I went to Bob Freeman's GoSurf web site to check out the surf report this afternoon and saw that the conditions are 2-3 feet and expecting to improve at we move into the weekend. I went home and got my stuff together so I could go straight to the beach from work tomorrow. I'm 54 years old, my cardiologist has told me to quit smoking the cigarettes that I've been smoking since high school, but he is telling me in the same breath to drink red wine daily. You get some good news, you get some bad news.
There's a really nice photo by you of Bob on his web page. I'm screwing away some of my companys' time late in the afternoon and I'm looking at Bob, and I'm thinking, he really doesn't look that much different than he did when we first met in 1966 or '67. I remember that I was sitting on that old palm tree trunk that laid in the sand near the entrance to the pier for a hundred years (I even got to hear Murf-the-Surf spin some yarns on the stump) and this kid comes down and helps himself to a piece of real estate. As the story went (and I remember reading about it) Bob was famous up and down the east coast for being rescued up state somewhere by the coast guard after paddling or drifting out some incredible distance from shore.
Bob and I were pretty good friends through much of our high school days, but I don't think I've seen him more than a couple of time since then. That's probably because I'm somewhat of a loner and don't socialize much or keep in touch often.
I suppose that I got exposed to surfing in 1965 when I moved to Surfside Estates in Merritt Island and met Greg Westedge and Bill Eason. These were the first guys that I knew that had surfboards, and they're the ones that took me to (actually their parents took us) the beach and introduced me to surfing. I got my first O'Hare surfboard that Christmas and my life hasn't been right since.
A lot of the surfers from Merritt Island surfed at Osceola Lane. The McRoberts brothers surfed there. Rick and Phil Hauck, Pat and Marty Smith (Marty was an incredible surfer with a really smooth style), and David and Kathy Anderson. Jay and Jimmy Cadillac and Freddy Smith, who lived on Osceola Lane became my best friends and became part of the Osceola Lane surfing culture.
From my own neighborhood, my best friends growing up, David Calvert and Paul Lambert were my constant surfing buddies. These were the guys that I cruised the beach with (when you could drive on the beach) and lived on 50 cents a day. 25 cents for a gallon of gas to get to the beach and back, and 25 cents for a bag of Fat Boy French fries for daily substance. I remember sleeping in the car waiting for sun to come up. The Cocoa Beach cops would come up and tap on your window and say "there's no sleeping on the beach". So you'd start up your car, the cop would leave, and you'd move down the beach 100 yards and go back to sleep until the cop would wake you up again and you'd move again.
As a surfer in the 60's you went to the beach every day. If there wasn't much surf you played and socialized. I remember going to the beach on Christmas day in 1968 with Dave Calvert. It wasn't because there were some awesome waves. It was below 30 degrees, but we both had just gotten new boards and had to christen them. So we froze our butts off to catch a couple ankle busters so that we could try out our new boards. It's interesting the crazy thing we do in a life time, and it's also interesting who we remember best. I met Kathy Kernan, Janet Kobilarski and Mary Armstrong at the beach.
I don't get to go surfing as often as I want to any more, but I'll probably be there this weekend.
- Later, Luke Dresser - 10/12/05
My days in Cocoa Beach
I moved to Cocoa Beach in the summer of 1967. My dad transferred to the Cape from Illinois. We moved into the Walkulla Apartments and then later into the Twin Towers Apartments that are next door to the Cape Royal Building, the roof of which Phil Gillespie and myself watched the moon shot in 1969. We snuck up there somehow.
Phil was a fellow classmate of mine in the CBHS class of 1968. I didnt know how to surf at all when I moved to Cocoa Beach, but learned quickly with the help of a couple of school buddies (Mark Stephens and the late John Rubino who died in a hang-gliding accident some time ago).
I remember walking down to the beach from our apartment (a whole 2 minute walk) and having the entire beach to myself (along with my dog) nearly every day. I was a 17 year old kid who enjoyed every minute of it and soon took it for granted.
Looking back at those days sure brings fond memories. I took a job at the Shakeys Pizza and my surfing time diminshed. Then college came along and screwed it all up. I do, however, snow-ski now, as the mountains here in Utah are the only game in town (it really does feel like surfing at times). Other fond memories of those days were the Yardbirds concert in a tent on the beach at Fisher Park. It cost a buck to get in and I remember standing about 2 feet from Jimmy Page as he let it rip. The Jethro Tull concert a few years later was also memorable. The labor day jet show on the beach along with huge waves also sticks out in my mind. There were also many concerts at the old Orlando Sports stadium, Led Zepplin, Jefferson Airplane, MC-5, Argent, Ted Nugent etc. I remember fighting my way to stage-front in that old metal building time after time. I've got several Zep photos taken from the front row.
I've enjoyed writing this as these memories are almost all are very pleasant. I enjoyed your web site and hearing other peoples (common) memories.
- Thanks - Dave Phillips
Old Timers E-mail me!
I just stumbled across the web site and was glad I did. I know about all of you people that have posted. I was a DJ throughout all the years when WRKT was located at the old Carvelle Lounge, and later moved to Pluckebaum Road in Cocoa.
I too started with a 9'6 and it was a dog. We produced a lot of the shows at the pier, one which jogs my memory... The Byrds... This was a disaster as no one had any money so they listened under the pier.
Dick Hobie and company was on our radio show one night (Rick Morton and Myself) and someone called a cursed him out big time. That was the end of live call in shows.
