Corky on Chris Darrow
by Corky Carroll
On Jan 15 the world lost one of its most influential and beloved musicians, the legendary Chris Darrow. Chis was a heavyweight to music insiders, yet not all that well known to the general public unless you are a real student of musical history, especially folk and what could be called “West Coast Rock.” He was a member of the Kaleidoscope, who Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) calls his favorite band ever, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Floggs and the Corvettes, among a zillion others. With the Corvettes he became the band leader and musical director for Linda Ronstadt. He also played with and was instrumental in the development of many well-known artists such as James Taylor, Leonard Cohen, Hoyt Axton and countless others. He is credited with putting Glen Frye and Don Henley together with Randy Meissner and has connections to Zappa, Jim Morrison, the Allman Brothers and way too many more to list here.
O.K., that’s a little background on the dude. Along with all that Chris was my musical sensei and partner for the past 40 years. I first met him briefly when I was working the sound for a Linda Ronstadt concert in San Clemente in the mid 1970’s that was put on by Jim Jenkins from the Four Muses Concert Hall. Then a few years later when I was working at SURFER magazine my pal Rick Griffin, the legendary artist, brought Chris into my office and told me that he felt that the two of us should know each other. Chris had just moved to San Clemente and surfed a little bit. Rick knew that I was into playing music so he figured the two of us could use each other. We became instant pals, many times characterizing ourselves as “Ozzie and Thorney,” from the Ozzie and Harriet T.V. show. I was the surf guru for him and he became my music guru, expanding my scope well beyond what it would have become if not for his guidance. He put together the band for Corky Carroll and the Coolwater Casuals (“Surfer for President”) and introduced me to Mike Nesmith (Monkees) who signed me to his Pacific Arts record label. Mike produced our single, “Tan Punks on Boards,” which Chris and I co-wrote. When we played the Troubadour in Hollywood Dennis Wilson, of the Beach Boys, said that “Mondo Condo,” a song that Chris and I wrote, was one of the coolest he had ever heard and offered to produce an album for us on Brother Records. Unfortunately he died a few days later.
As a surfer Chris caught on real fast, being a super good athlete who had played baseball earlier in life. Our favorite thing was hanging out at San Onofre in the afternoons. We would surf, chit chat with Dorian Paskowitz, BBQ steaks and drink tequila and grapefruit juice that came from the tree in Chris’s front yard. He integrated into the surf scene fluidly. When SURFER magazine resurrected the SURFER POLL and held the awards banquettes Chis put together the house band for those events, the “Hula Buckaroos.”
Chris eventually moved back to his hometown of Claremont. We did a number of gigs as a duet over the years and he played on most of my albums, including the latest one, “Blue Mango,” released on Darla Records. He was a member of our recording band, the Piranha, which also includes Orange County rockers Richard Stekol, Matt Maguera, Matt Marshall, Doug Miller and Brad Fiedel. I am pretty sure this was the last of the many albums he played on over the years.
The last time I saw Chris was in November when my wife Raquel and I went to see him and we had dinner at his favorite Italian restaurant in Claremont. I am still in shock with the news that he had a stroke and passed away. When I just wrote that last sentence I misspelled “stroke,” I put “stoke.” Occurs to me that really would sum up Chris Darrow. TOTAL STOKE, all the time. About now I am sure he is rockin’ the angels in the Heaven Allstars. R.I.P. mi amigo.
For further information on Chris Darrow check out this great piece in MUSIC CONNECTION, https://www.musicconnection.com/chris-darrow-an-appreciation/?fbclid=IwAR3Ech2fJdvCzHf3_lUsrIRp91hv9LvRWdpC0pgDMSu-2FrsYJtaoN5qgFg.
Corky on the Pipeline Chargers
by Corky Carroll
In the early 1960’s the spot known as the “Banzai Pipeline” was board surfed for the first time. It had been body surfed for a number of years but most people thought it was too steep and dangerous to ride on a board. Phil Edwards rode it the first time with Bruce Brown filming. He got one great ride and left it at that. The next day John Severson showed up and filmed a session with a crew that included Dave Willingham, Loren Swan, Mike Hynson and Danny DeRohan. This was 1961.
The next winter more people started surfing it and the real standout was the infamous Butch Van Artsdalen, the original “Mr. Pipeline.” Butch was a fearless goofy-foot from La Jolla and took to the place like a fly on honey. A shot of him getting a perfect tube ride in which he would wind up sitting down at the end and rubbing his hands together made all the surf movies and is a huge part of surfing history.
