THE INFAMOUS DECAL
It was one of those warm La Jolla days when Jack MacPherson, Jerry Shine (home on leave from Vietnam), and a few others were sitting in a bar (probably the Red Mountain Inn as cool, underage kids could drink there) powering down a few pitchers.
Several months before, Jack had just put together a stenciled t-shirt of Mac Meda Destruction Company and he felt there was a need for some type of logo. Jerry always had some sort of writing material (mostly cocktail napkins) and a pencil on him. He grabbed a cocktail napkin out of this top pocket and started to outline something. As he drew, discarded, drew, discarded, soon blushing, (more exciting than anything) smiles appeared on the others as they watched as something more pornographic was developing. We will let the reader figure out what it was.
Jack cocked his head, chuckled, saying something like, Yeah, we’re not some sex group, but a destruction company. Jerry then continued, compressed the design and it quickly became the infamous decal logo of Mac Meda, an atomic bomb blast. Jack gave it the awesome approval and later sent the design to San Diego Silkscreen to fine-tune it. They all toasted the mushroom cloud and never realized how infamous that logo would become.
THE BEGINNING – JERRY SHINE – STORM DRAIN AND MORE
The above pretty much tells you of the sense of humor that Jerry had. He had a quick smile and one that made people wonder what he was up to. His older brother, John, and he were always bitchin’ people to hang around and talk with. Jerry always had some sort of invention he was working on. One time, he invented a series of fire escapes so kids could climb down from a second story. Jerry was the type of guy that was always pulling strings and getting things as a result. If ever there was a white man’s version of Red, the man who could get anything (Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption), Jerry could have been him.
Growing up in La Jolla, he was one of those rebellious, adventurous kids. Daniel Monk Talboy had been his best friend since kindergarten and they were known as those ”Crazy Guys.” When Daniel’s Dad brought back a bunch of pocket knives from Japan and gave them to the boys, they took them everywhere, even to school. When they drew out the knives, their teacher, Miss Keys, flipped out and it shocked the shit out of her. Next thing they knew they were being escorted to the Principal’s office, Mr. Cherry. From that day on, Mr. Cherry made sure Jerry and Dan were split up, and not in classes together all throughout Elementary, Jr and Sr. High school.
Around 1955, Jerry, Daniel, and John put two and two together. They realized that there was a storm drain opening at the top of Bonair Street, just off the old trolley trail and behind a friend’s house, Tommy Newtons – and there was a storm drain discharge at WindanSea. Could it be? Well, let’s find out. So, with a flashlight taped to their Flexy Flyers, they were the first to take this adventurous E-ticket ride, which started that craze and the foundation for another infamous phrase, “Surf Nazis.” (Alberts Note, click on the link and watch the video)
Brothers Jerry and John both got into surfing and were well-known in the La Jolla WindanSea surfing group that consisted of radical legends, such as Butch Van Artsdale, Billy Graham, Carl and Woody Ekstrom, Tiny Brain Thomas, Pat Curren, Mike Diffenderfer, Chuck Hasley, etc. Both were good surfers, but Jerry was better than his brother, but not quite contestant quality. And, like the rest of the crew at WindanSea, they could easily be talked into getting a keg, case, or just buying a few gallons of Red Mountain wine.
They all had fun and did the crazy stuff that Mac Meda was known for back then (Watch WindanSea Beach video on the main page).
VIETNAM BOUND – CHARLIE DON’T SURF
Jerry graduated from La Jolla High in 1964, a time when the Vietnam War was starting to get press attention. Since Jerry and his brother had worked part-time construction during the summer months and joining the military was customary at the time, it seemed logical they would enlist in the Construction Battalion (Seabees). Jerry followed his brother’s footsteps and enlisted in 1965.
Jerry had his boot camp days at the Pt. Loma Naval Training Center. Besides surfing, Jerry was a skilled shooter and was always target shooting in the Sorrento Valley or Miramar area. Jerry, or his brother, had a .30-06 with a scope. As the story is told in one incident, somehow, Jerry did not qualify in marksmanship. When the instructor gave him the bad news on the rifle range, Jerry looked out and for some reason, the Rangemaster had left his helmet on the range. Jerry took a quick aim, pulled the trigger and Bang – the helmet took a summersault leap into the air. The Instructor nodded, and Jerry was good to go.
