In the beginning...
by Corky Carroll
Zoom back to 1959 when surfing was just starting to take off. The following is edited from my new book, “Not Done Yet.” With the gaining popularity of surfing came surfing publications. One day somebody at school told me that there was a surfing newspaper that had come out and had a killer photo of three guys on a giant wave at Makaha, in Hawaii, on the cover. The word was that they had them for sale at the Ole Surfboard shop in Sunset Beach, about a half mile south of our house. When I got home I squealed, whined and begged my mom relentlessly until she coughed up a dollar. Then I jumped on my trusty schwinn three speed and flew down the road as fast as my little legs could peddle.
The Ole Surfboards shop was an old Quonset hut converted into a tiny showroom in front with the entire manufacturing process done in the back. That was back in the days of real surf shops. You got blasted by the smell of resin right when you went through the door. And normally you would step in some and ruin your shoes at the same time, or at least get a bad case of fiberglass itch from the dust in the air from sanding the boards. It was sort of becoming part of the whole process I guess. Be one with your board, so to speak.
When I got to the shop that day local surf star and future legendary lifeguard Timmy Dorsey was working in the little sales area. He was one of my surfing heroes at that time and I was happy that he was there to talk to. Timmy was one of the few local surf stars who had taken the time to be nice to me in the water and always had had a smile and a “hey kid, howsit?” for me. Of course I was probably a bit hard to bear at that time for most of them due to my zealous stoke and high energy.
So Timmy sees me come in and gets this huge grin on his face. “I bet I know what yoooooouuuuu want,” he said with music in his voice.
My eyes lit up. There it was sitting on the counter. The object of my desires. The first surfing newspaper complete with the classic surf shot of Peter Cole, Wally Forsyth and George Downing screaming across this huge and beautiful wall of water at Makaha.
“Yeah, the paper the paper the PAAAAPPPPPEEEEEEEEEER. I WANT IT.” I bellowed with glee.
“How much money do ya got?”
“My mom gave me a dollar, is that enough?”
At first Tim sort of winched and frowned. He was looking at the ground and kinda shaking his head. I guess he could see the light go out in my eyes. Well I guess he kind of engineered that actually. “Gee kid, they want a buck and a half for this thing,” he said with just a touch of sympathy in his tone.
My head dropped.
“But for you I will let this one here, with only the small resin drip on the corner and a light mustard stain from my sandwich, go for only a dollar.”
“REEEEEALLLLY????” I came back to life.
“Yep. And not only that I also want to tell you that Ole and I have been watching you surf and are impressed with what we have been seeing. You could have some potential.”
“REEEEEALLLLLY?????” My heart was soaring. (Note: the price on the cover was actually fifty cents.
“Yep. And Ole has authorized me to offer you a surf team deal if you wanna ride an Ole Surfboard.”
“Yep. Free color.”
“FREEEEE COLOR….OH WOW…. REEEEEALLY???”
“Yep. So, when do ya wanna order your new team Ole board amigo?”
Before those words had finished leaving Timmy’s lips I was on my bike, slightly soiled surfing newspaper in hand, and was racing home as fast as I could go. My dad should be getting home from work at any minute and I had some serious work to do.
I have to say that both of my parents were always behind my surfing and did all they could to support me. When I told my dad about the “surf team deal” his eyebrows went up.
“Free color, that’s a good deal?” he smiled.
“Yeah Dad, amazing deal. Ole and Timmy Dorsey himself think I have potential. Come on dad, pleeeeeeaaasssssssee????????”
This conversation when on for about a month until he finally caved in and agreed to buy me the board. But I had to pay him back half of what it cost from my paper route. I think the “free color” price was $80. So I owed him forty bucks. This was sort of the beginning of him trying to teach me the value of things.
The day I ordered my first Ole still stands out in my dimly lit memory banks. Tim and I went over a few different color combinations and it was an agonizing process. A friend of mine who started surfing about the same time as I did, named Terry O’Dell, had a board with a topless mermaid painted on the nose which I thought was extremely cool. But my mom might not like that. After awhile I finally settled on three color panels. Green, White and Red. Tim pointed out that this would look like a big Mexican flag.
“Well, then I can yell “Ol’e” (like the bullfight call) on my Oleeeee,” I announced. This was like a strange omen for things to come later in both of our lives when we became neighbors living on a point break in Mexico.