Butch Van Artsdalen – Legendary Surfer – WindanSea Lot

Legederly Surfer Butch Van Artsdalen

Legendary surfer Butch Van Artsdalen trades gash in head for keg of beer. Photo taken by Jon Sarrett,WindanSea Parking lot

Recently I attended a memorial service for Harry Phillips, the former owner of Flowers by Adelaide in La Jolla.  I was having a conversation with some of the former delivery boys who worked for Harry over the years.  Randy Miller, Harry’s nephew, told a Windansea Tale.

Legendary surfer Butch Van Artsdalen was holding court at the Windansea lot and Randy was with Charlie Broan in one of the Adelaide’s delivery trucks.

Broan was driving and his goal was to sneak up behind Butch and hit the horn.  Something went wrong and Broan actually hit Butch and knocked him ass over teakettle.  Butch came up with a gash on his head and needed to be taken to Scripps Hospital Emergency Room.  The hospital was located then on Prospect across from the Rec. Center and Bishops School (on which now sits a huge butt-ugly condo project).

When Randy and Charlie got back to the shop, they had to tell Harry they had been in an accident and a guy had to be taken to the hospital.  Harry wanted to get to the hospital to talk to Butch before any Insurance Agents got involved, which he did.  After exchanging pleasantries, Harry said he would like to see if there was anything he could offer to Butch to keep the incident “Under Wraps”.

Butch said, “Yeah, get me a keg, delivered to [Windansea] beach in two hours and we’ll be even”.

Harry complied.

The Legend of Butch had another chapter.

Thanks to Dan Dameron for the post.

Meda Editors Note: The Photo was taken by Jon Sarrett at WindanSea Parking lot. We got the photo from Wikipedia (click on link above) our sincere  apology to Jon, now we can give credit where credit is due. We hope Wikipedia does the same.


  1. Hey Ryan good to see you still kicking, remember the old days at AJ Surfboards, and surfing together around La Jolla.
    I’m now living in Thailand

  2. Hey guys,
    Whats up for the past 48 yrs? Surfer here, grad LJHS in ’63. Yeah, Windansea is the spot. Sorry for bailing on ya’all after H.S., but Hawaii was screaming. Yeah, just one of surf-diarlects who hung out in parking lot, took my turn in line with Diff, Butch, Haisley and other ner-do-wells, pissing off the cliff in the parking lot. When we sufficently pissed off the neighborhood folks, and the local police, we took our havoc south to the Long Bar. Things definetely went south there too.If you don’t recognize my name here, don’t feel bad.I was the 15 yr old sitting in the corner at the L/B with everyone asking, who’s the kid. General Answer, “Dunno… Some little grem buddy of Diff’s.” Because I was much younger than everyone and moved to Hawaii out of school, I was fussed into a time warp between that generation and hellraisers of the ’70s. Good to see authenticity here.Rock-on,Surf-on, while I
    write-on…Right-on. Surfer/ Shaper/WnS Grem-Ryan Dotson

  3. Butch sold me my first car – a red ford station wagon.
    I think it was a 54′, and cost me $400. cash.

    Since no surf racks were around back then, the back seat was gone. My dad was so mad. He thought I needed to get the seat back to make the deal.

    Wish I still had that car.

  4. Dan Talboy (aka MONK) says:

    I was a young grimmy at the time, when I was invited to follow the crew up to Peter Parkin’s house on Nautilus St., just up from the Wind-n-Sea parking lot. Bud Brown, legendary surf movie maker at the time, had a sound track he wanted everyone to listen to, for his latest up-coming movie, “Cat On A Hot Foam Board” about 1958 era. So about 20-25 top surfers, from La Jolla & coastal regions north, all walked up to Peter’s house after going on a beer run at Dick’s Liquor. We everyone was sitting around the reel-to-reel tape player listening to the great music, and Butch leaned over to me and asked, have a drink of beer. It was a quart of Olympia, in a brown paper sack, I took it and chugged down a few gulps, and handed it back to Butch, this was my real eye opening for me, into the LJ party scene, and also my first drink of beer, and most definitely not my last.

  5. Otis Benton says:

    I surfed the Shores for a while and at age 16 wanted to surf Windansea which was near my house in Bird Rock.

    First day in the lot Butch comes up to me around noon and says hey Grommit go get me a six back of Ole and I’ll cut you some slack out in the lineup. He was 18 then. Very few people said NO to Butch.

    There was a grocery store on Nautilus St and LJ Blvd where the cleaners is now. The grocery clerk was a Mexican lady who had a heart. She let me buy the Six which cost about $.79 and I delivered the beers to Butch. After that he really did help me when kooks or non locals would take off on a wave I was already in. I think that $.79 was a great investment; sort of like a harmless protection racket.

