What this chapter contains:
December 7, 1941
Colisko Boski, 1951
Southern California Balsa
Phil Edwards Start-Up
Mickey Dora Beginnings
Buzzy Trent via Ricky Grigg
Pete Peterson at Malibu
Makaha International Surfing Championships
Greg & Beverly Noll
Tommy Zahn, Paddling Champ
Makaha & Coast Haoles
The 1st Commercial Surf Film
Phil Edwards Again
Bev Morgan Wetsuits
Mike Doyle vs. The 22nd Street Gang
The Surf Photo Seen ‘Round The World
Quonset Hut Riders
Outside of the surfing world, the year 1952 was notable as the year atomic bomb testing began in the Pacific; the Nobel Peace Prize went to Albert Schweitzer for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life”; Ernest Hemingway‘s The Old Man and the Sea was published and would win the Pulitzer Prize the following year; Dylan Thomas‘ Collected Poems also were released, as well as John Steinbeck‘s East of Eden. It was the year Norman Vincent Peale‘s book The Power of Positive Thinking hit the stands and the Revised Standard Version of the Christian Bible -- after being prepared by 32 scholars over 15 years -- was published for Protestants. The classic western High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, showed in movie theaters throughout the United States.1
As for surfing, the year 1952 saw the balsa and fiberglass era of the “Malibu Chip” firmly in place and the cutting edge of surfboard design. Yet, not everyone had them -- not by a long ride. The boards the surfers in Northern California rode were a case in point...
The first stand-up surfing on wooden boards in the continental United States was done by Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole (Prince Kuhio) and his brothers David and Edward, in 1885, in Santa Cruz, California. While attending St. Matthew’s Military School in San Mateo, these Hawaiian nephews of Queen Kapi`olani surfed the San Lorenzo Rivermouth in Santa Cruz, riding boards that had been milled from local redwood logs.2
Even though the Santa Cruz locals were entertained by the Hawaiian princes and some even joined in the fun, there was no continuous surfing activity that stemmed from the Hawaiian introduction of 1885. That development did not occur until 1939 when the first group of sustained surfers took to the waves of Santa Cruz. This second crew included Richie Thompson, Ted Pierson, Doug Thorn, Quintin Tavares, Dick Keating, Ced Shear and Chuck Foley.3
These guys were influenced by a couple of Palos Verdes Surfing Club (PVSC) members, most notably E.J. Oshier. “When the surf was flat there in Southern Cal,” Doc Ball said of the surf safaris by club members, “we’d make these trips out around, up the coast and down. One of them went up to Santa Cruz. They’d not seen that activity (surfing) up there [before]! Our guys were the ones who initiated it in Santa Cruz.”4
Of the PVSC crew, it was E.J. Oshier who was the main guy to help get surfing going again there.5 He had left Los Angeles and was living and working in Oakland, circa 1938-39. “Some of the kids there – they were high school kids. They all had big, long paddleboards. They were doing surfing on their own.
“When I arrived there – there was a guy named Duke Horan… He was a good surfer. He was from Venice. He was going to San Jose State and he and I met on the beach at Santa Cruz one summer day. We got to talking, you know, [about] how we missed the surf down below [in Southern California]. We’d look at these kids on paddleboards and it didn’t look too good. We hadn’t seen any really good surf at Steamer Lane and Cowell’s.
“Then, we finally saw some. Why, we got busy [then]! I built a paddleboard and he got hold of an old squaretail and we started surfing with the kids. But, we were infinitely better surfers than all the other kids. They were nice kids. We got along fine with them, but they just weren’t polished or quick. Their surfing was: just pick the wave up, stand up and go into the beach. There was no particular cutting right or left or anything.
“So, anyway, the Duke and I – what we did to Santa Cruz was sort of grab it by its boot straps and pull it up into present surfing styles. You know, riding solid boards, turning with our feet – all the things the kids weren’t doing. We got along fine with the locals. We were sort of ‘gooners‘ because we were so much better than anyone else around there. So, that was great! We loved it!” 6
“1939 and 1940 was my two years surfing Santa Cruz a lot. I was living in Oakland, working in Oakland, and as soon as I got off work Friday night, I’d stow my sleeping bag and board in the car and head for Santa Cruz. We had a… barn down there, just above Steamer Lane, that one of the high school kid surfer’s mother owned. It was a falling-down thing, but we could sleep in it, you know. We used to be able to throw our sleeping bags down there and sleep there. You know, have something over our heads and a little privacy.” 7
This building is not to be confused with the building the surf club had. The surf club building was right on the beach at the base of the pier. Its picture is in Doc Ball‘s book and shows E. J., Jeep, Duke Horan and Art Beard. “Right there by the horseshoe course. They had a second one, in a different location, but that was after I’d gone. The barn was up on the cliff, about a block inland from the current surfing museum [lighthouse]. Buster‘s mother owned it.” 8
Of the Santa Cruz kids, E.J. said, Harry Mayo and Buster Stewart were the best surfers. “Buster… he was probably the best surfer of the kids. He had a little more control of the board and a little more ability. But, Harry Mayo and a lot of those other guys, they were nice kids, but they really never got their hooks into real surfing. Don’t quote me on that, cuz I wouldn’t want to hurt Harry’s feelings. But, I’m sure he would admit that it’s true.” 9
For E.J., it was every weekend to Santa Cruz during 1939-40. “Winter, Summer. And, boy, that surfing in the winter with no wetsuit and no leash was a little rough. But, hell, I was young and big and strong. I could do that.” 10
December 7, 1941
“In 1940, going into ‘41,” E.J. explained, “it more and more looked like there’d be a war.” War was already underway in Europe and in Asia. “There was a couple of guys from Oakland that had started surfing, that I could go down with. They never got very good, but they were very good friends of mine. They decided they were going to enlist in the National Guard. At that time, you serve a year in the National Guard and you could get out and you’d served your time, right? Except it wasn’t right (laughs). I thought, that’s a good idea. I’ll get in with one night a week with the National Guard. So, I did that and everything was going fine until December 7, 1941 [the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor].
“That day… was a beautiful day at Santa Cruz. I was out at the Rivermouth, where the San Lorenzo River empties out. There’s pictures of me in Doc Ball‘s book taken at the Rivermouth.”11 Back in those days, the Rivermouth could get really good. “Oh, it was phenomenal!” praised E.J. “It was absolutely machine waves. In the winter, a big sand bar would build up off the San Lorenzo River, you know, sort of a narrow triangle and the waves would hit the peak of that triangle, out there at a good distance offshore and start to build. The shoulders would just taper off magnificently, like they were right out of a machine. There’d usually be a set of 3 or 4 waves, then a lull. You absolutely couldn’t go wrong.
“I was out there having a wonderful time. I surfed a few hours and one wave I took close to the point. Some guy ran over and say, ‘Hey! You better get out of there and get back to your car and go back to San Louie Obispo –” where the National Guard armory was – “The Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor! Everybody gotta get back to their camps!’ Well, there went my ‘year.’ It ended-up five years in the army instead of one year [in the National Guard],” E. J. laughed about it. “I was surfing the day they bombed Pearl Harbor.” 12
That must have been a vivid memory, I acknowledged.
“Well, it is. It was such a good day. The sun was out, it was warm, and the waves were beautiful. And that was the last time I surfed Santa Cruz. Never had an opportunity to surf it, again. But, I had a lot of good surf there [during those two years].” 13
From the National Guard, E. J. went to the Army and then to the Air Force, “but never went overseas,” he noted, explaining: “I don’t have a lot to say about my war experiences, because I really was never in a battle or anything.” 14
By the late 1940s, Fred Van Dyke joined the local surfriders at Santa Cruz. A number of surfers from the 1939 crew were still around, having survived the war, but this next group of Santa Cruz surfers that Van Dyke rode with was comprised of both old timers and newcomers.15
“Before moving to Santa Cruz to teach school,” wrote Fred Van Dyke in his autobiography 30 Years Riding The World’s Biggest Waves, “most of the time I camped in a station wagon at Steamer Lane or on the Pleasure Point cliff with a blanket and mattress exactly where Jack O’Neill‘s home is now. We used to leave our boards in that little cove below O’Neill’s all summer long, and no one ever bothered them. Hardly anyone even knew what a surfboard was.” Van Dyke’s family lived in Burlingame, just south of San Francisco Bay and, at the time, he was attending San Francisco State college.16
“For those years,” continued Van Dyke, “the regulars were a basic group consisting of my two brothers Gene and Peter, my sister Gretchen, her boyfriend Russ McCallion, Dave Devine, Jim Fisher, Alonzo Wiemers, Rod Lundquist.” Sam Reid was on the scene, after moving back to the Mainland from Hawaii to call Santa Cruz his home. “Sam Reid and Ted Pierson... taught us all to surf,” added Van Dyke. “There were a few others [surfing with us] occasionally...”17
“Up until about 1950 there was a surf club run by a bunch of really rigid old timers,” recalled Van Dyke. “The Hicker, the Douger, the Chucker and the Wild Hook Gang as they called themselves. With their leader, Dave Campbell, they used to surf what they named the Wild Hook, early in the 40’s. Until then it was considered unrideable because of the fast break and the cliffs.18
“We’d be surfing outside Pleasure, and all of a sudden we would hear these guys screaming and yelling, wiping out at the ‘Hook.’ We thought they were super kooks, and were glad they stayed down at the Hook. They rode 12’ to 14’ paddleboards; they thought our progressive 11’ 100 pound hollow planks were the boards of the century.”19
“We considered it crowded when more than six people were in the water,” continued Van Dyke, “and sometimes even then yelled at one another for hogging waves.
“The old-timers served a useful purpose. They set standards and were tough enough to enforce them. They were vindictive -- jealous of us young guys moving into ‘their’ surf area. They taught us surfing the hard way...
“Chuck Foley, an old timer,” recalled Van Dyke of a particular surf session, “caught another wave as I paddled out in front of him. He finally beached his board and climbed the cliff, but the Chucker and Hicker threw rocks at me for two hours, if I even neared the shoreline. They convulsed in sadistic laughter. I was freezing and near exhaustion.
“When they finally allowed me on shore, the Chucker said, ‘You never paddle out in the lineup, but around it. You give first man on the wave the right of way. Got it?’
“Two hours of torture and freezing just to make that point, but I never did that again.”20
Redwood Era surfer Sam Reid had moved to Santa Cruz from Hawai`i in 1946 and then was appointed captain of the Santa Cruz municipal lifeguards.21 Reid, along with hollow board inventor Tom Blake, had been the first to surf Malibu in 1926. “Sam Reid taught me some rules about surfing,” added Van Dyke, “which I have never forgotten. One rule was to be in shape. He pushed us into swimming and paddling when the surf was down. With the cord [leash] now, some surfers can hardly swim to the beach.
“Sam also told fantastic stories about the islands, and how the surf was so much bigger than California. We sat drinking our dollar a gallon red wine and nudged one another, secretly laughing at Sam. How could there be any place better than Steamer?
“Aside from Sam, most of the other old-timers drifted over to San Jose, and we rarely saw them in the 50’s...”22
For Fred Van Dyke and the core of surfers who rode Santa Cruz at the end of the 1940s and early 50’s, Santa Cruz was an idyllic time. “Yes, I love to talk about Santa Cruz,” admitted Van Dyke of that time. “When the reefs were filled with fish and covered by abalone, the sunset in the redwood-forested mountains behind Steamer, or a full moon covering the Bay... when the police knew all of us and let us sleep where we wanted as long as we behaved... Most of the time we did, while the old ladies who peered from behind curtains while we changed our bathing suits at Pleasure Point delayed calling the cops on us until they had finished watching.”23
“In the late 40’s and early 50’s I experienced these waves,” at Steamer Lane, wrote Van Dyke, “almost alone, sharing swells with only a handful of surfers. It was not unusual to catch a wave at Steamer Lane and ride it with a sea lion on your inside and a Chinook salmon jumping in front of you.
“There used to be a cute little harbor seal who would sneak up in between sets and put his paws up on my tailblock.24
“Occasionally, during their migration, I have been chased from the water by killer whales. I will never forget the day I was lifeguarding Cowell’s Beach and a tribe of sea lions crawled right up onto the beach among the sunbathers. That day over 200 sea lions were decapitated by marauding killer whales.”25
Santa Cruz, 1950
One day in January 1950, Fred Van Dyke “couldn’t find a cork for my hollow plank, so I stuck a piece of kelp in the hole. Balancing the 100-pound plank on my shoulders, I dropped it into the shore break and began the three quarters of a mile paddle to Steamer Lane. The sun had already fallen. Glassy five-foot oil-slicked waves marched around the point.
