La Jolla Pumphouse Crowd – Beach Life

La Jolla Pumphouse Crowd

In this typical Meda prank and with an diverse crowd at the Pumphouse, Bill Decker has an embarrassing moment, his trunks are pulled down just as the picture is taken: Front (L-R) Robert Merril, unknown, Thomas Hendicks, Donnie Tompson, Bill Wilhelm, Kip "Pinky" Ives, Mark Edwards, Michael "Otter" Woods. Back: (L-R) Tom Jones, Lindi Person, Kathy Sanchez, Richard Krug (in back of Krug, Rupert Fellows RIP), Bill "Smack" Decker (in back of Decker the prankster) Jeff Junkins (RIP). Photo provided by Bill Decker and taken by Dean Burriston in mid 1970.

Just for starters, Tom Wolfe’s book, The Pumphouse Gang,” which he claimed immortalized the Mac Meda Destruction Co, ” … was a bunch of Bullshit,” MacPherson said during a winter 2006 conversation he had with a San Diego Magazine writer in 2006.

According to many that who was interviewed in the article, the writer misquoted and will say (even today) that Tom Wolfe was a dork and a person not to be trusted. In the mid 1960s when Wolfe was doing research on this book, and when he first walked on the WindanSea parking lot asphalt, he stood like a bottle of Ripple at a Dom  Perignon tasting.   Faster then one could pop a beer, he was 86ed from WindanSea (people thought he was a nark). So low-faced, he cruised the beach, where he stumbled on the Pumphouse, which he found a more talkative and underage crowd.

In the eyes of Jack McPherson, there was at lot of irony that Wolfe named his book after a building designed for pumping shit into the ocean.

La Jolla PumpHouse #21There was an array of characters that hung out at the infamous Pumphouse #21, a semi-secluded spot of beach that was not visible from the street – an iconic way of those under 21 who could drink on the beach without fear of being hassle by the police if they were doing it at the lot or WindanSea’s wall. The Pumphouse also provide one of the best beaches to body whomp at.

It was a tight-knit group of kids that orbited a central nucleus of beach life, which, when push came to shove, formatted their own version of what  their overall lifestyle of Mac Meda Destruction Company was like.

Age, lifestyle, rich or poor, geek or jock the Pumphouse was just another niche environment of La Jolla’s Meda beach life. In 1977 the Pumphouse sponsored the grand finale of Conventions that was comparable to the Mexico Convention – over 1000 people conversed on the beach in a last display of Woodstock lifestyle.


  1. One 4th of July someone (maybe Greg King)brought a giant tractor inner tube down to the pump house. Up came the idea to get inside, and roll down the steps. I forget who went first. The trick was to make sure that you started off straight down the stairs–not off at an angle. If you started off wrong, you’d crash into the railing 2/3 of the way down, and smack your head on the stairs. With a perfect start you could roll down the stairs, across the sand, and into the shorebreak. As soon as you hit the water, the innertube would fall over, and you would be smacked by a wave.

  2. Dave Saska says:

    The unidentified guy in the top photo looks a lot like Dickie Klingenberg. This is just a shot I didn’t when he was this young. Dave

  3. PrescottAuburn says:

    Pop’s Generation. My Pops really did take my brother and I, at 4 and 6 years of age, into the Watts Riot. I have vivid memories of going from San Diego to L.A., with him, that Summer. Though I don’t remember crossing paths with any of the Mac Medas. I’m still friends with a guy I met there, that was also 6, and happened to go our Church. John Steinbeck IV, who I met at The La Jolla Methodist Church in ’86, used to tease me about appearing in literature, that I was too young to know about, as pretty much the same thing happened to him, with his famous father. I had also been at the New York World’s Fair that summer, along with Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote about it in Slaughter House Five, as well as the Vennison Stew event in Northridge, that Tom Wolf mentions it The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. It seemed to me, as if I couldn’t escape. John and I were both keen on the notion however, that our Point of View was MUCH different than our Fathers’ Generation.

