The Torch of the Shaper
TABLE OF CONTENT
The Torch of the Shaper
The City's festivities were coming to an end with a full moon lighting the darkness out in the water. Zooming in on a surfer who is at a local surf break, he is paddling for a wave the size is about 4 feet, maybe 5. Three other surfers are sitting on their boards and holding Kukui torches at various locations in the water lighting the way. The surfer passes the first torch holder, an old man waving slowly as the surfer sees him from the corner of his eye. Looking back the flame has gone out. Focusing on the next torch holder who looks like he’s of middle age, waving with more vigor as the surfer passes by. The surfer looks back and his torchlight is still on.
Passing the third person who is a teenager, he looks at him and thinks he seeing himself as he continues. Looking back once again, he sees the light is still on. Nearing the shore and at the water's edge a fourth person, a young boy with a flashlight waving it around. Reaching the end of the ride, with the white water collapsing on the beach, the surfer steps off his surfboard. Off in the distance on the beach, he sees silhouettes of people and hears a car horn honking. Awaken from his dream by his alarm clock, Nitro is lying in his bed half-awake thinking about what he has to do before getting out of bed and going to school.
Having stayed up late to study for the final exams, looking at the time he decides to have a quick peanut butter jelly sandwich and milk, before rushing over to his neighbor's house to catch a ride to school with his friend and mother. His friend Charlie asks "Are you ready for the tests today." "I stayed up late and studied what we learn this semester," Nitro said. "Good for you," Charlie's mom said. "Look at that new 63' Chevy Impala," Charlie said as he turned his head to watch it drive by. Arriving at school the guys got out and both thanked Charlie's mom for the ride. "See you at lunch," Charlie said as he went to his locker. Nitro went straight to his first period class of Wood Shop and worked on his project which was a miniature surfboard.
Having used a scale factor of 2 inches equals afoot, the miniature surfboard was 20 inches long. It was made of different pieces of oak, redwood, and maple glued together. The skeg was a replica of one of the versions that were on the surfboards at the local surf shops. It was had been slotted into the main pieced and glued. He had finished sanding the entire small surfboard and was ready to put on the finished varnish coat. The class instructor stops over to Nitro's work area to give a compliment to his project. "Nice work Nitro, one of the better projects in the class. Better start cleaning up the period is almost over, you can varnish it tomorrow" Mr, Barber said. "Thanks for reminding me Mr. Barber, I will start cleaning up now," Nitro said.
After the second-period class, there was a break of 20 minutes before the next class. Going to the cafeteria area Nitro sees his girlfriend Kathy talking with her friend. He walks over and Kathy's friend excused herself and went over to talk to someone else. "How's your day been?" Nitro asked. "Not bad, how's your day going so far," she said. "Good, took the test in my last class and two more to go for today. Oh, Joey's parents are going out Friday night and he is having a party, can you go?" Nitro asked Kathy "I don't know, I have to ask my mom if I can go with the girls and see what she says" Kathy replied. "Ok, I will meet you at your last class and walk you home," Nitro said as he waved and went to his next class.
After school was out Nitro and Kathy are walking over to a catering truck parked near the school that had shaved ice with different flavors of the rainbow, Nitro would get 2 rainbow snow cones, paying 15 cents apiece. Walking down the street holding hands, Nitro would stop at the Outer Island surf shop, and both would go in. "Hey howzit Manny," Nitro said. "Good, summer is just a few weeks away, it should start getting busy," Manny said. Anyone doing any glassing next door, the blinds were closed?" Nitro asked. "Yeah, Joe is about to glass a board for John who is in there with him, a patent-pending design that John didn't feel like having people seeing it" Manny said. "Oh, ok is Mike around?" Nitro asked. "He and Doug went surfing, the waves are good at Queens," Manny said.
"Anyone in the shaping room?" Nitro asked. "I saw Mickey earlier, he might be in there. Why do you want to know?" Manny said. "My dad got me a blank and I want to shape it, but I don't know how too," Nitro said. Manny looked at Nitro and said "I've been watching the guys occasionally and you need a template to draw your outline and then a saw to cut it out. After that make the foam match the outer edges of your outline. You can use wooden block with sandpaper or a sureform. Then you will need an electric planer to mow the foam to the thickness that you want then with your sureform, take out the grooves you made with your planer and sand it down to where it is smooth. Finish it off with a block planer and sand that area and that's about it. Then glass it, I'm not sure in how to do that you will have to watch when Joe has the window view open."
"Well, I have to talk to my dad about the tools, but he will tell me to get a job. Hey, would you guys need a person to do clean up around the shop, doing odds and end work?" Nitro asked as he looked at Manny. "I can ask and see, but don't know what the boss has in mind. Come back tomorrow and I will let you know" Manny said. "Ok, I will check back tomorrow, thanks Manny," Nitro said as he and Kathy left, they continued to talk about whatever came to mind as he walked her home. In his parent's garage, Nitro full-size Walker foam blank that his father had bought on sale for cheap was on two sawhorses. Nitro was thinking what Manny had told him earlier and was pretending in his mind that he drew an outline and cut it out and then shape it. Flipping it over and looking at the bottom, then back over to the deck again, with a sigh he didn't know what the future would be like, but he knew he was going to shape this blank.
"A New Used Board"
Nitro talked with the owner and was hired to do cleanup around the shop factory and help around the salesroom. At the same time observe and learn how a surfboard is built. He would work after school cleaning up and on Saturdays, helping Manny with whatever needed to be done. Before starting work, Nitro, Kathy, and Charlie would go to the beach on weekends. Now that he started working, Sunday became the only time that he could go to the beach with his girlfriend and Charlie. They would go to Canoes and watch the regular surfers and tourists learn the sport of kings.
Nitro got to know some of the Beach-boys and talk with them and occasionally use one of their boards. Other times he would share using Kathy's or Charlie's board when they came in, Learning to paddle and catch waves was something they learn to do together. Nitro learned the basic faster than Kathy or Charlie and started to do some of the other things that the advanced surfers were doing. Charlie got his board a few months earlier and Kathy's parents gave her a surfboard for a Christmas present and didn't have someone to surfing with until she met Nitro. All three enjoyed the beach scene and being out in the water.
Getting a ride to and from the beach was Mrs. Alfonzo's choice. She knew having fun and being out in the fresh air was healthy and didn't mind driving. "How was your first day at the shop?" Charlie asked as they had picked up Kathy and were on their way to the beach. "It was Ok, I help Manny at the front counter showing boards and answering the phone when he was busy with a customer or watched the shop when he would help people with their surfboards out to their cars. I would go out and clean the shop out back when it got slow" Nitro said as they traveled on Kalakaua Ave. nearing the beach. As they pulled over and unloaded the surfboard.
Mrs. Alfonzo said "I will pick you up at 3 o'clock here," Charlie said "Ok mom, see you then" as she drove off. Nitro was watching someone do an angled takeoff on a wave placing Kathy's board on the sand where they would place their towels. Charlie walked down to the water, and Nitro carrying Kathy's board would do the same. The day flew by and Charlie's mom was there to pick them up. "How was your day Charlie, did you catch some more waves today," she asked. "Getting the hang of it mom and so are Nitro and Kathy," Charlie said. "Yeah Mrs. Alonzo, we had fun today," Kathy said as Nitro put her board in and helped Charlie with his board into the back of the station wagon.
After getting back home, Nitro went into the garage and reorganized the workbench, made racks for the shovel, rake, and catcher, and a few other tools and items. With the clean up, there was more room to work around the blank. After cleaning the garage Nitro would go inside and watch some TV. Back to school the following day and the daily routine of going to class and working at the shop after school. Seeing Kathy at the break in between classes they talked about the day before and how he was going to build a surfboard. But before that, he was going to see if he could get a used board at the shop for a discount since he was working there. "That sounds like a good idea. See you at lunch" she said as he held her hand as the bell rang to be in class. Rushing to class, he changes into his shorts, tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. He gets a stare from his Gym coach as the class was doing their calisthenics.
Back at work, Nitro is cleaning the shaping bay when Mike walks in. "Hey kid, heard you started working last week. Nice to meet you my name is Mike and yours is?" Mike asked. "My name is Nitro" Nitro said. "Whoa, you got an explosive name," Mike said. "I know, but I've gotten used to it. Changing the subject. I was wondering if you give me some tips on how to shape. My dad bought me a blank and I want to make a surfboard" Nitro said. "What kind of blank did you get?" asked Mike. "I got a Walker Blank," Nitro said. "Yeah, Joe got some as well. They were on sale, something about the company wanting to move back to the mainland. If you are interested, go over to the doorway and watch" Mike said. "Ok," Nitro said.
