Corky Carroll

Ole Olson was and is one of a kind

Bob "Ole" Olson, doing what he does best. The other day I was walking down the beach to go surfing and ran into a dude that I know coming the other way. I knew that he had just returned from a surf trip to the island of Maui so I stopped for a couple of minutes to ask him how his trip was.

He was stoked and had a great time and had a brand new board that he bought over there. It was an OLE. Wow, a genuine brand new board made by none other than the legendary Bob "Ole" Olsen.

This took me back. Way back. O.K. shut up. Way way way back. Ole used to make surfboards in an old Quonset hut in Sunset Beach, just north of Huntington Beach, right here in the O.C. And he made me my third board. I'll never forget that board.

One of the hot surfers of the time, Timmy Dorsey (a.k.a. the "Iguana) was working for Ole at the time and he is the one who wrote up my order. He told me that Ole was impressed with my surfing and wanted to offer me any color job I wanted free of charge. Wow, my first "deal."

So we came up with a green, white and red layout that turned out to be exactly like a Mexican flag. What is really weird is that 50 years later he winds up being my next-door neighbor at my casa in Mexico. We laugh about that often.

Ole later moved his business to a store over on Bay Boulevard in Seal Beach. My pal Scott Hoxeng lived upstairs from the store and was in heaven when a real life surf shop came in downstairs. Not long after that Ole sold the rights to build OLE Surfboards to Hobie Alter of HOBIE Surfboards.

Hobie hired Mickey Munoz to run the store and Mickey recruited me to be the surf team. The combination of Mickey, who is an extremely funny dude, and Ole, who is another real character, made for a lot of laughs and a great basis to see the surfing world for a 13-year-old gremlin. I loved hanging around those two.

Ole, along with being a great surfboard shaper, was a woodshop teacher at Garden Grove High School. One afternoon he was teaching his class how NOT to use one of the power tools -- I think it was the lathe or something. In the process he cut off one of his fingers.

That is what I call a great teacher. If you are going to show them how NOT to do it then you might as well teach them how NOT to do it right. Right?

On the same day a year after the day he cut off the finger the kids in class gave him a "fallen finger" party. As he was leaving school shortly afterwards he noticed that one of the pop windows on his new VW bus was open. So he popped it close. Unfortunately he had the exact same finger as he cut off, but on the other hand, stuck in the window.

And yep, he popped that puppy right off to make a perfectly matched set. I guess being an expert surfboard shaper had made him a stickler for symmetry and balance. He had not felt right since losing that first finger and finally this made him centered again.

Ole liked to talk right in your face. That was one part that sort of creeped me out. He would put his arm around the back of my head and pull me right up close to him to talk. Like his face would be only a few inches away from mine.

That in itself wasn't so bad. But what made it horrifying was that Ole used to love to eat pickled eggs. That dude could have the smelliest breath on the planet. It used to gag me. He loved that and would laugh his butt off when I would try to wiggle out of his grip.

I thought that was cruel and unusual kinda behavior, myself.

Not too long after that Ole moved to the island of Maui. Hobie didn't build OLE boards for very long and eventually Ole got his name back and started making a few boards near Lahaina. And he is still there doing the same thing over 40 years later.

So I am looking over my pal's brand new OLE and it is great to see that logo and his remarkable craftsmanship is still intact. Ole Olsen is definitely one of the great ones. I have not seen him in decades. I just hope he has given up the pickled eggs.