In Memory

Michael Mayfield

Michael Mayfield

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05/20/14 01:40 AM #4    

Rick Fine

Thank you for those recollections, Harrell. Mike was truly the catalyst back then, and I remember to this day when I first heard of his passing. He was an original man, and he taught by example how to be so.

05/20/14 07:51 AM #5    

Craig Hughes

For a Senior English class, another classmate and I made a film about a free spirited youth growing up in the 60's staring one Michael Mayfield. We filmed him riding his bike through Memorial Park where we encountered a couple of guys smoking pot who wanted to sell some to us. We explained we were making a documentary when they abruptly packed their brown bags and hauled a**.  I often wish I knew where this film is. For me at the time (growing up in a conservative household) Mike was a very fascinating individual. 

11/28/15 08:38 PM #6    

Harrell Graham (Graham)

Please see Michael's artwork for the Plain Brown Watermelon, which I posted under my classmate profile (since I didn't seem to be able to post it here, under Michael's 'In Memory').

03/03/16 02:50 AM #7    

Harrell Graham (Graham)

Storrie Moss (Gordon) wrote the following in Sept 1972 after learning of Michael’s death.  Excerpted from personal correspondence from many moons ago which I found a few days ago,  in March 2016.

“What does one say before the face of death?  He was there beneath the hot sun, the sea rushing, and soft silence of Mexico—before the earth could turn upon its axis he was…not there. With Michael’s death passes the second innocence of my childhood.  The reality of death, of my final ending, has passed into my life with a dark beauty of ancient wings.  I cry for Michael and for myself…we are not so far apart, I know”. (Storrie Moss, Sept 1972)

Michael was married to a beautiful human being at the time of his death:  Karel Mayfield wrote the following to me around July 1972:

“It is so hard to believe, but one can’t stop life—for us it goes on.  I, too, am learning about death and about life.  I learned so much from Michael.  His death hurts, but I know that it is as much a part of him as his voice, or his eyes and smile. 

“I would like for you to think about something that Michael said many times and demonstrated with his life---that all one must do to be happy is to not be unhappy.  That is probably not very clear—I can only refer you to a song by Fleetwood Mac called “Lay it all Down”. (Karel Mayfield, July 1972)

"Lay It All Down"

“Let me retell/A story of old/About a man named Moses/Who lived long ago/He prophesied good/He prophesied bad/And now that prophecy's/Coming to pass/Let all your sons, and your daughters/Of the golden calf/Lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/Lay it all down, for paradise here on earth/A whole lot of people, including myself/

"Thought the story of Moses was just a tall tale/But all of the things that we see going on/Are just what Moses set down/Let all your sons, and your daughters/Of the golden yeah/Lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/Lay it all down, for paradise here on earth/Let me retell/A story I know/About a man named Moses

"Who lived long ago/He prophesied good/He prophesied bad/And now that prophecy's/Coming to pass/Let all your sons, and your daughters/Of the golden yeah/Lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/Lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/Lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/I just can't imagine a reason for sorrow/Just can't imagine the hurt/You've got to lay it down/

"You've got to lay it down/You've got to lay it down/You've got to lay it down/I said lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/Lay down your burden of sorrow/There's just no reason to hurt/You've got to lay down your burden of sorrow/Lay down your burden of hurt/I said/Lay it all down, for paradise here on earth”






03/03/16 04:41 PM #8    

Mark Neathery

I'll always remember Michael because we both rode our bikes to school & it seemed like we ran in to each other at the same corner almost every morning. We'd gripe about school and wish we were at Surfside. He was one of the 1st (in my group of friends from Bellaire) that I lost. He was always pretty nice to me & hopefully he thought the same of me.

03/07/16 09:22 AM #9    

Debra K. Nesbitt (Calkins)

I remember Michael when he was just Mike.  One of the last class of "1/2" graders at Gordon Elementary.  He lived down from me on Mulberry. Brother Ray & Sister Sharon, I think. I remember having slumber parties with Lucy, Andi, Brooke & others from Gordon.  I wonder if it was any of those that ya'll spied on?  I think Harrell & Mark were on Beech?  It seemed like 1 of those east/west like Merrie Lane/Elm, etc. that ran from Mulberry to Ave. B.  And most of us rode our bikes to school back then, if we weren't within close walking distance.  We all lived close enough to walk or bike & it was totally safe in those days.  Mike was one of the "cool" guys, once he got into surfin' & didn't see him much at Bellaire.  It was sad to hear about his passing, as that was probably 1 of the 1st people, (other than old relatives) that I knew that died.  We still thought we were invincible but that was a first pinprick of the realities to come.  

