I haven’t talked to Rusty Miller for 10 years but after putting this video clip together, and posting his Above the Roar interview (and this short blog post) it feels like I just spent three days with the man, and I’m cheered up by the experience. I guess there’s a chance I’ve misjudged Rusty these past few decades and maybe he’s a person who pulls wings off butterflies and doesn't recycle. But nah. Rusty Miller is a gentleman and a joy, happy and bright and kind, with a truly epic surfing life scrolling out behind him like a royal purple train. It was great to again be in his presence, even if he’s in mellowing in Byron Bay and I’m up here in Seattle digitally pawing through his past. It’s Sunday and I’ll pour myself a cold one. Cheers to you Rusty!
The second half of the week was spent trimming down an incredible (and incredibly long) University of Hawaii Oral History Project interview with Alan “Turkey” Love, legendary Waikiki beachboy, surf champ, and stud hoss. Here it is and swear to God this is a massively trimmed-down version. You want the full 18,000-word experience, click here. Here is my favorite passage in the interview.
You had two brothers?
Malcolm and Walter.
Did they also hang around the beach?
Walter did a little bit. [Note: “Porky” was Walter’s beach nickname. Porky Love.] Then he went to work; he was a fireman.
No, he never did hang around. He was the studious one. He went to St. Louis, the Catholic school. We went to Roosevelt. After school, he went right to work. Yeah, he was a worker. Shell Oil Company, he worked there for 42 years.
How did your family feel about you taking the beach as an occupation?
They hated it.
But weren’t the beach boys well respected in those days?
Yeah, but they wanted me to do something else. In fact, my sister, back in 1950, she and her husband had this ranch in California. They asked me to go to this ranch to work and I did that for two and a half years.
That’s why you went to Carmel?
Yeah. I was working up in the mountains. I liked it for a little while. I ride horses and everything. But I’m not a cowboy. I like the Mainland to go look but not to live.
Anything in particular you remember about the ranch?
(Laughs) I didn’t know anything about sheep. I knew everything about horses and cows and so on. But sheep, I didn’t know. So my sister and her husband have these sheep, mostly ewes, you know, the girl sheeps. And there was one ram, that’s the boy. The ewes, they’re like his girlfriends, his wives. So one day I went into the pen and I started to pet the ewes. They’re very friendly, you know. Pet them. All of a sudden, guess what happened? I got rammed! I went flying! (Laughs) I found later you always gotta keep your eye on the ram. They’re jealous. So if you ever go pet a sheep now, remember, keep your eye on the ram.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and see you next week. Until then—keep your head in the clouds and your eye on the ram!
[Rusty Miller photo by Don James]