Monday, April 27, 2009

Three Rescue Stories: Courtesy of Moriarty, Halenbeck & Trosian, LLP

"County Recurrent" is pleased to present three righteous rescue stories from two veteran LACo recurrent beach lifeguards and an absolutely classic story by one of Santa Monica City's Beach Lifeguards from back in the 60's. So sit back and enjoy.

(LACo Recurrent, Peter Halenbeck, Summer 1979, at SMN Tower #9).

1. From Peter Halenbeck, aka, ; and LACo Class of '75, wrote to us on April 2, 2009 and shared, "I may have some of the details a little fuzzy but this might be a good post for your blog... Back in '76, I was involved in a nasty rescue off the north side of the Venice breakwater. I was working the tower north of there. Due to cutbacks, there was only one guard working the breakwater tower. The guard in the tower at the breakwater was making a rescue at the south side of the point when I noticed a family being pulled out by the current on the north side. I got there in time to rescue the father and two kids. However, the father yells another kid is missing. Then it became an underwater search. It seemed to take a long time to get backup. Baywatch divers soon took over as multiple lifeguard vehicles arrived, along with police and press. The body was not found until many days later, out at sea. It was one of those rescues that makes a permanent mark on your memories.

editor's note:
Peter started lifeguarding in 1975 working Venice to Zuma the first few years and therafter settled in at SM North from 1977 until 1980. He then moved to the S.F. Bay area "chasing a woman" and he reports that he is still happily married to her. Thank you, Peter, for sharing that memorable rescue. Three Lives Saved!

2. From LACo Recurrent, Kevin Trosian, ( ) on April 6, 2009, recalling a boat rescue with Bill Powers "back in the day" in Venice.

(OK Girls, easy.....don't get too excited over this LACo studmuffin..., namely, LACo Recurrent, Kevin Trosian, as cage fighter/beach lifeguard, circa Summer 1992, at Will Rogers Tower 8. Photo courtesy of Kevin Trosian).

"I’ll never forget Bill (Powers) coming out to help me save a catamaran that got stuck inside the surf. The permanent and I saw it coming toward the shoreline from Venice, as we were wrapped in our late afternoon gear (towels wrapped around our feet and thick jackets, to protect from the wind). Of course, me being the lowly recurrent, I got stuck with swimming out there, telling them to get their vessel farther offshore. After swimming out to the two women sailing the cat, I told them to “sail at least 300 yards offshore.” “But we can’t sail", they replied haphazardly. (I remember thinking...“Then why the f*^k are you in the ocean?”) “The guy who took us out fell off back in Venice.” And sure enough, there he was, running down the beach with a life jacket in his hand, probably wondering if this was the best way to win a woman’s heart. Bill swam out after me and took the girls for a pleasure run for about 15 minutes until the owner was able to swim past the surf to reclaim his boat."

editor's note:
Kevin started lifeguarding in 1990, working Central for over a decade and the South Bay for the last 6 years. He still gets out to guard each summer, but he says it’s never enough. He figures he’s made more rescues off-duty than on over the last few years. Thanks Kevin for telling us this humorous off beat boat rescue sequence and for sharing yet another "Classic" Bill Powers rescue story..... we can hear him now introducing himself to those two young ladies and explaining sailing techniques while memorizing their phone numbers, no doubt...

(LACo Recurrent Kevin Trosian, on duty, Summer of 2002, SMS Tower #26.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Trosian).

3. And from way back in the day, circa 1960's, from City of Santa Monica Beach Lifeguard, Michael "Mickey" Moriarty
( ) who recently shared a remarkable double rescue with us.

(Photo shows Santa Monica City Beach Lifeguard Crew, Summer 1966; Photo courtesy of Nick Steers; Mickey Moriarty is all the way at left with beach blond hair, kneeling in front row; Names of Lifeguards below, Courtesy of Nick Steers:

Top row L to R: Jim Hoch, Al Mayo, Steve Harbison, Larry Taylor, Tom Johnson, ? , Warren Rigby, Wes Herman, Nick Steers, Jim Richards.

Bottom row L to R: Mickey Moriarty, Larry Raffaelli, ? , Wes Wegner, Randy Ziglar and David Wells).

(Mick as the Blonde Adonis, circa 1972; Photo courtesy of Mick).

"There was the time I got a plate of great Mexican food served by the owner of one of the houses between Roadside and Sorrento, because I had just rescued “...the best cook we ever had” and my lunch was his cooking.

Weird... Two weeks in a row on a Tuesday at exactly 11 am I had almost identical rescues, one with one victim and one with two...I forget which one was the cook... Surf Conditions: Really Big, medium low tide 6’ Bruisers... and, the part I don’t need to tell, is that a new to the gig lifeguard (who shall remain nameless), who just moved over from Harbor Dept., forgot his field glasses, thought that my arm in the air meant I was OK...when in reality I had just brought up one guy (the cook) barfing and gagging, from the bottom, strapped him in the (Peterson) tube and had the other guy hanging on...both had lovely, 'ahem' wet suits on...three quarter cut off jeans and a nice thick tee shirt and sweatshirt....the rescue boat with Zahn (at the helm) and Posely was speeding to help and two or three guards were on their way but because of the strong swells and 10+ wave sets, were having a tough time getting out to me...meanwhile, here comes a clean up set, so I headed out to sea as best I could, pulling two very heavy guys, hoping the boat would get to me before the waves...when Doug Posely jumped in and helped me pull the guys over the wave...and we made it barely, just as a huge wave broke just past us...followed by the boat's arrival just in time to help me pull those guys over the huge wave, which almost got us." Thinking back on that episode, the surf was hairy top to bottom almost low tide would have been hard to keep the victims in tow had we gotten hit or gone over the falls, which almost happened on the last wave where Doug saved us...
As it was, we were suffering through 10 waves in a set... with some 8 footers possibly...and one huge maybe 20 wave set (that last one).

