By Corky Carroll
Last week I wrote about some of my favorite surfboards through the years and got a lot of response. So, this week, seeing as how Christmas is just a few days away, I thought I would talk about a favorite Christmas Day from my treasure trove of all the zillions of them that I have had the pleasure of being alive for. A few years ago I did this and talked about the one where I got my first surfboard. Today I am gonna tell you about one that I had in the late 1960’s while I was staying on the North Shore in Hawaii.
Every year from 1963 to 1971 I was on the North Shore for Christmas, it was the big winter surf contest season over there and it was where you had to be if you were involved in that kind of thing. I think it was 1969 or 1970 when I was invited to a friend of mines home for Christmas dinner. His name was Al Dukes, cool dude who lived up on top of the mountain in an area called “Pupukea Heights.” He had this very nice “A frame” house and a great wife who did the cooking. He also invited Johnny Fain, the famous Malibu Hotdogger, over that same year. We had a wonderful mid-afternoon dinner and a couple of holiday drinks, it was very nice. After eating Al and Johnny started playing Chess. I had never played it and watched intently, I had always wanted to learn. After they played a game Johnny showed me how to move the pieces and then kicked my butt in a matter of a few minutes. Humph.
After that the three of us went down and paddled out at a little surfed spot, at that time, called “Kammieland.” It was really good, about 8 feet with perfect screaming left-hand barrels, just the kind I like. And, as an extra added treat, we were the only guys out, probably the best day I ever surfed that particular spot. I always remember the “Christmas Kammieland Session” when it’s this time of year and memories of former holiday seasons filter into my semi functional one flickering memory cell brain.
The next day I went to town and bought two books on how to play Chess. I spent day after day reading, practicing what I read and learning. I also was playing games with my pal Rodney Sumpter, who I was able to blow away within a matter of days. In these kind of situations I have always been able to super focus and put maximum effort into whatever it is that has challenged me. My pal Allan Seymour used to tell me that I could focus so intently on one thing that the entire rest of the world did not exist, I probably have a few wives, ex and current, that can back that up too. Finally, ready and full of confidence, I casually asked Johnny over for dinner at my house one night. Afterwards I pulled out my little cardboard and plastic Chess set I had bought at the drugstore in Haleiwa and asked him if I could have a rematch. He told me he would give me both Castles and both Knights and play me for 10 bucks. We did and I won. This did not go well with Johnny, being a pretty competitive dude, so he says double or nothing and I only get the two knights. I won again. Now he is actually kinda hot under the collar and says “100 bucks, straight up.” Yep, nailed him. He was in shock. As he didn’t, or so he said, have the cash on him he told me he would pay me later. Of course he never did, nor did I actually think he would. But it was a moment of glory for me and kinda the icing on the cake of a great Christmas.
I heard Al passed away some years ago, but Johnny Fain is still alive. I know you are still out there Fain. Where’s my C note dude? It’s not too late to pay up and clear your conscious amigo. An extra hundie would make my Christmas just a little sweeter.