Bay Street in Santa Monica, California is a very popular spot with both locals and tourists, partially for it’s significance in surfing, skateboarding and Black History. It is next to the area of the no longer existing, Pacific Ocean Park Pier. It was also previously known as The Inkwell because it was one of the few places people of color could access the beach. Several legendary waterman, such as Nick Gabaldon, Jay Adams and Strider Wasilewski all grew up surfing this break. Local surf shops, like Horizons West, Zepher and ZJ Boarding House also served as community gathering spots.
People often say that LA/Los Angeles does not have a center and the neighborhoods are transitory, but the sense of community there is strong, despite the changing resident demographics and the enormous tourist population. There are generations of families in the lineup and there have been positive turnouts for community events supporting Nick Gabaldon Day and for the Jay Adams memorial.
I have fond memories of seeing my friends there at least once a day to surf, swim and watch sunsets together. It was always an informal gathering in the days before mobile phones… Usually just knowing when the conditions would be good meant my friends would probably be there too. Horizons West and the local surf shops were also places where people could drop in and catch up on what friends were up to. Patty would often be there doing onsite massage therapy and others would stop over after work, if they worked at all… Randy sometimes bought pizza or beer or we would get things at the heath food store next door, despite being harassed by the proprietor for not seeming like upstanding citizens. Randy also hosted various parties at his homes in Venice and later, Culver City, for Halloween, birthday parties, fight nights, swimming pool parties and pool tournaments.
Some of my best wanderlust and adventure memories began in those days, when a group of friends would informally meet up, get in a car with minimal gear and only the bathing suit and clothes on our back, and just pick a direction: north or south, follow the routes along the coast, stopping at various beach breaks, meeting new people, joining barbecues and parties and just living moment to moment, going with the flow…