My grandfather heeded the call, “Go west young man.” The words, barely audible over the screaming hooves of Cossack horses, sent him to Ellis Island. Post World War II hopes enticed my father to continue our family’s journey west and find a new home in California . That is where my story begins. I grew up in the heat of the sunny San Fernando Valley, miles away from the Pacific Ocean. Getting to the beach was reserved for weekends at best. However, my identity merged with the Sixties surf culture. Now, I find myself nearing the age of sixty and across the road from San Onofre Surf Beach. Each morning, I rise before the galloping sun can catch me and head west. At the end of an unpaved road, washed over by sand and time, I'm joined by a crew of like minded surfers, all with a story to tell.
Most every surfer has a nickname, ranging from subtle nuance to crude bluntness. Twinkle Toes, Frankenstein, Prozac Jim, Snap-On, Nextel Larry, Jersey Joe, Johnny V, and Porno Dave are colorful characters that can be found in our morning line-up. Mine, the one I'm familiar with, is Panaman. The reference is to the hat I wear, both outdoors and in. Today's contributor is "Don Ho", a seasoned waterman. His selection is due largely to having written of his love for surfing the previous year. The following essay was entered in a contest, where Don won top honors and a brand new Mctavish surf board.
San Onofre Beach: Then.....
.....And Now (Don Ho pictured)