Cocoa Beach Surf Trivia Page 7

Cocoa Beach Trivia

Wow, I saw that insert from Tony Graham. I remember taking Tony Graham and Greg Taylor to Sebastian Inlet when they were just beginning to surf. I took Greg and his brother George surfing the first time they ever went – I told them, you gotta get into this… They sure did! The first time I saw Greg on a surfboard I was totally amazed at his balance. I would have been surprised if he DIDN’T go places… The first time I took George surfing I made him squeeze into this wetsuit that was way too small! Ha!

I used to hang around the pier a lot in those days too and with such people as Dean Roberts, Danny Lee, Phil Solomon, Jeff Kluegel, Jeff Haney, Bill Kowalik, Mark Greenwood, Charlie Abling, Mark Whitaker, and the list goes on and on…

Wow! The time and the memories associated with the pier (my band even played there once), second light, picnic tables… Good memories and good vibes!
Those were the days when Gary Proper was king.

Oh, and I almost forgot to add – One night my good friend Jack Pettit drove his car off the pier. It sat there in the sand and rusted for quite a while. Does anyone remember that?

- Matt Mahan - 12/11/08

Cocoa Beach - 60's

Thanks for the site and memory space.
For me, the early 60's - Mercury and Gemini manned missle years are linked with the birth of surfing in Cocoa Beach.
By 1966 the "Today" paper was born, and the term "space coast" combined the two things that made the area famous.
I think it was the ramping up of the space program with the influx of families that created those exciting times and characters.

We moved to Cape Canaveral in 1960, the first wave of engineers. I grew up on Esther Drive, a funky little street that had an extension pumped up from the river.
The Beaukedis family lived a couple houses down. Mike made boards as a teenager on Manatee Lane. Since smells trigger memories, the resins and foam spraying around the building come right back.
The night of the Apollo 1 fire, as the news interrupted Tarzan on TV, a drunk driver drove west on Esther, must have realized it was a cul-de-sac and hit every car parked on the street on the way back to the highway.

The Holiday Inn across the street was HQ for astronaut activities. I jumped the rope at a ceremony for John Glenn, and swiped my finger across a full scale of Mercury capsule chocolate cake. I still see the chef racing toward me with his hat flapping.
There were motorcades down A1A, maybe the last for the first 3 man Apollo. Hard to believe, there was also a motorcade for Barbara Eden (I dream of Jeanie), if you wonder why there is a street named for the show now across from where I lived.

1964 must have been the biggest year for surfing. In addition to the pier opening, the Propper family moved up from Miami.
Before the pier, there was a tall row of pines at the north end of Leon, Pasco, Alachua. Sometimes I hung around there instead of taking the dangerous busride home with Mrs. McAllister driving.
How about Bruce Valuzzi getting on the pier stage to take over singing " I can't get no satisfaction" from the band. Wasn't the first contest Labor Day that year? There was hurricane surf blasting over the side of the pier, and the waves were rocking it.
The next Easter contests must have been when the gods came from California ..........David Nuuhiwa, Dru Harrison, Mike Doyle and our own Propper, Tabeling, Codgen in an east vs. west format.

The images: fantastic logos for surfboards Hawaii, Bing, Con, east coast west, O'Hare. The "radical" new Dewey Weber performers, square skeg era.
We bought our first board at Ron Jons, it was next to Almas Pizza, right? The beach between Holiday Inn and Surf Drive had nothing but palmetto and oaks, like the last spot left at Fisher Park.
Sea Missile motel, Satellite Motel, Missle Lounge, Mousetrap, Moon Hut, Fat Boys, Bernards Surf, Georges Steak House. The intersection of locals and the astronauts. We swam with astronaut Schirra and his kids at the Cape Colony Inn. That was the nicest place in town, and by the late 60's there were rock concerts there. That was also where I met Gregory Peck, who stayed there to film "Marooned".

Other places: Edwards Field, Surfside Playhouse, Teen Town. A given night could have pirates from Peter Pan (Craig Nichols) mingling with the babes at TT during intermission.
Remember a lot of good athletes who played baseball when they built the second larger field, I was on a good team with Richard Manzo, Doug Powell and Chris Tiani, who all could homer over the fence. Convair cove, Cocoa Isles, where everyone wanted to live. Our next house on Java Road had the Wolfes living across the street, and the Cartands, both great brother and sister surfers.

People now may have trouble envisioning cars driving and parked along the water from the 520 to what is now Minuteman causeway. We had a 56 Chevy Bel Air that got swallowed up by the tides, and soon a rust hole in the back seat floor. From then on we were the "Flintstones". Residents today should know it was the cutting of the channel at Jetties thanks to the Army corp. of engineers that changed the flow of tides and sand down from the Cape. The beach was much, much wider in the 60's, and it seems there has to be replenishment, from my last visit.

Other messages bring recollections:
Jethro Tull played at the Canaveral conference center before some religious figure bought that and the hotel.
The Yardbirds, in the tent, standing outside to hear Eric Clapton because we were too young to get in, was that more like 65?
The "drunk french teacher"?............had to be Mrs. Blackburn. I remember because of the detention for working the french word for beaver into our speeches (phoque).

