I find it interesting that while all of “The Endless Summer” 50-year celebrations have been going on, the story of how the whole project got on its feet and eventually made surf movie history has not been completely told.
Today I am going to begin the story of a behind-the-scenes dude who had a huge part in the success of the film and all the rest that went with it. It’s a long story, so I will divide it over a couple of weeks so I don’t leave out any of the good stuff. This is the story of R. Paul Allen and his part in the enormous success of the film.
The Bonjour Cafe on Del Prado in Dana Point now occupies the historical location where more than 50 years ago Bruce Brown, his wife Pat, Bob Bagley and Allen collaborated in bringing the film to the screen…and eventually, to the world.
When Allen moved to Dana Point in 1960 this small sleepy community straddled the old Pacific Coast Highway, and with no stop lights one could drive through in less than a minute without knowing the town even existed. But surfers knew there were some places in Dana Point where they could pause for some eats, gas, surfboards, and maybe to catch some waves at the Point or Doheny.
For early breakfast or mid-day eats, there was the tiny Mac’s Coffee Break Cafe (now the enlarged Harbor House Cafe) that anchored the corner of Violet Lantern and 101, and gasoline was just across the highway from Mac’s at the Standard station. Surfers often stopped at Hobie Surfboards at the curve to talk boards and surf.
I worked at Hobie then and had breakfast every day at Mac’s, often seeing Allen and Bagley there. Evening travelers might hear the music at the old Dana Villa Motel and Bar at the bottom of the hill next to Doheny Beach and linger for some dancing and drinks. Those were the highlights of PCH through Dana Point in the early 1960s.
During this same era and unknown to most, a couple blocks west of 101 and Mac’s was the small, nondescript office of Bruce Brown Films, hidden on the then sleepy street of Del Prado. This quiet locale was where the four worked together in making, promoting and scheduling the presentations of Brown’s movies, and ultimately was the birthplace of the iconic and acclaimed “The Endless Summer” in June of 1964.
In early 1960, at the age of 23, Allen met Brown for the first time at Ole Surfboards in Sunset Beach, where he was working as Ole Olsen’s shop manager. I was a local gremmie at the time, rode Ole’s and hung out in the shop…