A few days before his boot camp graduation, his brother and Michael Okey smuggled a mini-keg into the base and had a party in the barracks for Jerry and the other recruits. Somehow, (probably somebody squealed) the Shore Patrol (SP) got word, and there was this sudden mad scramble to find the delinquents who did this act of debauchery. If caught, no doubt they would have spent time in the brig, and Jerry and his fellow recruits/cohorts would face disciplinary action. For over an hour, it was Animal House stealth, dodging in and out of shadows in a cat and mouse escape, however, the boys were able to slip through the back gate. I guess it became humorous entertainment when Mike and John stood outside the gate, drinking, watching the SPs in a comical keystone cop parody before they finally gave up after another hour.
At age 19, Jerry went on active duty with the Seabees, his unit, Mobile Construction Battalion 11 from Port Hueneme, eventually wound up in Vietnam, where they built a Marine base at the coastal town of Chu Lai. Jerry’s main job was to help make sure the landing strips were maintained. Chu Lai’s landing strip was pretty much the U.S. military’s Grand Central Station. At certain times, the men were permitted recreational swimming in the waters off the coastal community and this is where Jerry (and a few others) saw that Vietnam had something similar to the beach where he grew up. Chu Lai and a few other surrounding beaches like Dan Nang had some bitchin’ surf breaks.
Every so often, Jerry stared out across the sea. There was a pristine environment, much like WindanSea on a Santa Ana summer day, with its clear waters, rocky coastline spotted with white beaches, and best of all, surf.
Yet, there was also this thought, knowing any second you could be under fire or in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. In some ways, it was paradise and in others, terrifying. Still, there was something missing to make his time here more eventful.
As he was doing his Seabee thing, he got to thinking more and more of surfing with his own surfboard. In his garage, collecting dust, was a maroon Andy Jones (“AJ”) board, which was a La Jolla made local board, from AJ’s shop on Fay Avenue.
Back in the early days of Vietnam, the only surfboards (or more like paddleboards) were dinged-up and finless that the U.S. Military Lifeguards used. Real surfboards were non-existent. Plus, where would you keep it safe from the attacks during the war or worse, having it stolen? A black marketeer would catch a high price for a surfboard; however, the beach did offer that occasional respite from the trenches. A few times, lifeguards asked their commanding officers for boards so they could use them as life-saving devices. Of course, many of the men just wanted to surf and the commanding officers got wise to the ploy, so the positive release from surfing became hard to accomplish.
Yes, Jerry needed his board. How was he going to get it? He and a Hawaiian buddy, (Rick Thomas?) – who had a tanned and toned body covered in ancient Hawaiian warrior body art and with one tattoo that definitely stood out. It was a surfboard crossed with a M-16 rifle and was bordered by, “China Sea Surf Club 1964-1975.” They decided to go before their commanding officer with a most unusual request when Shine had received orders to return home for two weeks of additional training in December and two weeks of leave.
Both knew, at least to a point, solders were permitted to ship small personal items, like family photos, baseball bats, gloves and balls, etc. Together, they thought they could convince (or use the bait and switch operation) the Captain to ship a few paddleboards (code word: surfboards). Why not? Jerry was a man that could pull strings and get anything done.
They drummed up a con to tell their commanding officer they were going to be used as a rescue board for the lifeguards. It was a great idea, so they thought, never realizing that this type of request had been denied before. But now, the military had a hard time understanding these kicked back, tan, Southern California kids whose icon was some pot-bellied, beer-holding, 400-pound statue Hot Curl that faced the surf at WindanSea.
The Captain, a go-by-the-book career military man caught the scam right off the bat and denied their request, claiming it was a non-essential item.
We are fighting a war here, the Captain bluntly put it, Vietnam is not for your surfing pleasure!
But did this stop Jerry? No way. He still put in a request for personal items to be shipped to Vietnam. It was a crapshoot if it got approved or not. At least, he would get to spend Christmas with his family. The next thing he knew, he was touching the tarmac of Southern California.
After his weeks of training and prior to his Christmas leave and return to Vietnam, to his surprise, he was told that he was granted permission to ship some of his personal items in a metal “Special Service Box” that would be tightly packed in a Conex box.