(Photo shows Mickey Moriarty, off duty, circa 1972, workin' out on his skates; Photo courtesy of Mick).

editor's note: Mickey started with the City of Santa Monica as a beach lifeguard in 1964 and worked thru the summer season of 1972. He remembers fondly those teenage years before he became a lifeguard of training at the famed Palisades Conference Grounds outdoor pool, which recently was shuttered by its new landlord, the Santa Monica Mtns. Conservancy (SMCC), which is, of course, another story. Nevertheless, upon hearing of this pool's demise, Mickey shared the following colorful remarks:
"I swam and competed in that pool as a member of Uni’s swim team from 1961-1963. We came in 3rd in City in ‘61 and would have dethroned Birmingham’s long time champs in 1962 and 1963, BUT, they built Pali High and our swim team got split down the middle...we beat Pali in ‘62, they beat us in ‘63... we each got a second and third in City but Bham still continued to win... We came from Uni everyday to work out, stopped at drug store next to Bay Theatre to get an ice cream cone...I always rode with John Reitman, then (National?) record holder for 100 Fly (52.8)... then Pali was built and we shared the pool...they swam after us...and most were on our team at Uni in 1961. Of course I went through a lot of pain up there too, cramps, sick w/ fatique...but sure felt good when ya stopped....and I was a better guard and surfer because of it... Anyways, point is, I KNOW that that pool was responsible for me getting good enough to make lifeguards... that pool and my ocean smarts from surfing got me a great gig as a recurrent guard...didn't know how good it was really...". And ...guess who else was on that same Uni swim team...’61-’63? Terry Smerling.... Judge Terry Smerling, formerly first chair at ACLU. He worked Snoop Dogg and many high profile cases... Always was the nicest guy too, helped me out with some advice many years ago, but haven’t seen him in years.

(Mick showin' us how its done at the 'bu, circa 2000, illustrating that lifeguards don't retire, "They Go Surfin'!" And for all of you surfboard linguists, here is what Mick had to say about this board he's using in the photo above, "it’s a 9’6” Robbie Dick custom tri-fin, with Jimmy Ganzer’s (Jimmy Z) new (at that time: 1997) logo on it (Beatnik Brands) I got a great (free) deal because I was surfing pretty well at that time and I covered the older demographic I guess...still have the board,...a very good performing board but not a great noserider...for that I have a 1967 Hansen “Masters”...also 9’6” but the best noserider I’ve ever had... however, it’s very heavy and thin and you have to put all your weight into every turn.") Being a sometimes smartalick, I then asked Mick if he got a full facial of saltwater off the crest of that wave and Mick replied as follows: "The wave was a good one, bigger than it looks...figure the board is 9’6” so if you straighten it out against the was a six foot wave, or face anyway, a set wave...I was going to take the lower route and sneak around the peak or get tubed...but I was having a good day and decided to bang one off the top if I could...cant do that with my older long right after this shot I ducked under that other peak and cut back...the board handles about 180lbs really well... Thanks for sharing your memories, Mick !

(Jim Hoch, in above photo, Santa Monica City Beach Lifeguard, standing next to rescue jeep at SMHQ, Summer of 1966; complete '66 Group Photo above)

Finally, Jim Hoch, ( ) (standing at far left in '66 Group Photo above) a contemporary of Mickey's recalls working the area just north of Pacific Ocean Park at the tower now known as SMS T-26, which Jim reported to us was known as SM Tower 2 back in the day in the '60's. In Jim's words, "Tower-2 was the second tower north of POP...I worked 8-4's and 11-7's with Mick there." I worked '64 to '68 as needed and got a permanent schedule in 1968. I graduated Cal. St. LB in '68 and started teaching in a K to 8th grade school in the south end of the Salinas Valley in San Ardo... Worked the beach in summers...Towers then were 1-8 south of SM Pier (starting with T-1 next to P.O.P. at Ocean Park) and 9 to 18 on the north... Most North Tower (T-18) was in front of the Sand and Sea Beach Club (now the recently opened Annenberg Community Beach House) ... and it was the best tower I ever worked ... The people thought of me as their "Lifeguard" and I would order lunch from the club menu on my 10 - 6 schedule, and their pool lifeguard, at that time my girlfriend, her name was DeeDee Dunn... a heart throb... delivered my lunch to the bottom of the ramp at 12:30 sharp... what a deal ...and I got paid to do this... Jim

editor's note: Thanks Jim ! "Those were the days", indeed !

Until next time...

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