Mr. Box

Five years back I lost one of my best old surfing buddies, his name was Jim Sternadel, we nick named him "Box" when we were teenagers. We lost touch over the years and one day he shows up at my door. He quit surfing and played softball all the time in adult leagues sat around drank beer watching the Dodgers. Jim was a sharp guy, he ran the billing department of Technicolor and was responsible for collecting billions of dollars a year from movie makers. I was still boogie boarding at the time and got him back into surfing. He quickly regained his style of old, refined over the years from riding 10' Webers to 7' Yater Pocket Rockets. I taught him how to make his own surfboards. I got him blanks from Clark. He quickly got up to speed with the process, His wife Tish turning out to be a great glosser, each board came out better than the last.
We went nuts for like 10 years camping and surfing with our famlies up and down the coast, mexico the whole works. The wives got tired of it so off we went solo with the kids till they were sick of it. It got down just the old gang and a few new comers. I can't tell you how much this guy meant to me, He dragged me along even when I had open foot wounds that would not heal and coudn't go in the water anymore.

Wish you all could have seen me teaching Sternadel how to make surfboards around 94'. With the coke bottle glasses that guy had to be 1/2 blind from foam n beer. Chicken butt wavy rails, crazy rockers, fin boxes through the deck, fin placements that would make you howl. 12' Duke model suitable for 3 people, Wild thin speed models named after long lost surf buddys Storm who passed away in Guam and Jim Mertel who died way to young in Hawaii from Stapth, He loved every minute of it. At least the labels were perfect! Finally Russ Fass stepped in and carved some beauties until they had a falling out hehehe. Jim was the better for it though, learned a thing or two from the old boy. All in all it didn't matter. Box could surf an ironing board.
Upon returning from a surf trip to Santa Cruz he had pain in his side and was having trouble breathing, he went to the hospital in Ventura. He had fluid build up in the lungs, they drained it told him to visit his doc. He visited his doc who confirmed he had cancer of the lung wall. Jim was a fighter, quit the beer and continued to surf during chemo. Bravest strongest man I ever met. He was and is my Hero. Too weak to surf he'd come pick me up we'd just go look at waves... mindsurfing. Surfers from far and wide came to Leo Carrillo and spread his ashes at the offshore rock there, his surfing favorite spot. I learned a lot from Jim about people and life. I miss him dearly.
You wouldn't have believed watching Jim struggle to get his suit on, lug the 10 footer over the hobson seawall, paddle out, wait for over an hour getting his breath positioning for the best wave of the set. Snagging it, riding ever so gracefull then casually stepping off onto the sand. Mission accomplished even after multipule rounds of chemo therapy. Had to hide my tears. I sure miss that sonofagun had real class.
Your’re right.
Jim was the best friend I ever met. I worked with him at Technicolor for many years. He got me out on a board after over 20 years hiatus.
My two daughters and I would go on camping trips with his kids and they learned to surf on this home made boards. He was the most straight up guys I have every met. We miss the dude.

jp gagnon

Revised 01/25/2010
My Hero 'Mr Box"


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