Corky on Tim Dorsey
by Corky Carroll
Last night I was sitting at the dinner table with a couple of visiting surfing guests and my neighbor, the legendary surfer/lifeguard Tim “the Iguana” Dorsey. For those of you who don’t know about Tim let me give you a little background. Tim was one of the top surfers in the late 1950’s thru the mid 1960’s. He was a big wave rider on the North Shore and appeared in many of the early surf movies. He was a member of the United States Surf Team for the 1965 World Championships held in Lima, Peru. Tim is from Seal Beach and eventually became the Chief of Lifeguards there for his whole career. He is world renowned for his achievements in the world of Lifeguarding. The dude is also a great storyteller and loves to talk, to the point where sometimes I have a hard time fitting a word in here or there. But he is so good at it that most of the time I just enjoy kicking back to see what he says next, sometimes there is even a tiny shred of truth in whatever tall tale his is spinning. Sometimes, not always though. But either way he is always super entertaining and beacon of light.
So, there we are sitting around the table and Tim is telling these guys about many of the well-known surfers and surfboard builders back in “the day.” Whenever I hear the term “in the day” I always wonder what day they are talking about. But, anyway, Tim is talking about early surfboard builders in Orange County such as Richard Harbour, Joe Quigg, Wardy and on and on. Then he brought up Gordie. Gordie, a.k.a. Gordon Duane, made surfboards in Huntington Beach and was sort of a character in his own right. He had a tendency to be a bit of a grouch, truth be known. And this reminded me of one of my favorite Iguana and Gordie stories and I had to tell it, and am going to tell it to you now.
Tim was hanging out down at Bolsa Chica State Park one morning and after surfing was sort of holding court to a number of admiring surfers who were stoked to be in the presence of such a legendary hero as Tim Dorsey. Tim was happily regaling them with colorful story after colorful story when he spots Gordie riding his bike up the bike path next to the beach. He points to him and tells his flock of followers, “hey, here comes Gordie.”
They all look and one of them asks, “wow, do you know Gordie?”
Tim says, “sure I know Gordie, come on I’ll introduce you guys to him.”
So they walk over to the bike path and Tim waves Gordie to stop. Gordie takes off his glasses, looks at Tim and gruffly says, “yeah, whadda ya want?”
Tim replies, “Hey Gordie, it’s me…. Dorsey.”
Gordie looks Tim up and down, spits, and says, “You ain’t Dorsey, the last time I saw Dorsey he was looking good, you look bad.” And with that he turned and rode off on his bike.
At this point all of Tim’s former admirers turned on him.
“You don’t know Gordie.”
“You are not even Dorsey.”
“You are just an old fake; you should be ashamed of yourself.”
And with that they walked off giving him dirty looks over their shoulders. Poor Tim was left standing there by himself muttering, “Hey you guys, I really am Dorsey, honest.”
I love that story, mainly because Tim is my best friend and we have a tendency to enjoy laughing at each other as much as possible. And this little encounter just perfectly sums up the personalities of these two Orange County surfing legends. Tim is all light and peaches and cream while Gordie had a touch of chili pepper in the mix. Both of them are Classics and part of our local surf lore.