Roger Johnson – La Jolla Cove, Turkey Gobbler, W.C Fields and Demons

Roger Johnson known for his

Roger Johnson known for his W.C Fields quotes and Turkey Gobbler stunts.

Roger Johnson was another unique La Jolla beach character that lived on the edge and eventually fell off.  His idol was W. C Field and Field’s quote. “I never drink water because fish fuck in it” Roger could quote all of W.C’s drinking quotes  and would  mimic him at times sober. He pretty much acted like W.C when he was shit-faced and it became an internal personally.

His favorite thing to do was the fish out of water. He would flop on the ground and twist and turn like a fish out of water. It always got a few queer stares especially from those that did not know him. And even got a few running when he did it at public places like on Prospect St in front of a packed Bratskellar (where Georges of the Cove is) bar (very common watering hole) or at WindanSea Wall in front of a car with Arizona plates.

He, obviously was one of the forefathers of the “Shock and Awe,” and had a way of escaping death. He was most famous for as being one of the survivors of the truck that went over the La Jolla Cove cliff.

Roger’s second favorite stunt  was the Turkey Gobbler, a strange act that required 401 button down Levis. He would unbutton his jeans and then hang his balls out and then button it except for the bottom two. He would walk through parties swaying his units. Needless to say, it either had a few girls screaming, but mostly them shaking their heads, mumbling, “There goes Roger again. Hummm… God, I need another beer!” It became just another trademark of Roger.

Roger grew up in La Jolla and lived on Electric Av. in his younger days,  so he was a local at WindanSea, Marine St and Sea Lane.  He also was known for Flexy-Flying down the storm drain and doing wild and crazy things. One time he was so drunk, he missed the driveway to his house and ended up going through the neighbors garage and the car rested on top of a brand new Lincoln Continental. Roger went to jail on that one and like Rakestraw, he went to jail many times.   He surfed in his earlier days, but was more into Body Whomping and just hanging out.

He at one time was a good framing carpenter. And for years his framing partner was Steve Manns. Both of them lived at the Cottages, a group of buildings that became as infamous as Jack’s Girard St address and Bill Canning’s, SSA  “Silverado Street Assholes.” The Cottage’s clans were regulars at the El Sombrero and when they could find someone who could still see over the wheel, they drove to Bird Rocks, Red Mountain Inn.

But as his life grew, carpentry become just a way to make a few bucks to support his habit, drinking, and then the demons of drugs took over his life, which eventually lead to his homeless and early death in the late 1980s.


  1. To correct the record, Roger was hit by a car on Ingraham St. near Sea World. Homer Skief was hit crossing 805 to the South of 8.

  2. I JUST found this sight… and from what this looks like people only arrive here randomly.. it is not like Face Book where we can find old friends and chat it up daily and send photos… but this is interesting because it is bringing back very old memories in a (shared) sense. We all remember things from our own perspective… Life is subjective.. and since we are the subject and experience things from our own vantage point.. it is totally interesting to hear these (really wonderful ) varied memories…. Someone posted about My BROTHER….Edgar Hazleton I guess that should not be a surprise because he was around the area in the late 50’s and through late 60’s when he graduated from high school.. One gal remembered that we had the Pink House on Cave Street.. 1303… it is still there… Edgar is gone.. we lost him in 1977.. he crashed his own airplane on a way to a meeting.. ( he was a lawyer in Mammoth Lakes by then)….. My name is GAY… ha ha ha… not Gwen… how totally quirky is that… Anyway… I also knew Roger Johnson… from when we were so very young.. and then (years later) I ran into him over off Cass Street around 1986…. he was looking fine.. kinda rough and tumble (as always)… we caught up a tad.. he was in a friends truck…. I just presumed he was fine after I saw him that day…. But these photos and memories of him are GREAT…. seems he kinda did live fast and die hard… but I never knew these kids families… back then it was like the young people existed on their own.. just spawned on to this planet and found one another.. that was another world…. YES… amazing too my brother Edgar did make skate boards in the garage… So many people were there … I remember Jimmy Collins coming by (the Runt) and climbing in the two story windows…. There were No Screens… those poor tourists.. we used to throw rotten fruit at them.. on Cave street and tell them to go home… and speaking of Ray Darby.. ( i saw his name in here too) he rode the old wheel chair in our back yard… down the cobblestone street and crashed at the bottom.. so funny…. !! I wonder what has happened to so many of these people… maybe I will find out more in this sight…. But then again it does not look to be read or responded to very often… still there are Great Photos.. !!

