LIMA — The Beach Boys early songs spoke of sun and sand and surf, of an endless summer of cars and California girls.
But for Al Jardine, who had helped found the group in 1961, his earliest memories did not include the smell of the ocean or the sound of pounding surf.
“My childhood began hundreds of miles from the nearest wave,” Al Jardine told the Wall Street Journal for a July 17, 2018, story. “My family lived in Lima, Ohio, a small and quiet town in the 1940s. Our block was lined with trees, and the smell of raked fall leaves burning still takes me back there.”
Born Sept. 3, 1942, at Lima Memorial Hospital, Al Jardine was the son of D.C. “Don” Jardine and Virginia Loxley Jardine, who had met while both were students at the University of Toledo and associated with the university orchestra.
Don Jardine also served as a staff photographer for the university yearbook and, after graduating in 1934, stayed around campus recording progress on construction projects as a Works Progress Administration and Public Works Administration photographer. After Virginia graduated, the couple married and moved to Detroit, where Don worked for a photographic firm and their first son, Neal, was born in December 1938.
In 1939, the Jardine family moved to Lima when Don Jardine took a job with the Lima Photo Engraving Co. A year and a half later, in January 1941, he was hired as photographer for the Lima Locomotive Works. The family initially lived on Brice Avenue before moving to 1225 N. Union St. and eventually to a two-story brick home at 962 W. Wayne St. During their decade in Lima, Don Jardine was involved with the Lima Camera Club and the Lima Model Railroad Club, Virginia Jardine worked with the Guild of the Friends of Music.
In August 1949, after more than eight years with the Lima Locomotive Works and its successor the Lima-Hamilton Corp., Don Jardine left Lima to teach industrial photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.
Eric Hirsimaki, in his 2004 history of the Locomotive Works wrote, “Working for both the Locomotive Division and the Shovel & Crane Division, Don managed to not only find new uses for photography, but also improved the photographic practices at Lima.” For his part, Don Jardine, in a letter to the Allen County Historical Society in 1989, wrote that working at the Locomotive Works was “the best job I ever had.”
The Rochester job, on the other hand, proved a bad fit for the family. “Eventually, my mother grew restless and wanted to live in a warmer climate,” Jardine told the Journal in 2018. “Teaching didn’t exactly suit my dad. In 1952, when I was nine, we moved to San Francisco.”
The move brought the Beach Boy to the ocean. “My brother, Neal, and I immediately ran down to the surf to taste the salt water,” Al Jardine recalled in the Journal article. “We had only read about the ocean.”
In 1955, Don Jardine’s job took him to Los Angeles. “I wasn’t happy about moving,” Al Jardine told the Journal, “but I cheered up when I heard Disneyland had just opened about a half-hour away.”
Three years later, Al Jardine, who played guitar and had developed an interest in folk music, met Brian Wilson. “We were on the Hawthorne High School football team. I had no idea then he was interested in music until we ran into each other at an A&W rootbeer stand on Hawthorne Boulevard. Over burgers, we talked about forming a group,” Al Jardine said.
That plan was interrupted in 1960 when Don Jardine took a one-year job at Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan, and Al Jardine enrolled there as a dentistry major. “In September 1961, when we returned to Hawthorne, I attended El Camino College. At the start of my sophomore year, I ran into Brian again. So, we picked up where we left off,” he said.
Picking up where they left off included forming a group that became the Beach Boys called the Pendletones. The group was comprised of Al Jardine, brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson and the Wilsons’ cousin Mike Love. In an August 1990 interview with the Toledo Blade, Virginia Jardine recalled that when the group wanted to cut a demonstration record, she advanced them the money to finance it. “The first record on ‘Surfin’ caught on and boosted them to fame,” she said. Virginia Jardine died in 2007.
Al Jardine in 1988 made a surprise visit to the home at 962 W. Wayne St. of which he had such fond memories. “Not much had changed,” he said. “I particularly wanted to see if the antique clawfoot bathtub was still there.” It was. “I love that place. Seeing the house in 1988 reminded me of what it was like to exist in the ‘40s,” he told the News for a 1991 story.
On Aug. 6, 1991, Al Jardine made a more public return to Lima for the opening of an exhibit of his father’s photographs at the ArtSpace/Lima gallery in the Town Square called “Don Jardine’s Magic Formula.”
“Living the high-profile life of a Beach Boy, Jardine said, it was good to be in a room where he was known as Don’s son for a change,” the News wrote. “I think the display is great,” Al Jardine said of his father’s photographs. “It’s kind of a romantic period when I was a growing boy, that he captured.” Don Jardine, who won many awards for his photography, died in 1994.
During his visit, Al Jardine toured the sprawling site of the Lima Locomotive Works on South Main Street, the Lincoln Park train exhibit and the family’s former home on West Wayne Street.
The following day the Beach Boys performed a benefit concert at the Allen County Fairgrounds. “There is a purpose with this concert,” Jardine told the News. “We are doing this for the city of Lima. … I have an affection for the Lima area, and I convinced my partners we should do the concert as a benefit.”
Al Jardine and Brian Wilson no longer tour with the Beach Boys, although Al Jardine, now 78, does still perform. Dennis Wilson drowned in Los Angeles in 1983 and Carl Wilson died of cancer in 1998. Al Jardine and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Big Sur, California. Behind their two-story ranch home is a red barn with a recording studio.
“Our place is more of a hobby farm,” Al Jardine told the Journal in 2018. “When our rooster crows just before dawn, I’m a different person. I feel like I’m back in Lima.”
The brick home on West Wayne Street was demolished in September 2016.
Reach Greg Hoersten at email@example.com.