Debra Nesbitt

03/08/16 09:30 PM #10    

Wendy Worrell (Page)

I often think of Mike Mayfield. We had a lot of classes together & he was my friend. I remember seeing him at Surfside when he had ridden his bicycle there. I couldn't understand why he would do that when he couldn't bring his surfboard. He just said he enjoyed the ride. He was such a great artist. We would draw psychadelic type rock posters in class. I saw him last in Port Isabel and met Karel. I guess they had just gotten married. Years later, I guess 1983, I first surfed at Punta Mita where he was killed. It was still the mud & stick huts then, just before they moved the people to El Anclote to clear the way for the big hotels. It was isolated and rocky, with coral beaches and no sand. But, the wave! The right point at El Faro can be so perfect! Mike was one of the early pioneers surfing that area. The old fisherman still remember. I spoke to one who said he had been among those helping after the attack. I told him Mike had been my friend. He said they treated him with respect. I thanked him. I live further south now, in another fishing village in Mexico. We had two fatal shark attacks in our area in 2008. We also had a survivor. My buddy Bruce Grimes, another Texan, was able to escape his encounter. Bite Back Beach. It's on Shark Week. We still surf. We pay homage to our surfing brothers who died doing what they loved. And I always tell Mike's story so no one forgets. He is part of our surfing heritage.

03/09/16 10:54 AM #11    

Stefani Callihan

Thanks to everyone for all of the posts about Mike. I did not know him, nor did I know anything about his artistry or surfing, or how he died. I think many of our classmates would be interested to hear more about him, so I plan to create an entry on the "Did you know page" of our site about him.  Please let me know if you have any additional information, artwork, or other data you would like to include in the article.

03/10/16 01:39 AM #12    

Douglas Middleton


This is an incredible and almost surreal story. I read the comment from Wendy Worrell about Michael Mayfield tonight and the pieces fit together. I didn't know Michael well while at Bellaire as I usually surfed with other classmates, however his story is known throughout the international surfing community. I first surfed at Punta de Mita in 1976 while a medical student in Guadalajara which I attended until transferring to Southwestern in Dallas 1978. Punta de Mita Mexico , as Wendy mentioned was just huts with no water or electricity, and only a few hours from Guadalajara. I camped and surfed there on multiple occasions with medical students from all over the world who all knew about the American who had been bitten by a shark a few years earlier and bled to death. The locals who were there shared their stories of that day.  For me as well as the feelings expressed by others who have surfed there, the absolute scariest place in the world for sharks. Surfed all over the world but the diligence and awareness of danger was the most intense ever, all because of Michael's story although never knew it was him until tonight. I live and surf in San Clemente, CA home to world class breaks such as Trestles and San Onefre. Have a house in Costa Rica and surf there whenever possible to escape the insanity of the emergency room where I work. I have never forgotten what happened at Punta de Mita and now I know it was Michael Mayfield. Those that surf fully understand and share his inexplicable, divine connection to God and the universe. As I read the comments from classmates, one can tell that he was tube riding while alive, and probably still is. Thank you all for sharing his story, I feel his spirit as I write this.




03/10/16 09:45 AM #13    

Thomas Walter

Well, since we are all on a Mike Mayfield story, I might as well throw my quirky and (maybe) not so appropriate tales of Mr. Mayfield's legendary experiences.

I knew Mike from Pershing Jr. High school. Quick friends, we liked surfing and music and were both reasonably atheltic.  Sometimes, on a Friday, Mike and I would talk and see what each other was doing for the weekend and if we might be going to Freeport to surf. Now and again, we would make plans to go and he would generally come over and spend the night; sometimes we had rides down there and sometimes we'd stand out on Post Oak and hitch. During the stayovers, we talked about the usual: school teachers, girls, surfing and traveling. I found out that Mike only had one kidney, losing the other during a baseball game at Gordon Elementary when he was hit from behind on a third base steal I believe, (don't exactly quote me, as I'm feeble, free of rational thought, and my mind wanders at times). The last time we ever went to Freeport together, was pretty memoriable, but not in the least in a good way.

