|History: I started hanging out at the Valley Surf
Center in 1965/66. Bob Pemberton was the owner and he was a wheeler
and dealer! I got the job by walking behind his counter on a pretty
busy day, he said, "hey kid what do you think you're doing?"
I answered, "I'm going to help these people so you can help
me!" He must've figured we were kindred spirits. And we were!
We carried several different kinds of board labels. I don't remember
too many of them, but I do remember that we carried Greg Noll.
I remember because I started riding for Noll, first on a Cat and
then on a Bug. At some point at the beginning of the short board
revolution Bob decided we would start building our own, so he
got a hold of Larry Felker to shape (He's the one who passed on
using the Rockwell hog to me -- almost all guys were using Skil
planers at the time -- but a Rockwell could do the work in half
the time as long as you could keep it from eating blanks, or your
hands!). Bob Weatherly was our glasser/glosser and he was phenomena!
It was the beginning era of the psychedelic lam's, and the guy
was inspired! I think he was one Weber's guys. Bob had a knack
for attracting the top guys... I'm sure it was a money thing...
and of course back then, surfboard guys weren't making a ton of
dough like they do now. I used to sit and watch those guys for
hours. Just taking it in. It seemed almost magical to me that
the smooth, glossy forms I was selling on the floor of the shop,
could come out of that rough blank of crusty foam (Clark didn't
use specialized blanks back then... just big ugly monster plugs!).
Then in 1968 I was approached by two engineers from Lockheed.
They wanted to be partners with me in a surfboard company. Bob
was winding down, distracted by other business interests, and
so I said yes. Here's where it gets really weird! The engineers
watched as I made a few boards. It was a very labor intensive
issue back then. I shared the idea of a shaping machine with them,
something that would cut rockers top and bottom. They made it
happen! It was really crude but it really cut out a lot of trim
time! It was bed clamps on a wood frame and side rails that had
top and bottom contours. When Daryl from Clark saw it the first
time, he cracked up... "that will never last!" I thought
it was great... but boards were about to change radically,and
so were the blanks.
The first company we started was called Surfboards America. That's
where the Rogue pictures (super shorts! 4'9" -5'6")
came from... We had some partnership problems. Engineers and Foam-heads
don't always get along. So I left and moved to Hawaii. I thought
I would be there a very long time... but I got bored really quickly.
I shaped outside my house at Sunset Point. Surfed Velzyland a
lot. Did a little work in town for Parr Surfboards. A couple of
months of paradise and I came home for some of the big city life.
I came back with a vengeance! I started shaping in our little
outlet in Studio City. I was sending stuff to Con for glassing
then. I met Rick Brown, which is about the time you came into
the picture. And started shaping his stuff and mine in that Mission
Hills retail store (the complaints were loud! Planer noise, resin
smells, foam and fiberglass dust everywhere, the poor Pizza guy
didn't know what to do!). Rick got married and shut down the shop
so I moved to the same Vanowen Shop I had as Surfboards America.
I shaped every board we ever built. I glassed most of them. Doug
Miller, one of the greatest guys in the world, sanded, set fins,
and rubbed out the boards. Later he showed a real artsy side and
started doing the pen and ink drawings before the gloss coat.
We built some really pretty stuff! By this time we had the Canoga
Park factory, off Alabama St, and the Topanga and Sherman Way
Retail Store. Of course, boards were selling for $75-100 so we
were working really hard for few bucks. I'm not sure we cared
about that too much because we did it for years. Then in 1978,
I really felt it was time to head out for ministry, and the guys
I had partnered with along the way didn't want to do a board shop
if we weren't going to actually build them (remember, it really
was a subculture thing back then, not just a retail enterprise)...
so the whole wonderful experience came to an end. We all moved
on to different things... but the good times we had will last
Of course, I was blessed to know Greg Liddle and Glenn Kennedy,
Dan Tarampi, Mark Richards, and some of the other Valley boys.
I had a great surf team, all who made me a really proud sponsor
-- and a million stories from our travels to contests. Way before
Animal House hit the screen, we had CME food fights at Poppy Star
(where all of us just escaped arrest) and O'Farrell's Ice Cream
(were some poor little kid spoke his parents words "I wish
you guys would be quiet!" and took a scoop of Chocolate Chip
right in the face (In Mike Marcellino's defense, it was a small
scoop!).That almost started a riot! I had a special friendship
with Larry Gordon of G&S Surfboards, who helped me with many
business things. I got to do the special advertising thing in
Surfing in the mid 70's with a lot of really great surfboard guys,
Stonebraker, Guzzardo, Wright, Merrick (before he became the Giant
he is today!), Walden, Warner, Collins...
There's a million other stories and hundreds of really great people
who all made that time so very special...