First Contact

It was Labor Day weekend of 1961. My senior year of High School was to begin in a few days. As was my custom, I was spending the holiday away from the beach. Along with two friends, I had returned to the mountains of Crestline. It was late on our second night and we were looking for a place to camp, having been asked not to come back to our previous night's spot. It was a easy choice, since it was under water (another story).

I eased the surf wagon (the blue woodie was still a few months away) into a vacant spot next a compound of cars with a tent of sorts between them. It was in the wee hours of the morning and the campground was quiet. Making as little noise as possible, we settled into the back of the car.

Shortly a car could be heard speeding through the narrow canyon next to the campground. A passenger of the car was leaning out the window screaming. This noise reverberated throughout the canyon. A reaction came from the tent next my car. "Shut the xxxx up!" This became the new sound that bounced back and forth off the walls of the canyon. Silence. Followed by a distant stirring. The campground was coming alive with irate parents. Muffled sounds grew closer. "If you don't come out of the tent, we are going pour gas on it and burn it!" Very short silence. "I can't find my glasses!" (The very first words I ever heard from Kappa Alpha.)

By this time I was sitting up in the car and watching the proceedings through the rear window. The tent dwellers had emerged to face the wrath of the campers. My neighbors seemed to have gathered behind a hulk of a man who seemed to be negotiating with campers. (This was my first sighting of Aladdin..) Reason and calmness returned to the scene with promises of better behavior exchanged between the parties.

As morning arrived, the surf wagon awoke and greeted the tent dwellers. We traded versions of what had happened during the night. Quick introductions were made. They were on a fraternity outing from Valley State College. As we parted company, I noted to myself that surfers and these fraternity members shared something in common. Both try to escape circumstances of being outnumbered and out-gunned by using nothing more than their wits.

In a year I would enter Valley State College. I looked up the fraternity I had met in the mountains.

Thirty-six years after that first contact - it just seems like yesterday!

Rick Turton, Fall 62

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