It they only knew...
by Corky Carroll
Getting back to my series on days that stand out as special in my zillion years of surfing, 67 and counting as we speak. My plan is to weave these little tidbits in with the normal coverage of surfing and surf culture related topics and reviews.
Today I stuck my finger into the wall socket to stimulate my two remaining semi functional memory cells and came up with my first day of surfing in Hawaii. Some of this is taken from my newest book “Not Done Yet.” (Available at www.bluemangosurf.com or on Amazon.)
It was the summer of 1963 and had I talked my parents into letting me spend the summer in Hawaii. I had a friend who I had gone to school with the year before whose father was in the Navy and had been transferred to Pearl Harbor. His name was Mike Ferguson and he had invited me to come stay at his house. My parents were always good about supporting my surfing addiction and also, for some reason that I could never quite understand, they trusted me way beyond the levels that I should have been trusted. If they only knew the trouble that I “almost” got into, or “barely missed” getting into. But somehow, someway, I managed to get away with things that I should not have been able to get away with. Blind luck probably. I am sure everybody has some of this in the history of their youth. When I got to Mike’s house I found that he was about a thirty to forty minute drive from the place that I wanted to surf. Ala Moana. This first day I was there I had to wait until the afternoon for Mike to finish summer school before we got to go surfing. In Hawaii you could drive at 15 and Mike already had his own car. The surf that day was fantastic and I totally fell in love with the short stretch of surf between Kaisers and the Ala Moana bowl on the south shore of Oahu. In the summer the south swells are good in what they call “town.” In the winter the big north and west swells break on the other side of the island, the famed “North Shore.” This was summer so I was surfing town mostly, with the occasional trip out to Yokahama Bay, at the far end of the west shore, which picked up south swells and had a ton of power.
It was that day I met two of my all-time surfing idols, even to this day. George Downing and Paul Strauch. The waves were big, bigger than I was used to anyway. And they had the Hawaiian power and speed which was much more powerful and faster than California waves. I had taken off on a big set wave and was screaming down the line going as fast as I could go. All of a sudden I was deep in a very dark tunnel and the wave was roaring over my head like a freight train. I panicked and jumped off, in the process I think I let out a very girlish like scream. George and Paul had been paddling out and saw, and heard, the whole thing. When I came up they were both rolling off their boards laughing. Geeze, how freaking embarrassing was that. Two of the biggest surf stars on the planet having witnessed THAT. Argh! But, to my amazement, when I finished swimming all the way in to get my board, and had paddled back out to the lineup, both of them were super friendly and offered kindish words of encouragement. It was a humbling afternoon to say the least. Definitely one I never forgot.
That was the beginning of an incredible summer. A few days went by and I met a dude named Curt Mistalka. Curt lived right across the street from Ala Moana in an apartment building named the Driftwood. He said I could make a bed on his balcony and stay there. He worked at night and slept during the day. So the deal was I needed to be out of the apartment by about eight in the morning and not come back until late afternoon. Not a problem at all, the surf was right there. So I moved out of Mike’s family home and onto the balcony of Curt. This little fact was never discovered by my parents. Fifteen years old and on the loose in Waikiki for the summer? OH YESSSSSSSSS!!!