A little history lesson: pictured, left to right, are Joe O’Sullivan, Fran Delaney, David “Keyhole” Tompkins (standing), Don Briscoe, Bob Davis, unknown (standing), Parkin Cosby, Vernie Gregg, and Bob Kellog. These guys were, in the main, true watermen: divers, fishermen, lifeguards, sailors, merchant seamen, seafood restaurateurs, and surfers. They surfed Laguna Beach, Salt Creek and San Onofre in the 40s and 50s and pioneered Baja in the 50s and 60s. Keyhole’s son, David “Brother” Tomkins was the most beautiful surfer I ever saw, much in the Billy Hamilton mode that influenced the generation of Laguna surfers who, in turn, influenced me: Brother, Pat Tobin, Pierre Michel, and, to a lesser extent, Mike Armstrong. My dad and Keyhole kept fighting cocks by the old shack at the entrance of Salt Creek; all traces of its former wildness have been erased down to the mean high tide line. It’s hard to imagine dropping into a Gravels pit on that
thing but I can see riding it on a lined up day at the Point. All but a couple of the men pictured here have passed on, my father included, but it’s comforting to see some continuity in the lifestyle across a span of fifty-plus years.
Kevin O’Sullivan