In the next few years there were a number of guys who rode the place well including John Peck and a little-known guy named Mike Turkington. John was the first “regular foot” (left foot forward) to really excel backside in the cavernous barrels that made the place famous. I rode it for the first time in 1963 on my 10’ Phil Edwards shaped Hobie. From the first scared outta my mind wave I fell in love with the place. It remained my favorite surf spot up until the time I rode “Restaurants” on the island of Tavarua in Fiji. I was older then and the dangers of getting pounded at Pipeline were getting too great for my older body
Going into the mid to later 1960’s the duo of Jock Sutherland and Rory Russell took over and ruled the spot. There were others, but these guys were the top dogs. Also of note were a small crew of chargers from the Huntington and Newport Beach area that included Sam Hawk, Craig “Blind Owl” Chapman and George “Little Weavo” Weaver. These guys were the guys that were out there on giant days when nobody else was either around or wanted to paddle out, after the crowds and cameras left the beach. They held an “Expression Session” one year and Sam Hawk probably would have won it if it had been a competition.
Then came the era of the all-time King of the place, Gerry Lopez. I am pretty sure it can be agreed that he ruled it like no other ever did or ever has since. He was and will always be, well never say never because you “never” know, THE “Mr. Pipeline.” First Butch, then Gerry. Only two on record.
How can I describe Gerry at Pipeline? The best and most stylish Bull fighter ever going against the biggest, most gnarly and angry bull? Kinda like that. He just got steeper and deeper than anybody and did it with a totally relaxed style that made it look a lot easier than it really was. Gerry was the surf photographers dream child and all the movies and mags were full of him way back inside screaming tubes and flying out with a little grin on his face like he just got away with stealing a cookie from the plate when mom wasn’t looking. The dude was the best, period.
As the 1970’s came in there were a few other standouts which would include Jackie Dunn, Jeff Crawford from Florida and Joey Buran. These kids could all hold their own out there and held respect in the lineup. Commandos of the early years, first decade if you will, of surfing the Pipeline.
Now I watch the new crew out there and am amazed at how steep they can take off with the new equipment and how fast they go. Guys like Kelly Slater and John John Florence who just defy gravity at times and I find myself continuously letting out loud “wows.” But these are no greater reactions than the same ones we all had from watching Butch Van Artsdalen, Jocko, Rory, Sam Hawk and especially Gerry Lopez.
Corky's Fake Surfer Magazine News
by Corky Carroll
Ah, the wonderful world of media. I learned the hard way, when I was very young, that just because something is in print does not always make it true. Stories are told from the angle of the person who is telling the story and from what they personally feel is true, which many times is not the same angle that many others feel is factual. It’s the nature of the beast. In recent years this has come to light more and more in world news. But, in the surfing world, I have to admit that most people believe what they read. I have had issues with so many things printed over the years that it would take a year of columns to get into half of them.
With that said, I fully admit to having played a part in a couple of classic “fake news” surfing myths back in the great yesteryear. The first was the great “J.J. Moon” caper. There was, still is actually, a great dude who wrote a handicapping column for the horseraces back in the 1960’s. He went under the name J.J. Moon, and his column was called “Moonshots.” This guy also surfed and was pals with Joey Cabel, Mickey Munoz and other surfing big wigs of the time. They got together with John Severson at SURFER magazine and put together a great spoof on the surfing world. SURFER did stories on the great legendary eleven toed heroes’ hero, J.J. Moon, the only man who could “hang eleven.” This totally ballooned into a J.J. Moon fan club, t shirts, towels, membership cards and the whole nine feet. There was one story called “Corky vs J.J.” It was supposed to be a debate, but it was mostly both of us praising the great Moon and how he was secretly the best surfer in the world. It was huge. In fact, I used the “J.J. Moon Corporation” as a credit reference on the application for my first credit card, the address and phone number was the Chart House in Newport Beach. When they called he actually happened to be there, and they put him on the phone. He told them I had unlimited credit with them. I got a gold card right off the bat, I think I was like 18.