  4. when crabs roar says:

    The real Watts story
    The party was in Manhattan beach, and I believe that John Benton had some kind of beef with the landlord so he invited La Jolla up to Meda the place and we happily complied, complete with holes in the walls. A couple of us walked to the nearest liquor store, where we met this guy who said he lived in Watts and needed help to defend his home, so we went back to the party and enlisted some others to go with us, we all climbed in the back of his cargo van and throwing all caution to the wind drove into Watts. The scene at his house was really uneventful, we drank and watched the riots on TV, ah, the irony of it all. I remember hearing the commentary on TV telling the public that the National Guard was not using automatic weapons, and a couple of blocks away it sounded like a fricking war with all the automatic weapon chatter, so yes they lied. I also remember standing on the front lawn and seeing a small convoy of jeeps towing canons. After about four hours we became bored and realized that there wasn’t any real threat to his home and asked him to drive us out, which he did. I remember one brief encounter with some black guys in a car but their hearts weren’t into taking on a van full of crazy drunken white guys. We were stopped by the National Guard at a road block when we attempted to leave Watts, they couldn’t believe that anyone would be crazy enough to want to go in there and let us go just to get rid of us. Yeah, we were really out of it, We didn’t have any guns, or much common sense for that matter. The rest of this story about pulling into the Windnsea lot when we got back and meeting Tom Wolfe is posted above.

  5. Jill Wagner says:

    Does any body remember by older Frank Hetzel?
    Iam his youger sister. We were very close. Love to hear.

  6. chris hendricks says:

    Damn Jack, that was perfect. Claire was a pure natural beauty !!! Stay verticle old friend.

  7. Jack Wilhelm says:

    Jane: If Eber Linder was devastated by Claire Herrick’s death, so were many others. Me included. Stunning to look at; quiet and unassuming,she always radiated simple charm and wholesome intellect. And, when she beamed a smile, you might only count to three before an outbreak of spontaneous and infectious giggles – enough to flatter even the lamest of jokes. Mine included.

  8. Wasn’t Eber, who I did not know, devastated when Clare died in that tragic accident?

  9. John K. Weldon says:

    You all know the Pump House Gang was all written by Bill VanPatten “The Mouth,” and then changed into prose by Tom Wolfe. Tom spent less then and hour at the Pump House in his white suit, and promised me he would not use my full name, but John K which is what everyone called me as there were two John Weldon’s…He lied.
    The Pump House was just a staging point as we waited to be old enough to own cars and move to the parking lot. Just as Marine street was to Sea Lane for the most part.
    “Dirty Leonard” Anderson was a jerk and if I’d have known anything about him going to shoot Donna I’d have stopped him…I just want to set the record strait on that…Rodger Johnson and I were suck’n up Brown Derby beers in Leonards apt. at the time.

    • I’m ” dirty leonard’s” cousin… I remember when this took place… I have a picture of him I just found tonight
      please write me if you can/want. I remember he lived on Gravilla st when this happened.


      • yah i’d like to see that pic dean, i been wanting to piss on that bastards grave for over 50 years
        Donnas brother

      • Richard Handley says:

        I knew Leonard and Donna, his girlfriend. I was much younger but I remember Leonard quite well. He had a beach spot north of the shack at Windensea which everyone called Leonard’s apartment. I think he slept there and it seemed that he was often homeless. Leonard was a very flamboyant person. He was a prominent personality of the day and was frequently seen at the Pump House at Windensea. When he was drafted and sent to serve in Alaska, (before Vietnam draft) he came back a changed man. I saw a photo of him from Alaska and in the photo he looked okay and happy. But when he came back to La Jolla he was deeply troubled and not communicating well. Donna *(Camel) lived across the street from me and Leonard would come to visit her. He didn’t even acknowledge me even though I’d known him well before he was drafted. Something happened to him in the Army that really tweaked him. It was not long after he came back that he shot Donna down at the Pump House and then shot himself. We were all totally blown away by this and talked about it for months afterward. I wasn’t at the beach that day but heard about the shooting almost immediately.

  10. that bald guy in the back…bending over is that purp?

