Story by Gregory Hall
Christmas makes you think of good friends and good times with them. As was with me being one of the few Floridians that actually lived on the North Shore of Oahu for a number of years, surfing was all encompassing in our lives.
THE YELLOW HOUSE
In the early ’70’s, Steve Massefeller was my housemate for a year or so at Sunset Beach. We lived in an old 4BDRM plantation house directly across the Kamehameha Hwy from where you could paddle straight out to the most challenging surf spot in the world. It was country living. I had a vege garden out back amid a surfboard rack to make our my own new boards. The house was filled surfing transplants and transient hopefuls, some later on to fame and fortune, waste, or even lost to our tribe of watermen. The house had a big living room, which had a large crunched-in old couch, a couple of chairs surrounding a coffee table and a small am radio on one end. Located on the other side of Oahu from Honolulu, there was no TV available. Our only home entertainment was a crackly ‘CBS Radio Mystery Hour’broadcast from Kauai barely and only audible at night to tell us stories of the American Indian ghost, Windangdingo! Well, this isn’t entirely true, because dominating the space was a full ping pong table, the whole room surrounded by walls filled with cut out surf magazine pictures stapled up to look like wallpaper. We held skateboard races around the table. A grand prix of sorts! We would go up the mountain behind us and risk sure death riding them down stormwater culverts.
In the summer season there are few waves to ride here for the “Big Wave Rider”. To us Floridians, we could go find surf somewhere. We rode little six feet something surfboards in little waves. They were really fun, with bright colors, swallow tails with wings. Our pintail big wave guns stayed under the house in wait. Beaver and I had made a pact: When the first swell hits outside Sunset, we would go out on these little boards and take off on an outside peak. Only one, but “GO FOR IT” was our creed. We created “the SIX-SIX CLUB”. Beaver and I tried to recruit members. We asked Kenny Bradshaw, our next door neighbor who had just moved here from Texas, his housemate Charlie Walker, and our roommate Dan Flecky thought we were nuts.
After many quiet nights thru the summer, a sudden KABOOM! and simultaneous true groundshaking wakens us in the wee hours. A first light, Beaver and I were the first outside with those little boards in a swell already 8-10′ and building in size with each set coming in. Riding a chattering potato chip going way too fast to try to turn real hard on that first bottom turn, yet stretching it out into the pitching inside section, frantically pumping and drift swaying that little board deep inside a huge tubing monster opened up the eyes and mouths of the outcoming paddlers on their appropriate big wave surfboards. Later that winter, him and I had another good laugh when at almost pitch dark, we paddled out and met Kenny coming in at Val’s Reef. Ken Bradshaw was a very determined surfer at Sunset Beach, almost always the last guy to come in. “You guys are going out?!!” I told him “Beav and I always surf out here at night…not crowded!”
Ken always looked at me with the most quizzical look on his face after that. I don’t think Beaver ever told him the truth that this was only a spontaneous catch one wave event for us.
Beaver went on to professional surfing. He was invited into the Pipeline Masters contest, where he suffered a massive head injury and airlifted comatose to Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu for a long surgery. I heard about it on the news, but due to being in the School of Architecture, I had to study for a Structure Engineering and Physics final exams for the next day. In the morning I went to the Hospital to see him. At first the Head Nurse would not let me see him in Intensive Care, saying “family only”. I told her “but, but, He and I are long time friends, former housemates and surfing buddies. We have been thru the jaws of death together surfing Sunset Beach!” It just so happened the Surgeon Chief overheard that, and came out to tell me “He is in a comma, and unresponsive. Maybe you can help!”
The Doctor lead me into his room, and remained there with me.
I took his hand, and loudly called his name. “BEAVER! GO FOR IT! GEEVE-UM BEAV!” Behind me the Doc was watching the monitor, and suddenly stared more intently at it, shuffling around.
“Beav, it’s Greg! If you can hear me, squeeze my hand.”
Now 2 doctors were leaning over us that moment he did faintly squeeze, and they both about starting dancing a jig! “He’s gonna make it!” they both said, congratulating each other. They told me his mom was coming on a plane from Florida tomorrow. Yes, he pulled thru. Now, I saw on the news a few years ago that he got bit by a shark while surfing at Flagler Beach. OMG! Luckily it wasn’t a critical injury.
I saw him not too long ago, and need to make another visit soon! Beaver now lives at home in Daytona Beach.
This fantastic photo by Lance Trout of the Beav surfing on the North Shore doesn’t tell you the whole story. Notice that texture on the face of the wave in front of him? That was caused by the spray from one of his tremendously powerful signature cutbacks. He certainly was a World Class waterman, and I think his stoke for surfing prompted him to come back to us to surf again!