“I could see Dave Devine paddling out ahead of me. He stopped in the lineup and sat back. From 200 yards away I suddenly saw the entire sea around Dave explode. About 50 sea lions surfaced, barking with heads turned toward Dave. One lone monster challenged him, swimming with head high and barking furiously.
“Dave was paralyzed, resigned to his fate. As I paddled and waved my hand, shouting, two feet away from Dave the sea lion did a surface dive and disappeared.
“We surfed until after dark, in caution, barely able to see the cliffs. On the beach Dave got a fire going. Thawing took some time, but long sips from a bottle of red wine helped. We talked that night about the sea lions, who used to be far more possessive of Steamer Lane. They rode the waves when they were too big for us to get out. Once you cleared the line of sea lions you could surf, but they were always waiting on the fringe!”26
“We had no wetsuits in those days,” continued Van Dyke, “because they had not been invented. If lucky, we found a woolen shirt at the Goodwill store for 15 cents and cut off the sleeves. Most of the time when you wiped out, you abandoned the shirts. It got to be expensive.
“You also learned to avoid the cold January water by sitting high on your board and barely making any moves until the wave approached. We did not surf often in the wind, like today’s surfers, but went out most of the time a little before dark when the surface of the waves was like a reflected mirror.
“Of course, there was a guy we all thought a little nutty. He used to come down to Santa Cruz on weekends and try to sell us on the idea of making a suit out of rubber. We stuck to glassy days and woolen underwear, while Jack O’Neill was inventing the first wetsuits, in San Francisco.”27
“With the coming of spring,” continued Van Dyke, “the Cowell’s Beach social season came forth. Cowell’s was the Roman Empire of the 50’s. Chubby Mitchell from the islands and his best friend Charlie Kukui slugged it out, Hawaiian style; then stopped to drink, toasting each other. Couples by the droves made out in broad daylight. A volleyball game was going on while my brother Gene took a leak on the middle of the court. Charlie Grimm filled sacks with abalone and Pierson with cronies went up the coast to steal artichokes, to be steamed in cleaned out garbage cans.
“The fires on the beach eventually replaced the lost sunlight. A crowd of hundreds was fed by Pierson, Pete Cole and Lundquist. The night ended normally with a raid and arrests by the police.
“Actually, the police rarely bothered our parties at Cowell’s. They were so pleased we were off the streets of Santa Cruz that we could do practically anything out of town.”28
“Cowell’s was open territory until the city and county installed parking meters right where we left our cars. One night Peter Cole and some of his frat friends from Stanford decided to remove all the meters and bury them.
“The police sent a freaky guy who tried to disguise himself as a surfer to spy on us. He plied us with wine and beer, and Peter McLain trusted this ‘good’ guy enough to take him over to his back yard where some of the meters were buried.
“We surfed all weekend while Peter and his friends cooled their feet in jail. Of course we visited, to tell of all the great waves they were missing.”29
Peter Cole would later -- after Van Dyke did the same -- join in with other migrations of California surfers to go Hawaiian. Cole spoke of Steamer Lane as, “my favorite spot in California.” He went on to say that, “surfing Steamer’s wasn’t easy. [You] had to descend the cliff, deal with the cold water, rocks that could chew your board and then the ascent [back out].”30
“... no matter how wasted we got,” wrote Fred Van Dyke, “ we were up at the crack of dawn ready to surf, if there was any kind of a swell. We’d drive over to Pleasure, back to Cowell’s, have a clam chowder, drive out to Steamer Lane, find the tide too high, back to Pleasure; back to check the river mouth.
“The afternoon found us at the local ice cream parlor called the Coast Creamery. After a double milkshake we felt fortified to hit Steamer Lane for the evening glassed out. By then we had discovered a place that doesn’t exist any more: a spot at Steamer where you could climb down near to the water, drop your board, time the set, and jump. There weren’t any problems if you timed it right. Otherwise, you got into the rip toward Cowell’s and your board got wedged into a cave.”31
Colisko Boski, 1951
Fred Van Dyke told a fantastic tale of a certain young sea lion he got to know.
“In 1951, I met Colisko Boski at Steamer Lane. He was a young seal who befriended me, accepted me as a companion surfer, caught fish for me, taught me the lineup at Steamer, and filled a very lonely time for me.” It all began on a day in 1951 when, “a seal frolicked near the outside peak. He sprinted and shot out of the glassy wall. I watched in awe as foam sprayed from his chest. He dipped his head into the wave and disappeared.
“I sat on my board, daydreaming. I was a little scared, sitting out there alone in the silence. Slowly the tailblock of my board began to sink. I froze, then stole a glance backward. There it was -- a half-grown seal, his paws looking like a cat’s. He perched on the tail of my board and barked at me. I panicked, paddling full speed toward the cliff. The tide was low enough that I could, if I made the rocky shore, escape this animal.
“Taking deep strokes, paddling on my knees, I looked down at the seal’s body turned up sideways. Low and behold, he was looking me in the eye, smiling at me. Flipping a shower of saltwater in my face, he disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. That was enough for me. I caught a wave, and proned out the soup until it reformed into the wave that carried me to the shorebreak at Cowell’s.
“After spending the night in the clubhouse, I awakened hungry as a bear and hastened over to the Pier Bath House to order breakfast.
“Hitching a ride out to Steamer Lane, I watched set after set break while an occasional seal popped out into the green of a wave.
“After waxing my board, I edged down to the spot where we all jumped off the cliff, about ten feet above the water. Then sprinting to make it over the next wave before it smashed me against the cliff, I paddled hard. The swell capped on my head and cold water covered my body. It felt good. Sitting on the middle peak, waiting for a wave, I saw the kelp rise behind me. Out popped a mid-sized seal, riding the wave past me, then swimming on to catch another wave.
“‘Oh, to have that judgment, to know exactly where the waves would break.’ I wished then that I was a seal. I heard a bark; it was the seal who had been riding waves. He stuck both of his paws on my board and barked in my face. At first he terrified me, but then I looked deeply into his eyes. He looked as if he were smiling at me. I thought, seals don’t smile; and why me?
“He swam outside, looking back every other breath. It seemed to me he might be mocking me. He rode wave after wave, each time skimming by me; occasionally stopping to put his paws on my board. Then he stationed himself out where he had caught so many waves and barked at me incessantly. Wave after wave passed under him and practically broke upon me; he continued barking.
“Naw, it couldn’t be. Just coincidence -- but why not? I paddled out to the place where he was finning. He stopped barking until a wave approached, then moved out five feet and turned toward me.
“I sprinted, churned my legs to turn, and took two strong strokes. I stood up, perfectly placed on the other side of Steamer’s middle peak. Sliding forward and climbing toward the shoulder, I executed a turn back, only to see the seal riding on my inside, water spurting off his chest with a barely audible shissh sound. I shot over the wave and paddled back to the outside. The seal waited in the exact place where I had taken off.
“Wave after wave poured through. If I followed the seal, I was in the perfect place each time. What a day! I caught one more wave and rounded the point into Cowell’s...”32
“Driving to college the next morning,” continued Fred Van Dyke, “I mentioned that I had been really close to a seal, and that by following where he took off, I caught more waves than I ever had before. My brother said, ‘Well, so what, there’s always a bunch of seals at Steamer.’ I said no more...
“At table [several days later] Dave [Devine] spoke to me. ‘Heard that you surfed with a seal buddy last week. Hey, Fred, I know that finals are coming up, but come on. Let’s be real.’
“My brother interjected, ‘Lay off, Dave.’
“I forgot about it until the next Tuesday, when I was out at Steamer alone again. The surf was junk and I was ready to paddle to shore when I heard a bark. There he was, seaward, finning fifty feet outside me. Paddling for the spot, he dove beneath my board. I saw a wave approaching and thought, ‘God, I’m so far out, it’ll never get steep enough to catch.’
“It was a no stroker. I didn’t make it to the bottom. My board spun out in the strong northwest wind. Surfacing, I was clutched by strings of kelp. For a second I panicked, thinking of the swim to the cliffs, no one there to grab my board before it got pummeled against the rocks. Extricating myself from the last piece of kelp, I swam toward the cove, hoping that the inside rip would not catch me and take me to Cowell’s.
“I couldn’t believe it, but my board was sitting out in the channel, out of the surf line. That just did not happen at Steamer. I sprinted the last five yards and grabbed the board.
“Climbing up on the deck, I noticed a ding near the tailblock. Must have hit bottom. The ding looked as if a dog had bitten into the tailblock.
“Paddling back to the lineup, I thought, it couldn’t be. Dave was right; I am worrying too much about finals. I caught a wave into Cowell’s, put my board under the porch, and left.
“Wednesday morning I got to school early and met Dave with my brother at the snack bar. ‘Suppose you met your buddy seal yesterday?’ Dave squelched a laugh.
“I leaned closed to him and Gene. ‘I think he retrieved my board for me.’
“Gene’s eyes rolled upward and Dave spit coffee across the table. ‘You sure it wasn’t just a beautiful mermaid?’ Dave sassily commented.
“Stomping off to class, I wasn’t sure whether maybe I was getting too deeply into this teacher credential thing. After class I drove home, lost deep in thought. The seal had grabbed my board and retrieved it for me. Dings don’t look like that.
“The next week I told my mother that I was going to take the Greyhound Bus down to Santa Cruz, and Dave and Gene could bring me back on Sunday night. Before hitting the beach I put my stuff in the clubhouse. I might get a few rides before darkness descended... I caught two waves, cautiously sitting on the shoulder, fearful of losing the board into the high tide cave.
“The sun set into the mountains behind Steamer Cliffs. I shivered and sat high on my board, waiting for just one more wave, but it didn’t come. Paddling to the Cowell’s Point, I saw a freak middle set moving toward me. In the semi-descending darkness I caught the first wave and pearled. The board left me in the ocean, two more waves cracking on my head.
“I thought, just what I need: a dinged board with four days of surfing ahead of me. The sets stopped and I swam. There was the outline of my board sitting in the abated foam. ‘What luck,’ I shouted. I heard a double bark in the night.
“Paddling into Cowell’s, I was sure that the bark had said, ‘You’re welcome.’
“I slept little that night; I could hardly wait for dawn. I ate breakfast with the fishermen at the Pier Bathhouse and listened half attentively. One of the fishermen spoke loudly. ‘If I see another seal around my nets, I’ll shoot.’
“... I paddled the distance to Steamer faster than ever. Sitting on my board, I looked seaward. The waves were almost non-existent. Depressed, I looked down into the depths, tracing the shimmering kelp to darkness.
“There he was, suspended deeply beneath my board. He looked up through the kelp. He was smiling. I was elated. He was alive. He hadn’t been caught in the net and shot. I thought, well, not this time.
“He nuzzled his nose against my leg, surfaced, barked at me, ‘Ark, ark, ark,’ and sped toward Cormoran Rock which we all used as a lineup for the middle peak.
“Five minutes later I saw him surface. He was holding a huge Lingcod in his teeth. Swimming toward me, he gently nudged my hand, which hung in the water, and put the fish between my legs. God, I thought, they’ll never believe this. I yelled, ‘Whoopee, ark, ark, ark!’
“Cleaning the fish in the Cowell’s shorebreak attracted a flock of seagulls. I threw the entrails to them and walked to the clubhouse, built a fire in front, sat down and roasted my fish over the coals. I settled into deep sleep in front of the fire. Long before dawn, I heard a resounding shorebreak.
“It was a glorious morning, almost warm, with no fog or wind. I tried a few Cowell’s waves, each time returning to the lineup to look out to Steamer Lane. It was big. Waves broke out farther than I had [ever] seen. I heard a bark out at the Lane. Paddling closer, I heard more barks. At first it was the seal bark, ‘Ark, ark, ark,’ but then it almost sounded like ‘Come, sur wi meee,’ slurred but definitely intelligible.
“I called to him, ‘I’m coming, wait for me!’ The seal sat on the outside fringe of kelp, and just before I reached him, he took off on a huge single peak, feathered his fin, and cut out right in front of me. He looked me in the eye and barked, ‘Ark, ark, ark, ark,’ but it wasn’t barking I heard. Rather, ‘I want to be your friend; what’s your name?’
“I answered, as if one of my professors at San Francisco State had asked me to stand and recite. ‘My name, uh, my name, is Fred Van Dyke.’
“My name, Colisko Boski; come, I teach you to surf better.’ By late afternoon we were conversing just as if I were sitting out there with Dave and Gene. Colisko told me that he had escaped from the aquarium in San Francisco.
“We surfed and surfed. I lost my board more than once, but it never hit the cliffs. Colisko Boski brought it right back to me, now without tooth dings. He learned fast...
“Colisko Boski assured me that no dumb fisherman would catch him in a net...
