Rare enough footage of two-time world champ John John Florence and bro's Nathan, Ivan, as tweens and teens.
Thirty-six years ago, a pretty goofy footer from Ocean Grove, a Christian seaside community in New Jersey, told her parents she was going to go live on Oahu’s North Shore and asked if they’d, like, mind, driving her to La Guardia airport.
The surfing thing had been in Alex Florence’s head ever since she was 12 and she was soaking her brain every day in surf movies like Beyond Blazing Boards and riding skateboards all over town and surfing in oversized wetsuits.
One day Alex was sitting in the room of one of her pals watching surf vids on the portable television set with the giant video cassette recorder hooked up and said: “I’m going to be one of those girls!”
With a backpack and a skateboard and a couple of c-notes in her purse, the lil blonde teenager landed in Honolulu, walked out to the Nitmiz and just stuck out her thumb.
A few years later, while backpacking through Europe, the one-day two-time world champ was conceived after a night out in Austria.
Two other kids soon followed.
The partnership with the daddy, whose name is also John, didn’t work.
Daddy soon disappeared into the penal system.
Alex remembers driving in her ancient Valiant, the ex-husband gone, John, five, Nathan, three, Ivan, a baby at one-and-a-half, looking over at her little boys and saying: “What do you guys want to do? We don’t have to do anything or be anywhere? We can stay out til 10:30! We can go to thrift stores!”
Alex took her kids everywhere and despite what y’might call a massive hand break, felt this sudden freedom. A total freedom. She took them everywhere.
They built a half-pipe in the yard. Magazines British Vogue, US Vogue and Elle couldn’t help themselves when they heard about this gorgeous solo surf mom and her shaggy haired boys.
Alex felt like she had a guardian angel. No money, but she was on the beach, was feeding her three boys and, well, you tell me that this ain’t the life.
Meanwhile, Alex was studying for her degree in English literature at the University of Honolulu. And, this is where it gets real good. Alex says that if you saw the size of her student loans, which she’s only just paid off, you’d think she was the “gnarliest surgeon ever.”
But, her gig was using her loans to support the family, to raise the kids. She didn’t want to leave her kids with just anybody. So she went to school at nights and took in boarders. Yeah, sometimes dinner was corn flakes, but the kids were playing outside in the sun and were getting pushed (or towed) into waves by a role call of surfing icons including Nathan Fletcher, Danny Fuller, Kala and Kamalei Alexander, Herbie Fletcher and Pete Johnson.
This excerpt from the 2015 film View From a Blue Moon, shows the fam at that period where the boys are starting to come into the first flush of mango, John, maybe thirteen, Nathan and Ivan, a few years behind.
Brown faces, yellow hair, slumberous eyes, gazillion watt smiles.