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THE SENIOR CITIZENS SURF CLUB

Cindy Maddera

The Senior Citizens Surf Club (or SCSC) was founded by Floyd Henderson and Ida Merryweather on Hanalei Bay beach on the island of Kauai in 1978. Floyd was 22 years old. He had dropped out of medical school on his second day of class, smuggled himself onto a container barge and ended up on the big island of Hawaii. He stayed there in a small village doing odd jobs from fixing small engines (not much different from the human heart really) to mending torn fishing nets (very much like stitching up a cut). Eventually he hopped on a fishing boat to Kauai with no intention of staying long, but with every intention of learning everything about building his own surfboard. Floyd had heard rumors of an old hermit who lived in a shack on the beach. The hermit was supposed to be the best surfboard maker to ever have made a surfboard.

It did not take long (Kauai’s not that big of an island) for Floyd to find his hermit. On his third morning on the island, Floyd hit up Hanalei Bay beach for some morning surfing. He was sitting on his board in the water, contemplating his next move when he spotted one surfer in particular. This surfer was slotted. That’s the term for when a surfer is tucked nicely into the barrel of a wave and this surfer was tucked in like burrito. Just as the wave started closing in, the surfer zipped out to the crest of the wave and then rode that wave all the way to the beach, skidding to stop and hopping off with a ‘tah-dah’! flare. Floyd almost applauded. He swam his board back to the beach to meet this person and ask him if he knew about this mysterious surfboard maker.

Floyd realized as he walked up to this surfer that he was not about to introduce himself to a young man like himself. No, when Floyd reached the surfer he was introducing himself to Mrs. Ida Merryweather, an eighty year old widow and obvious surf queen. She peeled her wetsuit off to reveal a floral print one piece swimsuit that perfectly matched the flower print swim cap on her head. Her skin was that soft brown wrinkled leather kind of skin of a person who had spent years and years outside in the sun, not bothering with sunscreen. Her hair, revealed as she pulled off the swim cap, was white as snow and sprang up from her head in frizzy curls. Ida was no spring chicken, but her smile was true and her ocean blue eyes sparkled with mischief. Floyd was immediately smitten with Ida.

Floyd told Ida that he’d come to the island to find the hermit who made surfboards in hopes of learning how to make surfboards. Ida laughed and shook her head saying “I never considered myself a hermit.” The shack on the beach was actually a two bedroom bungalow a mile from the beach with a workshop in back where Ida spent her days sanding, buffing and lacquering wood into beautiful surfboards which were sold in local surf shops. Floyd begged to be Ida’s apprentice. “Son, you didn’t need to beg. You just had to ask.” was Ida’s response and that’s how Floyd became Ida's apprentice. Floyd moved into Ida’s spare bedroom and in return for learning all he could about making surfboards, he ran the errands. He picked up groceries and made sure they were eating well. He did the yard work and fixed the carburetor in Ida’s station wagon. Ida taught him how to smell the wood for lightness and feel for weight. She taught him how to sand and how when you think you’re done sanding, you sand just a teeny bit more. Floyd became Ida’s caretaker and Ida became Floyd’s surf mentor.

By now, you’re probably wondering were the surf club comes in. Hold on. I’m getting to that.