Tuesday With Morey

The late futurist recounts his final ride.

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It was an all-too-rare visit to Tom Morey in the fall of 2020. I’d invited new TSJ editorial employee Ben Waldron to come along and record what might become fodder for another excursion into the mind of Morey. We picked up Tom in Huntington Beach, where he and his wife, Marchia, had moved from San Clemente. 

They met us at the back door when we arrived. Tom slowly ambled to the car, feeling  the way with his hands and a cane as he went. He’d lost his sight several years prior, and while a recent procedure had repaired some of the peripheral edges, it didn’t restore the center field. Somehow, Tom had survived that inconvenience by turning his mind inward to explore thoughts rather than vision. This was the same Morey who had surveyed the evolution of wave riding and projected into the future for an article titled “Bazooka,” published in our first issue. The idea was to follow up with surfing’s greatest futurist. 

Photo by Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

We ended up seated at a rear four-top in a Marie Callender’s just up the street from Tom’s place, watching him wolf a slice of banana cream pie. At that time, we were still under strict COVID face-masking rules. Prior to eating, Tom removed his self-engineered mask, a neckerchief knotted at each end, one with a small magnet inside the knot, the other securing a couple of metal nuts. They snapped together, then unsnapped. Ben glanced at me and grinned. That revealed a piece of Morey: the inventor and innovator.

“This will be your last meal, then at midnight the warden pulls the switch,” Tom joked as he ate his pie. 

“Do you remember your last wave?” I asked him. “It was a few years back,” Tom said as  he nodded. 

“It was on my yellow 26-inch- wide stand-up paddleboard. I was on my knees, going left at Brooks Street. It was a medium-length ride on a 4-foot, open-door wave. I didn’t go particularly fast, because I knew that was it. I just went along, sticking close to the water.”