There are many tall tales told in Rosemead Village.
My grandfather lived there all his life and after he died, I read in his journals about the mystery of Tommy Flynn and his surfboard.
I remember seeing the surfboard above the bar in the village pub, but few villagers would speak to me about Tommy or the return. The twelve-year-old boy who made his own surfboard, promising to ride the high wave one day. Spending all day at the beach, watching the older boys, learning whatever he could.
After falling off his board more times than he could count, he finally managed to ride the 30-foot wall of water. When the wave collapsed, it took Tommy’s body. They searched for hours but he was never found, but his board made it back to shore. Every year since, the board vanishes, only to turn up on the beach and be put back above the bar.
On the anniversary of his death, the villagers gathered at the beach to wait for his return. They say you can see Tommy riding the wave when the light is just right, but no one has ever taken a photograph of this. People say it couldn’t be done, that Tommy wouldn’t want it.
I intended to try. I followed the villagers to the beach, no camera, just my phone, as I didn’t want to upset anyone. Come midday when the high wave arrived, I could almost make out the shape of a young boy riding the wave. I kept taking pictures, hoping I would get something.
The wave died, but the people stood still as if waiting for something.
Then I saw it, Tommy’s board, slowly making its way back to shore.
Checking my phone, I found one shot where I could almost see the figure of Tommy Flynn, hands in the air as he rode the wave…