right then & there that I was going to be surfing my whole life. I found out much later that Doug Haut had shaped the board.
At first I had to borrow a board from a girl in my class. She learned quick what I was really interested in and dumped me. After bagging groceries, mowing lawns, and a paper route I was able to buy my first board, an O’Hare from Cocoa Beach. My father would not loan me money because “surfers were bums”. Then Murph the Surf stole the Star of India gem and I almost had to sell my board & quit surfing. My dad was not impressed. Thank God my Mom talked him out of it.
I consumed surfing. Surf media was still fairly grass roots and I saw a few surf movies in a rec hall in Cocoa Beach. That’s when I noticed this lanky surfer named Mike Doyle. I liked Mike’s style and would try to imitate him albeit I was a goofy foot. Unfortunately, the only thing we had in common was we were both lanky with curly hair. Later in 1966 one of my friends showed up at the beach with a Hanson Mike Doyle Model. I rode it for a few days & was impressed. Unfortunately, I believe he bought it at Ron Jons surf shop which was a serious “No No” for the locals.
I would see Mike in the movies & the mags for years. What a life! When the book “Morning Glass” came out I was blown away at everything he had done up to that point in his life. I have given that book to several friends including a pro windsurfer girl Sarah Hauser with similar life situations. She found it inspirational. I still reread that book from time to time opining that that was the life I wanted to live.
Then there is Jeff King. Every time I would see Jeff, he would always have a few “Him & Doyle” stories from Cabo. So many I wondered if they were true. I finally told him how much I’d enjoy meeting Mike and a year later this beautiful girl walks up behind me while I was shooting photos and says “my husband Mike would like to meet you. I had no idea it was Mike Doyle. When I walked into their camp later, on the point at PSC and I almost fell over. Holy Crap it was Mike Doyle! That was truly a magic moment for me. Thanks, Mike, for fulfilling a lifelong dream. I always enjoy seeing you and Annie when you all visit PSC. I still say Mike is the luckiest S.O.B on the planet for snagging Annie.
So, thanks for being an inspiration to me for over 50 years. Thanks for writing “Morning Glass”. You have left an indelible positive mark in the annals of surfing history. Long may you run.
Solo Sport Adventures