Susan is Enjoying Facebook

OK, I know I’m late to the party. I resisted it for some time. But, you know what? Facebook is fun. A lot of fun. It’s also provoked a complete flood of nostalgia for every station of my life. There’s a page for Roosevelt Elementary School, where I spent grades K-6 and where I thought a little hillock of land on its corner at Lincoln and Montana was a mountain (and I really did fly off it once, using a wind-blown umbrella as a sail. Really.) My brother’s on the site — he’s the one who convinced me to join — and he has assured that every business on that stretch of Montana has been memorialized. I posted about the candy I used to buy at Patton’s Pharmacy — Everyone stopped there after school and ogled the whole aisle of impossibly-colored wrappers. My favorite, for the record, was the Chick-o-Stick.

Then there’s a group for reminiscing about the whole town — the Santa Monica of my childhood, with it’s open-air promenade that is now a chic shopping destination, but was then a modest collection of stores that were grand only in terms of their size, their buildings proclaiming “Toni” and “Thom McCann” in the scrawled, optimistic text of the 60s. I posted about eyeing the paisley and other very hip shoes at Vin Baker, before buying the cheaper platforms at Carl’s, and about Sol’s Yardage, a warehouse-sized place where women would sit at the long wooden tables, in rows across from one another, licking their forefingers as they turned the pages in the pattern catalogs. There was mention of the Smuggler as a “head shop”, though, of course, it was more — a den packed with turquoise rings and macrame chokers and tiny vials of floral scents and buttons with hilarious (to a teen) sayings. I contributed the Sorrento Grill to the memory bank, a wonderful fry joint on the beach that had checked tablecloths and black-and-white photos of old volleyball players and surfers on its walls. It was torn down in 1974. Appropriately, the last song I remember weeping out of its jukebox was “Alone Again Naturally”.

Then there is perhaps the weirdest Santa Monica memory. For years, every time I’d walk or drive by the retaining wall that sat nestled into the bluffs on Pacific Coast Highway at Montana, I’d see it: huge, black graffitied letters, of a sort that wouldn’t stay up for years today, proclaiming: “Tommy Surko says, for my girl, there’s only one. Tommy Surko.” I always wondered what happened to Tommy Surko and whether he got the girl. (Or any girl.) On Facebook, I might not find out, but I can at least find people who also remember Tommy Surko and that particular time and place.

There’s a junior high group, of course (with the word “Survivors” in its title.) And high school ones. And groups for people of similar vintage who went to the same dance clubs I did, in L.A. and then in New York, and who remember every incarnation of the floating underground ones whose names I could never hope to recapture by myself. And groups for people who just like the same architecture, or philosophy, or relatively arcane hobbies and passions. That’s the beauty of this large selection of people, and why I’m finding it so different from the smaller boards I’ve been on since 1991.

I’ve also found people and they’ve found me. These are good friends who live in other parts of the country that I’d been in occasional touch with. Now I can see what they’re reading and listening to and thinking about and doing, and what their kids — and even they — look like. And I’m really enjoying that.

It’s only been a few days. I’m not ready to proclaim, “Facebook, C’est Moi!” For one thing, its interface and search functions are clunky and inept. I don’t need the e-mail updates when a stranger writes “You go, Girl!” to a friend. But, for the most part, I’m finding it one more fun aspect of a full life, and thinking about all the connections that are duplicated for other people’s hometowns and elementary schools, not to mention the people finding companionship, or at the very least a group of people who also like to eat jelly doughnuts, is cause enough to smile.


17 responses to “Susan is Enjoying Facebook

  1. Susan says, Ha! Thanks, Heidi!

  2. Hi I think I knew your brother, you guys lived up the street from us on Marguerita?. Sheesh, I remember that graffiti and have no idea why it’s indelible. When I was at Samo, there was an article in the school newspaper about Tommy Surko. Wish I could remember what it said.
    Who the hell was he any way? I have romanticized it to the point where I imagine him a real world figure from a Lew Archer novel or possibly something related to Gidget.

  3. Hi Brian! I remember you from down the block! Do you still have family there? My brother is the one who remembered the exact wording of the Tommy Surko graffiti. It certainly is indelible and worthy of romanticizing. I’m really glad you wrote. How are you doing?

  4. Hi Susan,
    All of us are ahem…alive…and living in Santa Barbara. I have an older sis, Jessica. Yes, for some odd reason I too can remember the exact wording on the Sorrento Ruin. Maybe it was the awkward sentence construction, the cool name (Tommy Surko) or maybe just the fact it seemed to exist there for eternity. Yes yes, I’m good, I’m married and have a 9 and 10 year old, both getting bigger and more advance at a rate far too fast for comfort.
    Did you know your dad and my dad enjoyed a neighborly and amiable friendship during our stay on Marguerita? He was fascinated when you removed that huge tree for your front yard. And then the earthquake, our place got beat up, and as I recall, you guys REALLY got beat up. Ah well, it’s relative when you consider what’s happening in Japan. Ah well, it’s late, I’m rambling and I hope I haven’t embarrassed you on your blog, you’ll notice I did however deliberately omit dates so that no one can pin an age (scary) on either of us. For your readers, and for the record, Susan is far younger than I am.

