The Wings of Tomorrow's Surfboards
Episode 1: "The Foam Surfboard"
By Thomas Takao
Thomas Takao COPYRIGHT 2018
Sitting at the kitchen table Leo mentioned “From what I know about this time and place, I think we need to get a driver’s license and a phone number this morning. There is a public phone located at the market around the corner at 2nd street and we can call the phone company from there. Then walk up the Strand to the Pier and up to the Coast Highway to catch a bus to Inglewood, where we can get a driving permit at that DMV. After that we can walk over to the Hollywood Park Race track and make a few bets I have in mind” suggested Leo.
Flo was thinking to herself before saying "This is going to be an interesting day". Leo response was “So, shall we take a walk up to the Pier and get to know the neighborhood” as Flo got ready to walked down the stairs into the alley that was behind the beach front houses. They made their way down to the 2nd street where it dead ended at the Strand. Looking to the left Leo and Flo viewed the recently built breakwater and King Harbor. Looking north they were looking at the Hermosa Beach Pier and began walking in that direction.
The wind was calm and the ocean surface glassy as the waves of one feet splashed onto the shoreline. Pointing out to sea Leo says to Flo “We are at the beginning of the Foam Era in surfboard building and this area and San Diego will play a major role in the development of surfboards worldwide”. As they walked Flo kept an eye on what the local beach goers were wearing and jotted down mental notes to herself. One person on a bike rode by wearing a long sleeve wool Pendleton shirt over a Penney’s high neck collar T shirt and Levi denim pants with Purcell tennis shoes with the smiley line on the bulbous toe area. “Morning” said the rider going in the opposite direction toward the Breakwater.
“Good Morning” said Leo as they continued walking up to the Pier before turning right onto Pier Ave. Then it was uphill to the Coast Highway and waiting for the bus to arrive. After catching the bus and a few transfers later they are at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). While in line to see the clerk both were reading the driving manual for the test. After receiving their permits they were scheduled for a driving test the following week.
Now it was off to the races, after a 45 minute walk they are at the Race Track cheering the horses that Leo had betted on. Using both of their food money which was thirty dollars, they continued to bet their winnings on the next race. Calling it a day at the races Leo and Flo had made $27,500 with Leo’s insight. Before leaving Leo asked one of the usher “Do you know where an Automobile dealership was located nearby”. “Why sure, there is a Chevy dealer a few blocks west of here. You can’t miss it, it has a big Felix the Cat statue in front” said the usher.
They came up to the dealership and were walking around along the rows of cars as a salesman came up to them and said “Can I help you in finding a car. Were you looking for a sedan or a station wagon”. “We are looking for a station wagon something to carry surfboards in” said Flo. “Hi my name is Elmer” said the salesman. “Hi I’m Leo and this is my wife Flo” replied Leo. “Say you two surf” asked Elmer. “Yes, we are new to the area and getting acquainted” said Leo. “My brother and I surf, we started last year and ride Velzy’s surfboards. Where are you from” asked Elmer. “We are from um Panama” said Flo. “Well the waters here are much colder than there. During the winter I froze my rear end off, the water is cold here in the winter” remarked Elmer.
Our latest models is a 1958 Chevy station wagon is going for $1795, and we also have a used 56’ Black and Silver Nomad for $895 and if you are looking for a deal there is a 51’ Ford Custom 79 Country Squire for $300, an older couple traded it in for a Corvette and it has less than 400 miles on the odometer. “Do you want to see the Woodie first” asked Elmer. “Yes that sounds interesting” said Leo. Going to the back of the lot where the Ford Woody was located Leo and Flo was attracted to that station wagon. “Can I start her up” asked Leo. “Why sure” answered Elmer. Leo turned the key and started right up. Leo says to Flo “I like this car”. “So do I, but let’s look at the Nomad” said Flo “Ok, where is the Nomad Elmer” asked Leo.
“it’s right over here, walking pass five 1957 sedan and two door models the group came up to the 56’ Nomad. It had a metal flake charcoal brownish black body with a silver roof with black trim around the lower edges of the roof and doors. It had two luggage bars on the roof for luggage or some surfboards. The interior is tan brown button tuck leather upholstery; the previous owner had it done in Tijuana. He also traded it in for a new Corvette” mentioned Elmer as he continued “the rims are chrome Astro Supremes with the rear rim being wider. It has Goodyear tires all around with the rear wheel well were flared out to accommodate the wider tires.
