In the mid-50s there was a gang of us surfers here in Santa Cruz, maybe 20-30 in number. There were no wetsuits, and UC was not yet here. Nor was SiliconValley. In the winter months, there were very few people around. Other than the water being so cold, it was paradise.
One of my great friends from those days is Betty Van Dyke, and when I called her yesterday, she said she was going over to Jack O’Neill’s for martinis with some old surfing friends. I’ve known Jack for over 50 years, back before his wetsuit surfing empire, when he was selling firefighting equipment and I was an insurance broker — in San Francisco. Both of us bodysurfed at Kelly’s Cove. Early ’60s. When he started his surf equipment business in about 1963, I was his insurance broker (before I bailed on that world).
So here was Jack, holding forth in his cliffside house, and we had a delightful reunion. He’s (real) hard of hearing, has only one working eye, and is 90, so it took me a while to my volume high enough so he could hear me, but I did, and sat real close and we got really rolling about the old days. It was like dragging dusty treasures out of old chests.
Also there was Rich Novak, he of the NHS/Santa Cruz Bikes/Santa Cruz Skateboards empire — twinkle in his eye — and with an icy martini each, six of us had an hour of rare fun. When it got time to go home, everyone said, wow!
Photo by Dave McGuire, l-r: Betty Van Dyke, Richard Novak, Jack O”Neill, moi.