Jumping for joy, he read further and his smile went to a frown. The late notice was typical military FUBAR! (Fouled/Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition). Oh Shit! The cargo ship was leaving the next day? Now what? Jerry sunk deeper.
How in the hell was he going to get his surfboard from La Jolla to Port Hueneme?
EPIC VIETNAM BOUND SURFBOARD
Jerry made a hasty call to his brother, John, who was still living in La Jolla and at that time was also an announcer with KJLM-FM 21. John said, Hell with it! I will drive it up tonight. He then called a friend, Mike Okey, to see if he wanted to go on an Animal House road trip – meaning, let’s stop at a few (an understatement) bars on the way up and back.
John slid the maroon AJ board into his car, accompanied by Mike, with a few six-packs in a Mexican cooler (plastic bag with ice). They set out for Port Hueneme late afternoon, figuring they would arrive in a few hours, which was more than enough time to get the board into the Conex before the cargo ship left the next morning. Things didn’t go as planned.
The car broke down that night in Santa Monica and this time it was John who made a hasty call to a radio friend in Santa Monica, where they borrowed his car. It then became a hurried drive to get the board delivered by the next morning. Mike and John could have set a new speed record. They ran just about every stoplight. It wasn’t a Cannon Ball run, but more in the tune of a Mad World Scramble.
They finally got to the base at 6:30 a.m. only to find a very nervous Jerry pacing back and forth in front of a steel box, which was the last one to be filled. Unfortunately, Jerry had underestimated that the box was a little over nine feet long. The board was 9’6″ and stuck out of the box.
“Shit! Now what?” his brother said. Mike shook his head and guzzled another beer.
Without contemplating a second, Jerry took one swift kick and the board wedged itself into the box doing a bit of damage to the nose of the board (probably the reason why you see the nose patchwork in the photo). He then padded it with some towels, slammed the box closed, locked it, and it was good to go. If Mike and John had been a few minutes later, the board would have missed its Asian destination point.
When Jerry returned to Vietnam, he anxiously waited for the Conex with that “Official Southern California” foam and resin glass plank inside. Boy, he knew his fellow surfers would be jealous. Once it came in, he had a hell of a time trying to hide it, but somehow the Captain heard about the board.
Next thing Jerry knew, he was standing at an attention face-to-face with a pissed off Captain. In that military stern face, The Captain was blunt. Jerry, this is a court-martial offense and demanded he turned the board in. Jerry was definitely in a tough situation. All that planning and only to be caught violating a direct order by smuggling illegal contraband and probably a dishonorable discharge. Not good! He was in deep shit!
But it was almost like it was meant to be. The next day, Jerry saw four swimmers caught in a riptide and in danger of being swept out into the South China Sea. He grabbed the board and made a daring life-saving rescue and to the Captain’s surprise, was recommended for a life-saving medal. The heroic act became a Catch-22 position for the Captain.
Now it was this time the Captain faced an awkward position. Court Martialing a hero for smuggling a surfboard that saved the lives of four people. He had no other choice but to let Jerry keep the board and ended up giving him duty at South Beach.
Yes, Jerry was, if not the first person, to have a “real Southern Californian” surfboard in Vietnam.
In the year of 1965, there were only a handful of surfers – can you imagine what the locals thought of seeing these servicemen surfing? As more boards become available, it also meant more boards needed to be repaired. Since Jerry was a Seabee, he could get glass, resin and could scavenge materials from boat repairs. He and others like Al Daniels, Greg Samp and Tom Luker were in demand repairing boards.
After his return from Vietnam, Jerry went back to surfing and hanging with his friends at WindanSea. He would frequently buy alcohol for the then younger crowd that would take up a beer collection and hung out at the then-unknown Pump House, which later becomes famous in Tom Wolff’s book, Pump House Gang.
After several years, Jerry left the beach and got married.
Jerry H. Shine, La Jolla High Class of 1964, passed away quietly from heart failure beside his wife on February 20, 2015, in Mira Mesa, California. He was a great friend to many. Mac Meda gives their deepest condolence to his family and friends.
Albert gives special thanks to John Weldon, Doug Moranville, Denny Moore and Daniel Monk Talboy who provided personal information for this article.
Alberts Note: Please feel free to comment on any errors, discrepancies, and additional information for this story. Thanks, Albert…