Mike got a blank from outside of the shaping room and brought it inside on the racks. "Ok, look at the blank to see if it's level on both sides of the stringer. Sometimes they don't glue up the pieces align with a stringer. One side might be offset by a half-inch or more compared to the opposite side. This one here is Ok. What you want to do is outline the bottom of the blank. Let me take a couple of cuts off the bottom with my planer first before I draw an outline. (as he puts on a particle mask) You have to know where and what you want your board to do out in the water. That determines the shape of your design" Mike said as he took a couple of cuts off the bottom. "So, if I'm going to shape a board for small waves, I would make the outline more rounder and make the rail softer with more contour. The rails are the sides of the board" Mike said looking over to the wall and see a template that he will be using.
"You start by knowing how long your surfboard is going to be. Start by placing your mark using a pencil or marker at the nose area. After that place your tape measure edge into the foam and pull it to the rear of the blank to where the length of your board will be and put a mark there, put your tape measure edge in the foam and measure a foot from there back towards the middle. Go to the front again and do the same thing from the mark at the nose to 12 inches toward the middle. Not sure who came up with this way of doing it, but everyone I know does it this way" Mike said going to the middle area of the blank. If you want a fuller nose the dimension will be wider. The narrower the dimension is for bigger waves. The for the tail section is the same for small waves a fuller tail, the bigger waves the narrower the tail. You decide how wide you want the board to be and measure somewhere near the middle or at the middle. After you are satisfied with what you see. Then go ahead and cut it out" Mike said as Manny came into the shaping room.
"Mike, Tony called and said Arma Hut is breaking good," Manny said. "Got to go Nitro, see you later," Mike said leaving the blank on the racks and went off in a hurry. Nitro went over to the glassing room and Joe was doing a few boards. "Hi, I'm Nitro, just started working his last week," Nitro said. "Nice to meet you Nitro" Joe said with a smile and continued to monitor the boards going off and when he would cut the overlap on one of the boards that he glassed and another 10 minutes before the second and another 20 minutes for the third. "You'll have to excuse me, I have a few things I have to do," Joe said as he lifted the tape to make a slight crease where the fiberglass met the tape he was about to cut.
"Ok, I will be going back up front, nice to meet you, Joe," Nitro said as he waved walked past the sanding room were heard the sound of the sander grinding away and dust coming from the room. Nitro began getting used to the shop and knowing when to talk and when to walk away when people in the factory were busy. After getting home Nitro would called Kathy and talked about what he did at the shop and getting to know what it took to make a surfboard. Kathy talked about what was happening at school with some of her friends and things she wanted to do.
Going outside Nitro see Charlie in his front yard with a coffee can with melted paraffin wax, a medium-size paintbrush. He is brushing the wax on his surfboard with it. "Hey Charlie what are you up to?" asked Nitro. "I took the old wax off which was getting slippery and put new wax on," Charlie said. "I know what you mean Charlie. I slipped a couple of times last week using your board" Nitro said. "What did you do today?" Charlie said.
"I just helped Manny and place some new boards that were finished in the salesroom. Someone came in and traded his used board for a new custom surfboard. I liked how it looked and asked Manny if he would ask Mickey the owner if I could buy it on a monthly payment from my wages. He would ask and let me know tomorrow" Nitro said. Well, I think dinner is almost ready, have fun tomorrow at the beach" Nitro said. "Ok, I will check with you tomorrow to see if you got your board" Charlie replied as he notices that he talked too long and his paintbrush was stiff with wax. He left it in the coffee can and put it and the surfboard back in the garage.
Getting to the shop at the same time Manny was opening up Nitro says "Good morning Manny nice day." "Hey, got good news Mickey said you can have that board you wanted and he will take some of your pay to pay for it every month," Manny said. "Oh great," Nitro said with a grin from one cheek to the other. "Put it in the back and take it with you when you leave today," Manny said. It was a typical Saturday and the day came to a close with Nitro walking home with his new used board on his head.
"Learning the Basics"
After getting home Nitro goes into the garage and places his board onto the sawhorses. Putting his blank on the rafter joists for later. Looking at the board and needing wax, he goes over to Charlie's house to ask Charlie if he still has some wax leftover. After knocking, Charlie comes to the door and Nitro says "Charlie got the board at my house and it needs some wax. Would you have a bar or two of paraffin wax leftover and can I use your coffee can and brush?" "Sure I have a couple of bars, I will go get it and the can, it's in the garage," Charlie said. Giving the can to Nitro, Charlie goes into the garage to see the board, while Nitro heats the can on the kitchen stove. Nitro takes the can out to the garage and start to put some wax on his new used board.
"What do you think Charlie," Nitro asked Charlieas as he starts brushing on the wax. "It looks like a fun board," Charlie said as Nitro got halfway through brushing the wax. "Yeah I know, I can hardly wait to take out into the water tomorrow," Nitro said while hurrying to brush the wax to the nose of the surfboard.
"What time are you going to the beach tomorrow?" Nitro asked. "About 8, is Kathy going?" Charlie asked. "I think so, she said she was," Nitro said while finishing up applying the melted wax onto the board. Sunday came and they were at the beach with the wave breaking 3 feet. Nitro was excited about having his own surfboard and was paddling faster than Kathy and Charlie. "Hey, wait up," Kathy said as Nitro slowed down and waited for the two to catch up before paddling along side them. Looking to his left he sees a canoe going to shore as they approached the takeoff spot.
On their first wave of the day, all three took off on the same wave and surfed toward shore together. Each making comments and laughing. The wave rolled to shore and started to phase out. Kathy sat on her board as Nitro put pressure on the tail section of his board and did a funky stall kick out. Charlie came to a stop standing up and jumped off his board to turn it around. All three would paddle back out again. After being out for a couple of hours Charlie and Kathy went in while Nitro stayed out a half an hour longer.
"Well, how did you like your board?" Kathy asked. "I like it," Nitro said knowing this was his first board and not knowing the difference between what is good and not so good. "Can I try it when we go out again?" Kathy said. "Sure, it feels like your board, but a little looser" Nitro said. "Yeah, I would like to try it, too. Maybe not today but the next time" Charlie said as they laid on the towels and watch the different people on the beach. Not knowing where they came from. After getting hot on the beach they decided to go back out and Kathy would try using Nitro board. While Charlie and Nitro caught waves and practiced their turns and cutbacks. The afternoon glare affected seeing the waves coming to shore. Using their hands above their eyes helped some, but after a while it got annoying, so they went in and waited for Charlie's mom by the street.
Nitro was getting used to working after school and looked forward to it. The school was getting out for summer and surfing was becoming more popular. From young and old, many were taking it up and were going surfing. The same was happening on the mainland. The orders started to pile up and the owner needed to increase production, so Doug showed Nitro how to sand, he would have Nitro sand by hand the rails and skeg, then train him on the power sander. After a week Nitro got the hang of sanding and was paid piecemeal, which is being paid for each surfboard that he sanded. He got really good at it and when Doug decided to return to the mainland, Nitro would work full time as a sander during the summer and help around the shop when school started up again.
One day Nitro asked Mike "Could you show me how to shape?" Mike thought it over for a minute and asked "When were you thinking?" "When you are not busy. I have that blank and wonder if you could planing it down to show me how it's done and after that, I could sand and screen it" Nitro said. "Bring your blank over by Wednesday and I can show you how on Thursday. What about your sanding?" Mike said. "I can do some after you show me, and catch up with my work in a day or two," Nitro said. "Alright, Thursday morning at 8," Mike said. Thursday came and Mike showed Nitro how to use the planer by doing the first cut then letting Nitro do the second and third cut on both sides. Then gave a lesson on the rocker principle, of where and how much to have.
Nitro watched how Mike lifted the blank to see both sides of the stringer were the same or not. After outlining, Mike took the saw that was hanging on the wall and began cutting the foam along the line. "After you get the blank down to your thickness. Then you can start on the rail sections by making cuts with the planer for the type of contour you have in mind. Most beginners cut way too much and change the concept of the design and make do of what has occurred. Where someone who knows what they are doing has a better idea or way of staying within the parameter he has set for the design" Mike said. Nitro nodded his head to indicate that he understood and doing his best to remember what was said. After explaining the basics, Mike said he needs to rough shape a couple of boards and put Nitro's blank to the corner of the room, and got another blank to work on.
"Thanks, Mike, I'm going to go sand some boards," Nitro said as he left the shaping room and went over to the sanding room to sand a few boards that needed to be sanded. After a week the blank was finished and needed to be glassed. Nitro would watch Joe a few times and ask about the resin and catalyst ratio regarding the temperature. The cutting of the overlap, number of the layer the bottom and deck should have. How to do glass on skeg, and the procedure of putting a sanding coat on. After getting a good idea of what to do. He would buy the materials from the shop and set up a glassing stand in the garage. Nitro glassed his first board. It had a few air bubbles in the cloth and the overlap was a little crooked. The skeg was not aligned and was off a 1/8 of an inch. So when he tried it out at the ocean, it pulled to the right when paddling. But it rode Ok for being his first shape. He would sand off the skeg and realigned it and after the repair, it paddled straight.
