The Coast News Group
Longtime friends, or two surfers and a kook? From left, Hall of Fame skateboarder Henry Hester, columnist Chris Ahrens and the multi-talented Scott Bass. Courtesy photo

Waterspot: Old houses. Old friends. Good times. Great memories

When it’s all said and done, perhaps the central experience in surfing is friendship. — John Milius

My brother Dave was my first surf partner. We lived inland at the time and with no local beach, limited our travels from Rincon to Baja in search of surf. And surf we did  every day and every wave possible from 1962 through 1966. And while we rarely rode world-class waves in those years, we sure did know some world-class characters. “Chicky,” “Zero,” Elliot and “Crazy Kate” were among them.

By the early ‘70s Dave was living in San Clemente and I had moved into an old house that would later become known affectionately as “the Rag pile.” While to many the termite eaten skeleton of what was once a proud domicile was worth nothing more than a bulldozer’s shove, to us it was a palace like something out of Cannery Row.

Of course such places cannot exist amid inflated real estate prices and thirsty tractors.

But $100 a month split six ways bought freedom, even though I often had trouble coming up with my meager share of the rent. Out of options I found work one day a week at the Pennysaver. Gosh, I hated that day.

All other days I was surfing with locals Steve Oberg, Dianna Brummett, Margo Godfrey, Wally Blodgett, Wally Wallace, Mark Rodriguez and whoever else was willing to paddle out.

Then, in 1972 I left So Cal for Australia and looped back in with my brother Dave where we fell in with some new surf partners: Peter Green, Brian Jahn and Bob Franjosie. We lived in Byron Bay where $2 a week bought us shelter in a converted hay bales, and surf paradise was a short walk through the cow pastures.

Two years later, back in Encinitas I rode a million waves with Peter (Pinline) St. Pierre (sorry for running you over so many times), Jack and Buttons, and the late and peerless Kenny Mann, among others.

Still unsatisfied by the numbers of waves we caught during the day, we would meet in the Swami’s parking lot after midnight and paddle out by moonlight (IS that why you named your company Moonlight Glassing, Peter?) surfing, sometimes until dawn.

Time and tide continues and I have continued surfing with old friends and some new ones.

Mike Malsie, Wade Koniakowski, Swami Johnny, Phil and Steve Senese, Melvis, Lori, RC, Ken McKnight, Henry Hester, Mark Donnellan, Andrea and Daniel Partch and Hagan rank high on my list of favored surf partners.

But there are too many close friends to name here — some are outstanding, but most are simply average surfers like me who love riding waves more than anything in the world. 

Few among us move as quickly as we once did and when the big swells hit most of us seek safety behind the cliffs.

It has been many summers since my friends and I were the new kids in the lineup.

I have no idea how many waves I have ridden with them, and, to be honest, most of their rides have already faded from my memory.

And really, I never cared much about that. Looking back, it seems that the waves were simply an excuse to hang out with you at the beach.

Waves come from far away, rise up proudly and die in the sand.

The memory of friends, on the other hand, lasts a lifetime.