“The fog moved into Steamer; the day slipped away. I left my new friend, feeling deep pangs of loneliness. I lay in front of the fire that night feeling good about the seal, yet like an outcast. How could I explain the day without being laughed out of existence?”33
Van Dyke went on:
“... Saturday morning we all sat in the Pier Bathhouse and ate breakfast -- Gene, Dave and I. I told them how big it had been the day before.
“Dave asked me, ‘Wasn’t it scary, surfing the Lane all alone?’
“I answered. ‘I didn’t surf alone. I’ll tell you the story.’
“Paddling out, I told them the story, including the fish that Colisko Boski had given me. Dave and Gene dropped back, and I heard them mumbling over the roar of Steamer Lane.
“Dave, in his sarcastic manner, said, ‘Well, I guess all you have to do is cut out of school during the week, and hire a...’
“Gene interrupted. ‘Hey Fred, there’s a seal out there. Is that your buddy seal? Why don’t you ask him if it is going to get bigger?’
“There he was, swimming toward the seal rock. I yelled, ‘Colisko Boski, Colisko Boski, come meet my friends.’
“He stayed well beyond the sets. ‘I can’t. I’ve got to swim to Alaska for my first mating season.’ Colisko Boski climbed upon the seaward side of the seal rock and barked at a young female seal. They both dove into the ocean and headed northwest.
“‘So, what’s the big deal?’ Dave yelled. ‘So, a seal barks at another seal on seal rock.’ Gene laughed uproariously. We all laughed -- I for a completely different reason. All that they had heard was, ‘Ark, ark, ark, ark.’ That was all they would ever hear from seals, poor fools...”34
“One of my favorite memories of old Santa Cruz was the Rivermouth," continued Fred Van Dyke, "which did not have the right sandbar every winter, but in ‘52 it was perfect, and lasted well into June. We camped on the beach in caves that since have been covered by tons of sand trapped by the Yacht Harbor breakwater...
“The Rivermouth maintained a consistent three-foot to eight-foot swell throughout the spring. It was a slow life on that clean beach with the smell of baitfish skipping on the surface and fog hanging outside; the water not as choppy as Steamer Lane. A few fishermen cast from the cliffs above the Rivermouth. It was our northern Malibu.”35
Southern California Balsa
Down south, the material of choice for surfboards was now balsa wood and there grew to be a heavy demand for it. A story about balsa supplier General Veneer, shaper Bob “Ole” Olson, and future surf movie maker Bruce Brown illustrates this:
“When I was about fifteen,” retold Greg Noll about balsa availability in 1953, “my folks moved from our house on the Strand to a big adobe house a little farther away. My bedroom was big and became a great place to store balsa wood.
“One time, I knew that a shipment was due in at General Veneer from South America, so I made sure that I got there early. I spent a day and a half going through the shipment, looking for all the best wood. I creamed the place, got all the lightest wood, a thousand board-feet in all. The only balsa that was left at General Veneer after I finished was either ruined with rot, too heavy or screwed up in some way.
“I stored all of the wood in my bedroom, leaving one little trail to my bed. My folks had bought me an old Maul planer for my birthday that must have weighed about fifty pounds. I shaped the boards in my backyard.
“One day, I got a call from another surfboard shaper, Bob ‘Ole’ Olson: ‘You dirty bastard, you cleaned out General Veneer!’ A friend of his, Bruce Brown, had asked Olson to make him a board, but Olson couldn’t find any good balsa. He asked me, ‘How about selling me enough to make a board for a buddy of mine?’
“I agreed, and they came over that day. Olson and I negotiated over the price as Bruce listened in. He never said a word. He was eating a can of tuna, using the bent lid as a spoon. I was watching him out of the corner of my eye. He took a shot at a big bite, missed it and it fell on the floor. He nonchalantly kicked it under my bed. I said, ‘Hey, man, this is my bedroom.’ I mean, the crummy guy just kicked a pile of dead fish under my bed and he wants to negotiate for some of my prime balsa wood?
“Over the years, Bruce and I became great pals. I never missed an opportunity to remind Bruce of the circumstances surrounding our first meeting.”36
Phil Edwards Start-Up
Phil Edwards was born on June 10, 1938, on the ocean side of Long Beach, California.37 Even before the age of nine, he was floating around in the still water of Long Beach lagoons on a paddleboard. In 1947,38 when he was nine, his family moved closer to Oceanside “and that did it,” wrote Edwards.
“There were no more still lagoons... But there was the restless, prowling ocean and the beach. And about the time we moved into our house I moved down to the beach.
“There were three lifeguards who had fine rescue boards -- big, 14-foot things with two-inch skegs (fins) under them. There weren’t all that many people who needed rescuing, and the guards had taken to paddling around on their boards, then swinging around and riding waves back in.
“They didn’t encourage me. But the sight of them set me on fire, as the sight of surfers did at Long Beach, and I went home and came back, dragging my paddleboard in a staggering, waving tail through the sand, my pride and joy, and I wrestled it into the water.
“In the next few minutes a surfer was made, not born. I didn’t know anything about surfing, but I could paddle that old board to beat hell. I went churning out into the surf, bouncing over the waves, until I could turn around and catch one. With the guards watching me (I suspect ready to come rescue me), I got the thing turned around and sat there until a fat, rolling wave tilted the back end of it up into the air. Then I jumped up and stood on it, scared to death and singing inside -- and rode the board all the way in to the beach. I was plugged in... Do not misunderstand. I was not yet a surfer. I fought, and swam, I paddled, fell down, drowned a little, tipped over, got thrown off, drowned a little more, paddled and worked for another two years before I ever caught another wave.”39
Phil Edwards‘ paddleboard surfing occurred at a time when he was battling rheumatic fever.40
“Finally, the old paddleboard had to go,” wrote Edwards. “I set it aside in the family garage, and got a new, 14-foot board with a small skeg on it... It was a monster; to get it to the beach, I would start from my house early and roll it end over end across the sand... Whenever there was a new lifeguard on duty, he would say, ‘Hey, look at that little old kid trying to get his board into the water. I’ll go over and give him a hand.’ He could have picked the board up under one arm and walked into the water with it. But the other guards would say, ‘No, you don’t. That’s Edwards -- I know that kid -- and if he wants to surf badly enough, he’ll get his own damn board into the water or he won’t surf.’
“I wanted to badly enough. And what’s more, I was starting to catch waves.”41
Phil Edwards recalled when he first saw a balsa/redwood board. “Two of the lifeguards turned up one day with new, balsa-wood boards, laminated with redwood. We spent a lot of time just standing around looking at them. They were works of art. A surfboard is free-form sculpture, anyway, as you know. Its very form flows fluidly. These boards were 12-footers and each weighed about 85 pounds. Heavy, but about 25 pounds lighter than the others.
“Those boards became all. I was allowed to try them out... Finally, after I could stand it no longer -- and I could get the money -- I bought one of my own. It cost me $15; it was 11 feet long, it was my first solid board... the boards had no rocker effect. They were straight... no lift on the nose.”42
By 1951, Edwards was 13 years old and already shaping his own boards. “Give a small surfer a solid board that is too big for him, hand him a saw and a drawknife, and -- zap! -- you’ve got another surfboard designer,” Edwards later wrote, adding, “The idea is to come up with the correct shape and still keep all your fingers and toes.”43
The first thing Edwards had attempted with an 11-foot redwood and balsa wood board he bought was to try it out. He didn’t like it’s tendency to pearl. So, “Second thing I did with my 11-foot board was to saw it down to 9 feet,” recalled Edwards. “I put a point of sorts on the tip of it. Then I sat down on the Oceanside beach, put it across my lap -- and we spent the winter that way, the board and I.
“Each day, before and after school, I struggled over that board, pulling a drawknife toward me, shaving it down, while everybody groaned and looked the other way. A drawknife is a dandy tool for disemboweling yourself -- sort of instant hara-kiri -- but we both survived.
“Several months and 35 pounds of shavings later, I had it: a whole new shape, finely tapered toward the nose and tail, a mean-looking board I could ride. The thing just lay there and glistened: It carried nine coats of 87 Spar Varnish and a shape called Early Edwards. It was still too heavy -- I could lean it against the lifeguard tower and know that the wind wouldn’t blow it over -- but it was ready.
“Not that the Model A Edwards No. 1 was perfect. In fact, the thing still dived to the bottom, taking me with it, and it still shot into the air in a fine, knifelike deadliness. And, worse, it introduced a new problem.
“Working in early-balsa meant that nose blocks on the boards were deeply doweled and glued into place. Which was fine, if you intended to use the board for a coffee table or something noncombative like that. It was decidedly not fine for surfing.
“The boards would pearl to the bottom, slam into the sand, and come up without noses. In those early years in California on a clear day you could hear surfboard noses snapping off all up and down the coast. Which meant that every day of surfing was followed by a long afternoon and evening of redoweling and regluing nose pieces -- so that we could surf the next day. So that we could reglue the next night, so we could surf the next day, you know?
“Still, balsa had its advantages,” admitted Edwards. “The wood is nicely soft, and after weeks of paddling the board, the deck conformed into fine, molded kneeholes which made it comfortable.
“The Crisis-Every-Day life -- I hated it at the time -- taught me a number of things. Most importantly, it taught me how to use tools, and, in its own way, it taught me how to surf.
“I have a theory about this... It is, simply stated: If you start from scratch, cut down a tree, design, carve, shape and build a surfboard; by the time you are done with it, you will know how to ride it.”44
The young gremmie got known for his efforts on his own board. As Edwards tells it, “word began to get around. Edwards is hooked on surfboards. If your board is too big -- take it over to Edwards’ garage. He’ll fix it. Fix it: I probably screwed up more surfboards in those early days than anybody else. Our garage became a graveyard of old surfboard noses, kids kept coming around and I kept working over their boards; they were happy and I was learning more about the game. And I kept going back to my own, hacked-off board and looking at the thing. It wasn’t right, somehow.
“So I made a balsa-wood sandwich out of it. That is: I glued more wood on top of the nose and reshaped the whole thing. It began to have lift.
“Meanwhile, back in the surf, we had spread out as far afield as San Onofre and Huntington Cliffs.”45
A momentous day came when Phil Edwards discovered the curl of a wave. “One day -- by accident -- I got caught in a curl,” Edwards wrote. “There should be a certain amount of tympani and crashing background music here because, in a way, this is what surfing is all about... I was scared to death. Here, the whole object of surfing was to stand nicely erect and make it all the way into the beach. And here I was, crouched in some crazy, unconventional posture on this rebuilt board, flying along while the wave broke across my back and shoulders, in a sort of delicate, hanging balance between two worlds.
“Understand, we knew nothing of trimming boards. That is, you stood on the board where you got up, or occasionally moved to the fantail to get the nose up. Anything else was nonsense. Still, in the curl, I had automatically trimmed the board into the wave until it was zinging along on the rail -- and dropped into a crouch, not in any premonition of style but to keep on top of the thing as long as I could.
“Surfing history had just come full circle. That is, the Hawaiians had discovered and done this sort of thing more than a thousand years ago; they had done it better and in bigger surf. But none of the Hawaiians had left written instructions on how all this was to be done. We had just rediscovered it ourselves.”46
The event changed Edwards’ life and was soon to elevate him in surfing circles as a young surf stylist to watch. “A couple of minutes in the curl changed my life,” agreed Edwards. “I spent the next few days trying to beat the break.”47
Edwards knew his Model A board was too limited. So, he painted the family kitchen and clunked-down $30, buying a Joe Quigg balsa board from Bev Morgan. This board was built by Quigg in 1950. It was an ultra-light 8-foot long board that had first gone to Greg Noll, who was still a paper boy at that time. Noll had put a drawing of the then-popular cartoon character Sylvester the Cat on the nose of the board. Noll later traded this board to Bev Morgan.48 With this same board, Edwards received “one quick” surf “lesson that was to make everything fall into place.
“‘Your stance,’ growled Morgan, ‘is all wrong. Now. Let me see you stand here the way you do when you’re surfing.’ So I did,” retold Edwards, “striking my very best surfing pose. Morgan put the flat of his hand against my chest and pushed me over. ‘Now, then,’ he said, ‘get up and stand like you’re about to box me. Take a fighting stance.’
“I did... and Morgan pushed me again. I didn’t fall down. ‘See?’ he said. ‘It’s as easy as that.’
“The Quigg board was all balsa covered with fiberglass and had a skeg. It was called a chip. That’s too technical. Actually, it was called a Catboard. It had a picture of Sylvester the Cat on it.
