I consider myself lucky to have grown up in Cocoa Beach. My family came down like the Beverly Hillbillies from Bridgeport, West Virginia. Highway 79 took out our Italian Restaurant and we came to Cocoa Beach in 1972. My Mom and Dad had honeymooned in Cocoa Beach in 1960 and I was born in 1961, so there is a good chance I could have been conceived here. I know these kids today get tired of hearing how we would get up in the morning and head outside and not come back until dinner time but it's true. I grew up on the north side and learned to fish and surf around the pier. Back then, the Pier was a pretty rough place and we had the snack bar across from the real bar.
One of my first friends was Dean Wasdin, whose dad Tom was part owner of the Pier, so we acted like we owned the place. When the movie Jaws came out in 1975 people ran away from the ocean, but not Dean and I. We copied the two old guys who used the rope and chain in the movie, but instead of mom's pot roast we caught fish during the day to use for bait. I would tie the rope to the corner and slowly swing it in a circle and then toss it out as far as I could. One of the first nights we went, the rope took off like a bat out of hell (Meatloaf reference) and we had us a shark hooked. He swam back and forth and when he got tired with the help of a few other fishermen, we were able to pull up close. We had another rope, which we got down and looped around his tail and slowly pulled him over the pier. This monster was just over 7 foot long and we thought we caught Jaws! I ran into the bar and told the group of bikers and other regulars to go check it out. I grabbed the phone and called
Florida Today and got the Sports Editor. The call went something like this…
Me: "Hi, this is Steve Romano and I am 14 years old and me and my friend just caught a HUGE shark on the Canaveral Pier!" FLORIDA TODAY: "Well kid, how big is it?" Me: "It's over 7 foot long and has to be close to 300 pounds!" FLORIDA TODAY: "Call us back when you catch a 10 footer" and HANGS UP.
Man those were the days! When this thing is over, kids will realize how good they have it here.
Well, the staff informed me that this article will be going digital and I can still make the "Green Issue". The problem is I can't think of a thing to write. I hope by the time you read this we have turned the corner on this virus and it's in our rearview.