After his first shape, he would concentrate on sanding and not do another shape for 2 months.
Nitro was making more money by sanding and before he knew it, he had enough money to buy a used car. He would buy a used 1957 Chevy Bel Air station wagon that needed some work done on it. It ran, but a few things needed to be replaced and new tires were needed. After buying it, It got him where he wanted to go with the additional items that were added.
Whenever Nitro had the chance he would watch Mike shape and get more insight into shaping. Then slowly he started building his confidence in how to shape. Making a shaping room at his parents' garage Charlie and Kathy had him build them their surfboards by buying the materials. Before Nitro knew it his other friends wanted him to build them their surfboards. Word got around that Nitro made surfboards and he became popular with his classmate and they wanted him to make them a surfboard as well. With each board Nitro shape, the better he got. Since he was the type of person who enjoys making things, he learned more about glassing by watching and asking questions to Joe. By next summer when Nitro was graduating from high school, he had a following of people who wanted his boards.
After meeting someone from California out in the water and they got to talking. Nitro became interested in what was happening there and would save enough money to go to the mainland and surf the waves there and check out what was happening there regarding surfboards. He would visit the person that he met and would get to know others who were his friends while staying there at his house. He had planned on staying there for two weeks before returning home.
On his first flight to the mainland on Western Airlines, Nitro is sitting back with his eyes closed and thinking about being one of the best in making surfboards and starting his own brand, Nitro Surfboards. He drifts from his conscious mind into the sub-consciousness realm of sleep and wanders around with the thought of surfing and people. A tap on the shoulder and he open his eyes and see the stewardess standing over him saying "Mr. Gleason, Mr. Gleason, please move your seat in an upright position and fasten your seat-belt, we will be landing soon. Thank you."
In the baggage claim area waiting for his suitcase and surfboard to appear, Nitro is reflecting on how he got where he is. Thinking back in the day when he was out surfing Kaisers when someone asked "Are you going." as a set approached. "Go ahead," Nitro said as he waited for the third wave of the set, which turned out not to be, as it turned out to be a one wave set. The guy comes back and says "Thanks, it was a fun wave. My name is Tork, what yours?" he asked. "My name is Nitro" he answered back and a conversation developed. Tork told Nitro he was from the South Bay and was visiting friends on the island. "I work at Bing Surfboards in Hermosa Beach and I do the sanding there," Tork said.
"What a coincidence, I sand at Outer Island Surfboards. Who shapes your board?" Nitro asked. "Bing did. Who shaped yours" Tork asked. "I did," Nitro said. "Say can I try your board for a couple of waves?" Tork asked. "Sure," Nitro said as he slips off to the side and treaded water as Tork did the same and each pushed their board at each other. After both rode a couple of waves, they gave back the boards. "Your board was fun, nice shape," Tork said. "I really like the board Bing shaped you, he really makes fine surfboards" Nitro responded. "If you are ever on the mainland I can show you around at the factory and the beaches," Tork said. "I might just do that. When you go in let me know and I can come in and get the info on how to get a hold of you" Nitro said as they continued surfing.
Seeing his suitcase on the carousel and then his surfboard being brought out from the back, Nitro picked his suitcase first, then his surfboard. As he was going to the curbside he notices Tork approaching him to give him a hand and to take Nitro where he had parked. About 40 minutes later they were in Hermosa Beach at the house on Loma Ave where Tork's parents lived. After unloading Nitro's suitcase at the guest house in the back and his board inside the shed next to the garage, they took a bike ride down to the beach. Tork had his and Nitro would ride one of Tork's friend's bike that had been left there. Standing on the small wall along the Strand at 8th St., Tork pointed south.
"There's the Breakwater, it more of a winter surf spot, just like the Cove and other spots around here, sometimes there are waves during other parts of the year. But mostly winter and spring. Over there is the pier, the same thing about surfing there too. The south swells are happening so Malibu, Huntington, Trestles, and San Diego are happening. Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz is another place, but I don't have the time to go up there and surf, so I just stay local. Let's take a ride to Second Street" Tork said as they got off the wall and rode down to 2nd street. Making a left to Hermosa Ave. Tork says "See that small cafe there, Pete and Repeat, that where some of the guys go to have breakfast. Most of the grom get the 25 cent hash browns and water after coming in after surfing.
Continuing to Hermosa Ave. they make a right and stop at Mickey's Deli. "I'm going to get a coke, do you want one?" Tork asked. "Sure," Nitro said. Going back to the Strand they stop by the bench and drank their drinks. Taking the bottles back they get a 5 cent refund for each bottle. They rode back up the Hermosa Ave to 6th street and went up to the factory where Tork worked. Going inside Tork sees about few boards being hot coated and 6 ready to be sanded. Nitro looks at the shapes and see some noserider in the batch, along with some regular outline shapes and contours.
Looking into the glassing room he sees Bones glassing the bottoms of a few boards. The resin is kicking off and the smell of the fumes rises up and out into the hallway. "Let's go outside and talk," Tork said as he led the way. Talking about sanding techniques a Ford Econoline van pulls up and a person Tork knows gets out. "Hey, Don, what's up?" Tork asked. "Just checking to see how many boards need to be shaped," Don said as he went inside to look at the list. "Well, let's go up to the retail shop," Tork said to Nitro.
Going up to the retail store on Coast Hwy. The guys park their bikes in front and walk-in. They see another person Tork knew checking out the boards there. He was one of the team riders and Tork says to him "Chris how do you like your new board with the extra-large outline of the Bing decal?" "It rode great, I like it," Chris said. "How's it feel to be in the Bay County Surf Club?" Tork asked. "It's fun to be in a club with lots of good surfers. The only thing I don't like is getting called out for breaking a rule and getting a swat" Chris said. "Alright, we are going now," Tork said. "Yeah, nice to meeting you Chris," Nitro said as Chris waved.
They rode their bikes downhill on Pier Ave. when Tork said, "Looks like Dale Davis showing a film about Hawaii at the Pier Avenue Auditorium" as they rode by. "Hey, the guys back home at the shop were talking about him earlier this year of him filming on the North Shore. I would have taken you out there, but it was flat in the summer months" Nitro said remembering the name of the surf movie photographer. Riding up to the pier and checking out the fishermen with their poles against the railing looking down to see if anything is below by the barnacle on the pilings. One fisherman is yelling out to one of his friends saying "Bring the net, I got a halibut. Maybe 5 lbs.." Riding to the end of the pier and turning around to go back to the Strand, then to Tork's house as the sun was setting to the west.
After cleaning up they rode down a couple of streets from the house to the Taco Bell on Hermosa Ave. and order a couple of taco and burritos at 15 cents each. Eating it on the concrete table and bench while watching the cars drive by. Low riders and hot rodders showing off their custom cars with different types of wheels and paint jobs. There were regular cars with a bunch of guys in it, checking out who was cruising. It wasn't bumper to bumper yet, but the night was still young. Going back to Tork's house they were watching TV in the guest house when friends came over. Tork your mom said you were back here with a friend, so we went around to see what's up" Brian said.
"This is Brian, Jeff, and Harry. This is my friend Nitro from Hawaii" Tork said pointing to each as he introduced them. "Nice to meet you," Nitro said. "Hey, how are the waves in Hawaii now?" Jeff said. "It is small 1-2 feet. They'll expect another swell soon" Nitro said. "We are going surfing tomorrow to Huntington, wanted to go Tork," Brian said. "No, I have to work tomorrow, but Nitro might want to go. Care to go surf with these guys tomorrow?" Tork asked. "Yeah, Ok. What time should I be ready?" Nitro asked. "Be ready around 5 am" Brian said as he would be driving. Then they started talking about the new edition of Surfer Magazine that was at the shops and what was happening around town.
The next morning Nitro had his board, towel, and trunks ready in a bag that he had brought on the lawn in the front yard. When Brian, Jeff, and Harry showed up and ready to go. They were off driving down Pacific Coast, just a bend of the highway at the Torrance Beach and the downhill drive towards Lomita, they stop at the Winchells Donuts and gets so milk and donuts for the drive to Huntington Beach. After making the turn at the Traffic Circle towards the coast, it wasn't long before they were stopped at the signal at Main Street Seal Beach. "Weren't far from the surf spot where we usually go to in Huntington, it's called Bolsa Chica. They parked along the highway and walked from there to where they could see the waves.
"What's that big looking pipe in the break," Nitro asked. "It's called a caisson pipe. It was used for some sort of construction. Which I don't know what it was for or why it was left there in the surf" Harry said as they watched the surf roll in. "It looks uneven, lets check out the surf further south," Jeff said. So, they all got back in drove along the cliffs area, and looked at the surf. "Hey there is a left, and it has good shape and nobody out. Let's pull over and check it out" Harry said as Brian pulled over. After 10 minutes, they decided to go out.
