Nov 17

Retro Pismo Beach Surf

With winter-sized swells approaching, I’ve already begun my annual retreat to Pismo Beach. Not only are the waves smaller and more manageable, but it also reminds me what a cool little town Pismo is.

Inspired by Pismo — and Dave Middlecamp’s Photos From the Vault blog –  I’ve decided to post some vintage Pismo stuff here.

Too bad there wasn’t a bigger image of the surfing postcard above — I really like it.  I didn’t see a date, but judging by the crowd and the gear, it looks like the time immediately after “Gidget” came out. Also — no wetsuits. You don’t see a lot of party waves like this out in Pismo these days.

 While the wetsuit was invented in the 50s, it took a while for them to catch on. So this one on the left could be anywhere from the 50s into the 60s. By the late 60s, boards were getting smaller, and while it’s hard to really tell how big they are in this photo, they seem to be a little smaller, so I’m going to with with the 60s on this one.

One thing’s sure — that wave is pretty big. So I’m guessing whichever year this was, this was probably taken during the fall or winter months in the “Clam Capital,” which means that water would have been especially cold without neoprene.

I do have a date for this next one. Apparently, there was a big motorcycle rally in Pismo back in 1929. At some point, the riders gathered for a group shot at the beach.

Check out the cars on the beach, the lack of lights on the pier and, better yet, that nice-looking right breaking in the distance.

Not a lot of surfers in the lineup on that day. Then again, I’m not sure there was much of a surf scene in Pismo beach in 1929. Dave Middlecamp did post this photo of  some folks with an alaia board at nearby Avila Beach. Since the board featured an image of the “Snow White” character Grumpy, Dave figures the photo may coincide with the opening of the movie, around 1938.

Even then, that was more than 30 years after George Freeth introduced surfing to the mainland. 

I have a pretty cool video about guys who surfed Malibu in the 20s and 30s, but I don’t know if surfing made it to Pismo then. So, like Dave before me, I’ll put out a call to anyone who knows about surfing here in the 20s and 30s. If you have any info, give me a shout.

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