  6. And he was really cute…

  7. "Pointbreak" says:

    To me Butch Van Artsdalen was the ultimate old time surfer—-when men were men—when they would give you a wave but rip your head off if you disrespected them or showed no soul for the great sport that it is,something that I believe is really missing today. I never knew Butch but hung with a surfer from La Jolla who knew Butch and had only the deepest respect for him. Of all the old greats,Mike Doyle,Fred Hemmings, Phil Edwards, “Mr.Smooth” Mike Hynson and scores of others, I put Butch right at the top and only wish I could have ridden a few tasty waves with him.
    Aloha Butch

  8. "Pointbreak" says:

    To me Butch Van Artsdalen was the ultimate old time surfer—-when men were men—when they would give you a wave but rip your head off if you disrespected them or showed no soul for the great sport that it is,something that I believe is really missing today. I never knew Butch

  9. Hey; I talked to sandy woods to get butch out to our fraternity at SDSU (kappa sig) and do a show about his Mr. Pipleine thing. Sandy can tell the rest of the story but everyone was real impressed with Butch. Also I can remember when Black Mike Jenner and I were in the PB surf club jrs and Butch would always come over to us and check in. “How’s my guys?” he’d always say. What a great dude. I’m a Doctor now and send all my blessings to butch on the other side. Beachball you used to block real well for me at the toilet bowl game at LJ high school. jg

  10. John K. Weldon says:

    Butch was tuff as nails, rarely sober, a fantastic switch stance surfer, won the first OB surf contest, Was really a nice guy to local grums…Used to be able to body surf at Wind n Sea then. He was also the first guy to really dail in Pipeline.

  11. Jimmy the Greek's kid says:

    does anyone remember jimmy the greek kasanos from linda vista was in wind an sea but was training for pan am games with david manwaring for track cycling and then the boy’s club for judo instead he went to vietnam he used to tell me stories of butch and chuck I even heard some about bla james I guess butch wanted to smuggle my dad to the islands but when my dad refused literally he gave him the shirt off his back as a present i guess still have the shirt too!

  12. Annette VanArtsdalen Lucas says:

    Happy Birthday to my big bro Butch, may you rest in peace now!

  13. when crabs roar says:

    Here’s a quick Butch story.
    A group of us were in The Bum-Bum Club in TJ, the club had a balcony overlooking the ahhh, lets call it the dance floor? The ceiling in the balcony was very low, only about five feet high and made out of sheet metal, I see Butch looking up at the ceiling and then all of a sudden he jumps up and puts his head through the ceiling, denting and ripping it open along a seam, not to be outdone, John Warren tries the very same thing but hits a spot where the ceiling is nailed to a two by four and goes down, it almost knocked him out.

  14. Per Hoyt Smith’s thread on the stories he has of Butch Van Artsdalen, I am very interested in reading them. Not enough has been written on him, his surfing, and his legend. If you would be able to post them, send me a link, or email them to me it would great. The dude deserves a solid tribute. Thanks. (pkrosen@gmail.com)


  15. On Hawaiian protection…does anyone have any stories on Bla James?

    Jack Mac had a classic photo of Bla James…on the back was written…’Bla James…toughest guy on the island…lives on an island with goats and picks up cars…’.

  16. BeachBall says:

    P.S…..Butch would come down to Sea lane when in town and a party was brewing(every day?)…When I moved to the North Shore, Sandy Woods,one of Butch’s best friends, Butch, Kimo Hollinger and I went to a lot of parties together..it was nice to have that kind of protection at an Island party..bb

  17. BeachBall says:

    Pinky, a few more…Dan Irwin, Gary Cummings,Tom Damm,Jeff Mulllis,Mike Jones,Lester Steofen,Krug..if you want the info, I know some of the RIP’s….Sea Lane…body whomping at it’s best!bb

  18. The last time I saw Butch was on on Marine Street on my Wedding day . We were going to a party at Dirty Eric’s. Surf was up. Butch kindly suggested that I dump my Bride so we could catch a few. Given that I had a Tux to return, we all went over to Eric’s on Bon Air Street and polished off a couple of cases of Coors. My new bride, who grew up in LJ, was very understanding. (August 15, 1964)

  19. I have a wealth of Butch Van Artsdalen stories collected over the years from interviews with local legends such as Skip Frey, Carl Ekstrom, Donald Patterson and others. I would love to share them with you, if you’re interested.

    – Hoyt

  20. JON SARRETT says:

    How about a little credit for the photo?

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