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Golden Years

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Once in a while, we get lucky.
Out of the blue, somebody sends us an email saying they have some pictures we might
be interested in, and it’s like finding treasure.
David Natal sent us some of the finest shots we’ve seen from the Golden Age of surfing
in Goleta.

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This is David surfing what he believes to be one of the first twins that Al Merrick made. He and
Joe Mickey shot Al’s team in the early 70’s, and they got some free shapes.
He also remembers being one of the first guys to ever surf at this spot.
It’s called Sands.
Dave and his buddies Kent Guzzi, Joe, Bruce Fowler and Roland Yarnell were among the first
guys to start surfing Sands on a regular basis. It was kind of spooky paddling around from
Devereux the first time.

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Up on the bluff above Haskells; early seventies.
Dave and his friends used to come up here to look for arrowheads, watch the sunset and
whatever else them crazy hippies used to do.

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David and Joe produced a couple of Super-8 movies called Off The Wall and Off The Wall 2
and toured the California coast showing the movie to enthusiastic crowds.
. Off The Wall 2 featured a session with Tom Curren, Davey Smith and Cappy Pedersen at an
unknown spot called Sandbar, instantly putting that wave on the surf spot radar forever.
Above is David at an empty Sandbar, riding a Bahne Surfboard, shaped by Mike Hynson.

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Dave’s best guess for this one is a young Norman (Grass) Grazianno. He and Cappy were
the up and coming young Goleta shredders way back then.
Check out how dilapidated the pier looks, and how clear the water was this day.

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This is where audience participation comes in.
Not sure who this is…anybody out there know?

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Another mystery, and a very trippy shot.
Dave guessed Joe Magazino, but not for sure.
No wetsuit, no leash, just a rockin’ pair of cutoff Levi boardshorts.
Looks like one crazy Goleta hillbilly surf rat. We sure as hell wouldn’t drop in on him……

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David’s girlfriend and future wife, Dottie Ermlich, with his dog Lemmy, on the bluff above
Haskells in the early seventies. Lemmy’s checkin’ out some frisbee action down below, and
Dottie’s checkin’ out the dude behind the camera.
The Ermlich girls all went to DP: Alice,Dottie, Linda and Carol. Most of the guys probably
remember Linda because she was a great looking blond who thought it was sinful to wear
clothes at the beach. Linda used to play guitar and sing in coffee shops with a girl friend
who was a local boogyboarder.

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This is a beautiful shot of a Haskells wave from the mid seventies.
David and Joe used a Nikonos camera for these water shots.
Check out the sky and the lip of the wave….
And the pier looks like it was made of toothpicks!
A golden shot from the golden age.

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Early seventies from up on the bluff.
Either Isla Vista or Haskells.
Not sure of the surfer’s name either.

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Another unidentifed.
Great little wave and a cool little board.
Looks offshore, too.

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Joe Mickey slipping into a glassy one with his wetsuit shirt.

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Joe Mickey at Sands.
First time David saw Sands, he and his buddies looked over the long expanses of empty beach
and remarked how this place could never get crowded…..

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Joe Mickey again in classic early ’70s form.
The best peaks were up by the pier. The waves at Haskells seemed to have a magical energy.
In the evenings there was often a nice fire on the beach to warm you up before heading home.

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Groovy, man. No, that’s not John Denver.
David and Joe Mickey used to take photos for Hang Ten T-shirts. Remember those?
They did another artsy shot of Dave at College Cove that became a best selling shirt design
for Hang Ten. Who knew that cool design we were wearing started right here in Goleta!

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John Magazino on a clean Sands wall, beaver tail flappin’ in the wind.

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Lenny Marcus.
Lenny got deeper than anybody on that mat of his.
Remember these mats? We called them rafts. You could get one anywhere and cheaply;
Sprouse Ritz, Disco Fair, or even the Coronet five and dime had them.
Now try to find one….
The younger kids all rode these, with their cutoff jeans and their gnarly sunburns.
And when you got home, you used gasoline to get the tar off…..
ahhh, the good old days.

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One of the Talley brothers inside a Haskells barrel, early seventies.
Jimmy and Steve were the Stylemasters back then.

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Here’s a beauty.
John Magazino showing a young Norman Graziano who’s got seniority, since he obviously
didn’t have wave priority. The young guys back then showed a lot of respect in the water.
Remember respect in the water? Those were the good old days…..

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More Mesa Mud.
V.W.’s were the 4WD’s of the 60’s and 70’s. Once they took off their shoes and rolled up their
pants she came right out. Once Joe Mickey got his panel truck so stuck at More Mesa, they
spent the night with it. Strange that although they never saw anybody out there that looked like a
hubcap thief, anytime somebody left their car overnight it was stripped by the morning.

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A lone surfer wanders through the wildflowers on a coastal plain that would one day be
vandalized by developers with a giant stucco turd they call, the Bacara.
This photo epitomizes the Goleta surf experience; solitude, nature and beauty.
Thanks to David Natal for sharing some of his amazing collection of photos and letting us
relive the golden years again.

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Check out Dave Natal’s new novel, Loaded Barrels.
An exciting read with lots of familiar characters in local settings.
We highly recommend it, even if you don’t surf!
Get it now on Amazon.