  11. Stirnkorb says:

    Son of a bitch. Wickham your still kicking. Mail me. Stirnkorb of stirnkorbs.

  12. when crabs roar says:

    This was posted under Mexico Convention previously but it really belongs here.

    I don’t know who or what brought Tom Wolfe to La Jolla, maybe to just get out of the cold eastern weather.

    The first and only time I met him was in the lot at Windansea, looking like he just stepped out of a London musical, complete with white suit, vest, white ducks and a wild colored tie, couldn’t’t have stood out more if he were wearing neon.

    He states in The Sixties, a book by Rolling Stone Press copyright 1977.
    “I must have been a sight, when I look back on it. I looked tremendously old to them. I was thirty-four. I hadn’t been out in the sun since ‘61, and I wasn’t about to go out in it again. (I like the ocean air, but that’s about all I like about the shore.) I was like the man from Mars”.
    This is typical Tom Wolfe bullshit.

    It was a Sunday afternoon when we rolled into the lot, we had just gotten back from a party in Manhattan Beach where the apartment suffered typical Meda injuries, ( holes in the walls, etc.) one thing lead to another and we started the Watts Riots (but we better not take credit for that convention, some people are still pretty upset). Anyway we bullshitted him and we all know the results of our encounters with him, his book, The Pump House Gang.

    In the book he says that, “Some of the older guys, like Gary Wickham, who is 24, are still in The Life, they still have it, but even Gary Wickham will be 25 one day and then 26 and then…and then even pan-thuh age”.
    And yes Tom Wolfe, at 68 I still enjoy “The Life” just like I did back then, one day at a time!

    And you, you”re still a DORK!

    Gary Wickham

    P.S. Hope you enjoyed the Mexico Convention footage it was a pleasure to share it with all of you.

  13. It’s pretty cool your wife let you out to go to the beach that day Pinky.

    • I was not married at the time … thats a saga on its own ;-(… first starting with Lindi (who is in the picture) introduce us when they were working together at Alfonsos

  14. Kathy SARRETT says:

    Hey, does Decker have any trunks on?

  15. STEVE SHULTZ says:

    Methinks the unknown is Roger Johnson

  16. mark dameron says:

    Isn’t the “unknown” between Robert Merril and Tom Jones – Doug Moranville ? (I know it’s not Eber).

  17. LJ Womper says:

    Look at Jeff Junkins, what a stud!!Talk about a Wildman.That boy could put away a few and then some.I remember one time we were checking out the surf from the lot, and this huge guy came jogging by and said some real smart-ass derogatory comment about beach people,(this guy was huge),and we all turned and looked, all to scared to say anything, Jeff just smiled.The guy kept on jogging.Jeff waited a few minutes said “I’ll be right back”and got in his car.About 15 minutes later he came back and said “I dont think he’ll be back”.I heard from people who saw it that Jeff followed this guy down to Hogans and beat the shit of him, leaving this guy a bloody mess.Jeff was a Green Beret from what he told us.He was supposed to go on Mission in Vietnam,was told to get off the chopper and his whole squad ended up getting killed.I don’t know if that is true but that is what he told us.Either way he was always fun to be around,and a true Mac-Medean!!!! RIP Jeff

    • Arik Lerner says:

      Jeff did 6 tours of Vietnam I think, a honor to know him

    • jess reynoso says:

      i knew jeffrey briefly,met him through another sog member.yes,jeffrey was a sog member.did some preatty hairry tours in nam.also met his mom,sweat lady.we were always welcomed when we visited la-jolla.RIP Jeffrey.

  18. Dan Dameron says:

    Finale Kip

  19. Classic shot!

  20. mark dameron says:

    Seeing the picture of the pumphouse prompts a question: How many remember the attempts, made by a lot of the above pictured group {and others, of course}, to ride down the stairs adjacent to the pumphouse inside a tractor sized (6′-0″ to 7′-0″ diameter) inner tube? Success rate for making it a full double flight = about 1 in 10. As usual there was the liberal use of ” liquid courage”.

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