The pirate, a Cayucos TV star

April 22, 2023

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


Two casually (but stylishly) dressed pretty gals around 30 or 35 were sitting at the bar in the Schooner’s Wharf and seemed captivated by the Pirate as one member after another of the who’s who that counts in the Cayucos drinking society entered and stopped to display reverence to him, exchanging high-fives soul shakes, or half-hugging him—men and women alike.

The two lasses were so intrigued by the plaster-encrusted, bushy-bearded Pirate that they actually placed their smartphones on the bar and exchanged comments and nodded as they continued to observe the goodwill the Pirate exuded as he engaged in one seemingly pleasant and inspired conversation after another, some lingering.

They watched their bartender, Thorsen, known as T, inform the Pirate that another patron had bought him a beer. Perhaps the ladies had never seen one particular person spread so much joy just by his presence, almost as if he was a leader, and indispensable to the continuity of this establishment.

Who was this guy?!!!

They were further flummoxed when a wholesome looking young couple with a boy around eight came in and asked, “Are you the Pirate?”

The Pirate stood. He smiled, exposing a few remaining nicotine-stained teeth in a bloated red face as he offered his sandpaper paw to the little boy and went, “Arrrghhhh, I’m the Pirate…”

The little boy was thrilled as the Pirate’s permanently reddened, neon eyes gleamed with pleasure. Then the Pirate allowed the crowd to part as he walked a few steps to a ledge on which sat a small treasure chest. He opened the chest and retrieved some candy and handed it to the child and went, “Arrgghhhh, ho ho.”

The parents took his photo with the child and shook his hand again. The child, thrilled with his candy, was led out of the maelstrom of a busy Friday early evening happy hour and the Pirate returned to his stool and found one of the pretty ladies who’d been observing his interaction, standing to greet him.

She introduced herself to him. They shook hands, the Pirate half bowing. She pointed two stools over to her friend, who smiled and waved. The Pirate smiled and waved and offered the lady his stool. This was when the male friend on the stool beside the Pirate offered to change places, so the two ladies could sit beside the Pirate.

Soon they were in heavy discussion. The Pirate tried to buy them a drink but they insisted on buying him a drink, but the Pirate explained that he didn’t need any more, he had more than a few lined up and if he couldn’t finish them this evening, they would be held in reserve for another time.

By and by, the Pirate learned that these two ladies both worked for the San Luis Obispo TV station that was an affiliate of a national broadcasting corporation, and were intent on putting him on the evening and nightly news as he delivered candy to tots like a jolly Pirate of myth.

Of course, the Pirate was all for it, claiming it would not be too difficult to corral a local family to bring their child or children to the bar where he could perform his candy-giving ritual. While this was going on, Tag Morley, the Pirate’s friend of 40 years, who knows him better than anybody and has gone to great efforts to keep him out of trouble over the years, pulled the lady who was proposing this TV venture aside and quietly advised her to make sure and come early, before the Pirate became too drunk, as it was becoming obvious at this moment that he was approaching a state where he was making less sense than usual.

The last thing Morely, the unofficial mayor of Cayucos wanted, was to embarrass the Pirate, the Schooner’s Wharf, or Cayucos by having a drunken, perhaps incoherent Pirate on the nightly news.

Morley whispered, “You’re going to interview him, right?”

“Oh yes, but briefly, of course.”

“Then come early. He sometimes gets off work at noon and starts in drinking.”

“In here?”

“No. He has friends. He drops in on friends and has beers. Especially on Fridays. I’d suggest not doing it on a Friday.”

The lady thanked Morley, who was resplendent in a light sport coat and expensive watch, as carefully scrubbed and coiffed as the Pirate was dust-caked and frowsy.

So a date was set. When the ladies left, there was big excitement in the wharf over the Pirate’s TV date.

Word was, the interview and performance was arranged and went better than well; those who came to the bar during the staging insisted the Pirate, beard trimmed somewhat, clad in a Schooner’s Wharf hoodie, with only a beer or two and one shot of rum under his belt, was in perfect form as he handed out candy to not one child, but two, while the parents looked on, thrilled at the scene, proud of their own children as TV stars.

Of course, the bar was packed for the evening news, which occurred around happy hour. They waited patiently, suffering through the asinine news of the local and national scenes, the damn weather, and finally sports, before a cheer went up as the lady who’d become so charmed with the Pirate that she hugged and kissed him the night she scheduled him for his TV bit, came on the screen, smiling with great show biz satisfaction as she introduced the Pirate as he modestly accepted her praise for his generosity and benevolence as a stalwart Cayucos citizen before going through his routine: “Arrghhhh, want some candy, son?”

“Yes, Mister Pirate!”

He went to his treasure chest and all responses were as if the Santa himself had come down a chimney and handed the child candy. “Arrghhhhh!”

Of course, by the time the evening news did come on, the Pirate was deliriously drunk and sort of vague as he teetered on his stool and lifted his bottle to himself, ballcap sort of tilted sideways and up, as cheers filled the packed bar and his mob of friends pounded his back and shook his hand and tried to buy him more beers and shots of rum.

The Pirate, for his part, seemed to take it all in stride, like he was used to constant adulation and totally comfortable in his parched skin as a TV star.


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Salt of the earth

About the nicest dang guy you’ll ever meet. Cheers, Randy.