  5. Hi Susan,

    My father is the one who wrote on the bluffs in Santa Monica. If you like you can email me and I’ll answer your questions 🙂 He’s passed away now but I will tell you what I can. His old friend that was actually with him when he wrote that is still alive though. He named one of his daughters (my sister) Susan 🙂


  6. Hey Tammy! Please copy me on any email about your dad. Wow, power of the web! brian90402 AT gmail DOT com.

    How long was that graffiti actually up there? seemed like my entire childhood!
    How old was your dad when he wrote it and who *was* his girl? Was it you? I have a 9 year old daughter, and your dad’s iconic graffiti is fitting and truthful.

  7. Hi Tammy! I can’t believe that you visited and commented! I’m truly blown away. Thank you so much for doing that. It’s a complete testimony to the power of the internet to connect people and to our desire to be connected. I’d love to hear more of the story, either here or through e-mail. suz AT Brian’s questions are wonderful! I agree, it seemed that that graffiti was up our whole (congruent!) childhood. It’s funny what a mystery it was – obviously really stirred the imaginations.

    It’s just so great that you wrote in.

    Brian, I’m really glad to hear our dads were friends. I didn’t know that. My dad’s still in S.M., just down the street from the old place, actually. Wonderful that you’re enjoying life in Santa Barbara – that’s a nice spot to land up.

  8. Brian & Suzi,
    I will drop you guys an email tonite or tomorrow. I pulled out a picture of my dad I think you’ll both get a good laugh at and I need to scan it in. Also I called his friend that’s still alive to see if he has any pictures of them actually writing on the wall. I’ll have to find out the exact year from him but my dad was born in 1946 and went to the Army right when he turned 18….after the Army is when he went from New York to California to see his dad so it had to be post-1967 but before I was born which was in 1976 🙂 Iknow that when wrote it, it wasn’t for any any particular girl….any girl who could put up with my dad’s quirky antics was “his kind of girl.” He always told people he was “your kind of guy!” We even had that put on his tombstone….Thomas “Tommy” Surko, Your Kind of Guy!

  9. Wow! That’s a great story. I can’t believe we’re getting the details filled in. He sounds like a compete character. (We would expect nothing less, right?) That’s so interesting that he was compelled to write that. It obviously immortalized him to Brian and me and probably many more! I bet you have really good memories of your dad. Do you remember the sign, too? You must have been little when it was finally painted over.

  10. Tammy, this is amazing! Did you grow up in SM too?
    That graffiti was the subject of a student newspaper article at Samohi in the late 1970’s. I have no idea why I remember that article. But I do, and it shows if nothing else that Susan and I aren’t the only ones who know about Tommy Surko.

  11. Hey Tammy,

    Mom was born in 1946..Dad was born in 1938…Gosh your a dork…

  12. Whatever….1938, 1946, what’s the difference. Anyways, I found out that Ren and Dad (Tommy) wrote on the wall in 1972. The exact wording was originally “There’s only one Tommy Surko! Your Kind of Guy!” Apparently someone wrote the word “gay” over “guy” so dad changed it to read “For my kind of girl, There’s only one Tommy Surko!” I guess after that it was painted over by the boyscouts (blank), then someone else graffitied something on the wall (not sure what). Then in 1977 A mural was painted on it by Jane Golden and Peggy Edwards. Anybody else know the rest of the story?? I’m thinking of making a Facebook page for this 🙂 Brian and Susan…I’ll send you some pics from the day they first painted it and a couple articles I found. Ren just painted “REN.” Lazy I guess haha!!

    Brian we are not from Santa Monica, we are from Hollywood (Melrose & Vine). But since my dad was a bus driver we had free bus passes and got to take the bus a lot that went down straight down Santa Monica Blvd to the beach. I was only a year old when the graffiti was painted over. When my dad wrote “For my kind of girl” there was no particular girl but he did end up marrying my mom not too soon after.

    Does anyone have a copy of the student newspaper article at Samohi about this??

  13. I contacted the school. They said that they don’t have the man power to search. But they said we are welcome to search. I don’t think that will be any time soon.


  14. Tammy Surko

    I put a Facebook page up. Feel free to like, make comments, share photos. The more quirky and crazy the better. Its the way Tommy would have wanted it!!/pages/Tommy-Surko-Wall/164608470259132?v=wall

  15. Hi Tammy and Susan! This whole conversation is quite amazing. I’ll be right over to the Facebook page. I’ve been curious how many other people share these memories. I’ve so been enjoying what you’ve shared. You’ve been very generous. I hope Brian comes over to the page. I bet that school newspaper article will surface, too.

  16. This is awesome! I’m off to FB to keep the legend alive!

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