The House That Phil (re)built
The Untold Story of the Humble Pods That Helped Create the Irons Legend Divorce fucken sucks balls. And even more so when there’s spawn involved. But when compared to the alternative, i.e staying in an unhappy relationship for the benefit of the kids… PFFFT! I’ve seen enough murder suicides on the news to know that […]
The Untold Story of the Humble Pods That Helped Create the Irons Legend
Divorce fucken sucks balls. And even more so when there’s spawn involved. But when compared to the alternative, i.e staying in an unhappy relationship for the benefit of the kids… PFFFT! I’ve seen enough murder suicides on the news to know that shit doesn’t fly.
The best solution is to get out, get some air, salvage what you can from the ashes and get on with it. That’s what Phil and Danielle Irons did back in ’89, painfully calling it a day on a union that had lasted over 20 years. In doing so they provided the kind of grommethood existence that would result in their offspring winning three World Titles and the god damn Eddie Invitational.
Which brings us to the reason why we’re here: The House that Phil built. Or rather re built, for himself and his two boys: Andy then aged eight and his spindly little seven year-old brother Bruce. Originally a humpy for toilers of the cane fields, this 600 square foot pile of wood and tin hidden in the bushes off Weke Road is where it all started… over. Phil, Andy and Bruce offer you, the Stab reader, a revealing glimpse into life before the fat contracts, paparazzo and plush chalets up the hill at Princeville. Be sure to kick the sand off your feet before entering.
Phil: “89 was a tough year. I’m probably not understating the situation when I say it was a pretty screwed up time for the whole family. At the time we were living up at Haena but after the split we decided to move the nine or so miles back down to Hanalei. I knew a local family who ran the Hanalei Liquor Store and they had a place that hadn’t been lived in for five years. It was very primitive but it was across the road from the beach and close to the school. The rent was $500 a month. I figured I could make it work.”
Andy: “When we moved back to Hanalei the first thing that crossed my mind was that we were gonna be really close to Pine Trees which was my favourite spot. I was so stoked about that. Then when we saw the house… man. it was pretty ratty. I remember there was a hole in the living room floor, like someone had dropped a bowling ball right through it. It needed a lot of work but Dad’s a carpenter, he was up for it.”
Bruce: “Fuck, it’s a plantation home. At one of the local spots I used to eat at they had this photo of Weke Road in 1935 and it’s just an old dirt road with six plantation houses on it and our house is one of em. It’d been around forever. We were poor. We didn’t have shit and that house was tiny. We slept in these super tiny little bunk beds and I just didn’t know any better. But I didn’t give a fuck either. It was across the street from the beach and that’s all I cared about.”
Phil: “It was good timing because even though the family was in turmoil, the boys were eight or nine years old and already waterproofed. The soccer thing was over, the BMX thing was over, they really just wanted to surf. Danielle was in a place only 150 yards or so up the road so the boys would sleep four nights a week at their Mum’s house and the rest at my place.”
Bruce: “No shit, that house is so fucking tiny. It’s just a teeny living room, the kitchen, my dad’s room and his tiny office. In the office is where our bunks used to be. The place was termite-ridden too. I mean I could kick a hole through the wall with my foot just rolling over in bed.”
Andy: “It didn’t take long before the house became the full on grommie dream pad. We had a little board rack with the two or three boards we owned at the time. We’d get up and go surf before school, go to school and then as soon as we got out of school it was game on. We’d just surf all afternoon and eat a bunch of pancakes in between. That was our favourite ritual. Marathon surf sessions with big stacks of pancakes in between.”
Phil: “I never had to worry about them. I’d get home from working all day and I’d go across the road and watch them surf.”
Phil: “Andy and Bruce were pretty tight as kids. They had each other’s backs and stuff but they were also brothers and they fought. Bruce was the little shrimp irritator with the mouth and Andy was bigger and a bit more clumsy. At first I tried to give them some more space so I moved them out of the house. I converted an old tool shed in the yard into a kind of pod for them to live in.”
Andy: “Yeah, we shared a room until I was 15. I was definitely feeling like I needed my own space once I got to high school. Bruce was sloppy and he always had video games and shit going on. I never cared much for video games.”
Bruce: “The reason I was messy was ’cause our beds were pretty much side by side and Andy would snore so fucking loud that I couldn’t sleep. Our clothes were on a shelf in between us and I would grab everything I owned off that shelf and try to whip Andy in the face with it to try and shut him up. In the morning all my clothes would be on his fucken bed.”
