Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the beach. And when surfing became popular in the early 1960s I was immediately hooked. In 1962 the Beach Boys were on the radio, Surfer magazine was on the newsstands, and I had surf fever.
In those days the beaches and the waves were not crowded — they were paradise. Even though I was in high school in Missouri, most summers I’d spend some time at a beach somewhere.
From the day I started surfing, I was never interested in big waves, or competition, or hot dogging. I like surfing on a day when the temperature is mild and the waves are small and well-shaped, and there are few or no people around. Early morning surfing is the best.
In the early 1960s Surfer magazine was the premier publication, and Ron Stoner was the most famous surf photographer in the world. His photos beautifully captured the fun of the early days of surfing - like this photo of a surfer named Bill Fury at Huntington Pier. Photos like this one put me and thousands of other kids in the mood to head for the beach as soon as school was out for the summer.
Years later, in the 1970s, when I lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida, I went surfing almost every day.
For some inexplicable reason, when I moved to Missouri, I kept not only my old Ford van from Florida days, but my surfboards. I have no idea what I thought I would do with them in Missouri. I still have them, and I'm still wondering what to do with them.
In the 1990s when I was living in Los Angeles I would often surf the pier at Manhattan Beach on my bodyboard. Bodyboarding is easier than board surfing, and for those of us (like me) who don't surf every day, less physically demanding.
Even though I don’t surf much anymore, every time I am at the beach I am checking the waves and thinking about surfing. These days you don't even need the ocean to go surfing. A couple of years ago when we were in Ft. Lauderdale we happened to walk by a wave tank. And i of course, couldn’t resist giving it a try — which quickly ended in a classic wipe-out. But it’s all great fun.