Itchy Foot islands Deli BBQ & Brews
Victorville. California
The Legend of Joseph R. (Itchy Foot) Nuuan
1939 Hawaii was a golden sparkling gem in the Pacific Ocean. Pre-War Hawaii was buzzing with the bustle of the Navy Fleet now based in Pearl Harbor. In the warm pacific breeze and its crystal blue waves, no one could predict the twists and turns of a young 15 year old boy.
7 years prior Joseph’s father a local fisherman passed away in a fishing accident. Like so many young boys, Joseph was cared for his mother and grandmother. His mother traveled to the mainland where she found work and sent back money to Grandmother and Joseph. It was a hard time in the late 30’s and the Islands and the mainland were still reeling from the Great Depression. Then, suddenly, as if she had never existed, the checks from Joseph’s mother along with any word from her stopped.
Hawaii is far from a Dickensian workhouse, and the locals have been making due for centuries. Island living has a way of teaching how to find a living. Joseph’s grandmother took to feeding the sailors fresh and delicious foods. When he was done with his chores, Joseph like all young Hawaiians, would surf.
Joseph’s bond with the ocean was unique. He spent hours in the surf. Sometimes he would just float beyond the lineup and gaze into the clear water. The locals said this was when he would talk to the fish. When the sets rolled in he would shred the waves with the ease of walking down a sidewalk. Soon sailors on leave would come to the shore to see the young amazing surf boy.
The BBQ had become a home away from their mainland home for the sailors. The Nuulan’s shack on the coast became their kitchen and dining room the left at home. Dinner would include great food, beer and stories. Some told of their exploits as teens in the woods, on the prairies and the rivers in the States. Others told of how their mothers and Grand Mothers had cooked their own version of BBQ. Grandmother had a keen ear and asked the sailors to tell her more about the cooking from the states. She began a fusion of the Hawaiian tradition and the Bar-B-Q from parts of the mainland. Word spread fast about the astonishing young surfer and his grandmother that had found a way to cook like home, with an Island twist.
On Saturday December 6th, Joseph and Grandmother had their biggest crowd. More than a 120 service men and women were at Grandmother’s for a double pig roast. Many of the sailors were from the Arizona. The party went long into the night and those with passes made camp in the warm evening on the Beach.
History knows the woeful tale of that Sunday morning when the Zeros came out of the east and dove upon the fleet, trapped in the shallows of the bay. Those left on the beach were spared the wave of the first attack. As the bellows of the explosions reached them, the sailors could see the Japanese Zeros flying over the hilltops of the Northshore. Sailors and nurses climbed aboard the cars and transports that they had driven to the luau.
Joseph joined the group as it sped away for the base. As the convoy made its way back toward the fire and smoke some of the bogeys turned their attention toward the column and fired. The truck Joseph was in exploded and rolled over. In the pandemonium, Joseph lost his leg. It was amputated by Navy surgeons and nurses that had attended his Grandmothers many cookouts. Joseph’s hospital room was as busy as the evening beach BBq. Many that had attended that last Saturday came to check on the teenager, whose hospitality had saved many of their own lives. As he healed and the visitors would come and go, Joseph would complain about his itching foot. The only problem the foot he wanted to scratch was the one that had been amputated. The sailors gave him the name Itchy Foot.
The island grew with the swelling military presence. Grandmothers BBq became a haven from the rigors of war. Joseph with tough determination figured a way to get back into the ocean and back on his board. Some were amazed to see the one legged surfer, but none of those that knew “Itchy Foo” were surprised by his grace on the ocean. Joseph taught his children and their children how to surf on the shinning Hawaiian beaches. He continued surfing long into the Hawaiian sunsets, and was considered one of the islands best surfers.
Some will tell you that Itchy Foot was the father of the modern surfboard, and there are others that do not tell the story that way. Certainly the Nuuan family made their mark and with a story the clearly shows us the importance of family, roots, and hospitality.


Itchyfoot BBQ
15329 Palmdale Road, Unit V

Tel: (760) 243-3354