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Short Moments From A Long Time Ago

March 18, 2023

We all have those short moments tucked away in the dusty little corners of our minds. They are times from the past, often encapsulated and accessible only along with other small bits from decades ago. The human mind is a wonderful thing, rich in its ability to recall minute details from a long time ago. Nature’s hard disc is in many ways superior to the device on which this is being stored.

For me, many of those short little moments are gathered from my time surfing in Southern California during the 1960s. They are loosely stitched together in my brain as sort of a patchwork quilt; warm to the re-cognitive touch and comprised of thousands of little scenes. Like many my age I enjoy visiting my quilted past regularly, perhaps in fear that someday soon I will lose the ability to recall these wonderful moments. The Rising Sons Surf Club was the center of my universe five and a half decades ago and my experiences with the club and my many friends form the nucleus of those many short moments.

I have written of some in my book, Fifty Years Ago – A Surfing Trilogy: And Other Surfing Stories from the 1960’s. Many, many others remain scattered in all that gray matter, looking for an escape every now and then. This morning was such a time. Several of these sprang forth so I’ve recorded a few of them to share here; short moments from a long time ago:

Late 1961 – I slowly shoved my first second hand surf board into a still lagoon-like ocean near the southern part of Zuma Beach. I was scared but determined to use surfing as a therapy for a badly broken and mangled leg. That first moment on a surfboard still warms my heart. It was my freedom bell that I heard calling in the ocean.

December 1963 – Sunset Cliffs near Santa Monica. I was already pretty good in the ocean. Lots of friends were around. We surfed the whole day and for the first time I felt I was a part of a larger whole; a shared surfing spirit. Looking back, it wasn’t much of a break that day but then surfing is about a whole lot more than waves.

Summer 1964 – Carpinteria, California below Santa Barbara. I first met a local guy named Joe. He showed me and Kenton Morse the local breaks and many a terrific looking surfer girl in Santa Barbara. I still remember attempts at romance with mousy blonds. Frivolous? Yes, but what a way to spend your formative years!

Early 1965 –  Rizzi’s Reef. This was the only time in my life that I felt terrified. I paddled out into the midst of a gigantic swelling Pacific Ocean and felt total loneliness and abandonment. Somewhere in the folds in my brain, the image of an insurmountable surf still hauntingly remains. Victory carried the day but Lord what a day it was! They even named the damned place after me.

June 1965 – Hopson’s Beach, north of Ventura. Although I had already been in and won many surfing contests, this one was special. It was the last contest that I surfed with Darwin Dorn. The morning was misty cold and foretold Darwin’s death some months later. I can still taste that cold morning mist of salt spray even now.

August 1965 – Torrey Pines State Park near San Diego. Some friends and I had stopped to watch the sun slide into the Pacific Ocean as we headed for Mexico. We noticed a woman sitting at a table decorated for a party; she was sobbing quietly. She was a bus driver and she had invited all of her co-workers and friends to come to a picnic at the park. Not one person showed up. She offered us her hot dogs and we stuffed ourselves as the sun was extinguished in the horizon along with an unknown woman’s faith. It is still the saddest moment that I can recall.

September 1965 – Night surfing at Malibu. I was hit in the neck with a flying fish while paddling out through the kelp beds. I’ve never been struck so hard since that night. The hickey-like bruise stayed with me for weeks. Lesson: Don’t underestimate our finned friends.

Sometime in late 1965 – The break was so large at C Street in Ventura that we had to run out to the end of the pier ahead of pursuing police, throw our boards off the end and dive in after them just to get “outside.” One ride in and we repeated the whole deal until we were finally busted.

Spring 1966 – Several of us had been in the water all morning at “Little Rincon” when a camera crew from Surfer Magazine showed up in the early afternoon. We obliged by showing off our best stuff for four hours straight. That afternoon, I invented a move called “The Riz”; up to the nose, do the ten, hang your heels over the nose, followed by a reverse nose pullout. It is not grand by today’s standards but the feeling of being supreme still remains.

August 1966 – A crisp break at Malibu’s “second point.” I was there showing off for a gathered crowd of onlookers. It was nice to be on top of my sport. I remember the day as pure cocky. The only real competition that day was a fellow named Miki Dora. Remember Miki? I do and I miss him.

June 1967 – The pier near San Simeon, California. I was there just looking at some nice large swells rolling under the pier after a weekend in Santa Barbara when a young girl approached me. She had heard of me and had a look of desperation in her eyes as she asked me for some recognition. I had never known sweet adoration before. Before I could oblige with tales of conquering waves, her parents protectively whisked her away and the sun set abruptly with a silent splash. Another very short moment.

Spring 1970 – Loops Restaurant in Carpinteria, California. By then, I had graduated college and I went up the coast late at night to visit old friends and do a tiny bit of local wave pounding the next day. As I sat in the now defunct eatery near midnight, I wrote “In Loops, Carpinteria” (©1970 Allen E. Rizzi)

In a car, going far,

Travelling the going away road at night;

Looking to the deep dark future

            For that something bright;

            Stalking the lusty past,

Like a hunter for lost game,

Only to find the redundant now;

            Hunter, traveler;

                                    They’re both the same.

Yes, short moments from a long time ago remain tall in the mind. Is there really any other fuel that keeps us going on quite so well? A half century and more later, I tend to think not!

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

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One Comment
  1. Great memories, Allen! I can’t imagine getting hit by a flying fish. I can see why that memory stayed with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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