Waves were about 4-5 ft that day, which was really for good for Freeport. The Pier was breaking the best, and as always, it was crowded. I was headed back out after a ride and Mike was just about to catch one of the bigger swells from the same set. The pier was about 10-15ft to my left as I watched Mike drop-in on a quick breaking wave that peaked and broke just as he was about to stand up. Well, crap; can't move to my left because of pylons from the pier; Mike, I thought would go to my right, but the whole wave crested and down he roared on the face of a 6ft wave straight at me, without completely gaining control. Not too kean on the idea of having 7-8ft of fiberglass and foam, as well as Mike, ripping my head off, I made the only logical decision available, I WENT DOWN. Certainly can't do this with a board, so I pushed it off toward the pier and headed under.  BAM, BANG, SMASH, SWOOSH and more crashing. Oh No! That noise were boards hiting each other, and I knew, somewhere in the ruckus, was Mike. Came up, grabbed the first board I saw, which was Mike's, he swam over, and very pointedly asked, "Why the F__K did ya do that?" "Cause I like my head where it is, on my shoulders. Why'd you take off on that wave anyway. It was too far gone for a good ride?" Got my board and we started paddling in to check the damage, except Mike had this really confused look on his face. And then I saw his back... cover in a rich crimson liquid of blood. And then, as a wave slapped over him, washing his back clean, I saw the flap of scalp on his head and the bright white of bone. "Get me to the G_D D__M Hospital!" He was almost totally covered when we made the beach, as some guys came running up, loaded him in their car and screamed off to the ER in Freeport. I felt like sh_t cause I didn't know if it was my fault or what would have happened if I did nothing.

About a year after graduating, in August I think, a couple of friends and I were on a road trip to Port Isabell, down near Brownsville. It was about 8:00AM and we were cruising through an agricultural/rual area outside of Harlingen. Looked like farm land, but the crops looked like little cactus buds, all over the ground. This guy steps out of the cacti fields and sticks his thumb up in the air hitching a ride. I yell out from the back seat, "No room for riders", to the girl driving the VW bug. She slams on the brakes, we come to a screetching halt, turns looks out the window at the guy, then turns to me and declares, "He's the most beautiful guy I've ever seen".  Well crap, I share the back seat; no sleep for me. The door opens and in hops Mike, long sleeve Amy Surplus jacket, Peruvian Farmers hat, and a satchel full of these stupid little cacti. "Mike, what the hell you doing hitching down here?" "Just came to pick some buttons". OK, that was an interesting story about how Immigration and DEA watched their field real close during the day, but if ya crawl on the ground at night and move real slow, you can pick a ton of buttons and come back to Houston and be set for the next few months. Be set? "Whaddya mean set?" Peyote buttons. OK, whaddya do with them? I asked. "Well, ya boil them down and then skim the top layer for impurities, and then take an enema syphon and pull off the next layer and enjoy the rest of the night".  Thankfully, the details of that conversation now eludes me, but what a great joy seeing him again.

In 1969, Mike Tate, Jim Bolt and I went to Santa Cruz, Mexico, a point break on a small river just south of San Blas. Stayed in grass huts, right on the point at the edge of a pinapple plantation. Celebrated Christmas there to Led Zepplin, Field Mice running around the hut at night and home made cake made from raw flour and sugar, and the locals giving you crap about Vietnam. Look south and see the mountain cliffs drop 400ft to the Pacific. Look west and watch crystal clear waves breaking 4-7ft on a shallow reef off the river outlet. Wait a few minutes and watch the porpoise play, migration of Killer Whales going south, Manta Rays with 20ft wing spans jump and slap the water creating the sound of thunder. We were just north of Punta de Mita.

The last I heard, Mike Curry, Rusty Morris and I were over at some apts., (I forget where), and Mike C. mentions he was at Punta de Mita in Mexico with Mike Mayfield,(his honeymoon), and they were to leave the next day.  It was late and they dam well knew better, had seen sharks in the area the whole time down there, and knew they fed in the early morning hours and late afternoon hours. One last time before they left...A fin, Tiger shark,8-9 ft, get up on your board and be very very still... splash, Mike Curry sees Mike's board, very slowly paddles in and Karel comes running up ...

There's no more I care to tell, just that I loved Mike. An amazing man for all seasons; activist, athlete, artist, thinker, musician, surfer, nice guy, and mostly, my friend.

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