“The Catboard and I covered California. My seventh-grade teacher, Jim Trueax, was an after-hours surfer, and he began taking us on trips up and down the coast. We ranged as far as 100 miles -- north to Malibu...”49
Phil Edwards‘ autobiography is a treasure in the store of surf lore. The only off-beat perception, I think, is that he rather egotistically and erroneously gives himself credit as “the guy who invented angling off a wave.” While it is true that he popularized the maneuver when many surfers were still riding straight into the beach, Edwards was far from the first -- by at least a century and probably more.50 Proving that it was not a standard move, even in the early 1950s, Edwards observed that “for a long time, until they tried it themselves, the old surfers would look at this in scorn and say, ‘Edwards, you’re supposed to ride the wave straight in. What are you, a chicken?’”51
Occasionally, he would be noticed even at age 13-going-on-14. “Were they impressed?” Edwards rhetorically asked about older surfers viewing him on his Quigg Sylvester the Catboard. “They were impressed with the fact that I was completely nuts,” Edwards added. Yet, Edwards wanted to be good and recognized as such. He noticed, “more and more, other kids and a few grownups would stand around and watch. And, naturally, they would point out that one surfer was better than another. I was puzzled by the whole thing. But it was the ruin of me. I wanted to be the guy pointed out as the best. The seed of ego had been planted. I wasn’t the best. Not by anybody’s standards.
“But I sure as hell wanted to be.”52
Phil Edwards not only branched-out in his surfing, but he started going further afield on wider range surf safaris, “chasing surf all over the Californian coast,” as Nat Young put it, “from Rincon in the north, where he had to wear a woolen neck-to-knee to keep out the cold during winter, to Malibu and his home breaks of Oceanside and San Onofre during summer.”53
Edwards would, later in the decade, be the one most responsible for helping to usher in “the more functional style of surfboard riding,” continued Young, “with smoother, more graceful movements.”54
Mickey Dora Beginnings
Gard Chapin was stepfather to Mickey Dora, who began surfing at the beginning of the 1950s. One of Dora’s first boards was Joe Quigg‘s fifth pintail design. How he got it was that, at Malibu, Gard Chapin told Quigg, “I must have this board,” explaining he wanted it for his stepson who was then riding a “too heavy board that I built,” admitted Chapin. Gard Chapin and Quigg cut a deal right then and there. In later years, Dora described the board as “the best board ever.” This board was also ridden by Jim Fisher when he went to the islands to ride Makaha.55
Although Gard Chapin was a noted surfer in his own right, Mickey Dora would go on to gain far greater notoriety. To this day, Dora and Dora stories are legendary and his defenders and detractors still debate his impact on the culture and sport of surfing. Yet, before Dora would become one of the most imitated stylists of the 1950s and ‘60s, he started out like all the rest of us: just a kid.
Jim “Burrhead” Drever recalled one day at the beginning of the 1950s, at Tijuana Sloughs, when Dora was still very much a kid: “There was a day out there when Mickey Dora lost his board. We used to figure Mickey Dora was kind of a crybaby. This was when he was kind of little. He wanted everyone to do everything for him. He was crying all the time. If he came in and was cold he wanted whatever you had. He wanted you to take care of him. We were all used to having this lousy swim and he wouldn’t swim in. He finally cried so much that one of our old friends took him in.”56
Later on in the decade, Dora would come to dominate Malibu. “Mickey Dora always believed he had the sole right to every Malibu wave,” Peter Cole concluded.57
Buzzy Trent via Ricky Grigg
Buzzy Trent left the Mainland for Hawai`i in 1951-52.58 Right up to the time he left, he was influencing many a Southern California surfer. One such surfer was then-gremmie Ricky Grigg, who recalled that he, “got into surfing,” at the beginning of the 1950s, “because I was there and it was happening around me. My sister liked Tommy Zahn. He lifeguarded at Malibu and got her interested in surfing. She became the hottest gal on the whole coast.
“Buzzy Trent was my hero. I used to sit at his lifeguard station and listen to him tell stories. He took me surfing when I was nine years old. My sister was out there with us. It was like the beginning of a whole subculture. Hearing about the other surfers in these little pockets up and down the coast, we almost became mythological to each other. Then we started traveling and meeting at different spots and it was great. We built on each other’s experience.
“When I was eleven I got hurt pretty badly while surfing at State Beach. On a wipeout, my board whipped up under my ribs real hard and busted my spleen in half. Buzzy Trent was ten or fifteen yards ahead of me in a sand-buster and he got me to the beach. For three or four minutes, I couldn’t get any air. Buzzy was doing what he could and, finally, I started breathing again. Then Buzzy took me to the hospital in his ‘39 Packard.”59
When Buzzy was in the possession of an old Chevy business coupe with a handmade wooden surfboard rack screwed into its dented and rusting roof, Peter Dixon observed him one summer’s Malibu day in 1952:
“It’s crowded. Seven guys out at first point. The surf is five to six and peeling to the pier.” In the lineup were, “Dave Rochlen, Matt Kivlin, Buzzy Trent, Peter Cole, and Chuck King. They’re all in the lineup and waiting their turn. Back then no one took off in front of someone else.
“Trent, Cole, and Rochlen were my heroes. Buzzy because he was a great football player/surfer who overcame polio to surf again. Cole, one of the fastest swimmers on the West Coast, was a fellow beach lifeguard. Rochlen’s mystique was hard to fathom. He had that gleam in his eye that wouldn’t tolerate bullshit.... Chuck King, another beachguard, was a bit older than the others. That summer Chuck introduced me to my future wife...
“The surf was ‘bitchin’ and I watched Buzzy ride a fast Malibu wave right into the rusted wire fence that separated the Adamson Estate from the public beach. Buzzy walked up the dirt path... He spotted my new board, showed interest. I asked Buzzy if he’d like to surf the balsa. He nodded in the affirmative, yanked the balsa from the back of the Zephyr and ran for the water. Buzzy didn’t waste words.
“Buzzy was fantastic. The board that I had lovingly shaped seemed to come alive under his agile maneuvering. After a twenty minute display of his muscular, wave riding talent, Buzzy paddled in and returned the board. This time he spoke. ‘Worst board I ever surfed. Thanks, kid.’”60
San Onofre had been one of the original breeding grounds for the Southern Californian surf culture and its primary focus prior to World War II. That culture almost perished when the war broke out and the military took over the area. What Doc Ball had referred to as “‘Nofre Days,” in his picture book California Surfriders 1946, fortunately returned following war’s end. A peaceful coexistence was then established between surfers and the Marine Corps.61 Even so, the glory days of San Onofre had been eclipsed by Malibu‘s rise as Southern California’s focal point.
About 1951, however, the Marines became concerned over the number of people using the beach within their jurisdiction. They wanted beach access control with no more than 800 people on the beach at a time. The surfers wanted “access to the beach,” also, acknowledged Bill Vetter, an early member of the San Onofre Surfing Club. The Marines insisted that an organization be formed and held accountable for overseeing the beach and those using it. In response, surfers created the San Onofre Surfing Club, with influential San Onofre surfers Dr. Barney Wilkes, Al Dowden, and Andre “Frenchy” Jahan leading the way.
On April 24, 1952, the San Onofre Surfing Club held its first meeting at Old Man’s. “Barney Wilkes came down to the beach,” recalled Bill Vetter, “and was communicating with the Marine Corps, because they couldn’t keep us out. He started the roster. I signed up less than 10th.”
The bylaws for the San Onofre Surfing Club ensured beach access, maintenance and rules of conduct. “Once the club was established,” said Vetter, “we had a lease with the Marine Corps for a dollar a year -- a token thing.”62
Between 1952 and 1973, when the State of California took over management of the San Onofre beach area, the San Onofre Surfing Club solidified its activist role and kept on communicating with the Marines as the interface shifted more to the State.
The lifestyle at San Onofre developed early on as one that combined surfing with raising families. “It’s kind of been a family beach,” explained 2nd-generation San Onofre surfer Chris Ephram in 1993. “There are literally four generations surfing down there now.”
“... this beach is still a family beach,” concurred Bill Vetter. “You come down here today and 99% of the people are just families -- it’s still basically like it always was.”
“There are damn few days you can’t feel good about walking around and talking to eveyone,” confirmed Jim Gloon, another long-time San O’ local.63
Growing up at San Onofre “was all so innocent and pure,” explains Don Craig. “It was a kid’s nirvana... I feel real lucky to have grown up in that lifestyle.”64
Doug Craig, Don’s father, who surfs San Onofre every day, agrees. “It’s a very social thing. Total family.”
“Moms and Dads would let you off,” recalled Willie Wilson, “and you would go up and down the beach and different parents would offer you lunch. It was a neat deal.”
The glue that has bonded San Onofre surfing culture has been the “common bond of a love for the beach and surfing and the camaraderie of it all,” declared Don Craig. “Guys like Pete Peterson and Mike Doyle, the numbers are too many to enumerate. There’s just people from all walks of life... it’s just a melting pot... There are no classes or differences. There are guys that are millionaires and there are guys that have nothing and they surf together for the love of surfing.”65
Pete Peterson at Malibu
In the summer of 1952, there was a notable case of Malibu locals keeping their territory staked out.. Malibu surfer Vicky Flaxman and another girl were implicated in a case involving the owner of a 1938 Harley Rigid Frame who was trying to learn to surf but just got in everybody’s way. “Things began to happen,” wrote Stecyk,” sand in the gas tank, the occasional flat tire, the intermittent flying rock...” Flaxman was fined fifty bucks, but the Harley owner was driven out and off of Surfrider Beach. The law of karma seemed to strike a little later, as word came back to those on the beach that the Harley’s owner’s wife left him and that, after he had recruited an all-girl crew to sail to Tahiti, he was lost at sea along with the rest of the crew.66
Even though now rightfully categorized as an oldtimer, Preston “Pete” Peterson was still very much in evidence on local waves. As an example, on October 9, 1952, “Pete Peterson pulls from an improbably late takeoff,” wrote Craig Stecyk, “up in to an express train sized slot. Velzy, Dora and other regulars in the water wonder how Pete will get himself out of this spot. The fact that Peterson uses no wax, and virtually never moves his feet, seems to rule out all possiblities of escape from this hurtling low tide monster. Just as disaster seems imminent, Pete kicks his board up the wave’s face, and dives forward to begin body planing down the long, tubular line. Next, Peterson swims back out into the lineup and dives under water just as the biggest wave of the set closes out over him. Dale Velzy becomes concerned when he notices that Pete has never re-surfaced. Desperately searching the surrounding waters, Hawk fears the worst. When he sight scans the inside cove down by the pier he is startled to witness Peterson popping out the back of the same set wave, which a couple of minutes before had hammered through outside the point. It is at this precise moment that Velzy realizes that Pete had body surfed the entire distance under water on a single breath.”67
Makaha International Surfing Championships
In California and Hawai`i, surf contests gradually got going again, following the disruption caused by World War II. One group active in fostering competition was the Waikiki Surf Club. In its organizing of the Makaha International Surfing Championships, the competitive focus broadened out to a who range of water sports and an accent on big waves for the surfing part of it. Makaha, on the west side of O`ahu, was the site they chose to achieve these aims.