Andy: “My Dad ended up building Bruce his own pod so I got to keep the original. We both had our own little TV and VCRs and I had Momentum and all the new surf vids going 24/7. I had surf posters up and shit too. I remember having this old Shane Dorian poster and a couple of sick Taylor Knox posters, an Occy cutback at Rocky Point. Sunny. It was pretty typical grom stuff.”
Bruce: “I was never really the guy to put up surf posters. I had the Eddie Aikau poster in there for a while but I also had posters of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix and shit like that. Which is weird cause I’m not even a stoner.”
Phil: “I always wanted the boys to feel like the house was a place they could hang out cause I wanted them to be around. That was kind of why the pods worked. I knew when they started getting girlfriends they’d want to have their own space too.”
Andy: “Back in the day I didn’t have much game. I wasn’t much of a ladies man cause I wasn’t much of a talker. Every once in a while I’d pull the odd straggler but it was rare, man, like really rare. It wasn’t until I was a senior that I had the confidence to take a girl back there and pull some game together.”
Bruce: “Fuck yeah I took girls back there. I took everyone back there to hang out. The funniest thing though was when Koby was living there. Koby lived in my tiny little tin roofed pod for a while. My dad totally adopted him. He loved it. Anyway he had a girl there one night and he didn’t realise how close it was to my Dad’s room and in the morning my Dad was like “What the hell was going on in there, Koby?” It probably happened to me too. I mean there were no secrets when you had a girl over because to get to the bathroom you had to sneak through my Dad’s room. It was pretty fucken classic.”
Phil: “Even though they walked past the machine maybe a hundred times a week the boys never felt the urge to wash their clothes. That was Mom’s deal. The only chore they really had to do was mow the yard which would take about 20 minutes.”
Andy: “Yeah that fucken lawn was tight. It was literally the size of two cars and for some reason one side was always thicker than the other. We’d swap every other week. No one ever wanted to mow the thick side ’cause instead of taking 10 minutes to mow it took 12.”
Bruce: “I would mow the lawn and wash my Dad’s truck. My brother didn’t do shit.”
Phil: “If there was ever anything lying in the grass they’d just mow around it. They never picked up or moved anything. In the end I just ended up doing it myself. I spoiled em rotten. Their Mum and I both made life pretty simple.”
Andy: “All the boys would come and hang at our house and especially on the weekend it’d just get full of sand. We’d have to sweep out the sand before Dad got home. But fuck that’s all we ever had to worry about. Living there was the best times that I can ever remember. Everything was so easy.”
Bruce: “We used to hitchhike here and there and get up to a bit of mischief but my parents only real concern was that I stick with school. Curfews were pretty flexible mostly cause they knew we were in the surf all day. The only things I had to do was go to school, mow the lawn, not do drugs and graduate. My biggest chore was not dropping out of school cause I was bad at it and my mind struggled but I did it and I graduated and it was the best thing ever.”
FEELING AT HOME
Phil: “I see Andy and Bruce now and then but not as often as I’d like. The good thing is when they do stop by they know they’re home. If there’s anything here they want they’ll take it. Andy’s especially good at that. But they help themselves and that’s as it should be. This is their home.”
Andy: “Fuck yeah I go straight to the fridge every time I walk into the place. It’ll always be my house.”
Bruce: “I love it. I fucken love it. Every time I go there I walk in and I feel like; “This is my childhood.”
Andy: “Fuck! I just bought myself a super pad just down the road from where we grew up. And I mean you guys gotta come and take some shots of this thing. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I saved up and I bought it and I’m moving in there now. It’s four bedrooms on the sand at Hanalei Bay. Bob McKnight’s 20-million-dollar mansion is 10 houses down from it. Every room looks at the beach. I can see down the barrel at Hanalei Bay and I can see Pine Trees perfect from my living room, kitchen and bedroom. It’s unbelievable.”
Phil: “Andy’s just bought a new house about five houses down from here and I’m thinking of moving up onto the hill behind Princeville soon. I think it’s time to move on. This place has served its purpose. It’s been a fun place to grow up.”
Bruce: “You know what? I have a pretty big house and I hate big houses. I hate big overblown houses. I like little cosy tiny houses. I like simple shit.”
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