All the messages together form an idea why Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach were so special - since there are thousands of small beach towns on both coasts. These recollections all have one thing in common, how we all seemed to know how lucky we were to be living on this strip of land, and unique little world. Every few months the world would invade for a manned launch.

I am in the process of assembling any remnants from this period. Please contact me if you have photos, memorabilia, junk from this place and time.

- Richard Frezza - -7/19/07

the good ol days

I am so stoked that I found this site. Great trip down memory lane.
I moved to Cocoa Beach in 1964, at age two, and lived that great life for 27 years before a career change moved me to Tampa Bay. My mom worked at the world famous Almas Pizza in the late sixties, and she knew everyone in town. She gave me my first surfboard in 1973, it was a gift from her friend, and a bartender from Almas. He was also a surfboard maker, named Pat Ohare. My life would never be the same.

My best friend at that time, and still a life long friend was Matt Kechele. (I was the best man at his wedding years later). Matt and his brother Mark were making home made surfboards, much to his dads chagrin, in the house garage. It was a tight fit, because both Mark and Matts dad were VW freaks and always seemed to have two or three in various stages of repair.

Matt's world was nothing but surfing. We were in the water every day, all day. No matter what the conditions, we were there. Our spot was the Islander Hut. At the end of third street north. We both lived in that area, so it was a short walk. Just up the road at 4th street was the home spot to Sam and George Drazich, two great surfers, still to this day. Chuck Woffard, Jim Broughten, Alden Pitard and Chris Leanard also started at that break, and don't forget Barry Wolfe, and his sister Sharon, one of the hottest female surfers from the area. Of course when there was no surf we hung out at all the local shops. I remember Primo, Little Hawaii, (the owner Bill Volmar had a son Alan, who was a buddy of ours) Surfing World up by 520, and if you ventured south, quite a hike on a schwinn stingray, but we did it, there was Natural Art and Quiet Flight.

Our world really turned around when Rich and Phil Salick, along with Bob Carson opened up a surf shop right across from my house, Carson Salick. We could have died and gone to heaven, we had a local shop to hang out in, and did we ever. Matt was obviously the most talented surfer in the bunch, but quite a few of us started the local Carson Salick team. There was Greg Taylor and Tony Graham from Merritt Island, (Tony and I work together in Orlando to this day) myself, Tom (Troll) Black, Scott Robinson, Sharon Wolfe, Jim Broughton, Alden Pitard, Chris Leanard and the rest of the gang. Rich and Phil became more like fathers to me and really helped me on my way to adulthood. Both attended my wedding in 1997, and I still see them when I return to CB.

Those were the greatest days of my life. I take my 9 year old daughter to CB quite a bit and point out all of my old haunts to her. She gets a good laugh.

I know that everyone says that they knew Kelly Slater back in the day, but Matt and I helped teach him to surf. He used to ride a boogie board and tied the leash to his wrist. His mom worked at the Islander Hut where we all hung out, and my family was good friends with the owner, Scotty and Sherri. Yes, they did have the best fries in town, if you could scrape up 50 cents. You could also get a cold can of Mountain Dew at the corner car wash for 25 cents. Or, you could get a frosted 8 ounce bottle of coke for 10 cents across the street at Cocoa Beach Hardware. That was next to Beach Bait & tackle, the fishing shop owned by Kelly's dad Steve, may he rest in peace. My house was RIGHT across Orlando Ave. from there. Don't forget Bills Subs, The Sausage Hut, Krystal, Gekidis, and of course Taco City. I was a busboy there in '79, and on Wednesday nights they had Nickel Heinekins. A bottle of Heinekin for 5 cents! Wow! Remember Old Fishermans Wharf, The Rivers Edge, the El Capitan, and the Maryland Fried Chicken, right where the roads came together in South CB. Down at the end of that street, by the river, was where the surfboard factories were.

Remember Pizza Joes, across from the glass bank. And A&P grocery, the Cocoa Beach Theatre, Surfside Playhouse where we would wait in line for hours to see a surf flick. That was the highlight of the year. Every surfer in town was there. I remember seeing 5 Summer Stories, and of course Free Ride. You could never hear the dialog because of the hooting and hollering. Matt and I would be the first ones there and sit in the front row. I remember we used to go to the Playhouse on Saturdays and the guy would give us 50 cents to clean up after the movies. We also knew a guy named Joel that owned Backstage, the hair studio. We would pick up cigarette butts from his yard and he would give us free haircuts.

Wow, those were the days. Never again will there be a time and place like that. It was the best place possible to have grown up in, I wish I could take my daughter back to Cocoa Beach, but it will never be the same. I still go back quite a bit, but it is just not the same. Great memories and I enjoyed sharing them with your readers.

An old timer from good Ol Cocoa Beach.
- Tommy Sharpe - 7/4/07

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Anyone want to talk old surf story or have original trivia about Cocoa Beach and Brevard County?
and let all these new kids know what it was REALLY like pre-internet days. Peace. BH2