While I do fancy myself a writer, and I have done some work (paid) as a newspaper reporter, it will soon become obvious that I am neither a photographer nor a photo/journalist.
The memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett; Davis, tragically killed in a fire in his apartment in Seattle, had been planned for a while. His father, Stephen Davis, often mentioned in ‘realsurfers’, is a friend of mine, and, while this was an opportunity to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of someone taken away from those who loved him way too soon, it also afforded the many people whose paths in some way were touched by Emmett’s. Including mine.
My connection was, originally, through surfing. Emmett was, and Stephen is a part of the loosely-connected collection of surfers with a homebase in the unlikely corner of the country, the Olympic Peninsula. Because Steve travelled, ‘posted-up’ (his term) in Baja and California and Hawaii and Costa Rica, and often included Emmett for parts of these adventures, because Steve put off work (occasionally) to go snowboarding with his son, met up with him in Oregon; the community of surfers with a connection to Emmett has grown.
Add in the fact that Emmett was raised in Port Townsend, went to college and worked in Seattle, it shouldn’t have been surprising that so many people met up at Fort Worden.
Though I knew many of the locals through working in Port Townsend for many years, I was probably more at ease among the surfers. Not saying I’m totally accepted; I’m tolerated. I gave a ride to the memorial to a surfing buddy of Stephen’s and mine, Archie Endo. A stylish longboarder, whose daughter, Lillian, went to school with Emmett.
Archie was in town from Thailand. He had a stroke a couple of years ago, and, though he recently surfed some small waves there, he fears his days of hitting the waves in the cold Strait of Juan de Fuca may be over.
Friends of Stephen actually came into the area early, and, because it’s what surfers do, they went looking for waves. And they found some; glassy, long walls; one of those rare, brief, and magic windows on the fickle Strait. Cap, here from the Big Island, credited Emmett for sending the waves.
I met Cap, who introduced himself as Brian, at a beach north of PT where Stephen was preparing to kitesurf. Not being a photo/journalist, I did not take any photos. Supposedly, Stig, who, like Cap, I had heard stories about but had never met, a friend of Steve’s from Oahu, was in town but not there at this time.
Okay, let’s look at photos I did take.
Local ripper/librarian Keith Darrock, left, media darling and local wherever he goes, Adam ‘Wipeout’ James.
People I don’t know, or didn’t know, and Stephanie Moran, who Steve and I have both done work for, and who Trish is great Facebook friends with, though they have never actually met (yet).
Top, then clockwise- Archie and Cody Caputo (who I haven’t taken off in front of in quite a few years); the same shot twice of Cody, Archie, and Keith (I’ve never, to my knowledge, burned Archie, though I did totally ding one of his boards once, I think Keith and I are about even on wave usurping); and a photo of kitesurfer/SUPer/long-or-shortboarder Derrick Vandersurfer (I swear, no one can really get through his real last name, Wipeout, All-board (formerly shortboard) Aaron Lennox, and Archie.
Stephen R. Davis. I heard one of Emmett’s friends say “He’s dressed up, looks like one of my professors.” If it doesn’t show up, there’s a matching blue tie in this sartorial mashup. If one gets strength from hugs, Steve should be powered-up for a long while.
Bob. Not a surfer. Everyone seemed to know Bob except me. When I was introduced, he said, “Oh, you’re Erwin. Some people thought I was you. Some woman in Town, every time she’d see me, she’d say, ‘Erwin… love your column. Erwin.’ (I had a column in the Port Townsend Leader for about ten years) Finally, I said, ‘Thanks. Where’s that forty dollars you owe me.’ She never called me Erwin again.”
I don’t really have a right to be offended, but I don’t really see the resemblance, and, should add no one has ever said to me, “Hey, Bob; how’s it going?”
Steve with Cosmo. Cosmo is a landscaper from Chicago and made leis for the paddleout.
People headed toward the lighthouse for the paddleout. That’s Michael Morrow top right. Raised in Panama, he’s surfed all over, lived for a while in Hawaii. Has some great stories.
Emmett’s sister, Katrina. She took some of Emmett’s ashes out to the circle. I had never met her, and her expression might be explained by saying I had just introduced myself. “Oh, you’re Erwin.” I’m not sure what she heard about me, but I held back from saying, “Yeah, often confused with Bob.” I actually considered asking, feeling somewhat guilty for not participating in the paddle out, if I could hop into the canoe.
This isn’t the end of this. While working on this, and I apologize for not having a closer shot of the circle, Adam called me. A tanker’s passing pushed some waves into the bay, described as ‘perfect little peelers’ by Mr. James. He sent photos.
Later. It was, for someone who avoids these things, so worthwhile. Archie met a guy who married into a Japanese family, Adam, who claims not to be a fisherman, regaled Aaron with a well-told fishing story as well as asking Aaron if he had, indeed, been hiking in the hills down around HamaHama (he had), and gave him some pointers on climbing spots in that area.
At one point I asked a young man across the picnic table what his connection to Emmett is: It was more his wife, but he was from Seattle; he’d seen the local news coverage. He started talking about another incident where a young person tragically lost his life in an accident. That was the closest I came to breaking out the tissues Trish made me bring.
I still never met Stig.
Emmett, rest in peace.