  3. David Litell says:

    Roger lived three houses from me on Electric Ave. Flamenco coming out of his window was inspiring. I loaned him ten bucks and he payed me back in a bar in PB about ten years later. Sad way to go. Jack was our mailman and did seem to know everything.

  4. danny samons says:

    roger and I were really close friends for many years im sorry to hear at this late that he is gone we had a lot of fun together his favorite making pee balls

  5. Ellen K.O. says:

    I was a girfriend in the 80’s for about 6 yrs. Roger had a big heart & it is so sad to hear about this tragic ending.

  6. John F. Weldon says:

    I was very sad to hear of Rogers passing. He was a lot of fun in high school and may have saved my life one day when I got in trouble in the water. He will always be remembered.

  7. John K. Weldon says:

    Rodger lived right next to me when we were in LJJSHS high school, and were good friends. I left in 1969. I remember he had gotten into trouble and his parents said no TV so I put our tv on a desk and pull the blinds open on our side window and give him a call and we would watch tv and talk…We drank a lot of beers at the slot back in the ol’ Pump House days awaiting our turn to rule the lot…It was a progression. We were to young to have cars legally.

  8. Roger Johnson’s dad, Hank, also played a part in arranging one of Jack’s interviews. This one was 1990.

    Over the years, I would watch the Pearl Harbor newscasts on Dec. 7. The story would usually feature a sailor who had been there. Jack had been there—only at age 4.

    One year, I called one of San Diego’s news stations and pitched the idea…what about a Pearl Harbor story…but done through a child’s eyes? The news editor said she’d get back to me.

    Apparently, she lived next door to the Johnsons on Electric. She talked to Hank Johnson, he gave Mac the thumb’s up. She called back and said they’d be there on Friday, Dec. 7, 1990.

    Andrea Naversen and her news team arrived around noon. If you thought Andrea Naversen was beautiful on the news screen, you should have seen her in person. And she wasn’t an airhead. They filmed Jack. Put together a nice little piece called ‘Pearl Harbor Kid’, which aired later that evening.

    Jack looked a little strained during the interview. The reason? He had awoken that morning to discover the Porsche had been stolen. During the late 80s, everyone’s car/truck seemed to get stolen and disappear over the border. Right before Andrea Naversen had arrived, the SD Police had been there, taking a stolen vehicle report.

    That evening, we watched ‘Pearl Harbor Kid’ at the West End. It was a keeper. And if that wasn’t great enough, JK called over, “Hey mac, this girl has the same name as you,”. Without missing a beat, Jack said, “I bet you’re my cousin Bonnie.”. It was.

    Jack had heard about his cousin Bonnie Macpherson for years. She delivered mail in Del Mar. Various coworkers would say, “Hey Jack…I met your cousin Bonnie…is she beautiful.” She resembled the actress Dorothy MacGuirre…and so began a lasting friendship with his favorite cousin.

    The Porsche? Steve Kluester and Bobby Friend found it 3 days later, abandoned in the parking lot on Camino de la Costa and La Jolla Blvd. Fortunately for Mac, the battery was dead. The car thieves had pushed the car down the street. They covered it up with the car cover…but left the ‘MACMEDA’ plates exposed.

    Mike Hynson was quoted in a 1993 Longboard interview, “I remember Macpherson. He was a really good surfer and he always carried a gun,”.