What ever happened to Col. Tom Birkhead who ran the Pillowtalk Lounge? Hal Martin AKA Rod Barken, email me I haven't heard from you in 25 years. Hope you are not still mad at me. Any of you other fellows feel free to Email...John. etc.
Glenn Przsborski and myself also produced a movie on Cocoa Beach Easter Sunday with LaDonna Davis and Carla Hoover. This was filmed at the pier and also at Nort Kurlans La'Scene. The film went on to Armed Forces television. The Hilton now the Radisson was at one time a Bible College...Anybody remember that? How about Shaggs Surf Shop? Ron Dimenna was't the only game in town.
I'm going to try to dredge out some stuff from our movie Blame It On Florida and maybe some tracks from the record with Ron Sansone. CBES... Cocoa Beach Easter Sunday... Title track when we filmed. I may have acres of 16 mm footage that me and Glen Przsborski took. I'll have to look.
Old Timers E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Regards, Dave "Rock n Roll" Rollins, Cocoa High Class of '68. 7/23/04
Cocoa Beach When...
My family moved to Cocoa in '65, then to Rockledge in '69. I knew "older guys" in the latter 60's ('67-'68) who surfed, and a few times let me tag along. One of them had a pinkish-red Weber V-bottom with some kind of paisley design on it. God, I coveted that thing, and got to attempt to ride it a few times.
I began surfing for real in '73 when I was in high school. My first board was a stubby little used 5'-6", cigar-shaped Nomad that I bought for 40 bucks at Ron-Jon's. My next one was another used Nomad from Ron Jon's... but a whole different thing... a beautiful blue 6'-4" dove tail. I took it straight out to the pier the morning I bought it, a grey rainy, overcast Saturday with 3-4 ft chop. The first wave I took off on it felt like the board just came up and attatched itself to the bottoms of my feet. I knew in an instant that I was about to begin to really experience surfing the way it was supposed to feel.
I got my pal Bobby to get a board and soon we were surfin buds. Our usual spot was a place that in those days was known as "Porpoise Pit" or just "the pit". It was located where there was a break in the dunes at the north end of the NCO club parking lot across from Patrick AFB, and a little north of the Eastern Test Range HQ (the building with the rockets and missles standing up out front). It was a great spot not only for it's slightly farther outside break, but also because there were no rocks sticking up for about a hundred yards or so in either direction. You could pull up in your car right to the edge of the beach.
What great days we used to have there, especially our senior year at RHS. We both got out of school after 3rd period, and everyday headed straight for the waves...except on days when we knew it was pumping, we'd just skip and head straight out there.
Occasionally during the big winter swells when it was just too big and gnarly to paddle out down south, we'd come up to the pier where it was usually a little smaller and breaking better. Some of the best days of my life.
- Jim Wade. Orlando, Fla. 5/4/04
Early Days in Cocoa Beach
The Canaveral Pier, as it was known to most of us, was right place at the right time in our lives. The pier was emblematic of the Sixties (1963-1972) as we've come to historicize it). Even though the surf was smaller than further south, the sense of being part of something special was palpable.
The music spilling out of the speakers of the concession stand gave us surfing with a soundtrack. You could stand on the pier and watch your friends from a new perspective, seeing the true sine-wave physics of the swell roll beneath you. We learned more about low-speed hydrodynamics and hydraulic forces there than we ever did in science class.
After cold winter mornings surfing the pier or at the jetties in the mid-60s, we'd always go to Fat Boy's Barbecue to warm up and to take advantage of their $1.00 lunch special, a sliced barbecue sandwich, fries, slaw and a drink. Some of the waitresses liked us and were nice, but the grumpy cashier despised the surf crowd.
We were anything but rowdy. We were just kids who'd burned about 4000 calories and who were remembering funny moments from the session, like the time a 2-foot baby sand shark kept swimming after Chris Bolton, who was up on his knees paddling his 9'8" Surfboards Hawaii with no more than two inches of his fingers, afraid the little shark would bite him. Once, Ed Hunter grew bored waiting for the rest of us and soaked his dollar in his water glass. When we were finished, Ed walked to the check-out counter, laid down his ticket and handed the cashier the wet dollar. "This dollar's wet! Have you been soaking it in your water glass?" "No ma'm." "Yes you have, I watched you do it." "Then why did you ask?"
We also surfed a lot at Tulip Ave., next to the Ramada Inn across from Cocoa Isles. In 1966, Cathy Atwill was a regular on her 9' Bing noserider with the red speed fin. This board pre-dated the Nuuhiwa noserider model. She was easily one of the better girls on the East Coast, but she never competed... just loved to surf. Carol and Jim Cartland started surfing there before Jim got really good and hooked up with surfers who could take him south to Sebastian.
Poles, in front of the old radar tracking station near 30th St. was another favorite break.
College, careers and other forces have carried most of us away from Cocoa Beach, but not from what it gave us. I sat in the water just north of a pier this morning, still surfing after 40 years, and as I looked through the pilings to watch a kids one-third my age pulling off the same cross-step to the nose maneuvers, the only thing I missed were the songs playing off the pier. Guess they'll have to wait 'til I put Jethro Tull in my CD player on the way home.
- Bill Atwill 10/4/03
Anyone want to talk old surf story or have original trivia about Cocoa Beach and Brevard County?