Sunday, July 12, 2009

Otto's take 2:

I had a picture about an old Santa Cruz surf shop / board rental location up a while ago. here is a more detailed story:
From Ward Coffey Shapes (thanks steiny!)
Otto's Fun Spot

There is a neat story to this picture. I was working for Bob Pearson at the time when he heard that Jeannie was going to sell off all of Otto's boards at the iconic Fun Spot. Bob offered up our help unloading the place and laying out all the boards for her. She was happy to have the help so the next morning Bob picks me up bright and early and we pull his VW van around the back and wait for Jeanie to show.

This gives Bob time to hatch his plan. The idea was to get in quick and do a once over on the boards, check the logo, then the condition. The dogs went straight out front in pretty rows and the choice picks went around the back by the van. We had to work quick before someone else started to pick through our pile.

The pace was furious and soon my back and arms were killing me. Some of the boards had more resin than foam and weighed a ton. There were boards everywhere, stuffed and crammed in a bunch of different racks and up in the rafters. There were also some boxes of old decals and magazines along with other detritus that was downright scary. There were bikes, mats, even a box of zorries, along with the cage Otto kept his parrot in.

Well, after the fire drill a few other folks got into the mix and helped move the boards out and Jeanie was ready to do business. I think her hope was to get $15 - $25 per board, $10 for the dogs.

It's at this point, when Bob is getting thanked by Jeanie, that he mentions he would like to buy a few of the boards and some of the stickers.

"Sure," she says, "which ones?"

"Over here," says Bob, and brings her over to the pile of 20 or so boards and a small box of stickers. Bob made sure that we didn't wipe any of the boards off, that the logos weren't showing, and that we left them as dusty and dirty as possible.

"Tell you what Jeanie. I'd like to give you 5 bucks a board for this bunch and maybe something for these stickers too."

"Now Bob, what've you done. That's not fair to everyone else." Jeanie had a smile on her face and she kept shaking her head. We did have all the boards laid out nicely. It was the end of the line as far as Otto's goes, and she didn't have a lot of attachment to the boards. But she looked up at Bob and said "You got some good ones in there, don't you?"

At that point I wandered away as they worked things out. Next thing I know Bob is saying "Come on, let's go, it's going to take two loads so you'll have to guard the boards." He had his little shop just down the street, right across from the Boardwalk. It wasn't far but I'll tell you in the time he was gone I had to endure telling a bunch of people "these boards are sold". The wise ones weren't too stoked but all the while Jeanie would look over, shake her head, smile, and give me a wink.

The next week my job was to strip wax (rock hard paraffin) off all the boards and lightly touch up any dings and cracks. Then Bob would compound and polish out the boards and bring them up to the Mission Street store. It's to Bob's credit that he was able to get measurements and templates off the boards. I believe this helped perpetuate the longboard renaissance that was to transpire in the coming decade.

I'll have to admit that in the days when a 5'10" twinfin or a 6'5" single fin was the board of choice, having those nice and shiny old logs in the racks or hanging from the ceiling was very cool. And there were some real gems in there too. My favorite was the 9'10" Coke bottle green Phil Edwards "Honolulu Special". The second I grabbed that board I went "Wow, this board is the real thing." And to this day it still is.

Those boards sure attracted a lot of attention at the shop. It was common to have Reddo, Chuck, Tom, and a cast of others in the shop trading barbs as they checked out the boards and lamenting "$125?! You've got to be joking me. This board was only worth $100 new at best. Plus it's twisted and I know what Bob paid for it. Practically stole it!" On and on it would go. It was a great source of stories and history lessons for me.

Then there was Pete. He would casually stop by every week just to pick up a sticker or two. He was decimating the Gidget, Con, Katin, and other classic stickers until Bob cut him off.

There were a lot of boards at Otto's. Most of them were dogs but I know that there were some other good ones in that place that we didn't get and I hope that there are good stories about those boards too.

When I think back, I don't really dwell on the priceless gems covered by dust, sand, and time. I think about the stories each board could tell of stoke, tragedy, and triumph.

Like the young gremmie who could barely drag the board across the beach with his dad saying, "If you want to ride it you have to carry it."

Or the first time a young girl ever was out on the ocean, paddling out to the kelp beds and the otters, kelp crabs, and schools of sardines flashing silver in the jade green water.

Or the show off know it all taking his board across the shins and being forced to watch from the beach as the kooks frolic and splash and carelessly fall in love with the ocean and waves.

And of all the stories of those who caught their first waves with the cypress lined cliffs to their left and the wharf to their right and nothing but the spray and the rush of the wind in front of them, hurtling towards shore and knowing they wanted to do this for the rest of their life.

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