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For Butch…. For All Of Us

August 31, 2021

A sad post from 2015 –

Today, I went onto one of the surf sites I regularly follow, Bang! The first thing I read was that yet another of my old surfing crowd from 1960s Southern California had passed away. The notice was kind and brief: Charles “Butch” Towers had died on January 3, 2015. I hadn’t seen Butch or heard from him in decades. Butch owned Anacapa Surf N Sport and brought the name Towers Surfboards to the local Southern California scene. I have a very good memory and it drew me back with a super magnetic force to those gentle days in the 1960s when guys like Butch and me and hundreds of others plowed the waves of the Pacific with love and vigor. I knew Butch; I did not know him well. He was what we fondly called one of the crew. I read of his family and of his wife of 40 years and I could simply not fight back the tears.

I have always cherished my years as a surfer. But through the past few years, I have seen many names from my past fade into the great blue, as though crushed by the very waves we once conquered decades ago. Today became yesterday and then finally it became history. There is certainly nothing new in this process but it hurts when pieces of you are ripped away with each passing year leaving you with a feeling of loneliness and wishing you could resurrect the past, if just a little.

A year or so ago, I tried to bring the past a bit into focus with the publication of my book, Fifty Years Ago – A Surfing Trilogy: And Other Surfing Stories From The 1960’s. The story being told, I still feel an immense emptiness similar to what was described in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Each of the last ten years or so have brought more and more obituaries that have counted out the past like the quarter tones of a distant bell tower.

The tolling started on January 3, 2002. That’s not a date important to most people. It is however the date that Miki Dora, longtime surfing legend, foe and friend passed away into the mythology of surfing. Miki’s passing was followed by a parade of others, both famous and unknown. They joined the ranks of former friends Kenton Morse and Darwin Dorn. They all left their marks on my sport, some large and some small. Some left their names on the wall at Malibu and some went on to become doctors, clergymen and simple servants of the arts. But in the end, we were all part of the same brotherhood of the waves.

After reading about Butch and remembering all of my friends who are no longer here to cheer me on, I did what every writer must do; I wrote! Between the melancholy and sepia tones memories from the past, all I could manage was a simple poem.

A Surfer’s Farewell
© 2015 Allen E. Rizzi

I read the lines just today,
Another friend has gone away.
Years ago we were so young
And dreaming of songs unsung.

We remember times long ago
When we never thought or said no
To any wave, large or small.
Now they’re gone, almost all.

Years after so much surf and sun,
We find most all our dreams undone.
The sea we loved has washed away
All but a glimmer of the day.

That glimmer remains for us each
Like fading footsteps on the beach
They lead us back to the ocean’s mist,
Leaving us once more gently kissed.

The blue Pacific’s shores will wait
For all of us, small or great.
For in the shadows upon the beach
Sadly the sand runs out for each.

So for Butch, for Miki, for all of us, all I can do is wish that we all find tight curls again together sometime in the future. It seems to be the ocean’s promise.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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One Comment
  1. R.I.P. Butch. No regrets. You all sang good songs… 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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