Book Recounts Lives of Close-Knit Group of Old-School Surfers
Walk by the Cardiff Seaside Market any Tuesday morning, and you might see a group of white-haired men occupying an outdoor table, reminiscing about their glory days as Southern California's original surfers.
Meet the Tuesday Morning Gang, whose members have held down their place of honor in front of the market each week for more than 20 years. But their ties to each other run much deeper; many of them have known each other since they were children.
They are bound together by what one member, Charley Marvin, 80, calls "liquid adhesive," or the salt water that tirelessly pounds the shores of California's coast.
Marvin, a retired real estate attorney who lives near Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, is a relative newcomer, and a bit of an outlier, since he spent his ocean days as a body surfer rather than a board rider. He joined the group in 2005 and became so fascinated with the men's personal histories that he penned a self-published book - "The Tuesday Morning Gang" - which first came out in 2017.
The gang will take its show on the road, so to speak, on Sunday, Sept. 9, at a book signing and gathering to be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the California Surf Museum, 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside. The public is invited to the free event, and RSVP's are appreciated at 760-721-6876.
The gang's members are surfing pioneers, said Jane Schmauss, the museum's historian and co-founder.
"They're kind of like the last of the guys who surfed without wetsuits, on wooden boards, and without leashes, often in the dead of winter," said Schmauss. "These guys are precious to us."
The book contains their personal histories, as well as tales of their surfing adventures, she said.
"It's basically a condensation of the adventures of 16 different remarkable individuals in their 70s, 80s and 90s," she said. "The common theme is their love of the ocean and surfing."
The group includes a wide range of backgrounds, from commercial pilots to a doctor to an NFL Hall of Famer, as well as a famous surf photographer and a long-time San Diego firefighter. Many of the members traveled around the world in search of big waves. One "emeritus" member, who has since died, was an astrophysicist.
In spite of their accomplishments, the men have no compunctions about embellishing their tales as they sit around the table in front of the Seaside Market.
"It's just a good bunch of guys who get together and tell each other stories about the lives they wish they would have led when they were younger," joked Marvin.
But that shouldn't take away from their achievements, both personal and professional, said Marvin's wife, Kirsten.
"Every one of these old guys have accomplished so much in life, they should be proud of themselves," said Kirsten. "The Tuesday get-together is the thing they're looking forward to."
Over the years, said Marvin, the conversations around the table have evolved. While at one time, he said, topics such as girls and sports may have dominated, "Nowadays the first thing that happens is we go through the medical reports."
Only one member, Mike Burner, the former fireman, now in his 70s, still hits the waves on his board, said Marvin. The others are content to relive their memories of sand and surf.
Among the adventures recounted in the book were an unorthodox landing by Chuck Lindsey, an M.D., who in 1963 set his single-engine airplane down on Moonlight Beach after a mechanical breakdown. As reported by Lindsey, when the aircraft came to rest, one wheel was dry and the other was wet.
The book also chronicles how Tom Carroll, a former commercial airline pilot for Pan Am, took time off from his day job to sail around the South Pacific for four years with his girlfriend in a yacht the couple had built together.
Also set down in the book were career highlights of Tuesday Morning Gang member Bobby Beathard, a former general manager of the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins, who was inducted this year into the NFL Hall of Fame. Beathard, who introduced Marvin to the Tuesday Morning Gang, has since moved from Leucadia to Tennessee to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
And these are just a few of the highlights contained within the book's pages.
"This is the reason I wrote the book: these guys are interesting, they've done stuff," said Marvin.
Proceeds from sales of the book, which is available on Amazon.com, will be donated to the California Surf Museum.