As a result, John Clark documented in the Makaha International program guide for the 1972 competition, “the Waikiki Surf Club has helped to make Makaha Beach one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. Every year since 1952 hard work and tremendous effort on the part of its club members” created the foremost international surfing contest of the period. “The fact that the contest has been kept alive and still runs smoothly year after year,” Clark continued, “speaks very highly not only for the Waikiki Surf Club, but even more so for the surf at Makaha, for the waves are naturally the heart of any surfing contest. When there is a big west or north swell running, the surf here provides some of the most spectacular, exciting, and dangerous surfing found anywhere in the world. Waves generated by storms in the Pacific many miles from Hawaii find their way to Kepuhi Point, the outermost point of the bay, and jump up to heights of twenty to twenty-five feet. It is this tremendous ‘point surf‘ that wraps across the outside reef which has made Makaha famous. As a contest spot Makaha is ideal, not only because of the excellent big waves that come through, but because there is a variety of possible ‘line-ups‘ or ‘take-offs’ in the water between the beach and the point surf. Even on a huge day it is possible for all age groups and divisions to find a suitable spot without having to contend directly with the biggest and outermost waves. This is especially important for the women’s, the junior, and the tandem events.”68
“In ancient times,” continued John Clark in Makaha, Past and Present, “Makaha was a well-known area, but not for its surfing waves. ‘Makaha’ translated from the Hawaiian language means ‘to plunder’ or can also mean a ‘robber.’ It was from a notorious community of bandits that Makaha received its name. The robbers lived far back in the valley, but they plied their trade just to the rear of the present surfing beach. Near the base of the cliff is an out-cropping of rock that was known as Papale o’Kane, or ‘the hall of Kane,’ and it was here that the lookouts kept watch for travellers on the trail beneath them. If a large group was spotted, the lookout would cry, ‘kai nui‘ (high tide) to his companions hidden below, and this would warn them that the party of travelers were too large or too strong fro them to contend with. However, when the lookout cried, ‘malolo kai’ (low tide), the band would attack, having been alerted that the group was a weak or small one. From these robbers, then, the area came to be known as Makaha.” 69
“Although the entire valley from the mountains to the ocean was called Makaha,” Clark wrote, “there was no single beach known by this name. All of the shoreline area was referred to as Makaha-Kai, or Makaha-on-the-ocean, and each little beach, point, reef, and rock had its own individual name. The beach area that is known today as Makaha Beach Park was formerly called ‘Kahaloko‘ and took its name from the large fishpond that was once in the swampy area on the mauka side of the road. Waiele Stream that now lays stagnant, murky, and often nearly waterless was then clean and flowed freely from the mountains into the ocean where the meeting of fresh and salt water was vital to the life of the pond. With the coming of progress, however, the pond was dammed and separated from the ocean and fell into disuse, and the waters of Waiele Stream were channeled elsewhere back into the valley. With the gradual disappearance of the pond and the stream the name Kahaloko also fell into disuse except among the old residents or the area so that as time passed the beach was simply called Makaha.” 70
The first Makaha International Surfing Championships were held in the Winter of 1954, during a period that, in ancient times, would have been part of the Makahiki festivities.71 However, the contest had been attempted two years prior, beginning in 1952. 72
“The first Makaha contest was held in 1952,” John Clark documented, “but flat water conditions prevailed in this year and in the following year. The first actual surfing meet was not completely run off until 1954.” 73
Twenty years later, the 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club boasted an impressive history of surfing greats. According to the program guide for the 20th contest, the list of winners read as follows (name spelling corrected and nicknames added where known):
1953 – no surfing contest held. “Only flat water events were held due to poor surf conditions.”
George Downing, Senior Men
Alan Gomes, Junior Men74
-- Senior Women not scheduled
Walt Hoffman and Joan Jones, Tandem75
Rabbit Kekai, Senior Men
Alan Gomes, Junior Men76
Ethel Kukea, Senior Women77
Ed “Blackout” Whaley and Nancy Boyd, Tandem
Conrad Cunha, Senior Men78
J. Raydon, Junior Men
Ethel Kukea, Senior Women
Robert Krewson and Kehau Kea, Tandem
Jama Kekai, Senior Men79
Timmy Guard, Junior Men
Vicky Heldrich, Senior Women
-- Tandem not held
Peter Cole, Senior Men
Joseph Napoleon, Junior Men
Marge Calhoun, Senior Women
Rabbit Kekai and Heidi Stevens, Tandem80
Wallace “Wally” Froiseth, Senior Men
Paul Strauch, Jr., Junior Men
Linda Benson, Senior Women
Ed “Blackout” Whaley and Diana Moore, Tandem
Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana, Senior Men81
Eric Romanchak, Junior Men
Wendy Cameron, Senior Women
Mud Werner and Robin Grigg, Tandem82
George Downing, Senior Men
Fred Hemmings, Jr., Junior Men
Anona Naone, Senior Women
Rabbit Kekai and Lucinda Smith, Tandem
Bernard “Midget” Farrelly, Senior Men83
Peter Kahapea, Junior Men
Nancy Nelson, Senior Women
Joseph Napoleon and Sue Ellen Ketner, Tandem
Joey Cabell, Senior Men
Fred Hemmings, Jr., Junior Men
Nancy Nelson, Senior Women
Mike Doyle and Linda Merrill, Tandem
Fred Hemmings, Jr., Senior Men
Joey Gerard, Junior Men
Joyce Hoffman, Senior Women
Mike Doyle and Margie Stevens, Tandem
George Downing, Senior Men
David Nuuhiwa, Junior Men
Nancy Nelson, Senior Women
Mike Doyle and Danielle Corn, Tandem
Fred Hemmings, Jr., Senior Men
Reno Abellira, Junior Men
Joyce Hoffman, Senior Women
Pete Peterson and Barrie Algaw
Joey Cabell, Senior Men
Reno Abellira, Junior Men
Martha Sunn, Senior Women84
Bob Moore and Patti Young
Joey Cabell, Senior Men
Keone Downing, Junior Men85
Marge Godfrey, Women
Leroy Ah Choy and Blanch Benson, Tandem
Paul Strauch, Senior Men
Keone Downing, Junior Men
Martha Sunn, Women
Bob Moore and Blanch Benson, Tandem
Peter Drouyn, Senior Men
Craig Wilson, Junior Men
Martha Sunn, Women
Steve Boehne and Barrie Algaw, Tandem86
Paul Akiu, Senior Men, 1st place
Larry Bertleman, Junior Men, 1st place
Becky Benson, Women, 1st place
Leroy Ah Choy and Becky Benson, Tandem, 1st place
Mark Sedlack, Professional, 1st place
Henry Declue, Senior Men, 2nd place
Michael Ho, Junior Men, 2nd place
Martha Sunn, Women, 2nd place
John Ohye, Tandem, 2nd place
Mike Purpose, Professional, 2nd place
Dennis Pang, Senior Men, 3rd place
Mike Smith, Junior Men, 3rd place
Annella Sunn Gardner, Women, 3rd place
Roy Uyehara & Karen Bell, Tandem, 3rd place
Rodney Sumpter, Professional, 3rd place87
“The first senior men’s winner was George Downing,” John Clark wrote in 1972, “who went on in the ensuing years to become a three-time winner, a distinction now shared by only one other person, Joey Cabell. George Downing is to this day still one of the surfing masters of Makaha and is nearly a legend in his own time. The junior men’s division in this first contest was won by a young man named Alan Gomes. During the mid-fifties the surfing world was just beginning to utilize lightweight materials for surfboards and this transition gave rise to a much greater degree of maneuverability on a wave. Alan Gomes was one of the forerunners of the then revolutionary style of surfing which eventually evolved into today’s highly sophisticated wave riding.” 88
In the “real” world, 1953 saw the ending of the Korean War. It also saw the publishing of Ian Fleming‘s first James Bond book, Leon Uris‘ Battle Cry, and B.F. Skinner‘s Science and Human Behavior.89 For surfers, the year began auspiciously.
The winter surfing season of 1952-53 was “A great winter for surfing,” testified John Severson -- with a high point of January 10, 1953. Severson would, years later, become one of the first surf film makers and, more significantly, the founder of Surfer magazine, surfing’s first magazine. “That Saturday was the capper -- twenty feet at Rincon.”90
Greg & Beverly Noll
Greg Noll continued to be a rising star of the period. His girlfriend and future wife gave her perspective of the time:
“I was a goody two-shoes in high school,” recalled Beverly Noll. “I didn’t stay out after ten. I was a good little girl. A cheerleader involved in all sorts of school activities. Greg was involved in absolutely nothing but surfing.
“Greg was pretty much a man of the world at age fifteen. He and Bing Copeland used to come to football games. Here I am, cheering for the home team, and I’d see Greg and Bing, arriving late in the game. They’d situp in the bleachers. Greg always wore this awful Salvation Army trenchcoat. He liked it because he could stow a gallon of wine under it. Here he is to take me home and I am mortified, but I would go....
“Greg always has done just as he pleases. I don’t think it was a matter of his parents giving up on him... As a young man, Greg lived and breathed surfing. There was nothing else as important to him. He made it very clear to me that if I could fit into that scheme and go along with him, that was fine. If not, I would be history. I never even considered not doing what Greg wanted to do. I was in awe of him and would have followed him off the edge of the world.
“We went together through high school. When Greg went away to school in the Islands, I’d date a little, but it was more like pals dating pals. All of my friends and Greg’s friends grew up together. We were together on the beach all the time. I always hung out around the guys -- Sonny, Bones, Steve Voorhees. We were the 17th Street Group, and Greg was from the Manhattan Beach Pier Group. The guys stole each other’s waves, we had water-balloon and rotten-egg fights, all the things kids do. When Greg and I got together, it was a natural thing for us to still do everything with all these guys. I was often the only woman along.”91
Tommy Zahn, Paddling Champ
Very much a part of the surfing culture was proving oneself not only a capable paddler, but a strong one. Paddling races had been part of surfing competitions ever since the Revival Period.92 Between 1948 and 1952, Tommy Zahn was not only the standout surfer in California, but one of the era’s strongest paddlers. In October 1953,93 he joined a limited fraternity of paddlers and notable watermen like Gene “Tarzan” Smith of the late 1930s,94 to win the 36-mile O`ahu to Moloka`i paddleboard race in 9 hours and 20 minutes. Zahn then returned to Southern California to win the 32-mile Catalina paddleboard race.95
Later to become one of the great surfboard manufacturers, Hobie Alter remembers his first-ever trip to the Islands at the time of the 1953 Diamond Head Paddleboard Race.96 He was picked-up at the airport by Gordon “Grubby” Clark, taken straight to Makaha for a quick surf session, and then driven to Waikiki to watch the finish of the 5-mile Diamond Head Race.97
“It was an eye opener to see the crowd gathered there to watch a paddle race,” recalled Hobie. “It was a pretty big deal.”98
Tommy Zahn won this race on a revolutionary Joe Quigg racing board. The fact that Zahn was making marks for himself as a paddler got other surfers who knew him to thinking. Hobie explained that while Zahn was a great waterman, he didn’t really have the physique of a paddler, being stocky and muscular rather than long and lanky. Hobie believes Zahn’s wins around this time got other surfers thinking that they could probably do well, themselves. A flurry of paddling activity resulted in improved racing boards and some serious training for the next couple of years.99
Makaha & Coast Haoles
“After camping on the beach the first winter,” Walter Hoffman said of the Hawaiian country winter of 1950-51, “for the second winter a bunch of us rented this shack a few blocks from Makaha and spent the entire season there.”100
“As I recall,” continued Hoffman, “George [Downing] had seen a new Matt Kivlin board I had brought to Hawai`i that he really liked. He showed it to Woody Brown -- the lightweight shape and so on. Woody tried it and then made a board like it, but improved on it. Then George made an even better version. They were the first real guns made for Makaha, the first real big wave boards with the speed to make point waves through the bowl.”101
“I called the board my ‘banana gun,’” remembered George Downing. “I went so fast on it, Uncle Woody used to tell me I should put wings on it, ‘Hey, why not? Let’s fly,’ he would say.”102
By Walter Hoffman‘s 3rd winter at Makaha, he was joined by Chuck McCullen, George Elkins, Charlie Reimers, Chuck Parker, Flippy Hoffman, Junior Knox, Ted Crane, and Buzzy Trent.103 The California surfers were increasingly hitting the North Shore. “Typical crew on a trip to the North Shore, circa 1952,” as documented in the Hoffman photo collection, shows Glen Fisher, Billy Meng, Walter Hoffman, Herbie Nolan, Al and Pat Piece, and a friend of Fisher’s at Laniakea.104
“The famous Woody Brown/Dickie Cross tragedy which occurred some years earlier,” admitted Hoffman, “had everyone spooked on the North Shore. Slowly but surely we started going out there again when it was big to ride Sunset in the early 50s. We surfed Sunset for two years then began to spread out to the other spots. I remember that George told us about Laniakea, that on the right swell angle it was the finest wave.”105
“The year after this,” documented Walter Hoffman, “Greg Noll and the Hermosa guys came over.”106
Burly Walter Hoffman spearheaded the post war migration of U.S. Mainland surfers seeking big surf and went on to become a “beachwear industrialist”; for lack of a better term. Longtime president of Hoffman California Fabrics, surf fashion's biggest textile supplier, he was the younger brother to surfer Philip "Flippy" Hoffman and became stepfather to two-time world champion Joyce Hoffman, and grandfather to Christian and Nathan Fletcher.107
Hoffman was born (1931) in Glendale, California, raised in Hollywood and Laguna Beach, and began surfing at age 14. At Malibu, he was soon keeping company with Matt Kivlin, Joe Quigg, Bob Simmons, Buzzy Trent, and a number of other surfers and boardmakers who collectively helped shape the sport in the years following World War II.108
