Fat Woody is the creative insanity found at the intersection of various learned life skills, a sophomoric sense of humor, and maybe a margarita (or two). My name is Ken McNeill, and this is my story…
And yes, it did begin on a napkin.. in a bar.. in Key West. I guess that’s when you might say I had my flux capacitor moment.
It might have been 3 margaritas? I know I lost my salt shaker that night, but I still have the napkin.
For me, Fat Woody is less about the cruiser and maybe more about a relaxed lifestyle. Like Jimmy Buffett & Tommy Bahama, I guess my inspiration flows from a constant desire to be on a beach somewhere.
I think one of the coolest eras in American pop culture is 50’s southern California beach & surf culture. That sense of coastal celebration is inspiring.
Fat Woody is in some ways my own personal time machine. It makes me feel like a kid again. That’s priceless.
Like my dad, I share a passion for building cool machines with little to no resources.
I don’t really have a Fat Woody factory, and there is no big corporation behind the brand.
I’m just an adolescent adult with perhaps a little too much time on my hands (and a pile of coconuts).
What I do have is a totally bitchin garage and a gnarly set of tools.
My family is my anchor. Lisa and I have been married for over 25 years and are so thankful for every wonderful day we get together on this planet. Our daughter Adelyn is growing up way too fast, and like her dad starting to show all the signs of artistic creativity.. and sophomoric humor.
And the legacy continues! I got her some coconuts for her birthday and she is becoming quite the baker.
I first came to San Diego in 1981, on late night flight from Tucson. Two weeks earlier, I told my parents I’d decided to leave the University of Arizona - half way through my freshman year. My dad, being the understanding man he was, asked me if I would like to go on a cruise and see the world? “Sounds good dad. Where do I sign?”
The ride from the airport to the Navy Recruit Training Center was just short enough to not let my new reality fully sink in. I was in hell and it would be a long night.
As shocking as this experience was going to be, here is what I remember most vividly. While repeatedly being asked to demonstrate my skill of push-ups on the RTC grinder pad, the sun arose to reveal a coastal paradise I never knew existed.
An ocean, with boats, seagulls and new smells. I could see Point Loma’s hump on one side and in the distance, downtown San Diego and the bridge.
That’s the first day I got to see how truly beautiful San Diego is. My love has never faded.
The Navy served to build a solid foundation of accountability, attention to detail, and process I’ve carried throughout my life.
I am truly honored to have served in the United States Navy at our own Coronado NASNI (Naval Air Station North Island).
Were it not for the invaluable guidance & training those crusty old Chief Petty Officers beat into me, I would never be the person I am today.
“I think I still have a knot on my head from that friggin’ coffee cup.” To them I say..
“Thank you shipmates. You gave more to me than will ever know.”
Squadron: HSL-33 “Seasnakes” Helicopter Squadron (81-87)
Check out one of our birds (that’s Navy slang for flying things) on the USS Midway’s flight deck!
We have our squadron reunion here every year in late September. See you at the Little Club!