There was a time in Gator’s life that he was a dedicated surfer. He moved in with the president of his high school class (King?) and far from being the outcast weirdo in high school, now he was one to be admired. Gator borrowed a surfboard from a slightly older young man who lived downstairs from the apartment in Hermosa Beach. There was a bond instantly between them as they both had the same last name and were both slightly autistic and emotionally intense in various ways. Different and knowing they both were.
So, gator went to the beach every day and learned how to surf. Readers of this column may remember that time in the article, ‘Super Chief’ Gator just loved surfing and was totally committed to it. He would sleep on the floor of his room with the board next to him so he could rise early without disturbing the other young men and walk a half a block down to the beach. Except for the jellyfish, it was a time in Gator’s life that means a lot to him 50 years later.
At one of the parties in the apartment, a young woman (girl) took a fancy to the Gator and slipped into his room during the party and Jack offered her the other side of the surfboard to lie on. No seduction. Genuine friendship and it possibly astonished her and there was a bond, a different young man that treated her with respect and friendship. She never forgot Gator and after a year or so, Gator showed up in San Diego, Navy training and a short bus ride away from Laguna Beach. After basic, Gator went to A school at the same base and wondered if the young woman was still at her Uncles place in Laguna. He called her and she was pleased. She asked him to visit on a weekend. The bus went right through Laguna and Gator went to see her. She picked him up at the bus stop and drove him to her Uncles place in the hills. With his 1957 Corvette convertible, bright red and powerful with the first stock fuel injection in a sports car. Her Uncle was on an extensive art tour in Europe at that time.
Gator would come up every weekend and lounge around the pool that overlooked the ocean and do a little painting (with Uncles paint equipment..brushes, canvas, tripod and acrylic paints.) Occasionally Gator’s new sister would bring a young man home and introduce the man to Gator as her cousin. It was a way of overcoming the puzzled look Gator got from the men. They were one-night stands for them and that was understood by all. A new sister that liked him, Gator liked that. One weekend, Gator heard his old high school president was living in the Hollywood hills and asked ‘sis’ if he could borrow the Corvette. “of course”. The occasional boyfriends never even got a nod with that request. Gator drove up to LA and visited his old buddies who were living large in the Frank Lloyd Wright Circular apartments. Class. The red Corvette fit right in at the curb and gave Gator a smile nod from everyone he Passed.. Class. It was fast on the freeway back and at Laguna the Greeter there gave him a wave. (The greeter was a man that stood for years at the north end of Laguna, waving at cars)
All in all it only lasted a season of Gator’s training and made a big difference in both him and his new ‘sister’ She shared her heart in a way nether of them thought they would do or even contemplate and it was a good start on real relationship for them both. They had no idea they were both being trained in their hearts near the ocean and some of it stuck. She treasured his paintings too. It’s pretty good. Jack