On the first day of his first visit to Hawaii in 1948, Hoffman and Hawaiian surfer George Downing rode beautiful 10-foot waves off Diamond Head, igniting in Hoffman a lifelong interest in big, powerful tropical surf. In 1951, after he enlisted in the navy and was stationed at the Pearl Harbor, Hoffman began surfing regularly at Makaha, the versatile break on the west side of Oahu, where the waves sometimes hit 20 feet or bigger. Hoffman mailed rolls of 8-millimeter film back to California, causing a stir among his surf mates back home, including his brother Flippy and Buzzy Trent. "The lights went out," Trent later said, recalling the first time he saw Makaha on film, "and here came the immortal Walter Hoffman driving through a gigantic 15-foot wave."109
Trent and Flippy joined Walter in Hawaii, and they were soon camping on the beach at Makaha, before moving into nearby wooden shacks and army-built Quonset huts. By 1953, Hoffman, Trent, Downing, along with Wally Froiseth, Woody Brown, and a few others, were riding their newly streamlined big-wave boards in waves up to 18 feet.110
Explorations were also made along the North Shore of Oahu, where Hoffman often led the charge at Sunset Beach. By mid-decade the North Shore had replaced Makaha as the new big-wave epicenter. In 1959, Hoffman took over Hoffman California Fabrics, the wholesale textile business his father had launched in 1924. The surfwear industry was in large part built out of Hoffman fabrics; under Walter's stewardship the company would be the primary textile provider to Quiksilver, Billabong, and Gotcha, among other popular surfwear brands.111
Walter Hoffman and partner Joanie Jones won the tandem division of the 1954 Makaha International, and he judged the 1967 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational. Hoffman's stepdaughter, Joyce, was the women's world surfing champion in 1965 and 1966. His second daughter, Dibi, married longboard ace Herbie Fletcher, and is the mother of Christian and Nathan Fletcher. Walter Hoffman was given the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association Waterman Achievement Award in 1995. Walter and Flippy together were inducted to the Surfing Walk of Fame at Huntington Beach in 2006.112
Walter’s slightly older brother Phillip “Flippy” (1930-2010) heeded his brother’s call to The Islands and, along with his friend Bob Simmons, took up residence on the North Shore. In 1975, Hoffman and three others paddled into giant surf at Kaena Point, pushing the big wave envelope to its furthest point at the time.113
Flippy Hoffman is often credited as being the first surfer to travel the coastline of Baja California and Mainland Mexico in search of surf. An early adopter of SCUBA, he was an inveterate diver, working commercially off San Clemente Island harvesting abalone. Anecdotal stories abound regarding the number of times Hoffman suffered from the “bends.” In one oft-told yarn, the U.S. Navy sent a security squad to his home, whisking him away to a federal research facility. The government was curious as to how he had managed to survive so many run-ins with decompression sickness, as none of their SEAL divers showed such durability. Along with his brother Walter, Flippy owned and operated Hoffman California Fabrics, a custom textile house supplying California surfwear brands.114
Another of the Californians to tap into the North Shore of the early 1950s was already-legendary Bob Simmons, beginning in October 1953. Before he came over, Simmons shaped a board with Dempsey Holder at Imperial Beach. The event is recalled in Chris Ahrens‘ Good Things Love Water:
“September 1953 -- Bob Simmons and Dempsey Holder are sanding out the latest bumps on the latest craft. Simmons has mixed emotions. He knows that this board is a full 40 pounds lighter than any predecessors. He also knows that this could lead to something as yet unseen in California: the appearance of crowds. For now he’s stoked. The board has a flexible, resilient quality about it. He pictures it performing well on steep, deep-water waves like the Tijuana Sloughs, Windansea and North Bird. He and Dempsey load it up and head to the beach. Simmons paddles it out to the second peak, the Los Coronados crystal clear behind him. He lifts his gimp arm and waves to his buddy outside. It’s eight feet and clean.”116
Next month, Simmons was on the North Shore. How he got there was that Walter Hoffman and company, “a group of Simmons’ friends,” wrote John Elwell, “surfed big Makaha. Walt Hoffman sent a message for Simmons” to “‘Get over here right away.’” Simmons thereupon “packed up, with his bicycle and board and headed for the North Shore. He wintered there, surfing alone and with Flippy Hoffman. He came back with a wider view of the problems of big waves. He remarked that he surfed Banzai Beach [Pipeline]. ‘That place has real possibilities!’ He had also called a bunch of surfers at Makaha, ‘shoulder hugging chickens!’” To add insult to injury, in true Simmons style, he also disgustedly complained, “‘They’re surfing paddleboards over there!’ Such was Simmons, concluded Elwell.”117
Leslie Williams, who came over with Simmons, listed the major aspects of the trip. “We got off a cargo boat with boards and single speed bike, middle of October, ‘53. Bob started circumnavigation of O`ahu by bike the next day.
“We stayed at Buzzy Trent‘s hut at Makaha, south of Dok’s, early November.
“After Buzzy and I returned from town early November ‘53 (and left Simmons at Makaha for six hours), Bob literally railed at us about the fact that Makaha had been 20’ while we were gone (when we got back it was still 8-12’ as it had been in the morning when we left for town). He said check with Dok‘s wife about what she saw -- she always was the recipient of many calls from town regarding Makaha surf status. Bob was really upset that we didn’t believe him -- maybe an unintentional turnabout was fair play? He used to confront us with this ‘Simmons Constant,’ which was, ‘Surf size (to him) = reported size ÷ 2 + 2.’ His infamous divide by two and add two.’
“In mid-November on a Sunday, George Downing suggested we haoles join him and go to the North Shore for bigger surf (at this time Makaha was 6-8’). In that era the only two people riding the North Shore was George and Henry Preece. We put our boards in George’s wagon. He took Buzzy, and Bob and I joined Woody Brown in his Henry J. Because George and Woody had military passes we were able to take the Kolekole Pass to Schofield Barracks and the road to the North Shore. As we dropped down towards the North Shore (fringed with white water!), Woody started his story about his ‘experience’ in 1943. Woody continued his story until the cars arrived at Sunset Beach. Of course, at the time there was no one out and no cars parked there when we arrived.”118
“To us, Sunset looked like a perfect Ventura Overhead at 12’ with medium offshores. Since Bob, Buzzy and I were experienced with ‘Big Overhead’ we paddled out to join George. Woody stayed on the beach consistent with the results of his 1943 ‘experience’ story. Direction of the swell was perfect and the peak did not shift sidewise as it came in. Simmons was using his big ‘slot board‘ with rope deck handles. Early in the go-out Bob and I took off on a challenging peak with Bob on my inside. for only the second time in my life I saw Bob pull back on a wave! Could this have been a reaction to Woody’s earlier story to us?” Williams asked. “The only previous time I had seen Bob pull back on a wave without taking the drop was at 12-15’ North Bird Rock in January ‘51 (with Buzzy and I).119
“Simmons was a gutsy rider but I suspect he had problems with his wide-tailed boards (up to 17” in the Hawaiian chop and ‘pitch-up’ waves). He never complained but had a hard time dropping with that wide tail. After all, his wide tailed boards were a compensation for his inability to paddle normally with his ‘fixed elbow’ left arm. In that era most bigger waves were ridden in a ‘controlled drop’ manner and only myself, and later Phil Edwards, tried to throw a maneuver on the face of the wave.”120
With Simmons were his maps he had meticulously studied prior to coming over from the Mainland.
“He had researched from ship captains’ log books all the interesting reefs in Hawaii,” wrote Fred Van Dyke who would, a couple of years later, come out from Santa Cruz, California to make Hawai`i his home and big wave riding his specialty. “Using this information, he arrived in Honolulu and went out to Sunset Beach. It was exactly as he had surmised from the charts.
“There were primarily three major reefs: an inner wall lineup, a middle, and outside peak break. Simmons had figured that Sunset would have a closeout condition at between 15 and 20 feet. He also had noticed on his charts some deep holes and fissures in the reef which would support deep water (providing safety) if paddled to in the closeout sets.
“Try to imagine that Simmons figured all of this out from library research without ever having seen the island reefs!
“Soon after I arrived in the islands and surfed Sunset Beach, my life was saved on a closeout 30-foot day because I found one of those deep holes Simmons had described and I sat out, in safety, huge waves breaking everywhere -- except in that hole.”121
The 1st Commercial Surf Film
In 1953, Bud Browne‘s first commercial surf movie came out. It played at one or two high schools on the U.S. Mainland. Woody Brown had praise for surfing’s first commercial film maker, who had been shooting at Waikiki and Makaha since the ‘40s. “Oh, boy, I used to admire Bud Browne. He’d sit right in the boneyard [of Makaha], where these 20 foot waves are gonna crack right down on him, so he could get close and see us going across in front of him, eh! But, that was swell! We’d make it, but he’d get the axe. He’d be swimming right there with a camera and he’d be right there where the wave pounded him; rolled him around every time. Oh! I used to admire him, boy! And, he’s a frail kind of a guy, you know. You see him and he’s not a big bruiser.”122
Bud’s influence was to spread far and wide. Surf movie showings gradually became virtual gatherings of the tribe. “In 1953,” Mike Stange recalled an example, “at one of Bud Browne’s surfing movies in the Santa Monica Auditorium, Greg [Noll] came up and asked me if I was going to the Islands that next winter. I was surprised that he was so friendly. We, the 42nd Street Surfers, were kind of low-key and low on the totem pole in the surfing world, and considered by most people to be kooks. Greg and I became friends. That same year, we both lied about our age and took the lifeguard test together. We passed, and started working on the beach. That was when I became more known in the surf community.”123
Phil Edwards Again
“The crash of big water makes a barrier every surfer must get over,” wrote Phil Edwards. “It makes its awful sound inside your stomach; you hear it, not with your ears but with everything, it just comes pounding into you.
“Every finished surfer must go through this... It is part of the thing; surfing has its scary moments, stirred in with its moments of giant elation. In a way, that’s what it is all about.
“Surfing, when the water is right, is not all that tough. But it can be full of surprises... At Oceanside... I can remember riding along on days when the surf suddenly came up strong and the sea began to take on big, mean, savage proportions. Instead of riding in -- knowing it meant a wipeout -- I would swing around and paddle out, beyond the crashing surf line, and sit there, waiting for calm. Often, it would never come.
“I would cry. I would sit there, half-frozen with fear, and stare back into shore where the waves were humped up with foam hissing along their tops. And after a while one of the lifeguards would notice me. He would slip on swim fins, plunge into the surf and swim out to get me. This is one of the tough parts of being a kid -- being rescued on your own beach, in your own surf... by 1953 I was over the Oceanside barrier.
“There were others... we licked San Onofre, too. And slowly we got better. It was -- though we didn’t know it -- a buildup for Killer Dana.”124
“During a big swell in the summer of 1953, when everyone in the area was out at Salt Creek, Edwards and a local surfer named Key Hole impressed people on the beach,” wrote Nat Young. “As the swell grew in size, some of the crew, including Edwards, went down to Dana Point. This was Phil Edwards‘ first attack on Killer Dana. Jim ‘Burrhead’ Drever took Edwards out with him and kept an eye on him. As the story goes, they took off on a wave together. Burrhead yelled, “Head for the green!” when Edwards cut back toward the curl. Edwards “just cut back, flipped another turn, ran to the nose, and caught up with the astonished Burrhead,” wrote Nat Young, for whom Phil Edwards was a hero. “The word soon spread and Phil Edwards was the new standard to judge by.”125
“The old-timers,” explained Edwards, “men of considerable kidney riding their monster, heavy, fat boards, were convinced the lightweight balsa boards would never make the big surf.
“‘That stuff,’ they would say, ‘will chew you up and spit you out. It’ll kill you, that’s what it will do.’
“At first I thought maybe they were right about it. The waves come fast into Dana Point,” wrote Edwards of a classic break that exists no more, “piling high; they hit the beach and come surging back out again, creating a reverse riptide effect. The first time I tried it -- on Sylvester -- it killed me... Next time, I remembered the part about flexing my legs; riding the wave straight down, then turning and driving its knifelike rail into the wave. And suddenly we were able to do anything we wanted. But Dana’s biggest test was yet to come.”126
Although Dana Point bit the dust when the Army Corps of Engineers built the Dana Point harbor, it used to be a primo spot where big waves could be had. “Any time the surf breaks about 15 feet along California it is a killer surf,” continued Edwards. “At Dana Point... when it came up that high, crowds of people from Dana Point and Capistrano Beach would come down. The word gets around on a sort of magic telegraph at such times, and they would line the high, rocky shoreline and watch it.
“And the pioneer, big-board surfers, the bold men of those years, would ride it. ‘They’re riding Killer Dana,’ everyone would shout, and people would close their stores or run out of their houses to come down and watch. Surfers were crazy, they all knew. But they put on a hell of a show.
“And, suddenly, there I was, in the 15-foot surf of Killer Dana, too young to ride it and too old to cry any more. Around me, the old-timers were paddling into it, swinging around and riding it straight down and then straight in. Occasionally a board would pearl high into the air, spinning end over end, drops of water flying off the thing, and a sort of sigh would come up from the people lining the cliffs.