    I don’t know about always carrying a gun…but he always slept with a gun within arm’s length. I think he was waiting for those Japanese planes to come back and finish him off. At a young age, he decided on preparation.

  9. I knew Edgar well, cool guy. He had a sister named Gwen they lived a few houses above the Cave Store. AJs was a home away from home. We used to go Ho-Daddy hunting and when we got chased we would lead them to AJs to get their asses kicked by the crew. Skateboards are $300. now-a- days. Curly Ingram did own the Cabinet Shop. It was a cool place!

  10. Dan Dameron says:

    You remember the surf shop on Fay? I think it was called AJ’s…The shapers would pour their resin left-overs on a tree stump out front. It was in the location where Curly built the Cabinet Shop I think, or part of the Lumber yard. Anyway, there was one of the “Older Kids” at Stella Maris by the name of Edgar Hazleton who hung out at AJ’s and he made a laminated skateboard and it was soooo cool…wheel trucks bolted to the board and the top covered with resin. He offered to make me one at about 12 to 15 bucks. That was like 300 bucks to me so I made one outta a 1 x 6 or something like that. Dan

  11. Dan "MONK" Talboy says:

    Heather yes Roger was up on El Cajon Blvd, and Washington St. in North Park, at the big instersection where they come together, and was crossing the street, when he was hit and killed by a car. I grew up with Roger, since babies, our parents were friends, we started surfing mats in the shorebreak at “Twang” Wind-n-Sea beach, later on boards at LJ Shores, shit I think we were about 11 or 12 at the time.

  12. Jack Macpherson’s apartment also had a lot of guns…some of them belonged to his father, and some dated to his grandfather’s gunroom in New York. If people couldn’t pay their medical bills, his grandfather would take guns as payment…some were muskets from the 1700s. I used to feel like I was sleeping in Al Capone’s bedroom!

  13. Dear Jerry Guzik/Heather Millard…Jack Macpherson seemed to know everything first…if something happened, he got a call…I distinctly remember him coming home and saying Roger Johnson had been hit by a car on the 805…a week later, he brought home a clipping from the Union, detailing the accident…If ever there was a Surf Museum, it was Jack Macpherson’s place…it was all there…the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Doug…I think Roger’s dad, Hank Johnson, worked for the Post Office.

  14. I first met Roger in 5th grade. My first boyfriend and in high school too.He was a good friend and a very good flamenco guitarist. Somehow, about 5 or 6 yrs ago. Roger got a hold of my phone number. He was so happy to speak with me and wanted to meet up. I called him back a couple of times. But, he never called me back. I heard that he had a drug overdose. Does anyone really know what happened? Roger was a kind and sweet person. I miss him.

  15. Roger was a pretty good surfer when he was young. We surfed WindanSea for the first time when we were about 12 or 13 years old.
    Back in the day you needed the OK from the older guys like Butch and we got it. Rogers’ dad had a great wood shop in his garage and Roger and I would get strips of scrap hardwood from the trailer in back of La Jolla Cabinet Shop on Fay St. and make some of the 1st laminated skateboards. I think Rogers’ dad was a mailman. Jack always helped Roger out when he needed a “loan”. Rogers’ girlfriend Susan died in his arms from a drug overdose and he was never the same after that. Roger was a good guy with a great sense of humor. Too bad things fell apart for him. He grew up at the beach and was one of the Boy’s.

  16. Roger Johnson is also famous for being one of the kids in The Pumphouse Gang.

    I think he died about 2003…he was hit by a car on 805.

  17. I didn’t realize that the Fish Quote was W.C. Fields, or that other people used it…apparently, one day at the Post Office, Jack went to the breakroom to get a soda. This was all of 30 seconds from his route. A supervisor stopped him and told him he was wasting time and to get water from the water cooler instead. Jack replied with above quote. Supervisor backed off.

  18. Dan Dameron says:

    Drunk or sober, Roger was the worst driver in La Jolla History.

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