Corky Carroll

Wouldn't it be nice to revisit glory years.

Part 4

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the city of Huntington Beach I have been doing a series on my memories of the past 50 something years that I have lived in and around that center of the surfing universe. Huntington Beach is truly "Surf City."

Last week I left off with my freshman year at Huntington Beach High School. It was the early 1960's. Right at that time surfing more than less turned into a huge national "fad." There were all these really silly "Beach" movies coming out like "Beach Blanket Bingo," "Ride the Wild Surf" and others that gave people all over the country the impression that surfers were these wild and crazy beach beatniks that partied all the time and did crazy things on giant waves and in the back of "woody wagons."

Before long there were pseudo surfers all over the place. There were dudes who would stick a board in the back or on top of their car and cruise around pretending to be surfers when they had never rode a wave in their life.

And then there were the "ho dads." Those were the dudes with the greasy hair who seemed to look like the "Fonze" in the Happy Days television show. One of those ho dads arrived in Huntington Beach one day in a candy apple green 1957 Chevy. He was from Norwalk. He took a look around and probably realized that the surfers were scoring the babes way more than the greasers were.

Voila! Chuck Dent became a surfer. I am mentioning this because Chuck became a huge part of the history of both surfing in this town and the downtown (Main Street) scene.

Former surfing champion Jack Haley had opened a surf shop and was making surfboards. Chuck got a job working for Jack and would eventually buy him out and change the business to Chuck Dent Surfboards. Toward the later 1960's he and his shop would become the focal point of the Main Street social scene.

It was also during those years that the country was experiencing what can only be described as one big "love-in." The "Summer of Love," as it was, blossomed big in Huntington Beach. Main Street was sort of like Haight-Ashbury south. Paisley was running rampant. Chuck was in the thick of it and wallowing like a pig in mud.

Chuck's boards were good but nothing out of the ordinary. Chuck learned to surf but was at best intermediate. But man that dude could rant. He took over from Tommy Leonardo as the undisputed Top Mouth not only on the coast but also in the surfing world.

Many of us thought that Cassius Clay went to Chuck for verbiage lessons. "I am the greatest" just sounded way too familiar to the local pier rats. He was extremely funny to listen to. I used to love to sit in the back of the pack and just laugh my butt off at some of his raves. You did NOT want to be the target of one of those.

Chuck was way funnier than Leonardo was. Yeah he could be cruel, that was a fact. But geeze it was entertaining to listen to.

Sometimes you had to feel bad for some of his victims, though. Like the fat kid who came into his store with his parents to buy a wetsuit. When no suit in the shop fit him Chuck said in no uncertain terms that, "If little Freddy weren't so fat he might be able to wear one of these. But look at this baby lard butt freak, he couldn't fit into a tent." Little Freddy ran out in tears. I am not making this up either. This is local lore.

Chuck put together an all-star list of pro surfers riding his boards. At that time there were surf shops all over the place in Huntington Beach. The Greek was becoming a local icon with his shop around the corner on Pacific Coast Highway. Also Plastic Fantastic.

David Nuuhiwa was the best surfer in town, and beyond, and was the surfing version of a rock star. Big white Jaguar and always decked in the latest "mod."

There was also the "Golden Bear." This was a music hall that seemed to feature just about everybody in the rock, blues and folk music scene at one time or another. You could surf the pier in the morning and go hear Jimi Hendrix in the evening. Or Janis Joplin, Jackson Browne, Elvin Bishop, Linda Rondstat, on and on and on. It's hard to think of anybody who didn't play there other than the Beatles and Elvis.

Those years were good to me as I won five Overall United States Surfing Championships in a row along with three Men's titles. Those were the surf glory years in town.

Stay tuned next week for part 5.