“In moments like these you know there is a surfer -- another human -- encapsuled somewhere inside that savagely curling wave, someone being spun around inside a world that is neither sea nor air, and you wait in an agony for him to show up somewhere. It is a natural tendency to hold your breath in such instances, watching this. You stand there involuntarily not breathing, with your lungs bursting and your eyes sweeping the stretch of water, looking for some sign of life. Often the lost board will hiss along on its own, kicking up fine mists of spray and drive itself into the beach. Or -- at Dana Point -- it could smash dizzily into the rocks on the left side of the cove and snap in half -- a sight that makes you wince automatically because you know that somewhere being hammered along by that same powerful force is a person.
“The impact of surfing on big water is a thing you have to see to feel. In most surfing movies the sheer fright of it is often lost -- because the film will show someone being hurtled off a board and then cut away or dissolve to another scene just as the force of the idea hits you...”127
“On the day of Killer Dana,” Phil Edwards continued, “swimming up the cresting waves and looking into the comb of water hissing along the top, I was aware of all these things. Still, a special kind of mood sets in -- a feeling which forms like a knot on the inside of your stomach. In your mind’s eye you know how the scene must look from the beach. A small figure scratching up the side of a towering wave, making it to the top and going over the other side, paddling for the next one. And suddenly, an insulated, quiet confidence begins to form inside. You know you can do it. It is as if you were, momentarily, standing outside yourself, watching all this, critically, unemotionally, and feeling, vicariously, the terrible, tensed stoked feeling building up in the surfer.
“... in the one moment I looked over my shoulder at the humping-up sea and swung the board around shoreward I knew I was going to catch a 15-foot wave. The rest of it is engraved into my mind like electroplating... it is an unavoidable fact of surfing that the odds are very much against your beating the wave if you take it straight in. Beat it to the bottom, yes, and then you can sail along briefly with the wave behind you. But at the bottom you have lost most of your momentum and the wave hasn’t...
“Halfway down I knew what I had to do. I stepped one foot back and came into the bottom of the wave in a boxing stance; then I threw all my weight backward and did a drop-knee turn. Sylvester and I swung sharply in the direction the wave was breaking and the rail dug in -- and suddenly we were running parallel. I dug the rail in even further and started back up the wave and the people on the beach groaned in unison.
“We went all the way back up to the top in this position, where the curl was coming over... I cut back again, started down again... Suddenly, I was able to cut back and forth along the face of that wave, working it toward the beach -- while the old-timers were taking them straight in.”128
That summer of 1953, “Phil was staying in Doheny State Park,” wrote Nat Young, “surfing Onofre and the surrounding areas, and amazing everyone with his casual footwork. Phil rode with a style that allowed him to strike a pose beyond the necessities of balance, and turned surfing into an art form.”129
“I was so broke you wouldn’t believe it,” recalled Edwards of his days at Doheny State Park. “The forest rangers sort of looked the other way and it was a special time for a kid. By day we surfed; by night -- after everyone had left and gone home -- I would have the park all to myself and wander through it, through an aisle of still-smoldering campfires and half-eaten hot dogs. And I had this girlfriend who would come down on her horse and we would sit there together on the beach and stare out into the black Pacific and dream about the time when we would all be rich and famous... By night -- and by day -- I collected pop bottles and sold them back to stores for two cents each... Still, the rangers had certain rules -- and when I opened a surfboard reshaping emporium in the park, they had to draw the line. They chased me out. Not all the way out -- but I moved the business under the bridge, where I set up boxes and reshaped boards under there and glued noses back on... and through it all made enough money to get by.”130
Bev Morgan Wetsuits
Bev Morgan became one of the first commercial wetsuit makers; producing neoprene wetsuits initially invented by Hugh Bradner for Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT).131
By 1953, Morgan was surfing Windansea and frequenting the Scripps Institute of Oceanography library. After he read an article about the new rubber sponge technology, he bought a sheet of neoprene and put together a suit. Soon, both he and Hugh Bradner had separate businesses making wetsuits for divers. Up north, Jack O’Neill would start doing the same thing.
As far as wetsuit use by surfers was concerned, the use of the new material was “considered chicken by the ‘futuristic’ thinking surfer population of the period,” Morgan said sarcastically.
Bev Morgan‘s first surfer customer was Buzzy Trent, in 1953. Trent wore a waist length vest, but, ironically, Buzzy soon left for the Islands to live permanently.
By 1954, Jack O’Neill was building dry and wetsuits for divers in the Santa Cruz area. Down south, Morgan developed his retail store, Dive ‘n Surf, aimed almost exclusively for the diving market.
In 1960, Morgan came up with a marketing scheme that virtually brought wetsuits into the world of surf gear almost overnight. He arranged with surfboard manufacturers to put ten each of their top team riders into his wetsuits. The effect of 100 top surfers up and down the California coast suddenly wearing wetsuits effectively broke down “the chiken barrier.” From that point on, the surf suit business grew so fast “it became a headache,” complained Morgan. He ended-up selling his business to the Meistrell brothers.132
Mike Doyle vs. The 22nd Street Gang
“The first time I ever saw somebody riding a surfboard was at the Manhattan Pier in 1953,” wrote Mike Doyle, then age twelve. “As much time as I spent at the beach, you’d think I would have at least seen one surfer before then. But... like surfers today, they were out at dawn surfing the morning glass. By the time the crowds arrived, they were gone.
“But this one morning I took the first bus to the beach, walked out onto the Manhattan Pier, looked down, and saw these bronzed gods, all in incredibly good shape, happier and healthier than anybody I’d ever seen. They sat astride their boards, laughing with each other; at the first swell they swung their long boards around, dropped to their stomachs, and began paddling toward shore. From my viewpoint, it was almost as if I were on the board myself, paddling for the swell, sliding into the wave, coming to my feet, and angling the board down that long wall of green water. It was almost as if I already knew that feeling in my bones. From that day on, I knew that surfing was for me.
“There were several surfers out that day: Dale Velzy, George Kapu, and Greg Noll. Greg was just a kid then, about sixteen years old, but he was hot. On one wave he turned around backward on his board, showing off a bit for the people watching from the pier... Another surfer out that day was Bob Hogan. He was blond and stocky, with very tightly defined muscles. He was probably about twenty-five at that time, a lifeguard, a great paddler, and an all-around waterman. As I left the pier, I happened to look in the back of Bob Hogan’s car -- a perfectly clean ‘46 Ford coupe -- and saw lying there on the back seat a trophy he’d won in a paddling contest. I just knew he had to be some kind of superhero to own this piece of glitter, and I ran back onto the pier and watched him some more, trying to analyze what it was that made him so good.
“... I used to stand out in the surf and wait until one of the surfers lost his board. The boards then were eleven feet long, twenty-four inches wide, and weighed fifty or sixty pounds. When they washed in broadside, they would hit me in the legs and knock me over. I would jump back up, scramble the board around, hop on, and paddle it ten feet before the owner snatched it back -- ‘Thanks, kid’ -- and paddled away.”133
Mike Doyle continued. “The South Bay surfers who were really ripping at that time -- guys like Dewey Weber, Henry Ford, Freddie Pfahler, Mike Zuetell, and Peff Eick -- had their own little clique, the 22nd Street Gang. They all lived in Manhattan or Hermosa Beach, and they all went to Mira Costa High. They hung out at the wall on 22nd Street, just north of the Hermosa Pier, which was the coolest place in Hermosa Beach, and where there were two or three great hamburger joints and the famous Green Store on the corner. They had their own style of talking and dressing. They wore faded jeans, blue T-shirts, bitchin’ blue tennis shoes, and wore St. Christopher medals around their necks. Dewey Weber, who was a yo-yo champion, sometimes broke the gang’s dress code by wearing his red Duncan Yo-Yo jacket; but other than that, they always looked like perfect clones of each other. And they did everything together. They surfed together every morning, and they drank together every night. All weekend long, they’d be standing there in front of the wall, talking about who got laid the night before, who got drunk, and who got put in jail. They’d be all hung over, with vomit stains on their pant cuffs and seaweed wrapped around their necks. They had their own little world and I wanted so badly to be part of it.
"But... When I went down to the beach, the 22nd Street Gang called me a kook and a hodad. I couldn’t surf like they could, and even though they were only two or three years older than I was, they were a lot more mature. I didn’t know anything about drinking and carousing, other than what I’d heard.”134
The Surf Photo Seen ‘Round The World
The year 1953 was notable for many things, not the least of which was the photograph viewed around the world. A Honolulu photographer named Skip Tsuzuki took the famous Associated Press photo of Buzzy Trent, Woody Brown and George Downing riding a 15-foot wave at Makaha that went world wide. “That’s the first big wave that was ever photographed that had world wide distribution,” noted Woody. “After that, of course, people started getting gung ho over big waves. That’s probably when they started going the North Shore. That stirred everybody up. They started going everywhere there was big waves.” Woody clarified that, “When we were riding Makaha, other surfers were starting to go there; about the time Buzzy Trent came over to Makaha. After that, he started going over to the North Shore with those guys, too.”
About the famous AP photo of Trent, Brown and Downing, Woody told Ben Marcus, “That was the first big-wave photograph ever made and it stirred up a furor on the Mainland. All those guys came over and there were the movies, and then they rode Waimea Bay and the magazines started up. But that [the movies and magazines] was after my time.”135
“That shot blew everyone away, all up and down the coast,” wrote Nat Young. “Keen surfers had already seen Bud Browne‘s early surfing movies of big-wave riding in Hawaii, but seeing that shot in a mass-circulation paper made everyone realise what Hawaii could hold in store for them. After that every winter, about November, a crew of Californian surfers made the pilgrimage to Hawaii with the intention of riding waves at Sunset Beach and Makaha.”136
“California surfers started coming over, after that picture,” Woody told me. “That went to the Mainland and, boy, that drove everybody crazy. They couldn’t believe that. So, they all wanted to come out here and see for themselves. But, I didn’t know any of those guys. I didn’t go with ‘em then. I just went with Wally and them. I just never got to know ‘em. For instance, Joe Quigg -- nice guy, gentle, quiet guy.
“We were kind of separated into two bunches, then. Wally, [John] Kelly and me and those guys -- we would go to Makaha. California guys went more for the North Shore. I don’t know why; probably because the waves were more peaks and you could play around on the peak, where Makaha had this wall and, man, you had to have a good, fast board and had to really trim it to get going; to get across. That, maybe, didn’t appeal to them.”137
The date was November 27, 1953. “The Associated Press sent a picture that most major newspapers ran as front page news,” testified Fred Van Dyke, who was surfing Santa Cruz in those days, “-- of a mountainous wave at Makaha Beach. Buzzy Trent, George Downing and Wally Froiseth were the riders.138
“The school Superintendent handed me the newspaper, and when I saw the picture, that was it. I quit my job and headed for Hawaii.”139 Van Dyke was not alone. Others to immediately head for the islands after viewing this photo were Greg Noll and Pat Curren.140
The AP photograph grabbed Mike Doyle‘s attention, too. Doyle admitted, “that whetted my appetite even more for going to Hawaii. It was of three surfers -- George Downing, Buzzy Trent, and Woody Brown -- riding very straight, old-fashioned redwood boards at Makaha, on the west side of Oahu. The wave looked massive to me -- at least twenty-five feet -- a thick, boiling mountain of water. I’d heard about waves like that, but I’d never imagined they could look so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. And as far as I was concerned, the guys riding them were the most courageous men on earth.
“Years later, after I got to know George Downing, I told him how much that photo had impressed me as a kid. George laughed and said, ‘That was really only about a twelve-foot wave. The photo was tilted to make it look twice as big as it really was.’”141
Quonset Hut Riders
“Buzzy [Trent] loved to tell stories to his friends,” recalled Peter Cole, who heard many. “Buzzy enjoyed being at the edge of life, whether being on scafolding 14 stories up, hang gliding off the Wainae Mountains, or riding giant surf.” One story Buzzy told took place in 1953, on the North Shore:
“1953 probably was a turning point in my life as far as hairy experiences is concerned. I was surfing at the big Avalanche. On that day, I estimated [the waves to be] at least 30 [feet] or over and we were out a mile and a tenth. This one position I got myself in, I’ll never forget. I lost my board on a big wave. I came to the surface and I looked outside and I saw this huge, huge set and so the first thing I thought was, ‘I got to get through this big, big wave.’
