Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks

Almost getting away with full bellies and free gas in Hawaii.

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The Barracks Crew, as we came to call ourselves while living on the North Shore in 1962, lived on the cheap. One free-food strategy that roommate Dickey Williams and I developed was to scrounge meals at the Mormon Church Junior College cafeteria in nearby Laie/Kahuku. We’d drive over at dinnertime, enter the student dining hall, and sit down at a table next to a group of girls. After a few minutes, one of us would say, “Oh, you don’t want your potatoes?” In no time at all, the girls were in the habit of us showing up and them giving us the food they didn’t want. Our diet ran the gamut: vegetables,  meat, fattening desserts. We even became picky about what we’d accept. We’d leave absolutely stuffed, for free. 

Once, on the way there, we noticed a large construction site where a couple of city dump trucks were parked. We always carried 5-gallon gas cans, and we’d siphon gas each night for the next day’s use, adapting the end cut off of a stolen garden hose to serve as the siphon. We set up a can next to one of the truck’s gas caps, started the siphon hose draining fuel, then drove on to the cafeteria for dinner. About halfway through our meal, two Kahuku cops came in, spotted us, two haole surfers sitting with the girls, and called us outside. They told us they’d been patrolling past the trucks and heard a tinkling noise. They ended up finding gas overflowing onto the ground from a full gas can with a siphon hose stuck in it. When they asked if it was ours, knowing full well that it was, we of course denied it. They then ordered us to follow them to the police station. We got in Dickey’s yellow panel truck to follow them, and I suddenly realized the rest of the stolen 30-foot siphon hose was in the back. We had to get rid of it somehow. While driving, Dickey told me that there was a 1-inch-square hole in the plywood floorboard in the back of the truck. So I got  back there, found it, and started jamming the hose through the hole. Pretty soon there was a long snake of garden hose dragging behind the truck. We were just around the corner from the station when I came to the end of the hose and the round metal screw end wouldn’t fit through the square hole. I was stomping on the metal fitting with my bare foot, and just as we turned up the station driveway, the fitting broke through. Safe

The cops questioned us in separate rooms, but couldn’t get us to confess. We had locked down our stories before getting out and stuck to them. Finally, a cop walked in with 23 feet of garden hose he’d found lying in the street in front of their station house, with a cut-off end that matched the siphon hose they’d found at the dump truck. They knew they couldn’t tag us with evidence found in the street. Eventually, they had to let us go. They acted like they were really pissed and told us we had to pay $25 fines each, directly to them, or never come back. For us it was not a choice, and that ended our free dinners.

Excerpted from “Pink Cloud,” originally published in Turn and Go! Fifty Years of Surf Writings. To get a copy of Turn and Go!, visit

[Feature Image by Steve Wilkings]