Fish Scales And Bikinis

Fish Scales And Bikinis

When my father moved our family to Newort Beach in 1957 my brother and I were immediately befriended by a bunch of guys at Newport Harbor High.  One of the guys was Grant Hornbeak, a quarterback on the football team and an accomplished golfer (he later won the Club Championship at Santa Ana CC).

Horny (as we called him) had a ’56 Ford and drove us to school almost every day.  It was a 2 block trip.  He also lived on Lido Island where he had many contacts.  One of them was a Mr. Felton on Via Lido Soud.

Mr. Felton lived on the bayfront with his private dock and a cool yacht made just for fishing, the kind with a flying bridge and its own bait tank.
Mr. Felton fished every Friday with his buddy (I think his name was Mr. Jewell).

The boat came back covered with sea salt and fish scales.  Mr. Felton was a perfectionist and paid guys to clean up every Saturday.  Horny’s dad recommended the Roberson Boys for the job.

As high school kids in Newport we all needed a litte WAM (Walk Around Money) to buy Nui Nui burgers at the Snack Shop, Big Boys at Bobs and ice cream at Wil Wrights.  Working for Mr. Felton was our source of WAM.

The job was basically OK; swabbing the decks, wiping down the hull with a chamois and removing fish scales from the aluminum rails.  We were expected to be there at 8am sharp and were paid the same day.

Then came those autumn mornings when the fog hung like a cheap suit over Newport Harbor.  It was football season and the Harbor High Sailors just got pummeled by the Anaheim High Colonists on Friday night.  The last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday morning in November was to remove fish scales from Mr. Felton’s yacht.  I couldn’t stop thinking about those big Dutch farm boys from Anaheim running over the beach kids from Newport.  My sore muscles were a reminder compounded by the damp air.

Then Spring came.  The sun would break through and it was track season.  Time to put on the shorts and run for the Tars Track Team.  Also the time of year when young ladies preview the seasons swimwear.

And so it was that Mr. Felton’s neighbor, a Mr. Bergen, would come to his Lido Island vacation home from his place in Beverly Hills.  The Saturday morning clean up job became much more bearable.  Harbor High won most of its track meets and who could complain about working on a private yacht on Lido?

The job also had its perks.  Mr. Felton turned out to be a very generous guy and Mr. Bergen had a teenage daughter who would sun bathe on the dock while I removed the fish scales.

I didn’t know until later that the statuesque girl was Candice Bergen, star of the silver screen and television.

A pleasant memory indeed!


The Author grew up in Newport and just moved back after venturing out to such places as Danville, Rancho Mirage and Laguna Beach.