“I started swimming as fast as I could. I swam like a maniac and went up the face of this wave, swimming and swimming and swimming. I could feel the thing pulling and pulling as I swam through it. It had a hold of me like an old maid has hold of a sock. It was pulling on me and I swam through this thing and I broke the surface and felt the thing. As my eyes cleared, I felt the thing rumble as it broke inside of me about 100 yards and, low and behold, as my eyes cleared -- this is the most terrifying experience I ever had [up to that point], cuz at the time, I thought I had everything made. I looked as my vision cleared, and here was Jim Fisher, paddling like a jack ass up the face of another wave which I estimated looked twice the size of the wave that I swam through. He gets up half way on the face of this wave, stands up on the board like this and backs off. And I’m sitting in the water like this, watching the board coast up the face of the wave. And I can see Fisher swimming through this gigantic wall and the board hovers at the very top of this wave and I’m watching this board and looking over to my right, where five other guys are hanging on to the outside buoy, which is nine-tenths of a mile. Then I look back over at Jim Fisher‘s board and back at the riders, then I look at that board, again, and the wave breaks about 160 yards in front of me and smashed that board right in two. It was a solid redwood/balsa. The pieces just flew up into the air and I’m hyperventilating and I’m looking at 25 foot of soup and I’m looking over at these guys by the buoy and I’m saying, ‘If I was only over by you.’ They’re laughing at me and I’m looking at the buoy. I thought I had it...
“I leveled off at 15 feet [underwater, after diving under the oncoming wave] and opened my eyes and saw this gigantic grey cloud rumbling towards me. I leaned forward so I wouldn’t tumble under water and lose my sense of direction, because it was 70 feet [to the bottom] where I was. [I] Held on for a tremendous long period of time and I finally made the surface and there was 3 1/2 feet of foam on the surface. After a long struggle, I reached the beach with half that board I saw broken in two and, boy, was I glad to get into my panel truck!”142
1 Grun, 1991, pp. 534-535.
2 Finney & Houston, 1996, p. 81. See also Gault-Williams, “Surfing’s Darkest Days.” in the LEGENDARY SURFERS chapter “The 1800’s,” Volume 1.
3 Severson, Surfing Around The World, 1964. See also Gault-Williams, “Redwoods, Hollows & Redwood/Pines.”
4 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with John “Doc” Ball, January 10, 1998.
5 Lynch, Gary. Notes on draft of Doc Ball, Early California Surf Photog, May 1998.
6 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
7 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
8 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
9 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
10 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
11 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
12 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
13 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
14 Gault-Williams, Malcolm. Interview with E. J. Oshier, October 10, 1998.
15 Van Dyke, Fred. 30 Years Riding The World’s Biggest Waves, published and edited by Joseph Grassadonia, Ocean Sports International Publishing Group, Inc., Kailua, Hawaii, ©1989, p. 43.
16 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 43.
17 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 43. See Gault-Williams, Legendary Surfers, Volume 1, “The Redwood Era,” section on Sam Reid (1908-1978).
18 There are a couple of oral histories of Santa Cruz surfers in the Special Collections section of the UC Santa Cruz library.
19 Van Dyke, 1989, pp. 43-44.
20 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 45
21 Fuller, George, “A Surfing Immortal, An Epilogue on Sam C. Reid,” date unknown but probably 1978 or ‘79. On display at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.
22 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 45.
23 Van Dyke, 1989, pp. 43-44.
24 Probably Colisko Boski. See below.
25 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 43.
26 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 44.
27 Van Dyke, pp. 44-45. See also Gault-Williams, “1954.”
28 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 46.
29 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 46.
30 Browne, Bud. Surfing The 50’s, videotape, ©1994. Peter Cole narration.
31 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 47.
32 Van Dyke, 1989, pp. 49-56.
33 Van Dyke, 1989, pp. 49-5
34 Van Dyke, 1989, pp. 49-56.
35 Van Dyke, p. 47.
36 Noll, Greg. DA BULL: Life Over the Edge, ©1989, by Greg Noll and Andrea Gabbard, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, pp. 32-36.
37 Edwards, Phil. You Should Have Been Here An Hour Ago: The Stoked Side of Surfing; or, How to Hang Ten Through Life and Stay Happy, ©1967, by Phil Edwards with Bob Ottum, Harper and Row, New York, p. 21.
38 Young, Nat. The History of Surfing, ©1983, 1987, Palm Beach Press, NSW, Australia, p. 77, and Edwards, 1967, p. 21.
39 Edwards, 1967, pp. 23-24.
40 Edwards, 1967, p. 24. He says “rheumatic fever. Or tuberculosis, or something.”
41 Edwards, 1967, pp. 24-25.
42 Edwards, 1967, pp. 25-26.
43 Edwards, 1967, p. 31.
44 Edwards, 1967, pp. 31-32.
45 Edwards, 1967, pp. 32-33.
46 Edwards, 1967, p. 33.
47 Edwards, 1967, p. 33.
48 Stecyk, C.R. “Humaliwu,” The Surfer’s Journal, ©1992, Volume 1, Number 3, p. 52. See photos of Bev Morgan riding the Sylvester the Cat board and Morgan and Noll on the beach with the board, Noll’s eye swollen from a fight with Bing Copeland the day before (collections of Bev Morgan & Greg Noll).
49 Edwards, 1967, pp. 34-35. Edwards quoting Bev Morgan.
50 See Gault-Williams, Legendary Surfers, Volume 1, “Surfing’s Darkest Days.”
51 Edwards, 1967, p. 30.
52 Edwards, 1967, p. 35.
53 Young, 1983, p. 77. Nat has this wider surf safari range starting in the Summer of 1951.
54 Young, 1983, p. 77.
55 Stecyk, “Humaliwu,” 1992.
56 Dedina, Serge. “Watermen: Tales of the Tijuana Sloughs,” The Longboard Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 3, October/November 1994, p. 37. Jim “Burrhead” Drever quoted.
57 Browne, Surfing the 50’s, ©1994, Peter Cole narration.
58 Browne, Gung Ho!, ©1963.
59 Noll, 1989, pp. 20-21. Ricky Grigg quoted.
60 Dixon, Peter. “The Complete Surfing Icon,” Longboard, Volume 2, Number 5, February/March 1995, pp. 70-71.
61 Longboard Quarterly, “On Edge,” ©1994, Volume 2, Number 2, p. 14.
62 Longboard Quarterly, “On Edge,” ©1994, Volume 2, Number 2, p. 14.
63 Longboard Quarterly, “On Edge,” ©1994, Volume 2, Number 2, p. 14.
64 Longboard Quarterly, “On Edge,” ©1994, Volume 2, Number 2, p. 14.
65 Longboard Quarterly, “On Edge,” ©1994, Volume 2, Number 2, p. 14.
66 Stecyk, “Humaliwu,” p. 57. See photo of Vicky Flaxman playing the ukulele with Aggie Bane, 1951. Photo: Collection of Vicky Flaxman Williams.
67 Stecyk, “Humaliwu,” 1992, p. 60.
68 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
69 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
70 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
72 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
73 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
74 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Alan Gomes spelt “Allen.” Alan was the son of Abel Gomes.
75 Walt Hoffman referred to her as “Joni Jones.”
76 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Alan Gomes spelt “Allen.”
77 The former Ethel Harrison, from the Mainland.
78 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Conrad Cunha misspelled “Canha.”
79 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Jama spelt “Jamma” in program guide.
80 Heidi Stevens = Phil Edwards future wife?
81 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Buffalo’s birth name of “Richard” wasn’t even listed on the program.
82 Robin Grigg = Ricky Grigg’s sister.
83 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Midget’s birthname of Bernard was not even listed in the program guide.
84 Rell Sunn’s mother?
85 George Downing‘s son.
86 Barrie misspelled “Barey” in original program guide.
87 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973.
88 20th annual International Surfing Championships at Makaha, “Sponsored by the Waikiki Surf Club,” program guide, December 23 1972 through January 8, 1973. Loaned from Fred Hemmings, stamped D.O. Klausmeyer.
89 Grun, 1991, p. 534.
90 Severson, John Hugh. Modern Surfing Around The World, ©1964, Doubleday, Garden City, New York.
91 Noll, 1989, pp. 36-40. Beverly Noll quoted.
92 See Gault-Williams, Legendary Surfers, Volume 1, “The Revival.”
93 Kahanamoku, 1968, p. 39.
94 Lueras, Leonard. Surfing, The Ultimate Pleasure, ©1984, Workman Publishing, New York, p. 114. See also Patterson, Otto B. Surf-Riding, Its Thrills and Techniques, ©1960, C.E. Tuttle Company, Rutland, Vermont, p. 107 and Gault-Williams, “World War II and After.” Tarzan’s documented as doing it in November 1938, but he is also known to have paddled that route more than once.
95 Kahanamoku, 1968, p. 39.
96 Hobie may have confused the Diamond Head race with the O`ahu to Molokai. Don James recalled the event Hobie recalled as being in 1954. See “Diamond Head Recollections,” in The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1996.
97 The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1996.
98 The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1996. Hobie Alter.
99 The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1996.
100 Hoffman, Walter. “Tales of Town and Country, the Early Years: 1948-1954,” The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 1, Number 3, Fall 1992, p. 93. See classic photos this page and on p. 92. Note Simmons photo with Buzzy, maps and boomerang on wall. Simmons came out in ‘53, so this must have been ‘53, unless the same type shack was rented two consecutive summers. See also Elwell, John. “The Enigma of Simmons,” The Surfer’s Journal, Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 1994, pp. 45-47. Recollections of Leslie Williams.
101 Hoffman, 1992, p. 97. Confirmed Downing’s board made winter 1952-53. See photo page 96.
102 Hoffman, p. 97. George Downing quoted. See photo on page 96.
103 Around the same time as Hoffman: Ted Crane, George Stremple (San Onofre), Dave Mojas, Glen Fisher, Card, Eli, Buzzy Trent, Flippy Hoffman, George Downing, Chuck McCullen, George Elkins, Charlie Reimers, Chuck Parker, Junior Knox.
104 Hoffman, 1992, p. 94. See photo came page. Billy Meng’s name was misspelled for years as “Ming.”
105 Hoffman, 1992, p. 95.
106 Hoffman, 1992, p. 90. Noll came over in fall 1954. Fred Van Dyke has Noll, Jim Fisher and Mike Stang dropping out of school and coming over in 1952. This is inaccurate, based on Noll’s auto-biography, 1989. See Van Dyke, 1989, p. 26.
107 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
108 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
109 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
110 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
111 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
112 Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
113 The Surfer’s Journal, Flippy obit, 2010.
114 The Surfer’s Journal, Flippy obit, 2010.
115 This section replicated from Bob Simmons (1919-1954).
116 Ahrens, Chris. Good Things Love Water, “The Simmons Liberation Army,” p. 46.
117 Elwell, “The Enigma of Simmons,” 1994, p. 45. Simmons quoted. See Hoffman, 1992, p. 93 for classic photo of Simmons and Trent, with Simmons’ maps & boomerang attached to the shack wall.
118 Hoffman, 1992, Elwell 1994, p. 46. Leslie Williams, “bob Simmons: Hawaii/California retrospective.” Williams has “Priest” for Preece and 1945 instead of 1943 for the year Dickie Cross and Woody got into trouble at Sunset and Waimea.
119 Hoffman, 1992, Elwell, 1994, Leslie Williams retrospective, p. 46. The year 1945 noted as incorrect. It was 1943.
120 Hoffman 1992, Elwell 1994, Leslie Williams retrospective, pp. 46-47.
121 Van Dyke, 1989.
122 See Gault-Williams, “WOODY BROWN: Pilot, Surfer, Sailor,” ©1996.
123 Noll, Da Bull, 1989, p. 22.
124 Edwards, 1967, pp. 39-40.
125 Young, 1983, p. 77.
126 Edwards, 1967, pp. 40-41.
127 Edwards, 1967, pp. 41-42.
128 Edwards, 1967, pp. 42-43.
129 Young, 1983, p. 77. Nat erroneously has this in the summer of ‘52. Edwards himself says it was ‘53, so I went with him. See Edwards, 1967, p. 57.
130 Edwards, 1967, pp. 57-58.
131 The Surfer’s Journal, “Undercurrents,” 1992, Volume 1, Number 3, p. 125.
132 The Surfer’s Journal, “Undercurrents,” 1992, Volume 1, Number 3, p. 125.
133 Doyle, Mike. Morning Glass, ©1993, by Mike Doyle with Steve Sorensen, Manzanita Press, Three Rivers, California, pp. 16-17.
134 Doyle, 1993, p. 23.
135 Marcus, 1993, p. 99.
136 Young, 1983, p. 79
137 See Gault-Williams, “WOODY BROWN: Pilot, Surfer, Sailor.”
138 Incorrect. The three were actually George Downing, Woody Brown and Buzzy Trent.
139 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 26.
140 Van Dyke, 1989, p. 26.
141 Doyle, 1993, pp. 25-26. George Downing quoted. See also Gault-Williams, “The Challenge of Big Surf,” subsection “1953.”
142 Browne, ©1994. You have to watch the film/video, to see Buzzy’s delivery, to really appreciate this description.
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