Sent in by Kevin Cummins,
The sight of this balsa wood board brought tears of gratitude and sentimentally to my wife and her mom. Here is a picture of my wife, “R.d.”, her mom Lee Ann and my kids holding the balsa board.
Everyone knows R.d. from surfing Swamis [a fine pointbreak in Encinitas, California]. The local old timers might remember Lee Ann from surfing Stone Steps [a local beachbreak], because she was a Stone Steps Pioneer. Lee Ann lived on Neptune Ave. right next to Stone Steps and later moved to Kauai with her husband Skip Harmon.
Skip was a surfer/shaper. When R.d. was young, her father Skip died abruptly. The whole family had been on an extended trip to India when it happened. It was so devastating that Lee Ann quickly moved back to Encinitas.
When the family went on their trip to India a trusted friend helped take care of their home and their farm animals. He was a good enough friend of the family to help keep R.d.’s cows milked. I can not begin explain how much R.d. adored her cows and I am certain that R.d. even as an 11 year old would never be comfortable leaving her animals with someone who didn’t have a huge heart. The name of their friend was Norm Smith. (Here is a picture of R.d. with her sister and her cows.)
When R.d.’s family moved back to Encinitas they lost contact with Norm. Norm surfed Kauai and bought boards from R.d.’s dad, including one of her dad’s personal balsa wood guns. After Skip died and the family moved back to the mainland, Norm held on to that balsa wood gun.
Knowing that this hand crafted board represented a meaningful connection to the lost surfer/shaper/father, Norm kept the board around and planned on returning it to its family of origin.
Skip died over 20 years ago. In that time Norm moved to Oregon and still surfs. After all these years, he was recently able to track down R.d.’s family. He got their address, packed the board, and shipped it to them. It was a type of gesture you find at the end of a good novel.
We should all be lucky to have friends like Norm.