In later years, when I was working at SURFER magazine myself, we pulled off, to a much lesser degree, the same sort of mislead. One day our photo editor was going around the building with a great surf photo that they wanted to print, but had no idea who it was. He as asking all of us if we had any idea. This sparked the conversation about all the unidentified great photos that we had in the files. We were all sitting in the coffee room talking about this when the idea popped up, and I am pretty sure it was mine, to make up a name to use whenever we had a great photo that could not be identified but was too good not to use. We came up with the name “Lucas Bowels.” If memory serves me, which is hardly ever the fact these days, the guys involved were Jim Kempton, Guy Motil, Tom Servais, Jeff Devine, Art Brewer, Warren Bolster and myself. I am not sure if we told Steve Pezman, our publisher, or not.
For a couple of years Lucas Bowels showed up in the occasional great photo. Sometimes he was mentioned as one of the guys out on some particular day or session, or in some gossip news thing in the “Pipeline” section. Stuff like “the great Lucas Bowels sat in on guitar with the band” at some big party. Just enough to establish him as a part of the surf world at that time, thinking this was late 1970’s. We even nominated him on the ballot for SURFER POLL one year, and he got votes. The only person to ever actually question it was a local guy, who was an excellent surfer and unhappy that he had not been nominated. He, and I am not going to name him, came in one day and voiced his displeasure, which included a “and WHO is this Lucas Bowels guy anyway?”
At that point we stopped doing it and just let the myth of Lucas Bowels fade away. But for a couple of years he was alive and shredding all over the world and nobody was the wiser.
If a few surf dudes with a sense of humor could pull of J.J. Moon and Lucas Bowels, what in the heck do you think those dudes at CNN and FOX could be up to??? The ONLY place you can come to for real stuff is right here folks. Really.
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.
Corky on Changes in Surfing over the decades
by Corky Carroll
I can’t believe another whole decade has gone by. What I really can’t believe is that it’s gonna be 2020 and I am gonna be alive to see it, unless something unfortunately unexpected comes up between now and the first of the month. You never know. I always said the only thing golden about the so called “golden years” is our teeth.
But there actually is something else golden. It’s our memories. Well, if they are still there, anyway. I have a ton of them and they have become much better over the years as they have had time to mature and grow colors and lots of leaves and flowers on them.
With this thought in mind I figured it would be a good time to reflect back on the past 65 years that I have been surfing. I rode my first wave on a surfboard in 1955 in front of our house at Surfside, at the far north end of Orange County. I got my first board for Christmas in 1957 and grew up surfing the local beaches from Seal Beach to San Onofre.
When I started, all the boards were made of wood. It was mostly balsa wood at that time, although there were some with redwood still lurking around, especially at San Onofre. My neighbor, the infamous Tim Dorsey, started on a hollow paddleboard with square rails and no fin. That was also 1955.
Two things happened at the end of the 1950s that changed surfing radically. The first was the invention of polyurethane foam boards by Hobie Alter and Grubby Clark. This made the boards light enough that just about anybody could carry them and surf on them. My first board was wood and weighed three pounds more than I did. Foam boards opened the doors to just about everyone.
Then the movie “Gidget” came out in 1959 and surfing just exploded. All of a sudden surfing went from this thing a few lunatics along the California coast and in Hawaii did to a full blown “fad.”
The period starting with foam boards, say 1957 and on, is generally considered the “modern era” of surfing. The first big surfing event in California during this period was the West Coast Surfing Championship held at the Huntington Beach Pier in 1959. This grew into the United States Championship and then, eventually, into the U.S. Open of Surfing. The Makaha International in Hawaii already was going before that.
These were the beginnings of what has grown into a huge International sport that will be in the Olympics for the first time in 2020. I didn’t think that was ever going to happen.
The next huge transformation in surfing came in the years between 1966 and 1972, when boards went from long to short. This period is commonly referred to as the “shortboard revolution.” This equipment refinement totally changed the way we surfed and pretty much the way we even thought about approaching waves.
I am not sure how to explain this so most people can understand it, but before the boards got small it seemed like we were riding the board, which was riding the wave — it involved more thinking about what we were doing with the board. When they got small, it was all about riding the wave and being one with the board — like the board was part of our body and not something separate.
Some of us were making a living as pro surfers back then, although the income was nowhere near what they are pulling down today. Things started to change in that regard when they started the worldwide pro tour in 1976. People who came along during that era claim this was the start of “pro” surfing. I beg to differ on that one — we were getting paid and there was prize money well before that. But, that said, this was the forerunner of where professional surfing competition is today.
