by Corky Carroll
I just received my copy of the new book from Joe Dunn titled “Lifestyle Retail, the Hobie Surf Shop Story.” I had been eager to see this one as I spent many years working at, around, and with the Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point, in one form or another. I was shop boy, salesman, manager and also ran the Hobie Surf Team out of there. This was all back in the 1960’s. Wonderful place to be at that time and surrounded by all sorts of classic and cool people.
This is a great read, it unravels the stories of a number of totally classic people who are all part of the story of how the Hobie Surf Shop came to be, what it was and many of the great stories that came from a very pioneering generation of surfers from the Orange County area. A lot of it tells about the involvement of Dick Metz. “Dicka doo doo,” as he is called by his friends, of which I am very happy to consider myself one of. Dick's dad had a café in Laguna Beach and from hanging out there and on the beaches he became pals with the infamous Brennen “Hevs” McClellend and George “Peanuts” Larson. These are two of the most colorful dudes in the history of surfing. From his friendship with them he got into surfing and met the likes of Hobie Alter, Rennie Yater and Gordon “Grubby” Clark. More surfing royalty. After college Metz took off and traveled all through Africa, hitchhiking a lot of the time. His journals have tons of great photos of him hanging out with packs of bare breasted native babes. When I was younger I thought that stuff was pretty cool. But as I have grown older and more mature I have to admit that now I think that stuff is REALLY cool.
When Dick got back to California Hobie Alter convinced him to move to Honolulu and open the first “away from home” Hobie shop. 1475 Kapiolani Blvd. I spend some happy times in there during my first summer in Hawaii, swept up after closing sometimes and met a few fun girls, it seemed a lot of them tended to swarm around Dick a doo doo so it turned out to be a kinda extra benefit to being the sweeper. From his travels in Africa it was actually Dick that tipped off Bruce Brown to the “perfect wave” at Cape Saint Francis, which became the focal point of his epic surf film, the “Endless Summer.”
Metz was also a big part, along with Hobie and Grubby Clark, of the early experimentation in foam surfboard blanks that changed surfing dramatically in the late 1950’s. He is one of those dudes that the public is not very aware of that has actually had his hand in all kinds of the history and growth of surfing, especially with the Hobie Company. He and Hevs McClellend also owned and ran a liquor store on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. I guess if you are gonna like to party a lot then it’s a good idea to own a liquor store, I thought Metz was pretty clever in that way. Like to surf and party, own a surf shop and a liquor store. Perfect.
The Hobie shop was a fixture on Coast Highway in Dana Point, all kinds of interesting characters working there at one time or another. Butch Van Artsdalen was once the repair guy out back, along with Gaylord Vermillea. One of my favorite guys was Jim Gilloon. Jim was the shop manager when I first worked there as a shop rat. He later took over as General Manager of the Hobie Surfboards company. Jim was a good surfer and fun to work for, pretty easy on a sassy little surf punk who more often deserved a slap in the face instead of a pat on the back.
The shop evolved over the years from a hard-core surf hut into a smoothly functioning retail store. Both Hobie and Dick became very involved in the Hobie Catamarans and sailing became a big part of the whole picture for both of them. More Hobie stores opened and it became the business of selling the lifestyle that guys like Dick Metz, Hobie Alter, Grubby, Hevs, Gilloon, Munoz, Phil Edwards, Terry Martin, Bosco Burns, the Patterson Brothers and so many more contributed to. The tradition continues. You really should get a copy of the book; I know it’s available through the Hobie Surf Shops.