John Amsterdam May Still Hate Me (Part Four)

Spring 1968- Another Saturday- Grandview-

The surf was small and choppy. The rights weren’t working at all. I was the only one out on the lefts when John Amsterdam waded halfway out, staring at me as I surfed.

Staring, judging for himself.

Donn Franzich, on the beach, had already told John that I, the entire unofficial surf team from Fallbrook Union High School, had won my first heat at what may have been the first annual (San Diego radio station) KGB/Windansea Surf Club San Diego County High School Surfing Contest.

Yeah, it was a Saturday, but nobody from my local church would have gone down to La Jolla Shores to watch such sinfulness. I had talked Donn into driving me. He was a Fallbrook resident because his father worked in the bigger (than San Diego) city, L.A., and believed his kids should be raised in the country; avocado trees and a horse or two on a mini-ranch. Donn’s, and some other Dads, were home on weekends.

Two girls rounded out our group: Bill Buell’s sister, Margaret Brown (maybe half-sister, technically) and this blonde Officer’s daughter (name long forgotten- sorry) had talked their way into going along; not really like dates, not really girlfriends, but, sure, girls.

My heat had started at the very moment the city and nearby homeowners had allowed the contest organizers to crank up the public address system. The contestants were listed, including: “The pride of Ocean Beach, and a member of the Windansea Surf Club…” And others. And then, “From Fallbrook… I didn’t know they had surf in Fallbrook.”

The actual fifteen minutes was a blur; paddling, surfing, caught inside. I had taken a couple of lefts, ended up out, I’d feared, of the contest zone. Fifteen minutes after the end of the heat my parents showed up, grownups, in shopping/sinning/going-to-a-grownup movie clothes, lumbering across the sand.

I say ‘lumbering’ because, at that moment, I was a little embarrassed by the inland parents of the inland cowboy surfer.

“I don’t know,” I told them, standing, my contemporaries still seated on towels; “one guy in my heat was…they said… probably not good.”

Ten seconds into my parents’ walk back to the car my heat’s results were announced. They both stopped, then turned toward me. “And, in first, from Fallbrook…” It was probably the only time I ever saw my mother leap into the air.

No, I was no longer embarrassed.  My parents, who had taken me on several ‘practice’ trips, who had sat in the car in the almost empty parking lot at 15th Street in Del Mar near dark, were there and the coolest parents on the beach.

What I had won was the opportunity to compete again the next day. My parents would let me borrow the good car.

But now, at Grandview, it was sunny and small, and with Donn and the Officer’s daughter making out against the bluff, Bill’s sister asleep and adding to her sunburn, John Amsterdam was judging me. Harshly. Again.

-August 1968, Lupe’s Left Loopers- Mazatlan, Mexico-

It was never my idea. I never would have thought of it.

Phillip must have heard some discussion of surfing summer waves in Mexico in conversations between his sister’s boyfriend, Bucky, and his friends, friends like John Amsterdam. I was fine with the North County’s beaches.

The increased crowds of summer weren’t such a bother. Oh, maybe kooks and those rich guys from Texas who rented places on 101 by the month, who thought four foot was kind of big, and who went after all the local girls with a certain gusto; and a high rate of success.

Phillip’s stepfather, Vince Ross, was for the plan all the way. “A real learning experience,” he said.  My parents and Ray Hick’s mom had to be talked into the plan. With Ray’s father in Vietnam, Phillip and I went over to try to convince his mother that her son wouldn’t be hauled off by bandits or Federalies. Somewhere after we had changed her mind, I was told (not too subtly) to shut up before I talked her into not even allowing him to hang out with us.

Phil’s younger brother, Max, would even out the crew. We’d be taking Vince’s fairly-new Mustang. Each of us sported fresh haircuts (so we wouldn’t be mistaken for hippies). We had visas granted us, with Vince’s help, on our second trip to San Diego to get them.

Evidently, the first time the people at the Mexican Consulate thought I had been, somehow, sarcastic or disrespectful (really, they were closing and said we’d have to come back and I said we live fifty miles away and, wow, I did enjoy that elevator ride, and…). This time I smiled politely and kept my mouth shut.

My portion of the expenses was (and I forgot this for years) contributed mostly (if not totally) from my sister Suellen’s baby sitting money, borrowed by my parents, probably never paid back (in kind).

My Dad, reluctantly, and at my Mother’s urging, when Phillip came over to convince my parents, gave us some ‘manly’ advice. In the backyard, away from my Mom and annoying siblings, he told Phillip and me that we should avoid any people trying to sell their daughters to us for, “you know… you know.”

Oh, yeah; we knew. We giggled anyway.

“Just wait until you meet a nice girl,” he said, “have sex with her.”

Shocking. Phillip and I would laugh about it later.

So, two and a half days and twelve hundred miles from Fallbrook, there we were, watching choppy six foot waves peel off a jetty. Mexicans on old surfboards Gringos had left behind or sold cheap were out.  One of them fell, got caught in the rip, swimming hard but not moving. Eventually, another surfer gave him a rest on his board, let him off in the surf zone. Seconds later, he was back in the rip.

“Did we come all this way to watch someone drown?” Ray asked. About the time the boardless surfer made it into the shorebreak and onto the beach, we applauding, I turned. Several other surfers were a ways down the little brick wall we were draped over.

John Amsterdam.

He didn’t look happy; even with Phillip. He and the two guys he was with got into their vehicle and moved on, maybe toward some newly discovered Mexican Malibu. Or maybe to discover one.

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