A lot of great surfers have come and gone over these 65 years. Just to name a few of the great ones that I have respected: Phil Edwards, George Downing, Paul Strauch, Mike Doyle, Mickey Munoz, David Nuuhiwa, Mike Purpus, Jock Sutherland, Gerry Lopez, Nat Young, Shaun Tomson, Peter Townend, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Tom Curran, Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater and Kai Lenny. Among the women, Joyce Hoffman, Linda Benson, Margo Oberg and Lisa Anderson would qualify. There are so many more and not enough space, but these are just a few that stick out as being elite surfers.
I haven’t really had the chance to see many of the top ones lately. But suffice to say a lot of great surfers have come and gone.
Surfing also has changed a lot through this years — from charging along in a good “hood ornament” stance to getting huge airs and riding close to 100-foot waves. The equipment and surfing are just amazing these days too.
So, here we are at the end of another decade and heading into the 2020s. Normally my resolution at this time of year is to lose weight and keep surfing. This year I am gonna forget about the losing weight thing, who cares. My new goal is to be still surfing every day and writing these columns when it’s time to start the 2030s.
Corky Recommends a Good Action Sports film
by Corky Carroll
I get tons of email every single day of the year that is promoting one thing or another. I look at all of it just in case there might actually be something worth checking out. Most of the time it’s stuff like somebody wanting me to interview some chick who has a new cooking show online or some hype for the “most wonderful new product to hit the world ever and ever, and you get a free Ginsu knife as a bonus parting gift.” Usually none of this stuff has to do with surfing, beach culture, or anything else that I might want to write about. But, that said, every now and then I get something that actually turns out to be very cool. Something that I would definitely want to share with all of you out there in “readers of Corky’s columnland.” This week I have one of those.
There are three things that I personally love, have done most of my life, and have written about the relationship between all of them many times. Surfing, skiing and music. Snowboarding would fall into this same grouping because of its relation to both skiing and surfing, although I have to admit that I have been a lifelong avid skier and never really took to snowboards. Nonetheless, it’s part of the deal. I know that there are many of you out there who share the stoke for this grouping of activities.
So, there I am going through my emails the other day and I get a promo for a new “action sports short like no other.” It’s called “Fire on the Mountain.” Reading on I see that this is a movie that combines surfing, skiing, snowboarding and music. In fact the music is completely done by the Grateful Dead and the surfing by one of my all-time favorite surfers, Rob Machado. O.K. ya got me, I am thinking. So I hit the link to the movie and watch it.
Best wishes for Happy Holidays and a Healthy 2020 to all!
Man, this is a REALLY good little movie. The narration is done by Basketball great and notorious fan of the natural arts Bill Walton himself. For those of you under the age of consent, Bill is the father of Luke Walton who is the former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Bill is in the Hall of Fame, one of the greatest centers to ever play the game and UCLA alumni. The footage is fantastic on all levels. The snowboarding is done by Jeremy Jones, Danny Davis and Kimmy Fanasi. Skiing by Michelle Parker and Chris Benchetler. And, as previous mentioned, the surfing by Rob Machado. All of these riders are top dogs and the performances are outstanding. Rob getting deep barrels in Indo and the rest of them just shredding huge steep faces at Mammoth Mountain. State of the art stuff. Mix in outstanding photography, some interesting psychedelic effects, music that only the Dead can deliver and a lively and stoked Bill Walton on the microphone and ya got a real great little movie.
O.K. yeah, I might be a tad biased on this. I love everything that this movie is. Free flowing improvising blending surf, snow and music into a moving canvas of pure and natural art. Those of you who always claim that surfing is more of an art form than a sport can point to this film and go, “seeeeee, there it is.” It is a sport, but is also an art form and so is skiing, snowboarding and obviously music. Yeah, this is not an original concept and it has been done before in one form or another. But, once again that said, this one is REALLY good. Totally worth checking out.
The link they game me to watch the film is www.dead.net.FireOnTheMountain. You should check it out. Also the link to the soundtrack is https://Rhino.lnk.to/FOTMOST. Good to see my old pals at Rhino Records involved in this. Years ago they released a 4-cd box collection of surf music that I was part of. Great company, they actually paid the residuals on time.
On a different note, I would like to wrap up this column with a very sincere MERRY CHRISTMAS, Happy Holidays and Have a totally cool Yule to all of you. Wishing you all love, health and happiness.