After changing they walked down a path and slowly in between the rocks that led to the beach. Nitro was feeling a little chilly, so he had the towel wrapped around his shoulders. The guys made it to the beach and put their stuff on some rocks and proceeded to the water's edge. Not knowing what to expect of the water temperature, Nitro takes a step into the oncoming surge of the white water. His eyes opened wide and felt a sting of cold on his feet. The water temperature was 60 degrees and he was in for an experience.
"This water is cold," Nitro said as he was in waist-high water getting onto his board to start paddling out. "This isn't so bad. My feet turn purple in the wintertime said Brian smiling as he looked over to Nitro who was paddling fast to get his body temperature up. After making it out and checking waves their minds were off of the cold and more towards catching waves and having a fun time. "So what's the water like in the islands," Harry asked. "Compared to here, it's like bathwater," Nitro said as his teeth started to chatter waiting for the next set.
"Heck, when I first started, I tried wearing a work coverall or a wool shirt. It defeated the purpose both got waterlogged and I was still cold. I hear some guys are wearing rubber vests, even something called a short john, where it covers your chest and your lower body to your knees, but not your legs. I'm going to get one, but waiting for the legs" Brian said. "I'm going in," Nitro said as he sees a set coming towards them. He paddles and catches the wave and feels a little stiff at the leg as he makes the turn. After a few moments, Nitro cuts back and gets into a prone position so he doesn't fall off his board and swim in. As the soup of the white water nears its end, Nitro gets off his board and carries it to the rocks where his towel is.
Drying off and still feeling cold, he notices someone else had lit a fire and was warming up. He walked over and asked if he could share the person's fire. "Be my guest, I know what you are feeling and had a short laugh. They got acquainted as the sun popped out from the marine layer and Nitro begins to feel normal. Seeing the other guys had gotten out, he thanked Bill for the fire and went back to his friends. "Who was that guy over, did you know him?" Jeff asked. "No, just needed to use his fire to get warm," Nitro said as the guys didn't seem too cold after getting out. They talked for a while before walking back up the rocks to the path and Brian's car along the highway.
Back on the road again, driving south towards the pier. Brian is talking about seeing some boards at the Vardeman Surf Shop next to the Golden Bear. Driving past Main street they notice someone taking pictures of some surfers out front of the shop. They decided to bypass and go around to Walnut Ave, then north to 5th St. then right pass the car dealership and back onto Coast Highway back to Hermosa Beach. Stopping at Gordie Surfboards, they looked around at the new boards, while Nitro was taking in the outline, the rocker, and rail contours. "What do you think Nitro about the boards here," Jeff said. "I like the shapes," Nitro said as Gordie was watching them as he was talking to someone he knew who had stopped by.
"Let's stop at Harbour Surfboards since we saw Gordie's shapes," said Brian making a left-hand turn onto Main Street, Seal Beach before anyone could respond. Walking into the shop they could hear a planer distinct sound in another room. "Who is shaping?" Nitro asked. "Rich," said the salesman. Those are the latest of his shapes" the salesman said pointing to the rack. Brian and Harry walked over to the rack to check out the boards. "How are the waves out front?" asked Jeff.
"They're small about 1-3 ft." the salesman said. "Water must be cold," Nitro said. "Yeah, but not on the channel side of the jetty it's warm there" the salesman added. "How come," Nitro asked wanting to know the difference from one side of the jetty to the other. "The power plant over by the bridge. They use the water coming in from the San Gabriel River water to cool off their generators and discharge it back to the ocean" said the salesman. Nodding his head to say he understood, Nitro said "Cool" as he and the other guys were through looking around the shop and were leaving. "Thanks," Nitro said waving, as he was the last guy out.
"405 to the 5"
"Brian there was a Chinese restaurant I saw on the way down and I think we are going to be passing it soon. Can we stop there, I would like to get something to go" Nitro said. "Sure, we have dinner waiting for us at home, so yeah. There it is I pull over" Brian said. "The Golden Noddles sounds interesting. We will wait out here, go ahead and order to go" Brian said. Nitro went inside and order the special and came out after 10 minutes. "Ok, got it" Nitro said as the guys started to smell the food. "Smell pretty good, you're making us hungry Nitro" Jeff said and smiled. Having made it back to Tork's parent house, the guys let Nitro off and he got his board, towel, trunk's, and Choy mein special.
After his dinner and watching TV, Nitro fell asleep with the TV on. He was dreaming of shaping a surfboard in a shaping room with no walls, floors, or ceiling. Waves were breaking off in the distance and a roller coaster ride with large pilings at the base of it in the surf. He would watch the coaster accelerate towards the bottom of the rail before going back up and leveling off as the wave underneath the coaster exploded as it made its way around the curve. A surfer appeared from the white water and rode it to shore. Then the water disappears and the fishes are flopping around at the pilings and beyond.
"Hey Nitro," Tork said as Nitro woke up to see who was calling his name. "Hi Tork must have fallen asleep watching TV" Nitro said looking at the TV still on. "Just got back from work, there were few more boards than usual today. The movie at the Pier Ave Auditorium is showing at 8 pm wanna go?" Tork asked. "Sure, what time is it now," Nitro asked. "It's 7:30, if we leave now we can get there in about 10 minutes walking," Tork said. "Ok," Nitro said as he got up to put the dish and glass in the sink after rinsing them off "I will wash them when I get back."
Finding seats near the side aisle of the center row as the natives got restless. The movie began and the waves were breaking at the Banzai Pipeline, with a few surfers wiping out. Then the moderator in the movie says "And here goes Butch. The most unreal tube ride of the season" as the surfer takes off and goes to the bottom and makes his turn. The wave goes over his head for a few seconds and makes the wave. The crowd in the theater went wild. Hooting and whistling and shouting "Unreal." Then switching over to Sunset Beach and the surfers there riding the waves. The film would have an intermission and the second part started after 10 minutes.
Walking home Tork asked, "Did you surf those places." "I only surfed Haleiwa and Laniakea, when I went out to the country. It was small when I went, so those places in the movie, I didn't go out" Nitro said while thinking about it and saying to himself that he would when he got back. "Where did you guys go today. I forgot to ask earlier, had a lot on my mind earlier" Tork said. "We went to the Huntington Cliffs and stopped by a couple of shops, Gordie's and Harbour's" Nitro said. "How were the Cliffs?" asked Tork.
"It was fun, but I froze my toes off. Not use to cold water, but got used to it. Then after a while, I got cold again" Nitro said. "Yeah, there is a cold current that flows along the California coast. But sometimes there is a warm south current that happens. You never know, just like the fog, it comes and goes. One day they will probably forecast it and the surf, Oh well. Hey, just remember. Another friend at work is going surfing at Trestles. We have to sneak in, do you want to go?" Tork said. Sure, I'll go" Nitro said as they reached Tork's place.
The next morning Steve showed up in his Mercury station wagon. "Nitro, I have an extra backpack you can stuff your belonging into. I will bring some food and water to drink while we are there" Tork said. Taking the 405 freeway to the I-5 freeway, then to San Clemente. Pulling off to a side road, they would park it with some other cars that were in the bushes. Getting their backpack on, and putting on their trunks. They followed the path from the cars to where the cattail plant was, next to the water's edge. "Ok, this is where we start knee paddling down the creek," Steve said as he placed his board onto the water and pushed off. Tork followed and Nitro did the same, the threesome made their way to the trestles bridge and under to the other side. This was quite an experience for Nitro to have done so. The other guys had done it before, so it was part of surfing a spot with a little flair of getting there.
"Steve, do you see any marines around?" Tork asked. "No, it's all clear," he said as he stepped into the water and walked onto the sand, and watched the waves breaking with 5 other guys out. "We need to hide our backpacks, there is a driftwood trunk near the bushes. We can put it there" Steve said as Tork and Nitro followed Steve's instructions and were ready to go out. Nitro was expecting the water to be like the day before but was surprised when he stepped into the water and cobblestone rocks. It was warm compared to Huntington he thought. "Hey Tork, this water is warmer than yesterday at Huntington Beach," Nitro said. "Yeah, the water came with this swell. Guess we are kinda lucky" Tork said.
Most of the guys out were waiting for the bigger sets, so being 25 yards further in Nitro turns around and catches a 4-foot wave that the guys let by. It developed in front of him as he climbs and drops on the face of the wave. Getting a hundred-yard ride, Nitro was stoked as he paddled back out. Thinking this place is fun and well worth the paddle down the creek to get here. Everyone was sharing the waves, where there was enough to go around with the sets having 5 waves. Tork paddles over and says "How do like the waves here?" "This is great" was Nitro's response. "Steve said it looked like you were exploding off the top while doing a roller coaster, it looked hot," Tork said. Nitro stop to think when Tork mentioned roller coaster and flashed back to his dream he had the day before.
