The August family moved to the
Southern California coastline from Arizona during the early part of
the 20th Century. The youngest of two sons, Orall W. August was a
CIF swimming champion at Long Beach High School. Since his school’s
athletic facilities included an Olympic style pool, super-star
Olympian, Duke Kahanamoku, (the Michael Phelps of that era,) would
train there for the upcoming Games. The Duke befriended young O. W.
(later to be known as ‘Blackie’) and introduced him to the sport of
surfing, bestowing upon him a liberal dose of the Aloha Spirit in
Orall August had to
drop out of high school to help his family through the tough
economic circumstances of the times. By now an experienced waterman,
he would camp out at Palos Verde Cove for days on end, fishing and
diving for abalone. He was able to earn a relatively lucrative
living in this fashion, by selling or bartering his daily catch to
the Japanese farmers who largely populated the area in those days.
Of course he always
kept his trusty wooden surfboard close at hand. He and his cohorts
pioneered surfing at many of today’s well known surf spots in
Southern California and Baja California. Eventually he became a
lifeguard at Redondo Beach.
With World War II
threatening, O. W. also started ‘moonlighting’ as a welder at North
American Aviation. The fit, sun-tanned apprentice raised a few
eyebrows when he reported for work. Since he was considerably more
robust and several shades darker than his decidedly pallid
co-workers, they dubbed him ‘Blackie’. The moniker stuck much to O.
W.’s delight since, for obvious reasons, he deplored his given name.
By the end of the
War, Blackie was married to the lovely, raven haired Pat whom he had
met and romanced at - where else? - the beach. His second child,
Robert, was born in 1945. After moving around for a couple of years,
the August family settled in a bungalow on the beach at 1303 Seal
Way in Seal Beach, California. Due to Blackie’s generosity and well
known penchant for surfing and partying, the August household became
ground zero for the surfing community in Southern California during
the 50’s and early 60’s.
More soon to