Corky on Surf Machines
by Corky Carroll
It looks like the age of technology is catching up with the surfing world, or maybe it’s the other way around. I’m not really sure about that. Surfing, and surfboards, have always been based on equipment that was handmade and personally designed by a shaper / designer. Then, not all that long ago really, came molded boards and the “shaping machine.” The shaping machine pretty much does all the work and the shaper just has to finish the board off a little bit. They have board designs that are on computer chips these days. Who would have every thought this would happen back when Hobie and Grubby Clark were mixing up the first batches of polyurethane foam? The molded boards speak for themselves; they are made in a mold. We used to call these “pop outs” back in the dinosaur days. That’s back when we had to fight off T-Rexes and Raptors to get to the surf. Most of you weren’t born yet. The modern molded boards are generally lighter and more ding resistant than normal boards, but they do break in half easier for the most part. There are those who love them and those who hate them. My opinion is that, like most things, it all depends on the particular board you are talking about. My surfboards are all handmade but my stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are molded.
Recently there have been more changes. Right off the top one of the most controversial and talked about changes are man made waves. Wave machines and wave pools. The most notable is Kelly Slaters “Wave Ranch” up in Central California. When I first saw video of this I was amazed. My first thought, and I am sure many others had the same one, was, “wow, I wanna ride that.” I can remember doing a surfing exhibition at the first wave pool back in Tempe, Arizona in 1969. It was called “Big Surf.” I can testify that Kelly Slaters wave is far far beyond the mush-burgers at Big Surf. It is so good, in fact, that they are now holding world rated surfing events there. You have stands, concessions, parking and the whole 9 yards. Just like going to most any other sporting event. To actually ride a wave there costs both arms, both legs and those of all your pals too.
Taking this even further we have all kinds of powered boards coming out right and left. A few years ago a company put out a powered surfboard that moved about three times the speed that a person could paddle. Made it easier to get into the lineup and to catch waves. The thing was really heavy though and that was a drawback. And the fact that the battery life was pretty short. There have been others that have almost made the market but for one reason or another, probably funding, haven’t. I was all into designing a board that would surf good and had a motor that actually had some speed to it a few years back. But the company didn’t have the resources and it never happened.
Recently a powered “foil” hit the market. Thing looks pretty cool but costs a lot. And I am not sure I wanna be around in the lineup when some beginner comes screaming along on a powered foil. Just normal ones are pretty dangerous, can you imagine getting hit by a foil going really fast? Ouch. But the concept is really interesting. Then recently I got a press release for a new powered “fin.” It’s a surfboard fin with a propeller on the back of it. Like the powered board this fin only adds a slight increase in speed. Catch waves easier for sure, I would have to try one to say how it effects the riding of the board. So far I have not had the chance to try one.
So here we have it. We show up at Kelly's Wave Ranch with a powered foil and one of those new watches that can tell you how far you ride, how fast you go and if you are cool or a kuk. Put on a battery heated wetsuit, waterproof iPod, set your watch and jump in. About as “mod” as you can get I guess. I have no idea how much this is all gonna cost, but it’s probably more than most of us can muster up for a few rides in fresh water.
Or, we show up at our local beach with a decent board and a normal watch that tells the time and maybe the tide but has no idea if you are cool or a kuk. Slip on your mildew smelling old wetsuit and paddle out. Total cost very low and it’s mostly all natural. You do have a bar of that new “glutton free” surf wax I assume.
What an age we live in.
Corky on Bob "Ole" Olsen
by Corky Carroll
Hardly anybody is still surfing when they hit their 90th birthday, a few but not many. Even less are still hand shaping quality and highly sought-after surfboards. Bob “Ole” Olsen is doing both. And the dude is not missing a beat either. He is in great shape, healthy and moves like he is a young buck in his 40’s or 50’s. As an example let me tell you about the last time I was with him. It was at the Vintage Surfboard Auction in Honolulu only a few years ago. They had invited a few special guests to the event, of which Ole and I were a part of, and put us up in a hotel in Waikiki. On the day of the auction a van picked us up and took us to the arena where the auction was to be held. In the van were Greg Noll, Bob McTavish, Lance Carson, Ole and me. When we got to the arena, and they opened the doors to the van, Ole jumped out and ran into the building while the rest of us sat there in amazement before trying to pry our old bones outta the van. Totally incredible man.
So Ole just celebrated his 90th birthday on November 28th at his home in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Probably had a surf session and shaped a board or two before cake. Although I doubt if he actually ate any cake, he is a devout “only eat green” guy. He pointed that out to me on that day in the van when I commented on what great shape he was in and he commented on what great shape I was not in. Hey, I like cake.
