by Corky Carroll
I get a ton of requests for stories about people and places from when I was a surf gremmie growing up here on the beaches of Orange County. So, with that mission in mind, I thought I would talk a bit about one of my favorite places to hang out back in the early 1960s, when I was first getting mobile enough to get around to places other than in front of my house in Surfside.
Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, also known as “Doho,” was a very popular place to surf in the afternoons, especially during the summer. Due to the way it faces, the westerly winds, which are common in the afternoons here in Southern California, blow straight offshore. This makes for excellent conditions to surf when everywhere else is “blown out,” choppy and sloppy.
My first time surfing at Doho actually came in the late 1950s when the mom of my neighbors Mike and Marc DeCheverous loaded us in the back of her Buick station wagon and drove us down there, and then later in the day to San Onofre. The waves were great and I instantly loved the place, super cool vibe with all the eucalyptus trees and long fun rides.
Shortly after that I got a girlfriend who had moved to Dana Point from Seal Beach, where we had gone to school together. Her name was Theresa Thompson and she surfed. We used to walk along the rocks below the cliffs from Dana Cove to Doheny and go surfing. Her best friend was Marianne Harrison, daughter of Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison. From meeting him I got to know pretty much the whole local crew at that time. One of them was Mickey Munoz, who would later become a mentor and one of my best friends for life.
There were some very cool people and surfers hanging out there during those years. Bob Moore and Peter Van Dyke were the lifeguards. Some of the names I remember that were regulars were the Patterson brothers, Daryl Diamond, the Ashower twins, Tom Sylstra, Danny Estrada, Joey Hamasaki, Gary “Flash” Blash, the Fly, Ron Sizemore, Allan Seymour, the Sanchez sisters, and, of course, the beautiful “Banzai Betty,” who would later take over girlfriend duties.
I used to ride the Greyhound bus down there in those days to visit Theresa — it used to cost 50 cents each way. Most of the time I would spend my return fare on Theresa and wind up hitchhiking home in the late afternoons.
It was on one of those days that I got picked up by none other than the legendary Mike Doyle. I was in shock — Mike Doyle himself — giving me a ride home. I blabbered the whole way and I am sure he regretted pulling over that day. In fact, I know he did, because he told me years later, when we had become pals, that it was the last time he picked up a surfer with a thumb out that wasn’t a girl.
When they put in the Harbor at Dana Point it kind of changed Doho — it didn’t totally ruin it, but it didn’t help it either. It’s still there and still a fun place to surf. But the real glory days were pre-harbor.