"Not just the Boogie Man"
by Corky Carroll
2021 has been a very hard year on the surfing community, losing many icons and legends as the months have rolled by. On October 14th one of the brightest minds, coolest characters and smoothest surfers pulled out, Tom Morey. Most of you will remember him as the inventor of the “Morey Boogie,” or more simply, the BOOGIE board. Tom was 86 and still smiling.
This one hit me hard as we had been close pals for going on 60 years, having first met in the early 1960’s. Rather than going into a bunch of historical stuff I would rather share a little story about a few months I spent surfing with Tom in Puerto Rico, Jan thru April of 1968.
At that time surfing in that part of the world was still fairly new. I had been there a couple of months before to surf in the first Puerto Rico International Championship and liked it a lot. There was a movement to try and get the island established on the surfing map and the next years World Championship was scheduled to be held there in November of 1968. I was thinking spending some time down there prior to that would increase my chances, so I packed up and, along with my then pregnant with our son Clint wife Cheryl, took off for an extended stay.
Upon arrival we rented a small cabin on the hill overlooking the surf near Rincon, the main surf break. And, to make things even better and more interesting, Tom Morey and his wife had also just arrived and rented the cabin next door. Over the next few months we surfed and hung out together, shared countless stories and thoughts on surfboard design, jokes, lies, ideas on space travel, time travel and more cosmic craziness than I can describe here. We also did a lot of yelling out, “Aguaaaaaaaaa,” to the owner of the cabins, who lived just above us, to turn our water on. He liked to turn it off when he didn’t see our cars there. It became a thing that over the years when Tom and I would see each other, or talk on the phone, we would always start off the conversation with a loud and long rendition of the aforementioned, “Aguaaaaaaaaaaa.”
Three things stand out in my mind from that experience with Tom. One is us paddling out on a huge day at a spot called “Tres Palmas.” It was just us and it was big. As we got to the lineup Tom, who had not really surfed giant waves before that, looked at me and said, “So, do you think this is 20 feet?” I looked back and seriously replied, “Are you kidding? It’s at least 80 feet.” We should have laughed but were both so scared that we just left it at that.
The next was one day when we had been spearfishing and I was swimming in holding the bag of fish we had nailed. It was always the guy that got the less amount fish that had to hold the bag, and that was always me. On the way to the beach I ran eye to eye into an enormous octopus, like the size of one of those Krakens in the movies. Scared me so bad I still have nightmares about it. Tom was mad at me for not trying to spear it, “ya know kid, that’s good eating.” I asked if he was talking about the octopus or me?
The last, and most profound, was one day we were sitting in the water at a very remote spot with nobody else around for miles. Surf was good and it was a nice day. We were waiting for a wave and talking when far off in the distance we spotted a fish about two feet long just skipping on top of the water coming our way. Right behind that fish was another fish about three or four foot long skipping on the water at exactly the same pace as the smaller one in in the lead. They came racing past us going really fast. I was glad they didn’t hit us. And they sped off towards the horizon with the big fish in chase of the smaller fish as far as we could see. I looked over at Tom and asked, “So, do you think the little guy is gonna get away or will the big one eat it?” Tom, in his perfect scientist mode, says that the big fish is gonna eat the small one. Saddened, I asked why he thought that. He says, “The little fish is spending more energy to get away than the big fish because he is smaller, so the little fish is gonna be lunch.” I was obviously not happy at this conclusion. Tom looks at me and matter of factly just states, “Corky my boy, that’s life in the food chain!!!” This is when I decided that I didn’t like the food chain concept too much. Visions of the octopus flooding my now terrified mind.
I am gonna miss great chats with him, listening to his ideas on music, surfing and the universe, and just his great wit and sense of humor.
Tom Morey, one of the great ones.