Corky Carroll: Recalling an early ’60s surf safari to Trestles
by Corky Carroll
The other day somebody asked me what it was like surfing in the O.C. back when I was a kid. When I get asked this kind of stuff all sorts of memories come to mind, and on this day, for some reason or another, the thought of early surf trips down the coast to Trestles came to mind.
Here is one in particular that stands out in my flickering one-cell memory bank.
It was the early 1960s, maybe ’61 or ’62. Mark Martinson and I were pals and from time to time would get rides from my house in Surfside, which is in the far north end of the county, to go surf Trestles, which is just south of San Clemente in the far south end of the county.
On this particular day we got a ride from Roy Crump and Steve Pezman in one of their old coups. They crammed Mark and me into the trunk with the boards — our job was to hold onto the boards so they didn’t fall out the back. The gas fumes coulda killed us, but who knew?
My mom had tossed in a dollar for gas, which was about what it took to do that round-trip in those days, gas being about 25 cents a gallon. This was before the freeway. The route was straight down Pacific Coast Highway. There would be the stop to check out the Huntington Beach Pier, the stop to check out Brooks Street in Laguna Beach and the stop to check out Killer Dana from the little lookout gazebo on the top of the bluff overlooking the cove in Dana Point.
From there it was onward past the Hobie shop and then the Velzy and Jacobs shop and finally to the edge of Camp Pendleton. At that point there was always some sort of way to sneak onto the base and into the jungle that was between the highway and the beach.
On this day, we found a place in the jungle to stash the car and made it to the beach through the bushes and a lagoon. Once we got there we were rewarded with a sizable south swell and some decent long peeling rights coming down the point. There were a few guys there that we knew, including Huntington Beach legend Chuck Linnen. I was talking to Chuck on the beach while I was waxing my board and finding a spot to bury the paper bag containing the sandwich my mom had made for me that morning. Then off to surf.
We had a great session. Mark is a year older than me and was really starting to come into his own as a surfer about then. He was really tearing the place apart. He would win the Oceanside Invitational and then the United States Championship a few years later — great surfer.
It was an excellent day of surfing for us as we were used to the sand bar beach breaks in front of my house and getting to surf a reef-based point break was a real treat. I think we stayed in the water about five hours that day.
But when I got back to the beach and went to dig up my lunch it was gone. Just an empty bag.
Chuck had been sitting there so I asked him if he saw anybody snag my sandwich. With crumbs and mayonnaise on his face he looked me right in the eyes and said, “What sandwich?” I later found out he was known for this sort of thing, a fact that he will not deny and only smile about when confronted with to this day.
On the way home, we stopped at La Paz Mexican Restaurant in Laguna Beach where you could go to the back door and get a paper plate lunch of rice and beans for 35 cents. Thankfully, Mark’s mom had given him a dollar to eat on and he was able to buy us both a plate along with a large Coke to share.
When we got home we were sunburned to a crisp, totally loopy from the exhaust fumes we inhaled in the trunk and as happy as two clams at high tide. We had just had a totally awesome surf safari to Trestles.
This was the kinda stuff we lived for back then.