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By Steve Stroot, Chiloquin, Oregon 

I’d like to thank the folks at Jack’s Surf Shop in Dana Point. About a year ago my wife and I traveled the California coast on vacation. A strong south swell was generating great surf at Doheny. Undeterred by my age (65), I entered Jack’s Dana Point Surf Shop and asked to rent a surfboard. I explained that 37 years ago life took me away from the coast and my passion—surfing. On this day, after almost four decades, I hoped to re-experience the joy of wave riding. I selected a board and drove to the beach where I proceeded to paddle out to the beautiful 4- to 5-foot waves. There were no memorable rides that day. Truthfully, I was barely able to paddle out. But it was a wonderful day nonetheless. The smell of the ocean, the sight of the nose of the board cutting through the water as I paddled, the feel of rising as the swells passed beneath me, the sun on my face, being back among the surfing brotherhood—all of this brought back the unique joy that is surfing.

A couple hours later, thoroughly exhausted, I returned the board to Jack’s. I approached the sales counter where the manager and three young employees were waiting. The manager said she wanted to meet the old-timer her employees had told her about and to ask if I’d enjoyed my surf outing. I replied emphatically, “Yes!” but acknowledged that the intervening 37 years had taken its toll on strength, stamina, balance and reflexes. I opened my wallet to pay the board rental fee. The manager raised her hand in a “stop” gesture. Then, she and her employees all smiled in unison as the manager said, “No charge.”

I often think back to that day and my brief foray into the waves. I also fondly remember the staff at Jack’s Surf Shop who understood and appreciated an old surfer trying to relive his glory days. I want to thank them for their kindness.

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