Good Clean Fun Appears
By now things were moving right on track and my motivation to build a boat and sail away was the singular focus of my life. I had purchased a complete set of plans from Jim Brown, of Searunner Trimarans for a 31-foot tri. Which, you will recall, was the same build as my friend Ron Metheny. I was familiar with Ron´s boat and his dreams as we had grown up together and what could be better than two of us sailing around!
Ron Metheny's Trimaran
He had completed his boat and had already left Cayucos and sailed down to Mexico headed to Costa Rica. I was busy studying these plans for the boat. It was a step-by-step process that would take me roughly a year if I could just put my head down. Back then, epoxy resin was just coming out. And Jim Brown, the designer, was recommending this new product called West System epoxy. So off I went to Chicago to a short product seminar, and I left completely sold on the concept of more strength and less weight. I felt excited to be using this material on the boat.
Then a trip up north to Ashland, Oregon, to a lumber mill where I could buy directly out the back door. I hand selected all beautiful plywood and vertical grain Doug Fir, teak, and mahogany that I'd never find at lumber yards back then, even now for that matter. Not only did I score the best quality wood I could find, I also paid less than wholesale, saving a bundle of money. So now I had a 55-gallon drum of epoxy, hardeners, additives, and a reasonable grasp of how to use it. A huge pile of wood. A cool place to store everything and work indoors. A place to live as well. All for $90.00 per month. Life was really good!
It didn´t take me long to get the shed set up as a dream workshop. All my tools and saws had a place. A giant layout table outside my trailer with a hammock hanging above from the rafters. A potbellied stove someone gave me where I burned all my wood scraps, keeping me warm on chilly nights. The shed had so much character as a place to live, so many creaks and groans when the offshore winds would blow down the canyon. Rainstorms pounding down on the metal roof. There were many nights I thought the place was blowing apart, but in reality it was overbuilt with giant beams and trusses, it was not going anywhere.
The beginnings of my trimaran. You can see my trailer in the background.
The strong back (main framework) for the bulkheads fit perfectly inside the building, and I could visualize the project constantly. The two outside hulls
(amas) went together fast. I also had a great set up for repairing surfboards, staying busy and making a little money on the side.
That job at Hearst Castle as a night watchman? Wasn´t my calling but I had a great time from midnight ‘til 8 am, and saw the Castle from a different perspective for sure. Skinny dipping the inside pool with my girlfriend was all-time fun. They had no cameras back in those days. Good thing! This was all right before Patty Hearst was kidnapped, and the vibe around the castle was changing. They wanted me to pack a pistol. I think I was making five dollars an hour, and packing a pistol protecting a castle full of treasure for that kind of pay wasn´t for me. Not long after my tenure there, the SLA blew up a wing of the castle!
Going back to the boat project: while working on the boat one day I heard a car pull up out front and a knock on my big shed door. I remember being up to my elbows in epoxy resin and just yelled out to come on in. I looked up to see a young couple standing there, asking if I could give them a moment to talk. They waited for me to wrap up what I was doing, and we all introduced ourselves.
This ended up being Mark and Suzie Garcia. Mark explained he had heard about me and my knowledge of glassing surfboards through some mutual friends. Mark was a guy who liked shaping surfboards, but he didn´t like, or have the time to, fiberglass them. His brand on his boards was Good Clean Fun! He was looking for someone to glass ten surfboards at a time and I knew that would help financially so it was a no brainer at the time. His wife, Suzie, was a seamstress for Kanvas by Katin, a board short company . She had a commercial sewing machine given to her by Nancy, the owner, and was looking for space to build some clothing she wanted to call Good Clean Fun. I really didn´t have that kind of space in the shed, but agreed to glass Mark’s boards, as long as it didn´t interfere with the boat project. Although I had never met Mark and Suzie before, I knew of them through lots of friends from Long Beach, CA, where we all grew up in the same area. I felt like I knew them right away. We all became very close friends, and I appreciated their integrity.
So, Suzie went on the hunt for a place to set up her sewing shop. I shortly got a call from her asking about a building in North Morro Bay that was for rent. She asked if I knew anything about it. I happened to know the crew that was renting it. Some guys from Los Osos had tried a falafel stand and Pyramid Foods was the name on the sign. These guys were guys I didn´t care for: aggressive surfers trying to control the breaks. It was like Hawaii but not quite as extreme. But that made it concerning as far as doing business with them. Morro Bay wasn´t ready for falafel back then, so their dream didn´t last long. They were renting the building as is for $100 per month. So this is where Good Clean Fun started its first retail setup, on Main Street right off the highway: easy access and lots of parking and possibilities.
Mark and Suzie immediately approached me and wanted to know if I was interested in partnering. I had to explain that all my money and energy was going into my boat vision, and they would have to do this on their own financially. Good Clean Fun boards and clothing was totally their idea. But I was willing to do whatever I could to help out to see the shop open. Another friend showed up, Steve Edlefson, who I had done a lot of sailing with up and down the coast. Steve wanted to throw some money into the startup costs. I would do the remodel and labor and Mark and Suzie would do their thing.
