by Dell Franklin
Randy Crozier, aka “Croz,” and primarily, “The Pirate,” was first observed by these eyes during the Cayucos Fourth of July parade in 1989 when he did a cartwheel off the flatbed of the local Tavern’s float and lost his half pint of brandy from his back pocket while rolling drunkenly on the pavement. A small child retrieved the half pint and handed it over to the Croz once he regained his balance, and the Croz bowed as he took the bottle, handed the kid several M&Ms, took a belt from his bottle, and weaved back to the float, where he was dragged up onto the truck bed.
A year or so later the Croz and I became acquainted when he was engaged in a fight in the same tavern, which involved two men kicking him while he lay on the floor. After I broke it up, two cops came in and explained to me that they were “fed up” with the paperwork complicating their shift by throwing him in jail, and somehow put me in charge of him, which meant driving him home and keeping him there.
I explained that I was fairly drunk myself. They claimed I seemed OK and urged me to get the Croz out of their sight. So I piled the Croz into my 1976 Olds Cutless and headed toward his apartment a mile away. I stopped at the liquor store down the main drag where my then live-in girl friend worked to inform her I would be occupied with Crozier and didn’t know when I’d get home, and when I went back outside, my car was gone.
I sprinted back to the Tavern, where the demonic Croz had found a baseball bat in my back seat and was wailing away with it at bar patrons scurrying away in terror. I calmly demanded my bat. He meekly gave it to me. I drove him home, where the cops met us, told me to hold onto my bat and threatened to throw me in jail if I allowed Crozier out of his abode.
Since then the Croz has been eighty-sixed from the Tavern for life and is now known as the Pirate and has become entrenched as a denizen in Schooner’s Wharf across the street from the Tavern, facing the ocean, beach and pier. He no longer fights or antagonizes and has his own stool at the front end of the bar on which his name is engraved on a brass plate. From time to time he will grow weary of sitting and sipping beer and rum and allows a local gal or one of his growing army of admirers and friends to sit on it as royalty while he visits somebody a stool or so away or treks downstairs to smoke in the alley.
The Pirate likes to smoke almost as much as he imbibes. His diet is haphazard at best and involves the kind of heavy, greasy cuisine that best fuels marathon boozing, compromises hangovers, and sends him perkily on his way mornings to his jobs as carpenter, stone mason, plasterer, etc. The Pirate has fished commercially, been a hunting guide, plays bass guitar, and farms a mile inland, often exchanging various vegetables for other sources of food and fun. The Pirate is not governed by the fashion police and his jeans really are torn at the knees from labor and his sweatshirts are baggy for comfort. At one time he sold his own designed T-shirt, which sported these words on the back: CAYUCOS BY THE SEA: A QUAINT LITTLE DRINKING VILLAGE WITH A SURFING PROBLEM. On the front is a skull and crossbones. It has been claimed, by his immediate neighbor, Hoppe’s Bistro Maitre ‘D Brad Heizenrader, that the Pirate, who owns nothing but a rattling, neighborhood-arousing truck and answers only to his bar tab and rent and just gets it together at the end of every month, might be the happiest poor person alive.
But let us not forget that the Pirate considers himself a vital cog in the community and a contributor to various benevolent causes. For instance, the Sea Glass Festival, a huge annual weekend event in March, which we’ve discussed at length, and concluded it is an invitation for the migration of folks not of the beach with “no life and a feeble affinity to entertain themselves.”
Therefore, the Pirate has in his own way created a solution for their desperation, and especially those who have swarmed the town from hundreds of miles away in the Valley for the now monstrous Sea Glass festival, in his own small if meaningful and inimitable way.
The night before the mad search upon the beach for new glass to sort out and savor, and then attend venues, the Pirate takes his truck out of Cayucos for one of the very few times and finds the Dollar Store in Morro Bay, where he purchases a few dollars of multi-colored, non-sharpened glass. Later that night, as excitement grows, the Pirate creeps down to the beach directly below the wharf and very furtively and, one supposes, strategically disperses the glass and creeps back up.
The following afternoon, a rare occasion occurs—the Pirate gives up his stool completely and stations himself by the large open window just off from the service area and front door and cackles demonically as the no-lifers, in a frenzy, stoop and kneel and bend to scavenge up genuine glass from the sea on the beach.
Ahhh, there is no limit to the mischief and joy this longtime and undisputed town drunk savors throughout the year, but the Sea Glass festival could certainly be a highlight. Arrrgh! §
Dell Franklin is founding publisher of The Rogue Voice. He is a regular contributor and writes from his home in Cayucos, where he lives in view of The Pirate with his dog Wilbur. View Dell’s memoir of his father’s professional baseball career in the days before and after WWII at his blog, The Ball Player’s Son.