It has posi-traction and the engine was updated to a 283 Super Turbo Fire V8 with Chevy header set. Here’s the key, go ahead and start her up” said Elmer. Flo gets into the driver’s seat and turns on the ignition, with the sound of Varoom, Flo is surprised and reacts by leaning back suddenly. Leonardo is excited with the sound coming from the engine and really is interested in this car. “Let me take you for a drive, so I can explain the power in this baby” said Elmer.
Flo gets out and sits in the back seat while Leo gets in sitting shotgun. “Be careful when you step on the gas pedal “ said Elmer leaving the dealership parking lot “this is what happens when you give it too much gas” continued Elmer. The real wheels began making the sound of burning rubber on the asphalt. “You don’t want to do that unless you are showing off. It wears the tire down quicker” said Elmer as he went around the block and back to the dealership parking lot.
“Well, do you want to see the new model station wagon” asked Elmer pointing to the standard model that they had passed on the way in. “No that will be Ok, we will take the Nomad” said Flo as Leo was shaking his head to say yes. “Good, let’s go into my office and take care of the paper work and get some insurance for you” replied Elmer. Forty five minutes later Leo and Flo left the dealership to a nearby gas station. The attendant walks out to greet them and ask “what will it be Ethel or regular”. “Fill her up with Ethel, but I forgot to ask where the gas intake was located” answered Leo . The attendant mentioned to Leo that the gas cap was under the left tail light unit and it swung open after pressing the lever. The gas stop pumping at $3.75, the attendant squeezed the pump handle again before stopping at $3,90 squeezeeing the pump handle once more to $4.00 even “That will be $4.00 for 20 gallons, would you like your windows washed” remarked the attendant. “Here the $4.00 and no on the windows, But thank you” said Leo turning on the ignition.
“Are you hungry” asked Leo. “Yes” said Flo. “There is a Drive In Hop up ahead. I will stop there” said Leo. Turning into the AW &W Drive In, they find a parking spot and pull in. It wasn’t long before a young woman in roller skates with two menus comes up to the car and says to Leo “Hi, I’m Julanita and will be your hostess. Here are two menus to look at and I will be back to take your orders in a few minutes”. Leo takes one and gives the other menus to Flo, they look over what is on the menu and wonders what some of the things were. “What are you going to have Flo” asked Leo. “I’m going to try the Special. Never ate one before” said Flo handing the menu back to Leo. “I will get the same this will be like the ham sandwiches and potato chips we had at the races for the first time.
Julanita came skating back with her note pad ready to take their order. “What will it be” she asked. “We will have two of the AW&W Special. The hamburger, French fries and the root beer float” answered Leo. “Got it and will be back. Have your window slightly rowed up to place our trays to it” said Julanita going over to another car and taking away the window trays before going back to the kitchen. Skating back with their orders balanced in both hands, she places Leo’s meal first then moves to Flo side and places it on the window’s edge and door.
After their meal they drove home and parked their new used car in the garage. The next morning Leo and Flo walked over to the harbor and went looking around the docks in finding a boat. They were walking pass a man who was having a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette. “Good Morning” said the man. “Good morning to you as well” said Leo. “Are you two looking for a boat” asked the man. “Why yes” answered Flo. “My name is Doug Smithirin and I’m a boat appraiser and salesman of King's Sailboat and Motor yachts” said Doug. “Good to meet you Doug. I’m Leo and this is my wife Flo” replied Leo. “Leo and Flo can I interest you in a 37 ft. Crealock yacht. It is well built and very well designed. The owner just recently got divorced and is low on cash. He will sale it reasonably cheap” said Doug. “How much” asked Leo. “Three thousand dollars” said Doug. “Where is it located” asked Flo. “It’s on B dock, please follow me and I will show you” said Doug.
“It looks brand new said Leonardo. “The owner took her out 2 months ago for sea trials and has been here since the divorce. Would you care to take her out for a sail”. “Yes, that would be good” said Flo. Doug got on board and unlocked the cabin door and asked Leo and Flo “Are you familiar with sailboats”. “Yes we are” replied Leo. “Good, Flo on board, Leo take care of the dock line and hop on board after I start backing out and you and Flo can handle the sheets” commented Doug. They slowly motored out viewing the Redondo Beach Pier to their port as Leo lifted the mainsail and helped Flo get the jib out of the V berthV berth. Sailing towards the fishing barge “Sacramento” before turning around and returned to King Harbor, going in the opposite direction toward the barge was the Voyager taking the fishermen to the Sacramento for a day of fishing.