A little background here. Ole started surfing in 1946, before even I was born. He started shaping surfboards in 1958 to augment his job as a wood shop teacher here in Garden Grove. One of the classic Ole stories was how he lost half of the first fingers on each of his hands. The first was when he was showing his students how to work a certain power tool in the wood shop class. Cut the thing right off just above the middle. On the anniversary of the day he made that error they gave him a “farewell to the finger” party at school in commemoration. Leaving campus he went to jump into his new VW Van and noticed that one of the pop out windows was open and went to close it. Unfortunately for Ole he accidently had his first finger on the other hand in the window when he popped it close. Cut the puppy right off in exactly the same spot as he did the other finger. Voila!!! A totally matched set.
I first met Ole when he opened his shop in an old Quonset hut in Sunset Beach in the early 1960’s. His shop manager was the notorious Timmy Dorsey, who would go on to become a world class surfer, legendary lifeguard and is now my next-door neighbor all these years later. One day Tim told me that Ole had been watching me surf and felt that I might have some potential. He offered me a “team deal” on a new board. The deal was that I could get free color, anything I wanted, if I ordered a new board. I was ecstatic, mostly over the term “team” I think. Within a short time, and with the help of my dad and my paper route, I was riding my first “team” board. A red, white, and green Ole that looked like a big Mexican flag. (Note: more on the story of this board is in my new book “Not Done Yet.” Launch is Saturday, Dec 7th at 5 AM, go to CorkysNotDoneYet.com to score a PDF copy.)
Ole moved his shop to Seal Beach in a building on Bay Blvd that my pal Scott Hoxeng lived in upstairs. In 1962 Hobie Alter, of Hobie Surfboards, bought out Ole and began producing the Ole line. He hired Mickey Munoz to be the manager of the shop and Mickey recruited me to be a team rider, along with himself. It was kind of the kickoff to a long and very successful relationship with the Hobie company that is still going today.
After Ole made the deal with Hobie he decided to pack up and move to Maui. Hobie only used the Ole name for a couple of years and then Ole was free to start making his own line again. So he opened up in Lahaina and is still there shaping and surfing away as we speak. Each August they hold the “Ole Classic” surfing event over there and it’s one of the longest running, and most fun, surfing contests on the planet.
And so with all that in mind, here’s to Bob “Ole” Olsen. A happy 90th birthday and we will be looking forward to number 100. (Geeze, that means I have to make it another 10 years and still be writing this column.)
Corky on "the other Corky"
by Corky Carroll
If you grew up a Steve or a Bill, probably even a Tom, Dick or Larry for that matter, it probably never really phased you to meet other people with the same first name. This would be the same for a Mary or Susan if you are a girl. Growing up a Corky was a bit different, there just aren’t that many of us around. In my life I think I have only known 4 others, one of which is a girl. This is not counting dogs. It seems there are many more dogs named Corky than people. Probably all of us have other proper names and have been nick-named Corky for one reason or another. I was named that by my mother when I was a baby. I had the colic and burped all the time; the neighbors had a small dog that barked all the time. The dog was named Corky and my mom never could tell if it was me burping or the dog barking, so she nicknamed me after the dog. It stuck and I have never gone by anything else.
One of my pals through the past 55 years is Corky Smith, one of most legendary characters in the city of Laguna Beach. Corky’s proper name is Briggs Christian Morris-Smith. When he was a baby his parents threw a lot of parties and served bottles of Champagne. Little Briggs liked to suck on the corks, hence the “Corky” nick-name. I like his story better than mine, the whole burping and dog barking thing is something that I always intended on changing to something way cooler, but just never got around too.
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I first met Corky Smith in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964 when I was on the “Endless Summer” movie and surf exhibition tour with Bruce Brown and Hobie Alter. Corky was running the Hobie dealership there that had been opened by Dick Metz, another Laguna Beach surfing legend and longtime partner with Hobie in many projects and stores. We became friends and I would see him often when he moved back to his hometown of Laguna Beach. He is an excellent surfer and former City Surfing Champion, plus an all-around waterman. One of those people who can do it all, and does. Bodysurf, board surf, paipo boards, skim boards, frizby tosser and most of the beach activities you would find during your average day at Oak Street Beach. He worked for SURFER magazine and he is also a martial arts expert and teacher.
