Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jack Macpherson, R.I.P.

Jack Macpherson, co-founded infamous SoCal beach crew, dies at 69 

(article courtesy of the SFGate, Wednesday, November 29, 2006)

Jack Macpherson, who co-founded the party-loving Mac Meda Destruction Company crew immortalized in Tom Wolfe's book "The Pump House Gang," has died. He was 69. Macpherson died of liver and kidney failure on Nov. 16 at a La Jolla hospital, his son, John Macpherson, said Wednesday.

Jack Macpherson was "an old school surfer who had a great life," said his son, 50, of San Clemente. "Mac" Macpherson was never mentioned by name in Wolfe's 1960s magazine article about Southern California youth culture, which was later included in a book. However, Wolfe did mention the Mac Meda Destruction Company in his chronicle about young surfers who hung out at the sewage pump house at Windansea Beach.

The Mac Meda Destruction Company was named for the antics of Mac and his friend, Bob "Meda" Rakestraw. At parties, Rakestraw "wouldn't just walk into a house, he'd run through the door and jump out through a window," Macpherson told the La Jolla Light newspaper in a 2003 interview. "People would say, `Here comes Mac and Meda. They're a walking destruction company.'"

Crew members wearing football helmets and wielding sledgehammers demolished condemned houses for fun and held wild parties. Wolfe described the company as an "underground society" that "is mainly something to bug people with and organize huge beer orgies with." The crew's logo was a mushroom cloud. Macpherson stenciled it on T-shirts and it began showing up on cars and windows around town. Police suspected the youngsters were involved in some kind of dangerous gang.

"Back then," Macpherson told the surfing magazine Longboard, "the cops hated us so much that you could get arrested for walking down the street in a Mac Meda shirt." Mac Meda shirts and car stickers still are produced in town...

[Mac] "spent his whole time around the beach area," his son said. In addition to his son, Macpherson is survived by his sister, Jill Higgins, and two grandsons. John Macpherson said his father's ashes will be taken out to sea in a Hawaiian-style "paddle out" ceremony on Dec. 10 at Windansea beach.


  1. Hi there,

    I was a roomate with Jack in 1958.

    The recent articles in newspapers about his life and death contain some misleading and eroneous information.

    Jack surfed occasionally in his youth but was not a true surfer.
    His favorite beach was Marine Street, a little north of Windansea,
    where he and a group (not gang)
    including myself played volleyball,
    drank beer, and worked on dating the girls. All this stuff about the Pump House Gang and he being a co-
    founder is not true whatsoever. The
    Pump House Gang was five or six screwed up kids led by "Dirty Leonard" who later on shot and killed his girl friend, Camel, and then himself on a Sunday afternoon
    that of course shocked the beach.
    They would chant "MacMeda!" but that was all. They didn't surf. Just sat around discussing their empty lives. Tragic. Jack never
    hanged out with those people.


    Eric Masterman

  2. More info about Jack, along with links to other articles and images at the alt.surfing newsgroup:

  3. A lot of good stuff on Jack &
    his Mac Meda Destruction Company

    Dave Osborn

  4. Jack Macpherson surfed with Bob Simmons, the day he drowned in September 1954.

    Jack told me that Simmons had no business in the water, as he had a gimp arm.He said he resembled a stinkbug in the water.

    It was a Saturday, and school had just started. Jack was still 16. he and his friends were already alcoholics, and were getting f______ up on homebrew under the Windansea surf shack.

    They looked over and saw Simmons' board...but no Bob Simmons.

    On Monday morning, he stopped by Windansea to check out the surf. They were just dragging Bob Simmons' body out of the water. He said the fish had eaten his face off.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Corrections...I just emailed 2 surf stories to you and I incorrectly listed Raymond Chandler's address as 6001 Camino de la should be 6005 Camino de la Costa. Sorry.

    Jamie Nay

  7. AnonymousMay 13, 2008

    In 1980, Jack was getting divorced and needed an apartment. He tried to rent a place in South Mission, but considering he had never written a check or used a credit card, he had no TRW and was refused. The guy had more money than God ("That's the Scot in me,") and had a nickname of Bank of La Jolla...he still was denied an apartment.

    What to do...what to do...

    He had an elderly customer on his postal route, Juanita Messick. who had a converted garage behind her house at 5745 La Jolla Hermosa. And he asked her if he could rent it. "For anyone But for you, absolutly,". So Jack moved in.

    Juanita Messick was a retired schoolteacher from Bird Rock Elementary...who smoked and tended her gardenias. Once a year, she would take off for the annual AAUW convention. I used to wonder if having the founder of the Mac Meda Destruction Company living in her backyard was strange for her.

    But she liked Jack and I think she felt safe with jack living there.

    She fell ill in 1986 and passed away in December. The San Diego Union ran her obituary and apparently, Juanita Messick had been detective novelist Raymond Chandler's private secretary when he lived in La Jolla. When you read books on Raymond Chandler, you'll see the name Juanita Messick listed in the index.

    "Jack," I said. "I didn't know Juanita was Raymond Chandler's private secretary,". "Who's Raymond Chandler?" Jack spent more time at the beach than school...especially English class. "Raymond Chandler is a famous detective writer. His character Phillip Marlowe was played by Humphrey Bogart,". A slow pause......."Oh. That might explain something,". "What?" "A few months ago, some nut came by and paid $8,0000 apiece for some old books of hers."

    Probably original additions of The Big Sleep or Farewell My Lovely.

    Raymond Chandler lived at 6001 Camino de la Costa in La Jolla.

    Jamie Nay


Mahalo for your comment!