“Flo would like to take the helm” mentioned Doug. “Yes, I would like that” said Flo with Leo beside her. “Do you wanted to get the boat” asked Leo. With a smile on her face she said “Yes”. “I like it too” said Leo. Back at the harbor the deal was made and Leo and Flo walked back to their apartment and discuss what to name her and other things they will do for the rest of the day. Looking at the daily newspaper Leo sees an ad for surfboards, flying lessons and appliances “We need to get a couple of surfboards for ourselves and I want to stop by the Municipal airport for flying lessons” said Leo.
“Where should we go first” asked Flo. “Let go over to the Velzy Jacobs shop in Venice and then to the Torrance Airport” replied Leo. It wasn’t long before crossing over Ballona Creek to Venice Beach and being at the Velzy Jacobs shop. Leo and Flo went inside and looked around. “Can I help you” said the manager. ‘Yes we are looking for two surfboards” said Leo.
“Are you just starting out in learning how to surf or have some experience” asked the manager. “We have experience and what is your name” asked Leo. “It’s Harry and what are your names” asked Harry. “I’m Leo and this is my wife Flo. What are your latest designs” said Leo. Walking over to the side wall and pulling out a couple of boards and placing them on the floor. “These are the latest one, they are made with Sweet foam, no pun intended” answered Harry and continued “Lift this board of Balsa” handling a board from the rack and giving it to Leo to lift. Then picking up the foam board and letting Leo handle it.
“Yes the foam board is lighter” answered Leo. “Try lifting the foam board Flo” asked Harry. “Yes, the foam is lighter” said Flo. “How does it ride compared to balsa” asked Leo. “There is more float and is easier to turn. These boards were shaped by Hap and glassed by Don” answered Dewey before making his sale pitch “If you are interested I can sell you and your wife a new foam surfboard for $70 dollars each. That’s with $5 dollars taken off each of the boards if you buy it today”. “Excuse us for a moment I want to talk it over with my wife” said Leo as Harry pulled another board from the rack and laid it on the carpet.
Flo was watching Harry place this surfboard on the floor while talking to Leo. “I like the look of that one” said Flo pointing to the yellow and blue pigment stripes on the board and walks over to it and lifted the board. “I like this one its light” said Flo. “It was shaped by Johnny before he went over to Hawaii and glassed by Stockwell. He used just one layer of fiberglass instead of two layers on each side on this specific surfboard” said Harry.
“We will take that one that my wife likes and I will take the one that Hap had shaped” said Leo. “Very good, do you need a pair of trunks, we have swim wear for woman as well” said Harry while pointing toward a shelf along the wall. “Yes we will need some swimwear, do you have a dressing room” asked Leo. “Yes, over there” replied Harry pointing to a closet that was convert to a dressing room. Leo looked at the selection and Flo did the same. After trying some on, they both got two pairs of trunks and bathing suits.
After taking the boards outside Leo places them on the rack. With pieces of garden hose and small rope inside of them he secures the boards to the rack and is on his way back to the apartment. They unload the surfboards and are on their way to Torrance Airport to take flying lessons to get their pilots license. Arrangement had been made before going over to the surf shop. They would meet Bill the instructor at the parking lot. Pulling into the parking lot Bill was standing next to his VW Bus.
After getting out Leo and Flo would walk over to Bill, Leo introduced himself “Hi I’m Leo we talked this morning over the phone”. “Yes I’m Bill and this must be your wife Flo. Nice car you have there” said Bill shaking Leo and Flo’s hand. “Follow me to the plane” Bill continued as they went out to the hanger. “There she is a Bede BD-1 Trainer. It’s a two seater and during the lesson just one person at a time, but Flo if you don’t mind sitting in back for the introduction, you are more than welcome” said Bill. “Ok I don’t mind” said Flo.
Bill explained they would need to have so many hours of training before taking the test to receive a pilot’s license. With that in mind they takeoff and are flying around the area of Lomita talking about what the flying course consist of. Viewing south Bill says “There is San Pedro and the Harbor” as he veers off toward Long Beach. “You can’t see the mountains today the smog is really bad” said Bill as he is returning to the airport. They land and schedule their lessons. “I will see you and Flo next Monday afternoon” said Bill. “Yes we will see you then” said Leo.