"The next break further down is Lowers. It's a really good wave also. Sometimes a marine patrol will catch along that strip from here to there. They will take you to their brig on base and have to have your parents come to get you out or you pay a fine to get out. They say everyone who gets caught uses Mickey Dora as their name. I don't know how true that is, but that's what they say. I feel reluctant of making the walk down there because of getting caught" Tork said as he sees a set coming and continue paddling further out, followed by Nitro.
"It's been glassy all day," Steve said. "Yeah, and I'm really glad for it. I'm going in and get a bite to each and come back out after that" Tork said looking over at Nitro who was listening and nodded his head to suggest he would do the same. So the next waves they went in, while Steve was surfing with just 2 other guys and the wave were getting better. Having made two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bag of potato chips and a thermos filled with milk, and two paper cups. They watched Steve catch wave after wave as they ate their lunch.
Looking around and seeing vegetation, hills and bluffs and sandy beaches with cobblestone shoreline with seagulls and pelicans flying by. Nitro thought to himself about all the days the waves went unridden and just native Indians would walk the coast looking for their next meal. Waiting about 15 minutes after finishing their meals, they were back in the water surfing. Afternoon sun and the guys were surfed out and decided to go home. They gathered their stuff and placed the trash in their backpacks and proceeded to paddle back to the car.
"Starting Nitro Surfboards"
After getting back from surfing, instead of putting his surfboard in the living room of the guest house, Nitro decided to put it in the garage. He sees a door to another room and twisted the knob to see if the door was locked. It opened up and he sees shaping racks and a light brown colored blank in the corner.
"There you are, that's brother's shaping room, he was going to shape but got sidetracked and went into the service. He has been in for a year and a half and is stationed in Germany. I tried shaping a board and messed up, so I threw the blank away and haven't given it much thought" Tork said.
"How many boards did he shaped," Nitro asked. "He shaped two, and both were kinda funky. So he put it to the side and didn't pick up his planer since" Tork said. "He had a planer?" Nitro asked. "Yeah, a Skill 100 its in the toolbox under the shelf. He was all excited at first and got what the other shapers had, surform, small block planers, a couple of templates, different grade sandpapers, a saw, and a few other tools of the trade. Plus the room has side lights on either side of the shaping racks. Say, do you want to shape that blank over there. My brother was going to shape it, but change his mind and it's been in the corner for two years" Tork said.
"Did he have a particle mask when he shaped?" Nitro asked. "No, that was one of the reasons he got discouraged. The foam dust got in his eyes and he held his breath while planing the foam. He didn't that gumption and drive to be a shaper" Tork said. "Do you think he would mind if I shaped that blank on the wall?" Nitro asked. "No, go ahead, the blank will just get browner. But, don't use the planer in the morning or evenings. The neighbors might complain" Tork said. "Ok, I will do it on a weekday. Tomorrow is Sunday and I think I will keep the noise down by not doing it" Nitro said.
Tork went into the house to do a few things and Nitro went into the guest house to take a shower and watch TV. Tork came back and he had some TV dinners "Nitro, here some TV dinners I got from the freezer. This should hold you over until you go to the market and get some groceries" Tork said. "Oh, thanks. I appreciate your hospitality." Nitro said putting two TV dinners into the freezer and one out as he turned the over on. After his meal, Nitro called it a day and went to bed.
Early the next morning Nitro went for a ride on one of the bikes at the house. He decided to go down to the Strand and ride up towards Manhattan Beach. 22nd St. with few people out and about on a Sunday morning. Thinking about back home and the places he had recently surfed. Nitro is in a trance of the now and what has been while peddling the bike forward. He sees someone else parked next to the small wall with one leg braced against it, as he is checking out the surf. "Do you surf?" Nitro asked. "Yeah, and I also shape," the guy said. "I'm into shaping too, but mostly sanding back home," Nitro said. "Who do you stand for?" asked the guy looking at the ocean. "Outer Island in Hawaii," said Nitro.
The guy suddenly turns to Nitro and says "You know Mickey, Joe, and Mike?" "Yeah, they are my friends. Have you been to Hawaii?" Nitro asked again. "My name is Harold, I grew up there before coming here to make boards for Dewey. What are you doing here and what is your name?" Harold asked. "My name is Nitro and I'm here on vacation. I wanted to see what it is like and surf some of the waves here" Nitro said. "Where have you surfed at?" Harold asked. "Huntington Beach and Trestles," Nitro said.
"You should surf Malibu with this swell that is happening now. It's a good fun wave" Harold said. "Where is Malibu?" asked Nitro. Pointing up the coast north Harold says "Just pass Santa Monica, it on the Coast Highway you can't miss it, the beach is next to the road. I got to be going nice talking with ya" as he pushed off the wall and rode off towards Hermosa Avenue.
Nitro turned around and started peddled his bike back towards the pier and thinking about Malibu and how to get there. Riding up to Tork's house he sees Tork talking with someone in the front yard. "Nitro this is Kenny, Kenny this is Nitro," Tork said. "Nice to meet you, Kenny," Nitro said. "Nice to meet you too. I was just telling Tork that I'm going up to Malibu and wanted to see if he wanted to go" Kenny replied. "Hey, I was just talking to Harold down by the Strand about 15 minutes ago and he was saying Malibu is good right now. Could I catch a ride with you and Tork" Nitro asked?
"Why sure, that will be alright, but Harold who?"Kenny asked. "Harold at Dewey's," Nitro said. "Oh, that Harold. Now I know who you were talking about, he's a good shaper and busier than all heck these days" Kenny said. "Kenny is a good shaper too!" Tork said as Nitro looked over to Kenny with more curiosity. "Well, let's get your boards on and get going," Kenny said as Tork went to get his board and Nitro did the same. Placing their boards on Kenny's rack with his board, they were on their way up Coast Highway.
Pulling up to Malibu, Kenny sees someone pulling out of a prime parking location and flips a U, and pull right in. "Ta-Da, perfect timing," Kenny said as he put it in the park. They all looked at the waves and were peeling along, at 4 to 6 feet with 2 to 3 people were a wave. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm going out," Kenny said as he got out and wrapped a towel around his waist, took off his pants and put on his trunks, and unstrapped his board. Before Tork and Nitro got their boards off, Kenny was walking up towards the Point.
By the time Tork and Nitro were waxing their boards, Kenny had caught a wave and was walking up to the nose and noseriding through a section when Tork said "Wow, look at Kenny go." As Kenny back-peddled and went into a drop knee cutback. Regaining his flow, he was back on the nose cruising along on a wave that looked like it was made from a machine. Kicking out close to shore, Kenny gets out and starts walking back up the beach, as Tork and Nitro caught up and were complimenting him on the ride. "Well the whole gang is out in the water, there goes Miki with a guy in front of him. Poor guy, wait till Miki gets close" Kenny said as he sees Johnny and Dewey taking off on the following wave behind him.
Tork caught a few waves with a few guys taking off in front of him and the same thing happened to Nitro. On the beach, the local beach-goers were lying on their towels watching the surfers with their transistor radios on. One channel was playing Chubby Checkers singing "Let's do the Twist" as the surfers rode the waves together. Nitro caught an outside wave and yelling hey, hey I got it and the paddlers backed off. Climbing and dropping, bottom turning and cutting back. There was a smile on Nitro's face, all the hassles Nitro had to go through before catching this wave had disappeared behind him with nothing but wave in front of him.
Going in after that wave, Nitro sat on the beach and watched Tork and Kenny on the same wave doing go behinds before Tork fell and Kenny had the wave to himself. Swimming in after his board, Tork would come in after getting his board. Drying off, he looked out and saw Miki had just caught a good size set wave. "Nitro, look Miki caught a good one, look at him ride the wave like a Maestro conducting the flow of the music," Tork said. "Yeah, he got this placed wired" Nitro said looking around at the different types of people at this beach. Some were celebrities he had seen on television, and others looked like they came from inland with a distinctive attire of dress shirt, slacks, and shoes.
Kenny comes in and puts his board down on top of Tork and Nitro boards. Nitro is looking at the outline, the rail contours, and how the rocker foils into the overall design. Walking over to it and lifts it and feel the rails. At the same time, he is looking at pieces of wax on the bottom of his board. "Kenny, what do you call this rail contour?" Nitro asked. "It's a 50/50 combination. I have a little more tail rocker compared to the nose" Kenny said. "Clean board Kenny," Nitro said putting back down on top of Tork's board. They would go out for an afternoon session and return home. After another day of surf, Nitro is making a grocery list of items he will get. Leaving the list on the coffee table, he goes over to the shaping room.