But Corky’s story goes way beyond all that. A Korean war veteran who risked his life in service of our country as a United States Marine. A devoted historian who has worked his entire life to discovering and maintaining many sites in and around the hills surrounding the City of Laguna Beach. He has been one of the main people in keeping the ocean waters clean, the hills pristine and preserving the quality of life in that town for well more than half a century.
So, here’s the deal and the main reason for this story today. Corky is now 83 years old and the wear and tear on his body from his years in the Marines and in the Hills of Laguna has taken its toll. He needs a new hip. The Veterans Administration has let him down and now it’s up to us, the good people of Orange County, to give him a hand. There is a fund set up for contributions to get Corky the new hip. It is https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-corky-smith-get-a-new-hip.
If any of you can spare some money to help out this amazing and good person it would be a very cool thing to do. He is anxious to get back out to second reef at Brooks Street and up into the Hills of Laguna to explore and protect more historical sites. Thanks to all of you who can chip in.
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by Corky Carroll
Each year for as far back as I can remember I have done my annual giving thanks column in the week that comes closest to Thanksgiving, except last year. I can’t remember why but I think something came up that required that time frame. Anyway, I got lots of mail asking me why and saying that I should always do that one. So, without further ado, here is my list of things that I am thankful for this year.
Before I get to me, though, I am thinking that this would be a good time to suggest a couple of things that, as surfers living in Southern California, we all should be grateful for. At the top is that fact that we surf and live in one of the coolest and most desirable places on the planet. It’s too easy to get angry with the crowds in the water and on the highways and forget that even with that this is still a total mecca. Surfing is fun. I don’t think there is ever a moment in my life that I am not grateful that I am a surfer and my life revolves around such a great thing to do. And to be able to live here is a total gift. Yeah, it’s not perfect. But it comes about as close as I can think of for a great place to live. Just about anything you can ever want is right here and close by.
O.K, now on to my personal thankings. At the moment I owe a huge thanks to my team of doctors for keeping me around longer. Having a recent run of physical issues, that were a not so fun of a surprise, I gotta thank Dr. Cathy Gentemann for catching a heart defect during my annual checkup at Memorial Care in Huntington Beach. A few hospital stays and a pacemaker later I am still vertical and walking around, which might not have been the case if Dr. Gentemann had not been on her game that day. And also Dr. Yang at American Heart in Fountain Valley for keeping me that way. And the dude who has been my skin doctor for as long as I remember, Sidney Newman at Los Alamitos Dermatology. Keep cutting and I will keep breathing. Thanks Sid. Naturally I am as thankful as it gets to my team of “Ear Babes.” This is Dr. Carol Jackson and her crew, the very best when it comes to your ears, and specifically “Surfers Ear.” Dr. J rocks and the hearing aids she fit me for are more important to my day to day happiness than words could ever express. Last, but not least, thanks to the most awesome surfing dentist known to man or beast, Dr. Eric Vanek. So a huge Thanksgiving shout out to these wonderful care givers.
On a more personal basis I am so grateful and thankful to have the most wonderful, sweet, beautiful and fun wife imaginable. Raquel Sauza Carroll. Nobody can understand how I got so lucky and landed this one, even me. My great kids too. Clint, Kasey and Tanner Carroll, love you guys. Grandson Cannon Carroll too. Family is so important and in the struggle for survival and the legal tender it can easily be forgotten just how important this is. The older you get the more you wish you had spent more time, done more things with, and for, and had let them know how important they are in your life and how much you love them. So to each of you just know that you are everything to me and I am so thankful to have you.
This goes for friends too. What blows my mind is that I actually have a long list of them and it would be impossible to narrow down a list short enough to fit here. Super thanks to Joel Saltzman, who is my partner in our new BLUE MANGO SURF adventure (www.bluemangosurf.com). Joel is one of those super fun and up-tempo people that is just always fun to be around. Everybody at HOBIE. My partners in the Mexico surf adventure that keeps me eating, Ron “Sharkenburger” Chrislip and John Ford. Best duo I can think of to help me keep this killer lifestyle I am lucky enough to live going. And, there it is too…. The killer lifestyle that I am lucky enough to live. I can go surfing every day. Think about that. I am 72 freaking years old and I can go surfing every day. Most of my pals my age are either in the ground or close to it. But I am still walkin’ the nose and crankin turns. If THAT isn’t something to be thankful for, what is?
I am going to wind this up with a huge thanks to all of you who read me each week and to the Orange County Register for letting me continue to do this for all these years. Stay tuned kids, there is a lot more to come.