Before driving back to the Breakwater Leo had a local map and was looking at the coast line. He decides to check out the Cove and will be making a left hand turn on Calle Mayor from the Coast Highway and proceed to the Cove. Pulling over and parking it, Leo and Flo walk over to the open field and look down at the Cove. It was breaking 2 to 4 ft. with a few people out surfing. “The waves came up. I wonder if the Breakwater is breaking” mentioned Leo. So they got back into their car and drove back, but before returning they stopped by a market and got a box of paraffin wax.
“Can you open the garage door Flo” asked Leo. “Ok” said Flo as she pull the handle and the side spring lifted the single car garage door. After parking the car they walk over to the Strand and stood on the walkway wall. The waves were breaking 3 to 5 ft. and fair to good shape with a few guys out. Leo hops off the wall and grabs Flo by the waist with both hands and helps her off. They walk over to the apartment and change into their swimwear and walk over to the beach. “The water is cold around 60 degrees so we might have to get used to it” said Leo. They started to wax their boards and another surfer walks over and says “You can melt the wax in a coffee can on the stove and use a paint brush to put it on the next time” said the surfer as he walked toward the water.
It would take Leo 20 minutes to wax his and Flo’s boards, while watching the waves. The waves would peak near the Breakwater and start breaking for about 30 to 40 yards before closing out. Some waves were less and occasionally one would be a longer ride. Leo and Flo walked into the water up to their waist as the white water came rolling in. “The water is cold” said Flo as they hopped onto their boards and paddled out in between the set of waves and paddled over to the peak. It wasn’t long before Flo paddled for her first wave and catches it.
She makes a smooth drop t knee bottom turn and starts walking up to the nose.
Half way there she takes a few steps back and does a slight turn back down before pushing down on her rear foot and begins a crave up the face and kicks out over the collapsing wave. Leo catches the next wave doing an angle takeoff. He runs up to the nose and places his right foot on the tip for a few seconds before back peddling to the tail area and does a cutback. The wave walls up and breaks as he cuts back and rides the white water.
Paddling back out and sitting next to Flo a surfer paddles overs and says “That was cool nose ride you had on that last wave”. “Thanks, it was a fun wave” said Leo. “I haven’t seen you before out here. Are you new to the area” asked the surfer. “Yes, we just moved here recently. My name is Leo and this is my wife Flo” said Leo. “My name is Stu, it was nice meeting you two” said the surfer who caught the next wave in. Leo and Flo would stay out just ten minutes longer before both would catch the same wave going straight in riding the white water. Putting their boards away they would go upstairs to take a shower and get ready to drive over to the Redondo Fisherman’s Wharf for a dinner reservation at Tony’s.
After finding a parking stall they walk up to the entrance of the Pier and there to greet them was the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, French fries being removed from the deep fryer to the cooling bin where the excess oil dripped off. The smell of fish was prevalent from the walkways of the Pier. On one side of the Pier they could smell the blended fragrance from the swirling cotton candy and the scent of Salt Water Taffy as the machine stretched and pulled the sugar laden product.
Walking down to the end of one side of the Pier there is a bait tank near the gang plank steps that lead to the loading and unloading of the half and full day fishing boats and the Voyager which would taxiing the fishermen to and from the two barge anchored a couple miles off shore. Leo and Flo are watching the fisherman, while those needing bait would fill their bait bucket from the salt water sprout. “How many anchovies do you want” asked the attendant.” I will take 9” said the youngster. With the scoop of his net the attendant grabs 10 and then grabs the bait bucket closer and places the net into the bucket and grabs the bottom of the net up to pour the bait out. “The price is 3 for a nickel with one being free. That will be fifteen cents” said the attendant as Flo is watching the boy paying for the bait.