Putting the blank on the racks, Nitro gets a pencil and tape measure out and places it on the blank. Looking at the templates that Tork's older brother had, he takes them all and looks at the curves, and places them on the blank. He draws an outline on the marks that he had placed and looks at it on the racks, then outside next to the garage where the sun is shining. He stares at the from nose to tail and wonders if he should make the tail wider and the nose less rounded. He takes the blank back into the shaping room and gives it more thought.
The next day Nitro and Tork take a ride down to the Breakwater in Tork's car with their boards. It was small, breaking 2 to 3 feet with some fun looking waves breaking in front of the large parking lot. They decide to go out and surf for an hour before Tork goes to work. Having a fun time, even though the water was cooler this time out. "See that bend in the breakwater, there is a jump-off spot over there (pointing to the location) when the waves are bigger and you can't paddle out," Tork said being informative about the spot. "Oh, Ok, that's good to know," Nitro said as he paddled for a wave.
"Let go in, I have to go to work," Tork said. "Ok, I'm going to shape the blank today," Nitro said thinking about shaping the blank in the shaping room. After getting back and taking a shower Tork went to work and Nitro started planing the bottom of the blank before redrawing the outline and cutting it out. The planer was going on for about an hour before Nitro had the thickness and rocker that he wanted and was ready to do the bans on the rails. After sureforming the rails he started to sand the grooves out and knock down the stringer with a small block plane before taking a break. He would back into the shaping room and spend another few hours fine sanding and blending the rails.
After getting back Tork went over to the shaping room to see what Nitro had done. Nitro was looking at the contour while lifting the tail up and down looking forward. "Hey Nitro, howzit going?" Tork said. "Just about finished, looking at the rails," Nitro said as he turned to look at Tork while putting the tail down on the rack. "Hey, it looks really good. What size is it?" Tork asked. "9-0 square tail. Do you think the shop can sell me some materials to finish her off? I want to give you this board for your hospitality for me staying here" Nitro said. "I don't know if they will, but I know another place that will. There in Gardena, that where we get our supplies" Tork said.
"Let's go there and not have to bother with the glasser getting upset about things being used. I'm off tomorrow, so we can go then" Tork said. After getting the supplies, Nitro did the glass job and sanded it at the shop BS glossed it at the garage. It was Friday when Tork came back from work and saw the polished board with its rails rubbed out. "Wow, that board is bitchen Nitro, thanks a lot," Tork said while lifting it and feeling the rails. "Glad you like it, need to ride some waves to find out how it will ride," Nitro said. Just then, Brian, Jeff, and Harry stopped by and were walking in. "Whose board is that?" Harry asked. "It's mine, Nitro made it for me," Tork said with an excited tone in his voice.
"Will you make me a board. I will pay you for it" Jeff said. "Me too, I can sell my board and get one from you Nitro" Brian replied looking at Tork and the other guys. "Sure, 15 for the shape and 25 for the glassing you guys pay for materials," Nitro said. "Alright, I will get the materials tomorrow," Brian said. "I'll go with you and get my stuff at the same time," Jeff said as he picked up Tork's board and got excited. The following week 5 other friends of Brian and Jeff wanted a new board by Nitro. Nitro had to postpone his departure back to the islands to work on the boards. Meanwhile, Tork rode his new board and was stoked. It was the best board he ever had and it rode terrific. He told everyone he knew and they wanted a board made by Nitro. Before Nitro knew it, he was getting orders for 5 boards a week and increasing.
Having got some rice paper, Indian ink, and a small brush. Nitro made a logo of a wave being exploded with a surfboard in the center. Under it was Nitro Surfboards Hermosa Beach. After a few weeks, Nitro knew he had to get a business license and a bigger shop and more safety equipment like fume masks, eye protection, and the whole 9 yards. Buying wholesale and insurance and security. All of this was running through Nitro's minds after a few weeks of being on the mainland. The local high schools around the beach areas and in Torrance made order take off. Nitro called home and told his parents that he was starting a business in the South Bay.
Kenny stopped by to see Tork and went to the garage to talk to Nitro "Be careful the commercial guys are talking of you being here. But it looks like you are on the right wave and the torch has been passed on to you. Keep it lit and go for it" Kenny said knowing others have gone into business and fell from the ride. "I appreciate your advice and if I have other questions, can I get your advice?" Nitro asked knowing he didn't know everything there was to know about running a business.
"The Degrees of Celsius"
Nitro and Tork became partners, Tork would do the ordering of materials, hot coat and fins, sanding, and polishing. Nitro would do the shaping and glassing. The first thing they had to do was to find a location where they could set up shop. Which they found next to the Torrance Drive-in Theater by an open field. A small shop of 1000 sq. feet and the rent was $75.00 a month. They talked it over in how the setup of the rooms would be. Using the shaping racks, and the other items that Tork's brother had, which they would reimburse him after they got situated.
The glassing room would use steel pipes for glassing stands and wooden dowels for side and above head racks. A supply room for resins and other chemicals. The sanding room was separate from the polishing room with the restroom between the shaping and glassing rooms. Windows had custom bars across them for additional security. A large closet was converted into a record-keeping cove with a chalkboard and file cabinet. It would take a few weeks to get things up and running with water and electricity.
They went to a local lawyer to draw up the partnership agreement and came up with the name, Nitro and Tork Surfboards. After taking care of the name, bank account, business license, and a few other items on their list they were ready to get their feet wet in the realm of business. While in their lawyer's office the lawyer says "Well good luck and happy surfing. I'm looking for another board and heard you guys are making good surfboards from my friend who referred you to me."
Sitting at the guest house Nitro and Tork are having a business meeting and talking about people coming over to buy and pick up their surfboards. "My parents said I need to find another place to sell and pick up their surfboards," Tork said. "Ok, let's look around on Coast Highway and see if we can find a place, are you busy now. We drive over there and check it out" Nitro said. They both got into Tork's just bought 62' VW van and drove up and down Coast Highway. "Hey, there is a for rent sign on that window," Nitro said as Tork drove back around and parked it in front of the store near 2nd Street. Looking through the window and measuring the width of the room by walking outside from one wall to the other, it came out to be about 15 ft. and looking inside, they guess the depth was around 20 ft.
A phone number was on the for rent sign and Tork called to find out more. After his conversation with the owner, Tork and Nitro rented the shop and had a sign made up. They would need a salesperson to run the retail part of their operation, so they put an ad in the local paper. They got a few inquiries and finally chose a young woman who surfed and was a salesperson at a clothing store at a large mall. "Well, what do you think of this applicant. Her name was Celsius and wanted to work in the afternoons because of her classes, she is going to a fashion merchandise school in Los Angeles" Tork said.
They interviewed her and both liked her answers. The guys agreed and welcomed her to their company. Celsius would give her input on how to layout the inside of the shop should be. "The holiday season is a couple of months away and not to go overboard, but still have a few items other than surfboards might be something you guys should be thinking of," Celsius said at one of their meetings. "What did you have in mind," Nitro asked. "Tee Shirts, trunks, walking shorts, surfboard racks, and maybe some skating wheels without the shoe," she said. "What kinda wheels, I saw some Chicago clay wheels and even metal wheels that kid can nail or bolt on to a 2X4 board or something," Celsius said.
"We never thought of that before, but it sounds like a good idea. Sidewalk surfing, I could make some plywood shape boards looking like surfboards and sell them separately or together with the wheels" Nitro said. "We can advertise locally first then go larger if things prove successful" Tork added. Their retail items were selling fast and the idea of finding a larger store came up. They found one a couple of street up and moved into it the following spring. They worked and surf together and soon Nitro and Celsius were doing things together as a couple.
Celsius would take Nitro to a few of the fashion shows to get him acquainted with clothing and what other retailers look for when stocking their stores. Taking it all in Nitro was impressed and was expanding his views on what the surfing community might do. He and Celsius talked about their situation and what other shops have already done. Nitro rented an apartment near Knob Hill in Redondo Beach and Celsius moved in with him.
Tork and his girlfriend would go on double dates and enjoy each other's company. A month before summer Tork had advertised in Surf Mag and orders started coming in for Nitro Surfboards from around the different southern counties. Celsius suggested mail-order sales and the guys agreed. The guys made Celsius a partner and the three of them were setting bigger goals with their surfboards, skateboards, and clothing lines. Orders started coming in from the East Coast. Celsius suggested to Nitro that they should purchase an apartment building that came up for sale in Hermosa Beach and Nitro agreed.
Nitro and Celsius got married and would go to Hawaii on their honeymoon and visit his family and friends also look around to have another location for their business interest. After doing some research they felt the timing was right. So, they held off and would wait for another time. Their other operations were getting busier and they felt they should concentrate there first. Surfboards were in high demand and skateboard parts and accessories were becoming in demand and they would keep an eye on it.
