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Corky Carroll remembers sting rays and 'crocodile dude'


Corky's Corner

Corky Carroll hates stingrays and you should too

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 March, 2009 : - - When I heard the news about that Crocodile dude getting killed by a stingray it really bummed me out.  First off I liked that dude.  His shows were always really entertaining and I liked his spirit and his nerve to do some of the stuff he did with some of the nasty biting beastie things that he did them with.   I was a fan.  Secondly because I hate stingrays and to think one of them did in this really cool person who was also a father and husband. 

Yeah I know what some of you are going to say.  The stingrays are just protecting themselves and all that.  And you are right, for sure.  They are just trying to live and be happy like all the rest of us.  They probably don’t really mean to hurt anybody and I doubt if that one that killed the Croc dude did that intentionally.   But still, I don’t like them at all. 

Getting hit by a ray is one of the least fun things that I know of.  Up until now I had never heard of anyone getting killed by one and never really thought of them as deadly.  But I can tell you from experience that one hit by a ray can ruin your day.

I grew up in Surfside, in-between Bolsa Chica and Seal Beach.  This is the stingray belt.  They love this area.  Especially Seal Beach.  I think Seal Beach is were all the big Sting Ray groups have their annual conventions or something.   They vacation there.  They like warm water and the water coming out of the river at the north end of the beach is very warm.  They call that area “Ray Bay.”

For some reason I was lucky and never got hit by a stingray in all of the years I was growing up surfing those beaches.  Almost everyone else I knew got hit numerous times, it was part of surfing those beaches.  My favorite stingray story came from when I was playing little league baseball.  Our coach was a man named Mr. Hodge.  His first name was Harry, but at the time it was “Mr. Hodge.” Mr. Hodge was actually a pretty cool kinda dude and was a good baseball coach. 

He had a son named Dick.  Dick was sort of one of those spoiled kids, the way I saw it anyway.  When he was in high school his parents gave him a very cool vintage M.G. to drive around. He was always what we used to call a “soch.”  That was short for “socialite.”  Dick was like on student council and all that kind of stuff.  

For all I know he was a totally cool dude, but I never really got to know him because we were sort of in different realities at the time.   I was all surf all the time.  He was wearing light blue cashmere sweaters to “sock hops.”  We didn’t groove in the same channel so to speak. 

Well, to get back to the stingray story, Mr. Hodge had a rule that there was no surfing on “game days” during the little league season.   And his son Dick was our third baseman.  I don’t think he was really the best third baseman we had either. 

But he was Mr. Hodges son.  So he was our third baseman.  The only kid who ever got caught surfing on a game day was none other than Dick Hodge.  And the reason he got caught was that he got hit by a stingray while surfing at “Ray Bay.”   I was so delighted.  It was not that I wished Dick any harm, but it just seemed like sort of a small justice.

My own stingray experience did not come until a few years ago.  It was at Bolsa Chica one morning during surf school sessions.  We hardly ever get stingrays there.  But this one week we had a few hits and before going out one morning some of the instructors and myself were talking about it.  I mentioned how I had been surfing those beaches my whole life and had never been hit by a ray even one time.  After that I even knocked on wood, my head, to ward off the bad luck of having said that. 

About fifteen minutes later I was lying across my board in shallow water watching a kids surfing towards me and giving him some instruction.  My foot was sort of dangling and barely scraping along the bottom.  All of a sudden it felt like someone stuck me with a stick or something and I felt the ray swim away under my foot. 

At first it wasn’t all that bad, just a little throb and that was it.  But by the time I walked up to my car to head over to lifeguard headquarters to get it looked at it was really hurting bad.   When I got there they stuck my foot in a bucket of really really hot water and told me to keep putting hotter water in it.   It was not fun. 

Then a little girl, maybe eight years old, came in with a stingray hit and sat next to me with her foot in a bucket just like mine.  She was sitting there trying not to cry but she couldn’t help it and had these huge tears coming out of her poor little eyes.  I felt so bad for her and told her not to cry that it would be over soon.  But the truth was that I wanted to cry too, it really hurt bad.

Ever since then I have hated stingrays.  Except for the one that nailed Dick Hodge on a game day.

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Corky Carroll

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