“Flo, look over here” said Leo pointing to the fisherman who had been fighting the fish, but now the fish was being lifted up in the net. They walk closer and sees a flat looking fish inside the net. Someone says “It’s a Halibut”. Another said “It looks like a twenty pounder” as it flapped around in the net. “The prize of fishing is the catching” remarked Leo after viewing the event. Leo and Flo would walk to the end of the pier. Looking over to their right they see another part of the pier with a whole lot of fishermen. “Let go over there Leo” said Flo. “Ok, let’s go” said Leo as they turned around and started walking back to the fork in the wharf. “We have some time before going in for the dinner reservation” said Leo as they walked by Tony’s. Walking around the bend they would see fishermen underhand casting from the pier, while a few others were reeling in their catch of bonitas.
On the opposite side of the fishermen was the Horseshoe Cove created by the pier. Going over to the railing they would see a small waves breaking and closing out. “What did you think of the waves at the Breakwater” asked Leo. “It was fun and good to get back into the water. It seemed a lifetime since we were surfing” mentioned Flo. “Shall we go in and have dinner” continued Leo. “Yes my dear” said Flo.
The next day the swell went down and the surf was small and the onshore breeze had come up by mid- morning. “Let’s go for a sail” said Flo. “Alright, by the way have you come up with a name for our new boat” asked Leo. “What do you think of the name “Time Traveler” asked Flo. “I like it, it has a certain ring to it” said Leo.
They walked over to the Harbor and unlocked the door to the cabin and clean out a few things and got the sails out from the forward V berth. Turning on the battery switch, they turn on the diesel engine. Going forward with the jib sail in its bag Leo places it near the head stay. Uncovering the Mainsail he grabs the halyard and hooks the head of the sail. Flo is on the dock and have untied the stern and mid-ship line and is holding the bow line as Leo is about to back up into the side channel.
He places it in reverse and slowly backs out. “Get on board Flo” said Leo as Flo grabs the port shroud and pulls herself on board. After walking around the boat and collecting the fenders she stow them away in the forward chain locker. She walks back to the helm and sits next to Leo as he is steering out to the end of the breakwater. “Where to my lady” asked Leo. “Let’s go to the Cove” said Flo. “The Cove it shall be. Take over the helm while I lift the Main and Jib” said Leo as Flo took the wheel and he went to the mast.
After getting the sails up Flo is on a starboard tack and Leo is adjusting the Main sheet before sitting next to Flo. “I was thinking about going to Santa Anita race track tomorrow “ said Leo as he was taking in the jib sheet a couple of turns on the winch. “That sounds like a plan. Let’s do it” said Flo. “Ok, it Derby Day tomorrow so there will be lots of people there” said Leo as they sailed passed Haggerty’s on a port tack and rounding into the Cove.
“Ready to come about” said Flo as Leo let the jib sheet loose and walks the clew around the jib halyard to the port side and tighten the starboard sheet. “Don’t go in too far, we will lose some wind” said Leo as Flo veered towards Indicators. “Let’s go around to Lunada Bay” said Leo. “Ok” said Flo. Sailing a safe distance from the rocks before entering the bay. “Lets head back. You can take the helm after we get to the widest part of the bay and do a jibe” said Flo. With Leo at the helm steering on a port tack all the way back to the harbor, talking about going over to Catalina Island.
The next day they were driving through downtown traffic to Arcadia where the Santa Anita Race track is located. They would park some distance from the Grandstand and walk pass rolls of cars. They made it their seats and Leo would do all the betting, as the day went on they have won 8 races prior to the Main race. Looking around and eagerly waiting for the 9th race to begin. They had placed all of their winnings into the main race on Silky Sullivan.
A very large crowd was in attendance and the noise level was high as the starting gate flung open and the horse took off. Silky Sullivan was at the rear of the pack and Flo was looking at Leo and said “Do you know something I don’t, the other winning horse were up front when they made their move. Silky seems different”. Reaching out and holding Flo’s hand Leo says “This race will be exciting”.
The volume of excitement went up a notch with each horse Silky Sullivan would pass. In the home stretch, men and women were screaming at the top of their lungs for their horse to win. With a final burst of speed Silky Sullivan crosses the finish line first. The couple sitting next to them had the look of exhaustion.
The guy’s coat pocket had been torn by his girlfriend who was so excited that she grabbed hold of him and had an emotional discharge when Silky won it and their horse lost. Leaving the parking lot Leo says to Flo “Let’s have dinner in Pasadena before going through Los Angeles”. “Yes, a glass of wine would take the edge off this racing day” said Flo knowing that they had won over $150,000. “I have some other investment ideas we can discuss over dinner” said Leo as the light turned green on Colorado Blvd.