After visiting Hawaii they bought a house in Palos Verdes and broaden their views on the Orange County surf market and open shop in Huntington Beach. Nitro's strategy was to sub-contract the glassing to a glassing company and have a stall of shapers working for him at a couple of locations in the South Bay and Orange County. Tork and his girlfriend got married and were living in Manhattan Beach. Tork was doing other ventures in the Stock Market, fast-food franchises, and real estate.
While having dinner to celebrate his 21st birthday at a Polynesian style restaurant with three torches nearby. Nitro was saying Southern California was growing and that he and Tork caught the business wave of success. "It was just a matter of chance when Tork asked me for a wave and I let him have it. That proves to be the wave of the future" Nitro said.
"What do you think about the shortboards a few of the guys are riding?" Celsius asked. "It's part of the movement for more maneuverability, surfers are interested in different locations on the wave for better speed," Nitro said as he waved at the waitress, who came over. "We would like to have another glass of wine for the both of us," Nitro said looking at Celsius.
"Changing the subject Tork said he got a notice that he was being drafted into the army. I might be next" Nitro said. With a startled look, Celsius took a drink of her wine and finished her first glass, and asked "When did he find out." "It was yesterday," Nitro said. "Will he be sent to Vietnam?" Celsius asked as she sees one of the torches had gone out nearby.
"From There to Here"
After entering the military service Tork was stationed in Germany, but Nitro after finishing boot camp was shipped off to Vietnam. Going through the travels of Travis, Honolulu, Wake, Clark, and on to Da Nang airbase. Nitro and his company are on a hill overlooking a valley. Being off watch, he is writing a letter to Celsius. "After all that I have been through to get here, I wonder what life has in store for me. From happy days to what else could happen in protecting our position. I long to be with you again" wrote Nitro as he folded the letter and placed it in his shirt pocket. He could sense an attack was about to happen.
As the smoke cleared a Huey copters came onto the scene after the Phantom jets had made their runs. Nitro was airlifted back to base. He had been wounded on the left arm and would soon receive attention to it and be discharged from his duties. Returning home to Southern California Nitro had a different perspective on life and how he viewed certain things that he took for granted. Being glad he had made it back to his wife, business, and surfing. He took each day as it came and Thanked God for his well being after all that he had been through.
Nitro still wanted to surf and make surfboards someplace where he could meditate and do things he thought of. Compared to not knowing what to expect when he was on top of the hill fighting for the moment. Talking it over with Celsius about how he felt, she understood what Nitro had gone through, but she had built their company to the size that it was and had gotten her BS at the same time. Not to be hasty in their decision, she had consultants advise her the best way to approach their situation. She got a good idea of how they could still enjoy what Nitro had in mind and have a sound future with what they have.
Nitro wanted to move back to Hawaii and Celsius didn't mind, so they planned on visiting there first and give it more thought, before making the move. They went to Oahu and the North Shore, then to Kauai's south and west side and to Hanalei side, before flying over to Maui. After a couple of weeks there and they went over to Big Island to get a feel for the Puna and Kona sides. After their stay in the islands, they went back home and weighed all of the locations.
They let Tork know what they were up to as he was planning on returning to the business shortly and would get back into the surf scene. Nitro and Celsius's plan was one of them would be in the islands overseeing what happening there while the other mostly Celsius would go back and forth managing their operation on the mainland until Tork got back and he would oversee the operation while Nitro and Celsius got situated over in the islands.
They decided on moving to Maui on the north-side. They would buy a lot and build a house overlooking Honolua Bay. They look into the different architects and their styles and chose a local architect from Oahu. The design that he came up with was a two-story 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, and dining, kitchen, and laundry area. An upstairs Master bedroom balcony facing the bay, and a backyard patio with a koi pond and waterfall facing east with a view of the bay.
The large warehouse barn /garage had workshops for making surfboards, a storage facility where the tractor, forklift, bulldozer, and small excavator were stored. The lot size was 40 acres where their orchards will be. Near the warehouse was a one-acre shade house/greenhouse for Nitro's soon to be bonsai plants and orchids. He would grow their fruits and vegetables in another greenhouse near the house. A single-story pagoda without walls for entertaining and tai chi was roofed and had a walkway to it. Having a medium-size house on acreage on Maui, Nitro and Celsius had hired engineers, a landscape architect, and other specialists to help plan their new home and way of life. Surfing the north-side in the winter and surf the west-side during the summer months.
Celsius felt the tourist trade would grow, so she decided to open a boutique and Nitro would open a surf shop in Lahaina. They found an ideal location on Front Street and purchased the building where she had her boutique and Nitro his surf shop. The tropical motif would be her specialty and Nitro's shortboards in the range from around 7'6" to 6' 0" were on the racks would be his, with an occasional longboard for those who wanted them. Nitro was in charge of overseeing the warehouse and shop building. With Celsius going back and forth to the mainland to oversee what was happening with their growing business there. Two weeks in Hawaii and two weeks on the mainland. They would rent an apartment until the house was completed.
Going back and forth to the shop and working on the warehouse in the backyard kept Nitro very busy. Overseeing a crew of 2 at the retail shop and a crew of 6 doing the work of building the warehouse, the greenhouse/shade house, and build the surfboard factory shop. After the house was completed another crew to do the landscaping and Koi pond that had a custom shed with an oriental appearance where the water from the Koi pond would go into it and be redistribute to the greenhouse for the hydroponic tables in the greenhouse to feed the plants. And come back out through a biofilter of gravel and other items back into the pond by way of the waterfall with the water capturing oxygen on the way to the pond water.
Once his warehouse and other structure were completed. Water catchment tanks were put in place for water backup and storage. Having tapped into the County's water with a 3" meter and backflow connecting to a 6" mainline for the orchard, with a 2" sub-main with a backflow feeding the house and warehouse. The plans were in Nitro's study room and waited to be implemented. The gate valves were in place for each mainline section and the connecting points out in the orchards. The first section was the avocado orchard, and it would have a drip system. The rows between the trees were wide enough for a tractor and tiler disc to go through every few weeks to keep the weeds down, the trees were fed through an injector system using the drip line. As one orchard was completed another would be started and tapped into the mainline by way of where the ball valves were placed.
Everyday Nitro made it a point to study about Bonsai plants, orchids, and bromeliads that the greenhouse would be caring for. Researching about Koi fish and pond design was having the water from the pond be a part of the greenhouse in a hydroponic setting. Where the koi waste would go to the greenhouse to feed the plants. Another facet of the pagoda area was for entertainment. Nitro planned on doing his Tai Chi moves early in the morning in his study before starting his workday at 8 am. That routine was sometimes put on hold if the surf was up and good.
After completing most of the projects started earlier Nitro is kneeling on the wooden walkway next to his koi pond feeding the kois. Listening to the waterfall and looking at the waves at Honolua Bay, Nitro is at peace on a Sunday morning. Celsius walks over and takes some of the fish food and tosses it out to the other kois swimming towards them. "Do you want to go into Lahaina and stop by the shops see how it is and have lunch there? Maybe go surf" Celsius said. "Ok," Nitro said as he got up and would go over to the surf factory to see if he needs to take any finished boards to the shop.
An hour later they were at the shop and looking around and talking with their employees. They had lunch by the harbor and saw waves breaking and decided to go back to the surf shop to change and get their boards. They went out near the wharf and had a fun time catching the lefts. After their surf session, they took the boards back to the shop and went home. Nitro took a walkout to the orchard with Celsius and talked about what else needed to be planted.
Taking the long way around their property and they stopped by the orchid greenhouse to spent some time looking at the different orchids that Nitro had gotten and was going to propagate. "I sure like looking at the different patterns and colors," Celsius said as Nitro was in the next aisle from her. They went back to the koi pond and sat at the pagoda shed with some beverages from the outside bar. Looking out across the Pailolo Channel at Molokai as the sun was setting, Nitro made a toast "The Road not Taken" as they lifted their drinks and touched to the sound of wine glasses in a light breeze.
"Building a Vision"
After being on the tractor and having disced the orchard in between the trees, he had made his way to the Koi pond before going inside the house. Nitro is looking down at the Koi fishes and sees his reflection and thinks about the people that have come and gone in his life. He had accomplished much and has seen the hilltops and valleys of emotions. Where one minute there is a normal conversation and the next, forever silence from the person he was talking to. Knowing life goes on with the flip of a coin. The splash of the Koi's tail on the surface of the pond brings Nitro out of his trance from the past as he looks up and around.
Thinking to himself that he had a flashback. Instead of going into the house, he goes over to the pagoda and takes off his shoes. Concentrating on his breathing he goes into his Tai Chi moves flowing from one position to the next. Holding a few postures for a moment as his muscle burn slightly as he continues. Returning to his original posture he ends his workout and goes inside for a glass of water and to make a list of how many blanks he needs to order. Looking at the calendar to see what time Celsius flight comes in and schedules his day and when he will pick her up.
