davidd (davidd) wrote,

It's a VERY Small World After All... or, Das Boot Part VII

Back in July, which was only three months ago, but it seems an eternity, I constructed a model U-Boat out of scraps of cardboard, soda bottles, and spray paint. As detailed in Part II of the U-Boat saga, the deck for the boat was a piece of mahogany veneer, about 5-feet long, shaped roughly like a skateboard or surfboard... or submarine. On the back of the piece of wood, which I had salvaged from a neighborhood rubbish bin some time earlier, was a a signature, "Sammy Hawk, X-Nose." Internet research revealed Sammy Hawk was a noted surfer in the 60s and 70s who later became a board shaper.

So today I was outside attending to some long-neglected pruning and trimming. I noticed the neighbor guy working in his yard, and recalled a rugged manly-man conversation we'd had a few weekends previously about salt-tolerant foliage. During that conversation he'd asked about our rather copious banana grove, and I'd offered to provide him with some banana starts.

Seeing him out there today reminded me of the banana plants, so I quickly fetched a spade and unearthed a few. I am not well-acquainted with these neighbors, but they seem friendly enough. I recalled that his name was Sam.

(You see now where this is going, don't you?)

"Hey, Sam," I called over the fence. "I have some banana starts for you."

He came over, and was all grateful and stuff for the banana plants, in his cheerfully odd, past-middle-aged guy probably-used-to-be-a-stoner way. "I was actually just getting ready to go to work," he added. I asked where he worked, and he said he was a surfboard shaper.

The "Sam" thing still hadn't clicked for me, but I expressed admiration and awe for his having such a cool livelihood... which turns out to be only part of his livelihood; the other part is less cool, but pays more, as handyman for a local restaurant chain. He said he had one of his recently shaped blanks in the house, and ran inside to get it.

Now, this is one sweet looking board, a 7'-10". He was showing me the detailed taper on the rockers (sides) and explaining the theory behind the angles and the taper. He turned the board over to show me where he was going to affix his logo, and I saw the big, bold signature: Sammy Hawk!

"You're Sammy Hawk!" I exclaimed.

"Uh, yeah. That's me," he agreed matter of factly.

I explained that I'd found a section of veneer some months back in a rubbish bin, which I'd salvaged. He expressed some interest in seeing it. He said it was probably part of one of his old templates. I explained that I had built something out of it -- I didn't say what -- but that I'd left the piece essentially intact. I said I'd show it to him later.

Of course he asked if I surfed, to which I had to admit no, not really. Lack of balance. He said there's nothing to it, you just need a "board as wide as a sidewalk." He's going to bring home such a board from the shop so I can practice my paddling skills.

What are the odds? Six months ago I find a piece of scrap wood in a rubbish bin. Three months ago I discover there's a signature on the thing, and internet research reveals he's a surfboard shaper. Then today, I find out the guy living next door... is the guy I was researching on the internet, the "marginally famous" surfboard shaper, Sammy Hawk!

Too weird.

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