Posted on 19 February 2019
I want to let you know how grateful I am to you, for always treating me with kindness and friendliness, ever since I was a kid. I have always thought of you as a beloved big brother, who I could count on, and who I looked up to and admired. It was probably 1957 when you first came to visit Kemp at our family home in Pacific Palisades. I was ten and you and Kemp were about 17 and surf-stoked beyond all sensibility! You guys had spent the day surfing fun waves at Malibu and you came home with Kemp to spend the night. I was fascinated to hear you and Kemp talk about all the bitchin' rides you had that day. I can picture your smiling face and sparkling eyes, filled with surf stoke, your tan chiseled build, and your hair, bleach out on top from the sun. And of course, you were wearing your cool homemade Tiki God necklace. You have always been so artistic and great with your hands. Your bright, enthusiastic, and generous spirit made a big impression on me that day in '57. To this day, my first encounter with you shines bright in my memory.
When I think of you, Mike, so many fond and colorful memories flood my mind....I remember when you were a Santa Monica Lifeguard, stationed in the tower in front of Chris Wilson's family beach mansion. All my gremmie friends and I loved to huddle around and listen to you tell surf stories. Sometimes you'd go out surfing in front of your tower on your big board and show us how it was done. You were always generous about giving us surfing tips! I remember Chris Wilson raving about how you took him surfing at the Ventura Overhead on a big day and showed him how to negotiate the humongous deep-peak take off there. I remember the early San Onofre days and you tandem surfing with Linda Merrill, and how, in the early sixties, you and Corky Carroll entered and won every surfing contest that popped up on the coast.
My memories of you, during the sweet summer of 1965, down in Encinitas, are especially vivid. Don Hansen gave me a job patching surfboards. So, I came down from the Pacific Palisades and worked at his old shop on the coast highway, across the street from Cardiff. Malcolm McCassy let me camp out in my '58 VW bus, in front of his house on D street, and every morning his young wife would pack me a brown-bag lunch and I was off to work at Hansen's. Malcolm was the salesman there. Adjacent to Don's showroom was an old wooden building that served as a factory for building surfboards. I remember you had your shaping room there that summer and you were busy sculpting Hansen "Mike Doyle Model" surfboards. Those boards were a big seller for Hansen! I loved my Mike Doyle Model! It was a great board. I wish I still had it.
Next door to your shaping room I had my little saw horses set up, surrounded by sticky cans of resin, and a pile of broken boards that needed to be patched. "Diamond" Don would trudge over, puffing on a big cigar, and make sure I was working hard. His surfboard business was really starting to take off that summer. Sometime I'd help Eric Murphy and Gary Brummette "rub out" rails of new surfboards and box them up, to be shipped to the East Coast. The highlight of my day was taking a lunch break and eating my brown-bag lunch, while listening to you and Ken Adler talk surfing. I remember Ken had shaping room there, too. He was a another big admirer of yours. Sometimes, after work, we'd all go out at Cardiff or the Proving Grounds. Surfing with you was always a inspiration. I remember you had a house nearby in Encinitas. I think your brother Danny was staying there, too. It was a real treat, the evenings you invited me to come over and hang out with you guys at your house. It was a great summer and a special time to be a surfer. One day you took me for a ride on the back of your motorcycle. The 5 Freeway was just being built then and not yet open to the public. I remember racing down it full speed on the back of your bike. Another time, that summer we went horseback riding, with those cute sisters. They were local girls, but I can't remember their names right now. Maybe it was Pam Boltler and her sister? Anyway, I do remember, as always, we had lots of laughs. You have a great sense of humor!
I feel like I'm just scratching the surface, Mike, but I think that's enough out of me for now.
I want to send you lots of love, peace and aloha, my friend. You are always in my thoughts and in my prayers.
You're the greatest!
Love you, brother!
Photos: Jim Ganzer, ?, John Severson, Wilkins