How I Got Started Surfing
by Corky Carroll
I get a lot of questions about surfing and my life as it has unfolded as more than less a lifetime pro surfer. One of them that I get fairly often is, “….so what made you decide to take up surfing in the first place?”
Normally I will answer this with my standard reply, “Our house was right on the beach, so it was just a natural thing to learn to surf. Like if you lived across the street from tennis courts you would probably learn to play tennis.” This is the easy answer as that is basically the fact. I could not look out the window without seeing the surf. I could not do anything without hearing it, we were so close that it was always there in our ears. In fact there was also always the smell of the salt air. There was no getting away from it. It was so close to the surf that even the name of our town was SURFSIDE. Wham, done deal. How could I not learn to surf?
But, let me regress and tell you a little history of my pre surfboard days and what led up to my first ride on one. When I was really little we lived in Alhambra. One of the things my mom liked to do was ride the bus down to Long Beach and hang out at the “Pike,” a huge amusement park that used to be on the beach there. One day she took me with her and we went to the beach right next to the Rainbow Pier. I got to get in the water, just in the really shallow part right next to the beach. I found myself sort of letting the ebb and flow of the tiny, not even waves but surges, push me in and pull be back out right next to the sand. Kinda like kinder-bodysurfing. First wave memory.
The next was when I was sent to Kilgores Kiddie Camp in the Malibu mountains for a couple of weeks one summer. One day they took us to the beach just north of Santa Monica. I waded into the water and stood still as a wave broke right over my head. I heard the sound of the tube just before it creamed me. That second memory stuck with me always.
Then we moved to Surfside. I met a couple of brothers who lived down the street, Marc and Mike DeCheveroux. They had canvas air matts that they used to ride the waves with. I talked my dad into getting me one too. It was one of those heavy-duty rental type things that was blue and green and would sand the skin right off of you by laying on it more than about ten seconds. I found out right off the bat that wearing a t-shirt was the only way to go when riding that particular type of air matt.
We would ride those things in everything that came through at Surfside. I liked riding on my knees and could at times actually stand on mine as it was the heavy-duty kind and when filled very full of air it was really stable. At least for a kid of about six years old. Along with the air matts we would ride anything that would float. Old pieces of plywood sometimes. It was just the joy of riding waves.
I tried to ride an old 100-pound redwood board that a kid up the street had found buried in his yard one day, almost killed myself when it came close to hitting me in the head. Then the day when I snuck my neighbors board out of his yard and rode my first wave.
So there is a little recap of “what made me decide to take up surfing in the first place.” To get the rest of the story from then on grab a copy of my new book, “Not Done Yet.” It is available at CorkysNotDoneYet.com. (Yeah I know that was a shameless plug, but what the heck, an old surf dog has to eat.)