written by John:
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Take me for instance, I'd been at it for a year before I started high school. I acted like I was a king, even though I was still just a kook. After my first complete summer in the water, I wanted to continue full-time classes down at the ocean when September rolled around. My friends at the beach either quit or were thrown out of school, but for me it was stay in, or find someplace else to live. I barely survived ninth grade. I perfected ditching school to go surf.
In 1958, most adults had no idea we were out there. A new breed of animal hit the California scene and older members of the species did not know what to make of us. Most of my friend's parents were really uptight and saw trouble on the horizon, where we only saw waves. My folks simply told me to, " Behave and stay out of trouble." Most times, I delivered.
The first time I was punished for going surfing was when my friend and I paddled down the flood control drainage canal behind his house in Lakewood, California, to the Seal Beach river mouth. We made the local papers for that insanity. Warned by both sets of parents not to do it, word slipped out that we were going for it anyway. Another stern warning was issued with the promise of hard labor should we make the attempt. Like we were worried.
Pumped up from a surf movie one weekend after the final dad threats, we opted for the following Monday. Just thinking about it felt so right. Pete knew the way and one of my boards was already at his house. Oblivious to parental pay-back, we left school before lunch and caught a bus to Pete's house. His parents both worked so nobody was home. This was a kamikaze mission. We purposely left evidence so nobody would worry: two separate piles of clothes on the cement floor in the empty garage. Banzai!
Time passed slowly as we paddled on into the afternoon sun and I thought we were genuinely lost. Pete kept up the stoke until finally, the ocean rose up to greet us. Sitting there in Ray Bay, mesmerized by the mirrored reflection of the power plant before us, I felt giddy with pride for me and Pete, knowing full well the you-know-what would hit the fan for these hard earned bragging rights.
The surf was blown-out and the fading sunlight told us to go home. There was a phone booth over at the marina where we usually called someone to come get us, but we weren't supposed to be here. This was a school day so phones were out. We were in way over our heads, and we were freaking ecstatic!
Our long litany of curses ended when we saw the reflections from the flashing red lights up ahead. We didn't know where we were, and in that stupid way that dopes can be happy, we were screwed for being there and delighted to be back. The thrill of returning home alive! Flashlights and screams of authority shot out at us as we straggled over the ridge of the flood control. We surrendered peacefully. An outpouring of tears and mush from Pete's mom saved us from his dad thrashing us within an inch of our lives and then, having us arrested. He had gone totally postal and my thinking at that time was maybe he needed to try surfing. I was about to say as much, but I had a flash that my suggestion would have been taken as words from a wise guy. Pete's dad was a man of action and Pete would suffer the consequences.
My addiction to surfing caused me to seriously wonder why everybody didn't do it. Visions of peeling waves made me feel good just thinking about them. I surfed relentlessly those years. The ocean was my first true love. My relationship with her became a lifestyle; it was the beginning of the "golden era" of surfing. After that session with Pete, I made an oath to ride every good swell that year. I would miss no opportunity.
I had older surfer friends in Huntington Beach, who treated me like I was one of them. They were taking a keg down to Trestles. I'd have to ditch school again, but I'd cross that bridge when I got caught. I cut so much school that year that I kept my spare balsa Ole stashed in the bushes near the trestle. I didn't like carrying my board two miles to the surf.
They chose an early Friday morning to head out. It was grey and the off-shore fog was rolling in. We slipped seamlessly down highway 101. Hoot had the keg and some cuties in his panel truck, while Wallpaper, Jay and I sat in the back of Steve's 56 Chevy pick-up with the boards. If the weather held, it would be glassy and I would be the first one in the water. I hadn't even considered what a hassle it was going to be to lug that keg of beer down there, with ten of us taking part in what would be one of the craziest days I ever spent at Trestles.
I could see her checking me out while I scored some waves. She latched on to me after I came in and we got along easily. I could make her laugh and she seemed to like that. Older than me, she called herself "Wino" and was one of the girls Hoot brought. She liked to hang out with surfers and get drunk. The waves were small and our cups were big. The wind changed, the sun came out, and we started in on the keg.
Steve saw the marines first. Hoot helped him ease the keg into the hole and cover it up, while we stashed the boards. We were out of sight by the time they got there. Hiding from marine patrols in San Mateo creek involved using reeds to breathe while they searched for us. Like alien creatures, we stayed inside the rushes just beneath the surface of the water until they were satisfied that we had split. They moved out and we returned to our buried treasure and continued our revelry.
About the time we all got naked we realized the train was due. This would be the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe R.R. which we fondly named the "Trestle Special". We went to the creek and packed mud all over our bodies. We applied shells and things on our faces and arranged twigs and sticks to protrude from the mudpacks. We looked like a primitive aboriginal dance troupe readying for a performance. We pulled our trunks back on just before the train appeared and positioned ourselves in the best viewing proximity for those inside the cars to see us. We turned our backs to the oncoming train, bent over, and dropped our shorts in unison. We had done this before, but never with so many people including live naked girls.
Murphy's Law states: If anything can go wrong, it will. We could hear it happening, the slowing train pulling up alongside of us and screeching to halt! Doors slammed open and three plainclothes Pinkerton detectives with their shiny badges held high, jumped off the train. They commanded us to "Stop right there!" We weren't taking orders that day, and bolted back to our hideout.
I'll never forget the look on the detective's face, the one who started to get close. His friends had given up the chase already. His necktie was flapping over his shoulder and his hat just blew off his head as he lunged down the dune at me. His pudgy little face got redder and his beady little eyes squinted against the brightness of the hot sun on the white sand. He was overweight. His girth slowed him to a halt and he ran out of steam. I left him in the dust, bent over and wheezing for air, and disappeared into the safety of the creek. We waited briefly before we went back to peek at the train. It stood up there motionless, the detectives back on board. One of them saw us and alerted the other two. They stared at us real hard, giving us the 'stink eye'. Suddenly, the train jerked forward and they turned away from us, anger and resentment written all over their faces. The grumpy looks of distaste we got from the passengers demanded us to BA them again. It would be the last time I mooned the "Trestle Special". It's all unforgettable. Sometimes bad is good if you catch my drift. I'm living proof of it. Fifty years later, I still believe that the ocean's energy initiates positive change in people. Like those detective types or Pete's dad types. If they only went surfing...like I did.
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