John Amsterdam May Still Hate Me (continued)


-SOME TIME IN 1967, (THE ORIGINAL) GRANDVIEW, LEUCADIA-

Phillip and I were months ahead of our contemporaries in surfing experience when a revolving group of friends got into the sport, separately, at first, in the spring of 1966, and after. While many tried it a few times, a more hardcore-if-loosely connected group, some of them also friends of mine from Boy Scouts, was emerging.

Phillip and I had been surfing Grandview for a while. We had looked for the spot back in our freshman year, riding in the big wagon on an afternoon with the surf blown-out, impossible to see past the lines of breaking waves to open ocean.

“Grandview Street,” my Mom said, just coming into Leucadia on Highway 101; “you think it might be a clue?” The empty lot was just another viewpoint to unrideable chaos.

But now, some of our friends had drivers licenses, cars.  On this trip, hanging on the beach near a fire, Ray Hicks and maybe Mark Metzger added to our surf troop, we saw John Amsterdam coming down the water-and-feet-worn access between houses. This might have caused us to look down for a second, as if we had not earned the right- knowing, in John Amsterdam’s eyes, we hadn’t.

“New board,” someone in our group pointed out. “New board,” John Amsterdam told someone, close enough for us to hear. “Dewey Weber Performer. One hundred and seventy-five dollars.” “With the stripes.” “Yep.”

By this time I was riding a nine-nine Surfboards Hawaii noserider Wendy Brook’s father had found buried in the sand at Tamarack.  My neighbors, two doors down on Debby Street, had been there in the middle of the night for the running of the grunion. No one in their party evidently considered that someone was (stupidly) hiding it. Since no one claimed it before they left, Wendy’s Dad (Sergeant Brooks to me) strapped it onto their camper, figuring they could use it to float around over at the Salton Sea.

Wendy invited me over to check it out, she and her parents and her little sister all scattered around the back patio.

“Whoa! Surfboards Hawaii!” My covetousness of the coolest of the North County brands was quite obvious. “Salton Sea, huh?”  I purposefully tried to convince them using this valuable board for mere floating would be a shame.

No, not to them.

Some time later, Wendy’s Dad, a Marine ordinance man, came home from the hospital after an incident at Twenty-nine Palms, his arm sewn to his chest (so skin would grow back- or that’s what I was told). He was being retired and had decided to move back to wherever they had come from; maybe Texas (maybe worse). Sergeant Brooks offered me the board.

Wendy, remembering my assessment of its value, was not pleased.

I was. Phillip and I tried to disguise the board’s shady past by masking-off and applying a fancy pattern on the front fourth, officially designated as the nose, with *Slipcheck. Maybe we didn’t shake the can well enough or something; the result artistic but no-less-slippery.

THE LINEUP at Grandview must now be explained.

Even if there was an underlying rock reef, it remains my belief that the very gap between the houses that allowed access also allowed runoff, that helping to create a gap in the sandbars. If you took off on a right, you had varying length of shoulder before the inevitable closeout inside section. A not-as-good left lead into the same last section.

John Amsterdam took off on the first wave of a set. I took off on the second wave, probably made a few up-and-down moves, suddenly noticed someone swimming for his nearby brand new, pin-striped, one hundred and seventy-five dollar Dewey Weber Performer just inshore of the closeout section. I pushed hard to kickout, and, not have given the board quite enough push, left the board parallel to and hanging in the lip.

-THE NEXT SATURDAY- GRANDVIEW-

“Is that Erwin’s board?” John Amsterdam asked of Phillip and Ray.

Before either could explain that, yes, they had borrowed my board, undinged in the incident, and that I had to go to church on Saturdays and wasn’t, officially, supposed to engage in something as worldly and sensual as surfing, John asked, politely, if he could run over my Slip-checked Surfboards Hawaii noserider with his truck.

“Thanks for not letting him,” I said the next day, surfing somewhere else. “I tried to tell him I was sorry. I mean, I moved over to the lefts. What else could I do?”

*Aerosol invented by Morey-Pope.

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