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Larry Moyer, A Sausalito Waterfront Original

By Steefenie Wicks
The following is excerpted from an oral history recorded for the Historical Society.

The Sausalito waterfront has always attached itself to the concept of freedom, a dream that is part of the California culture.   As Larry Moyer says, “A lot of artists and everyone else are looking for freedom and for some reason people are attracted to the waterfront because of the freedom it presents.”
Larry Moyer is a 40-year resident of the Sausalito waterfront. He has worked as an artist, filmmaker, photographer, union organizer and at one time he taught dancing at the Arthur Murray Studio in Los Angeles.  During the late 1970’s he would become one of the Sausalito waterfront organizers to help fight the development that was taking place at Waldo Point Harbor and changing the lives of all who lived there.
“I’m a transplant,” Larry says. “I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1924 and all I ever wanted to do was be a gangster.  They had cool cars and lots of women and growing up I thought, hey that’s what I want to be.  Then one day there was a shoot out on my street and I saw this gangster lying in the street with blood running down into the gutter; it was at this point that I decided I did not want to be a gangster.  My father and uncles were part of the old Bolsheviks and had fought in the Red Army so it was only natural that I would be involved in civil rights long before the Civil Rights movement.
“When I grew up we hung out with Blacks and Black culture was what we associated with, it was just part of my life, a natural part. But then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and if they hadn’t, I doubt if you and I would be sitting here talking.  Because that’s what brought me to California.” And with that he blows out a cloud of smoke from his cigar.
“It was after Peal Harbor that I came to California. I worked on the submarines at Mare Island and we were sent on a big convoy to Hawaii.  It was during my time in Hawaii that I tried to help organize the working girls.” I can see the twinkle in his eyes as he continues. ”You see, the girls were only getting $3 for 3 minutes of service and they wanted to get $4 for that 3 minute service, so I helped them get organized; to this day I’m not to sure how that worked out,” he says with a laugh.  “World War II was a horrible war and it served to screw up a lot of people but for me I had a great time.  I traveled all over the world and in 1957 I was standing in Red Square in Moscow and I looked over at this guy that was looking at me, we approached each other, his name was Shel Silverstein and we became great friends.  We lived together and traveled together, later we both worked for ‘Playboy’ magazine.  This was from 1957 to the middle 1970’s.  I was working as a photographer and did some film stuff.   But I was ready for a change and Shel and I ended up here on the Sausalito waterfront and that was back in 1967, ‘the summer of love’ … 45 years ago.”
We are conducting this interview from Larry’s home on board the ‘Evil Eye’ a floating home that shelters Larry and his wife, artist Dianne Kasden, and their 6 cats.
I asked him how he liked living on a houseboat.  “In the old days there were a lot of artists here, they were all here because we paid no rent.  It was like living on a movie set and we were all in costume and every day was different from the last.”  He shifts in his chair and looks past me as he continues, “Yeah, I can remember those days when you could shop at the Mohawk gas station and get anything from girls, dope, guns to alcohol and gas at that spot.  It was the old days when you wore cowboy boots and carried a big buck knife, you knew everyone and you hung out together … you felt good just hanging out together.”  As he moves to pet one of the many cats that have joined us, he continues, “Yeah, this is Shel’s boat, Dianne and I are now the care takers for the Shel Siverstein Trust.  Shel was a great guy and I had many an adventure with him but a lot of them…you can’t write about.”
I ask him if he could say anything about his years on the waterfront and the changes that he has seem and his response was: “We may have lost the battle but we have won the war.  When we came we paid no rent but we fought for the right to stay.  Buckminster Fuller was one of our champions and he wrote many a piece in favor of what we were doing.  Alan Watts was another champion who came here to live the freedom that he spoke of and taught.  There is a certain spirit about the place that will always attract artist, writers and thinkers.“  As he rises from his chair and walks to a window overlooking the Bay he turns to me and says, “Whatever you want to do it’s out there and you can do it.  There is always a way of going and doing and with that … I think this interview is over.”

Larry Moyer at home on the ‘Evil Eye’

Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

Reader Comments (1)

Larry taught me film editing at Bob Drew Co. That started me on my career in Film.

I don't know if he will remember me.!

June 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGary Youngman

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