And boom, Good Clean Fun was off and running! We had a rack of boards Mark and I made. A rack of wetsuits from Bayley Wetsuits fronted to us from some guys I knew up north. And Suzie was making these killer shorts for men and women. Just great all-purpose shorts that they sold to all different types of people. After the small remodel of this 400sf building, and somehow getting roped into working a few days a week at the shop, I became spellbound with how cozy the place was -- and we had a phone! A pay phone on the wall in a small back-room office. This was way before cell phones and computers. Outgoing calls were a dime and incoming calls were free! I made a rack in the parking lot to work on boards while I was waiting around for customers. This was September 1975, and we had a business license and a sign permit. This was the beginning of the whole Good Clean Fun surf shop as we know it now.
Here´s the interesting part of the story. A few months into the shop being open and Mark and I building some great boards, the Garcias drop a bomb on me! Mark and Suzie are very sweet people and are very dear friends to this day. But Suzie was pregnant and Marks’ sister, mom and dad, as well as Suzie’s parents, had all moved to the island of Kauai. Mark had chance to join his dad and brother-in-law in a custom door business that was taking off on Kauai. Having a baby and having family to help made their decision to move an easy one. But what about Good Clean Fun?
Jerry Van Heeringen's early Good Clean Fun twin fin.
They felt bad for leaving me hanging but turned over all rights to the name and business to me for free. At this point none of us had much more than time involved. Then Steve Edlefson, the financial part of the original company, calls and says he´s taking a job with a big company and wanted to cash out. So his $3K was refunded by me and I was suddenly the sole proprietor of a surf shop in Morro Bay, CA! By this time, I was investing more than time. I had money going out in a direction not on the plan. And just hearing Mark and Suzie talk about a new island lifestyle was making me think twice.
They explained to me that the surf shop would take time and money none of us had, and having family support and Mark making great money right away wasn‘t something they could turn down. So within three months of startup, I was the only one involved. By this time, I was the spirit of the company and front man for all business contacts anyway, but I was constantly weighing out if it was good or bad having a business? That feeling will never go away. After all, I could be in Fiji or the South Pacific on a sailboat...
Then one day an elderly man walked in and asked for Tim; I said no Tim here. He introduced himself as the landlord. My heart sank and he explained he hadn’t seen rent in almost a year. Turns out we were renting from these slimeballs from the falafel shop days, and they were subletting it to me without permission and pocketing the rent money. The poor landlord was getting burned and none of the money I was paying for rent ever got to him. Robert was his first name and he and I fortunately got along well, and I now had a lease in my name for $150/month as the new renter. All good.
Now I had very little free time. Most of it was spent at the surf shop. I converted the falafel shop nicely into a showroom full of boards, wetsuits, skateboards, and some clothing. Then I converted one of the bathrooms at the shop into a shower room. It had one small men’s and one small women’s bathroom. I sacrificed the women’s room and installed a real shower, which made the shed shower less appealing. Really? It was only $150 a month rent?
All the cool neighborhood kids and Morro Bay kids started coming in daily and checking things out. By then I had a fair selection of skateboard stuff. Jack Smith came by the shop one day and he for sure stuck out amongst the gang of regulars. Eric Meyer, Paul Dunn, Gary Fluitt, Eric White, Payton Hough, Dave Arend, Jerry Van Heeringen, Jeff Frazier: they all looked up to Jack. He was a true ambassador and well respected by all locals. Jack approached me for a job and I gave him one. He was not only my first employee but is still a great friend. So I could leave the keys to the kingdom with Jack and disappear as needed!
Jack was more attracted to skateboarding than surfing. Back then skateboarding was known as sidewalk surfing, more a cruising around vibe. First it was going fast down Morro Bay hillsides, but soon pools, ditches and ramps entered the picture. And these local skate guys went nuts skating empty swimming pools and then built a legitimate half pipe ramp. Jack came to me with a great idea: put the half pipe in our big corner parking lot and let kids skate it. What could go wrong? Let’s say it was an idea way ahead of its time, a precursor to the skate park idea. The kids came and were having a really great time. It was chained up at night so nobody could skate it. And all seemed good until one night I got a call from the Morro Bay Fire department. Seemed somebody didn´t care for all the kids having fun all day, like maybe the older couple next door who couldn’t stand the noise in the daytime? Anyway, it was burned quite badly and hauled away the next day. Like a Phoenix, it would soon rise from the ashes in Jeff Frazier’s backyard.
Jack skating the ramp. Original Good Clean Fun sign is visible in background.
But the kids really were having tons of Good Clean Fun and most people knew that! These were the glory days of Good Clean Fun! Best part? I could put the “Gone Surfing, be back shortly” sign in the window and not come back for days!
But this was about to change quickly.
Then and Now.