It was the best of times and it was the best of times for those who grew up in Pierpont during the era of free love, Southern rock and big hair. It was a time when Honda 70 motorbikes were all the rage, polyurethane skateboard wheels were too cool for school, and Mad Dog 20/20 and Boonesfarm gained the diehard reputation as the cheapest parties in a bottle.

While the current neighborhood is recognized by its cumbersome mini-mansions and wealthy Los Angeles weekenders, long-time locals remember a very different scene — a time when Marina Park was a garbage dump and the community was a blue-collar beach. But to those who lived in Pierpont, there was no place like home.

Although some stayed while others moved out of the small coastal district, the friendships of these guys and gals have endured the test of time. Now in their 40s and 50s, little has changed the bond of this close-knit community of surfers, skaters and mischievous partygoers.

Here are the true cast of characters and some of their stories …

— Michael Sullivan

 

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Frankie
Frank Sentes
Moved to Pierpont in 1961 Local history buff in search of the next big wave

Good surf, no job, no problem

“I had a job at a place called Circus Wagon, which was a hamburger joint two blocks down from Borchard on Thompson. I was there a week and a half and a swell came up and I couldn’t stand it. I walked out of my job and got on my bike, and I remember looking back and seeing the order that I was about to fill — I just couldn’t do it, man.” — Frankie

Mooneyf
Mike Mooney
Moved to Pierpont in the late 1960s
The ever-so-boisterous surfboard shaper whose bark is bigger than his bite — truly a Pierpont native

fBird Doggie
Chris Bird
Moved to Pierpont in the 1960s
Old-school legend, pioneer of Pierpont and the band Raging Arb’s mentor (assembled Raging Arb and the Redheads)

 

Rolled the Firebird at the pier

“Well, it was Christmas Eve and I had just got back from Santa Barbara. I worked with this girl up at the Holiday Inn and she let me use her car — a Firebird. Anyhow, J.D. was having a Christmas Eve party in the Ventura Keys, and of course, it was my birthday, and you know how that goes. I was getting a little too comfortable with another girl at J.D.’s, and his mom kicked me out. I should have not been driving, but I was driving past Sanjon Road, and they had just moved the road from under the pier to where it is now. I was going up the hill and careened the side of the freeway by the bridge and ended up in the pier parking lot, with the car on its side. The Firebird was totaled and the only thing that ended up happening, I broke my finger on my right hand.”
— Bird Doggie

J.D. aka Judd
John Drury
Moved to Pierpont in the early 1970s
Freckle-faced boy whose luck could never run out — best friends with Ronky

Ronky
Ross Emery
Moved to Pierpont in the early 1970s
Kinda like Norm from Cheers, but a much cooler version — J.D. and Ronky were inseparable

 

Doing doughnuts at Marina Park

“I remember one time J.D. and I took a couple of girls that were staying at their summer house on a double date. We borrowed one of their parent’s cars and drove to Marina Park and starting doing doughnuts on the freshly planted grass. The sprinklers came on and the car got stuck. So we grabbed the beers and asked the girls if they wanted to come with us — of course, they joined us and the rest was history.” — Ronky

tToby
Tom Emery, Ronky’s younger brother
Moved to Pierpont in the early 1970s
The younger of the group who could never live it down — best buds with Arb
 

Arb, short for American Red Bastard
John House
Moved to Pierpont in the late 1970s
Earned his Arb nickname for his auburn hair; earned the “Raging” moniker for the band name, Raging Arb and the Redheads, which was inspired by the book Raging Bull — known as the quiet, passive guy loved by all 

Phil Mechanick
Moved to Pierpont in 1970
Also known as Mr. Consistent, always aspiring to aspire, but never one to pass up a good time

The harbor jump
“We were having a doughnut contest on our Honda 70s in one of the lots where the big-box houses are now, off the channel by Seahorse. We would lock our front wheel and see who could spin the back wheel around the most. Well, I did it to the point that I got dizzy — the throttle stuck and I jolted out with my bike doing about 30 miles an hour. I jumped off the top of the dirt lot and tumbled head over heels 10 feet down the rocks into the channel. I was thinking, “Oh, my god! I didn’t get hurt.” I grabbed my helmet, and I didn’t even crack my visor. When I got to school — it was right around the time Evel Knievel jumped the Snake river — the rumor was that I tried to jump the channel in the Keys and that I thought was the Evel Knievel.” —Phil


lLardo
Gary Galardo
Moved to Pierpont in the 1980s
Lived in Midtown Ventura, but ran away from home to Pierpont — seven minutes away. Never left … never will.


Dancin’ with Jose Cuervo

“When I first showed up in Pierpont, it was like nothing I had ever seen before and chicks I had never seen before. I pulled up to a house party and saw the parents dancing, and the kids dancing. Next thing you know the parents, who had been throwing back tequila shots, danced right through the sliding glass doors — the scene was amazing. I said to myself, ‘This is where I want to be.’ ” — Lardo

Sparkys
David Sparks
Moved to Pierpont in the 1970s
Hot tempered yet loyal to the bone — a star that burned out before he had time to really shine

In memory of Sparky
“We went to his funeral after he took his life — he was 25. Going to the funeral was so surreal, it was one of the first funerals we had gone to — this was so new to us. When we went to the funeral, it was painful for everyone. It was a reality check — you just check yourselves and your loved ones and friends and see where everyone was at. The most ironic thing that happened — we were headed back to work at Barber Ford, and when we pulled up, there was a car in front of us that had the license plate that read, ‘Sparky.’ It was so weird, the three of us were sitting there, thinking, ‘What!?!?’ Never saw that license plate before and haven’t seen it since.”  — J.D.

aScooby
Anne Schooler
Moved to Pierpont in the early 1980s
She was everyone’s little sister, a love interest at times, and always a great drinking buddy

Raging Arb and the Redheads
Formed in 1983, first album released in 1984a
From jamming on air guitars to rockin’ out on the real things, the band has kept the Pierpont community close-knit for the last 25 years. From left to right: Toby — guitar; Pinner — harmonica; J.D. — lead singer; Ronkey — drummer; Arb — bass; Billy McGraw — lead guitar (www.myspace.com/ragingarb)

Redhead Clothing
Established in the early 1980s
The image came from a matchbook when J.D. was surfing in Australia. The Redhead logo was pasted on everything from shirts to surfboards to being an identifier of the band Raging Arb and the Redheads.

Pierpont Rats
Formed in the mid-1970s
The term “rat” refers to a subculture of those living in certain areas, i.e. a river rat, a desert rat and, also, a surf rat — hence the name for the early 1970s surfers of Pierpont. Life for the Pierpont Rats was about drinking beers, chasing chicks, skating empty pools and, of course, catching waves. A Pierpont Rat could be easily identified by their tan skin and shaggy blonde hair.

The mottos
“We got along with the jocks, with the Mexicans, everyone except the establishment.”
— Mike Mooney

“All I know is that our generation was, from park to park (Marina Park to San Buenaventura State Beach), it’s ours at dark.”
 — Mike Mooney