by Corky Carroll
If you grew up a Steve or a Bill, probably even a Tom, Dick or Larry for that matter, it probably never really phased you to meet other people with the same first name. This would be the same for a Mary or Susan if you are a girl. Growing up a Corky was a bit different, there just aren’t that many of us around. In my life I think I have only known 4 others, one of which is a girl. This is not counting dogs. It seems there are many more dogs named Corky than people. Probably all of us have other proper names and have been nick-named Corky for one reason or another. I was named that by my mother when I was a baby. I had the colic and burped all the time; the neighbors had a small dog that barked all the time. The dog was named Corky and my mom never could tell if it was me burping or the dog barking, so she nicknamed me after the dog. It stuck and I have never gone by anything else.
One of my pals through the past 55 years is Corky Smith, one of most legendary characters in the city of Laguna Beach. Corky’s proper name is Briggs Christian Morris-Smith. When he was a baby his parents threw a lot of parties and served bottles of Champagne. Little Briggs liked to suck on the corks, hence the “Corky” nick-name. I like his story better than mine, the whole burping and dog barking thing is something that I always intended on changing to something way cooler, but just never got around too.
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I first met Corky Smith in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964 when I was on the “Endless Summer” movie and surf exhibition tour with Bruce Brown and Hobie Alter. Corky was running the Hobie dealership there that had been opened by Dick Metz, another Laguna Beach surfing legend and longtime partner with Hobie in many projects and stores. We became friends and I would see him often when he moved back to his hometown of Laguna Beach. He is an excellent surfer and former City Surfing Champion, plus an all-around waterman. One of those people who can do it all, and does. Bodysurf, board surf, paipo boards, skim boards, frizby tosser and most of the beach activities you would find during your average day at Oak Street Beach. He worked for SURFER magazine and he is also a martial arts expert and teacher.
But Corky’s story goes way beyond all that. A Korean war veteran who risked his life in service of our country as a United States Marine. A devoted historian who has worked his entire life to discovering and maintaining many sites in and around the hills surrounding the City of Laguna Beach. He has been one of the main people in keeping the ocean waters clean, the hills pristine and preserving the quality of life in that town for well more than half a century.
So, here’s the deal and the main reason for this story today. Corky is now 83 years old and the wear and tear on his body from his years in the Marines and in the Hills of Laguna has taken its toll. He needs a new hip. The Veterans Administration has let him down and now it’s up to us, the good people of Orange County, to give him a hand. There is a fund set up for contributions to get Corky the new hip. It is https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-corky-smith-get-a-new-hip.
If any of you can spare some money to help out this amazing and good person it would be a very cool thing to do. He is anxious to get back out to second reef at Brooks Street and up into the Hills of Laguna to explore and protect more historical sites. Thanks to all of you who can chip in.
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