Waiting for him by the curbside, he pulls over and puts her suitcase in the trunk as they drove over to Wailuku for a late lunch. "I was reading this article in the National What's Up and it had a story of Nostradamus," Celsius said. "Who is Nostradamus and what did he have to say?" Nitro asked. "A person from France during the Renaissance, he predicted events in the future that has come true. It also said he stopped writing his predictions also known as quatrains months before his death. While in the middle of the flight I wondered about his last quatrains that were not published and disappeared into the flames of the unknown" Celsius said.
"Very interesting about that, do you think he might have seen something that was horrendous?" Nitro asked. "Besides being a prophet of things yet to come, he was also a doctor during a time of the Black Plague. He was able to save many, but was unable to save his wife and children" Celsius said. "Maybe he saw another great plague and didn't want to write about it" Nitro said. "That's a possibility, but we'll never know," Celsius said and changed the subject to what was happening back at their business on
"That sounds good to me about the increase on our bottom line. Sales have been picking up here and it looks like the avocados are getting larger, we should start picking them in a couple of months and start checking with buyers at some of the markets. Oh, Gladys wanted you to call her or stop by the shop about going over some new design ideas she has for the fall collection" Nitro said. "Ok, let's stop by there on the way home," she said as Nitro pulled over to the fish market in Wailuku to have a late lunch.
"You know Cel, I've been thinking about starting another shop here in Wailuku or Kahului for a while. Let's take a drive around and see if any stores might be of interest?" Nitro said and Celsius was quiet for a moment and said "Do you want to take on more and be busier." Nitro knew where Celsius was getting to and said "You're right let's slow down and not go overboard" he looked at the menu to see what he wanted to eat.
Stopping at her shop in Lahaina, Celsius goes into the Garden Isle Clothing and talks to Gladys. Meanwhile, Nitro takes a quick drive over to his shop and sees what is happening, and gets some feedback from his crew there before going back to pick up Celsius. Arriving home Celsius says "I sure missed this place and you. I will be glad when Tork gets backs and starts taking control over there and we can spend more time together." "Yes, I sure would like that" Nitro said taking her luggage in.
Going out to their backyard and are seated in the pagoda area listening to the waterfall's rhythmic sounds in the background as Celsius is smiling while feeding the koi. "What did Gladys have to say?" Nitro asked. "She showed me some ideas she had about some of the designer's collection from Oahu, Central America, and Asia. I glimpse through the pictures and said we will go over it again next week after I settle back in" Celsius said as Nitro told her about what he had done and was going to do, as he looked over to the Bay and sees a few people out surfing.
"I'm going inside to clean up from the day," Celsius said as Nitro went to the shaping room to draw a 7' 0" diamond tail outline from a 7'6" blank. Planing the bottom and top before outlining. Looking it over, he gets another template and pull the nose in a quarter of an inch and widen the tail area by an eighth. Looking at it some more, Having too much on his mind, Nitro is not quite sure and decides to erase the pencil line out with his planer and go outside.
He was recalling what someone had said to him when he visited the shop earlier before picking Celsius from her shop. The person was looking at the boards on the rack and came up to Nitro knowing who he was and asked for a shaping job. "Would you need another shaper, I've been shaping for a year on the mainland and just came over to the island last week. I would like to work for your shop" He said. "Where were you shaping at?" Nitro asked. "Mostly in my backyard for friends, I've shaped around 15 boards. A few for a shop in OC before coming here" he said. "Well, I already have a couple of shapers working for me now, so I don't need another right now, Thanks for asking," Nitro said as the person looked rejected and walked out of the shop.
Nitro was thinking about that guy when he was doing the outline and remembers his start in the business back on Oahu. He lets off a sigh as a business owner and goes to the pagoda to get a bottle of beer from the frig and once again looks over to the Bay and thinks about what kind of board he wanted to shape himself. After a while, he went in and watched the news and channeled surf looking for an interesting program to watch.
Eventually, Tork was taking control of the mainland operation and Nitro and Celsius's shops were doing well. Tork wanted to buy Nitro and Celsius's interest in the company. They agreed to what Tork offered and broke away from the Nitro, Celsius, Tork company and it became Tork Surf Company. After two years the company wasn't doing well and Tork went broke and started another company doing real estate. They kept in touch at first, then slowly they stopped calling each other.
The Tropical Garden Isle Clothing company continued to grow and had buyers from major retailers wanting to have their line of clothing for their mall outlets. Nitro did open another store in Wailuku and had mostly Celsius's clothing line and some surfboards, miscellaneous lines of board shorts, trunks, T-shirts, building materials for surfboards and surfing lessons.
The years went by and Nitro and Celsius have two children, the boy is 3 and the girl is 1 ½ years old. Nitro has taken his son Dos out into the water to get him to use to being out there on a surfboard. Using a longboard and riding the whitewater not far from shore was the procedure Nitro would do for Dos. Celsius would be watching over her daughter Namia. Nitro wanted his son to be a very good surfer by getting him out in the water at an early age. And influence him by having him watch Nitro practice swinging a plastic golf club so he would want to do it and become good at golf. Nitro would take Dos out to the orchard with him on the tractor and have him get the feel of riding a tractor for later on, to help out in farming. Nitro wanted him to learn to feed the Koi and enjoy being around them. Nitro had big plans for his son.
The orchard had been producing a crop for a few years and the development of the Tri fin concept was taking off. Celsius's business continued to grow and Nitro was into sailboards and surfboards. His team riders were telling Nitro what they wanted in the boards that he was shaping. He would then design boards that Dos could get better on and could see the progress in Dos's surfing.
Having gone through the oil crisis in the middle of the previous decade regarding the price of gas and resin. The cost of living was getting more expensive and everyone went along with the price increases as a way of life. A new president was in office and an assassination attempt was made, but prevented. The mood of the times was development and construction going on regarding the resorts and new designs in fashion and surfboards was in the ads in the magazines.
In his shaping room, Nitro is explaining to Dos the fundamentals of shaping and how an outline, rocker, and rail contours affect the way someone surfs. With his guidance, he tells Dos "Look at the blank and see the surfboard within it. Then whatever outline you chose, know before you go and work in that direction. That way you will have fewer problems and doubts when you get close to finishing it" Nitro said as Dos was watching and listening.
The phone rings on the wall outside of the shaping room and Nitro answers it "Hello, hey Dick what's up" Nitro said. "The HB is breaking with overhead sets, wrapping around from Coconut Groves," Dick said. "Ok, I saw white water this morning, it must have picked up some more. I'm in the shaping room with Dos right now, but we will be driving down there soon, Thanks" Nitro said as he hung up. Walking outside, he and Dos walk over to the house and up the stairs to the balcony to look at the waves. "It looks pretty good. Let's go get our boards" Nitro said as he went back to the garage to get their boards.
Driving down the side road from the house to Honoapillani Hwy, then onto the dirt road to the parking spot overseeing the bay, Nitro and Dos get out and check the waves. Looking at it for a few minutes, they rush back to the truck and change into their trunks. After waxing up, they walk down the path as someone walking up. "How was it?" Nitro asked. "Good fun, the tide is going from low to high, it's going to get betta," the guy said. Nitro was at the base of the cliff with Dos. Dos was pretty excited about the waves and telling his dad "This is great, dad." Nitro was just as excited as Dos but maintain his composure "It sure is son" Nitro said feeling like a kid once more.
Nitro would stay out for a couple of hours and Dos stayed out for an hour more. Back at the truck, Nitro was talking with a few of his friends when Dos came walking up with a friend and her dad. "Hey Nitro, Dos was getting some good rides out there," Pete said as he and his daughter were going up to their car. "I saw Darla catch some good one also," Nitro said as they stood around for a moment before Pete and Darla continue back to their car and got out the plastic gallon jugs and rinsed themselves off.
Walking back Pete says to Nitro "Nitro, I want to get another board for Darla. Can we stopped by later and have one shaped and glassed." "Why sure, what about tomorrow afternoon?" Nitro asked. "That will be fine. We will back from the church by then" Pete said. "Ok, see you at 3," Nitro said as Pete turned around and went back to his car where Darla was waiting and took off. "Well, ready to go back," Nitro asked Dos as he was putting his board in the back bed next to Nitros.
Back at the house Nitro and Dos were putting away their boards when Celsius and Namia drive up. "How was your day in Lahaina?" Nitro asked. "It was good, Namia and I did some shopping and helped around the store and some of the girls were showing Namia a few things and kept her occupied. What about you and Dos?" she asked. "I was showing Dos how to shape and we went surfing at HB and had a fun time," Nitro said. "That sounds good. You and Dos can help me with the groceries" Celsius said walking around to the trunk of the car.
It was getting late and twilight started to cover the ocean view. Nitro was walking back to the house from the shop when he sees Dos silhouette in front of him with a flashlight. For some strange reason Nitro recalled his dream of years past and wonder was he passing the torch of his dream to Dos.
The End of the Torch