my first surfmobile

Just came across this old photo of my first surfmobile.  '64 Nova, seen here at C-St. in Ventura, when it was just a dirt lot by the beach.  Had some good surf trips in that old beater!



High school surf buddy Harold Knafla in the passenger seat.  That's my other buddy Bruce's Chevy van behind my car, believe it or not, he's still got that van!

SWEET! my 2nd car was a '64 Nova!

drove it all through high school.

lot's of great memories... =) ... nice pic Huck

Sure wish the lot was still dirt at the fairgrounds, for that matter I wish Stanley's was still here, and Oil Piers and Hueneme before the dredging and jetty and......


Ventura County has probably lost more surf breaks than any place else in California, maybe the highest concentration of different lost breaks in the world.

My first car:  1964 Chevy Nova wagon. Brown, so it never looked terribly dirty, no matter how much time it spent in that parking lot.

Freak out on this one!  1973.




notice small surf and no crowd. if that was taken today, with same small surf and conditions, it would be packed with people out there, doing what i’m not sure. just “making the scene” i guess. i trip out on how crowded it gets there-day in and day out- even on the most crappy of days. it can be 1 foot, southwind, whitecapped, 52 degree water and 40 people will be out. it seems like back then if there was some surf, you surfed. if it was crappy or flat, you did something else and didn’t worry about it.

Ain't that the blatant truth Matt. It seems to have become a magnet of sorts. It is not uncommon to talk to someone that has driven all the way from Santa Clarita, Palmdale, and all the inland valleys near and far. Don't get me wrong, I'd do the same and have in the past to surf. But a lot of these folks come from so far away, they are hell bent to surf no matter the conditions. I've sat at the point countless times looking at blown out knee high mush only to watch some guy pull up totally fired up to be at the beach. Right on, I understand. But without a second's thought they jump into their wetsuits and paddle out into a crowded(for the conditions) spot without regard to ANY conditions. This happens daily and it is now concentrated to the few remaining surfspots. Then there is the phenomenon of the internet. When it is flat for a sustained period, things calm down a bit here. soon as a swell begins to show, the place is jammed. No grace periods anymore. Used to be you had to work to follow swell patterns and learn about the weather.Learn about cloud patterns ect. New swells were passed on by word of mouth and the first day or two the crowds would be manageable. No more. The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.

This is not a "Val's go home" rant because we all will surf somewhere other than where we live at times. There needs to be a little more thought and consideration put into the decision to paddle out or not. If the take off is concentrated and there are enough guys on it, maybe look elsewhere. Trying to pidgeonhole surfing into an appointment calendar has never worked. And still doesn't.

I know I said it wasn't...but sorry for the rant. And thanks Huck for bringing up such wonderful memories. Let's all go surfing, just not on top of each other. We all need the room. ALOHAS.

This was my first.  Boards on top and a HUGE backseat. Had lots of “firsts” in it. Not the actual car but had one like it.

I lived in Ventura for the year 1970, working nights and surfing (mostly C-Street) days, so I remember the dirt lot (with the wood fence behind it on which was spray-painted “DOWN SOUTHERS GO HOME!”).  Les Wong and Stan Fuji were taking off deeper than most at the point.  The Campbell brothers were just starting to tweek their prototype bonzers down in Oxnard.  I remember watching Duncan totally rip some gnarly, overhead beachbreak barrels on his.  Pretty sure that was the year they buried Stanley’s.  Glad I got to surf it before it went away.

Anybody know who the older guy with the big, green, 4WD panel wagon or ambulance (1941 Chevy?) with a dragon painted on the side was?  He surfed C-Street all the time back then.  It looked kinda like this, if memory serves and had a big ol luggage rack on top:

Back in the 60s, we used to surf big, mid-winter Overhead without leashes or wetsuits.  The break north of C-Street was called “Stables” back then, cause that’s where the fairground stables were.  And weren’t there houses out there before they built all those condos and the hotel?  I seem to remember a “surf ghetto”, but that was 50 years ago, so I could be confused.


Some classic stories, the world has changed, you have to question how much "progress" is really better.  We cherish the memories of the good parts of the good old days, but we do have improved wetsuits and surfboard designs that the unfortunate commercialization of the surf scene has brought.

I remember living at the Del Norte apartments off Wells Rd., paid $160/month for a one bedroom (had a swimming pool where I used to practise swimming laps underwater while holding my breath, that was my training for surfing Vta. overhead LOL), I would ride my bike through the lemon orchards to the beach and hope someone else would be out so I wouldn't have to surf alone.  I worked part time as a janitor at Alpha Beta, and surfed the rest of the time.  Simpler days, for sure.

Now, I'm the kook who drives from the valley.  I find there is a generally mellow vibe there, lots of older guys (and girls) surf there now, my wife can hang out or walk the path while I surf, and I can shower when I get out.  But if its too packed I'll hike up to stables or go to emma or faria or south jetty or rivermouth and see whats cooking. 

I can't change the crowd scene, but mostly I try to work on my own attitude - just being thankful I can still paddle out at age 56, stoked on the birds and sea lions and dolphins in the lineup, and generally avoiding hassles or negativity in the water as much as possible.  A couple good waves is just a bonus, I don't even worry about throwing spray or getting shacked.  Which makes me a bit of a kook, I know, but I try to remain a low profile kook, if you know what I mean.

Here's a few shots from today, my first time in the water in probably a month or more.  I took out a homebuilt longboard with a homebuilt fin, only my second time riding this board.  The fair was on today, so parking was a hassle.  But I walked up to stables, it was uncrowded at the top, where I surfed pretty much alone, a few guys out below me.  Waves were nothing to brag about, but when its been a month since you got wet, you're gonna paddle out!  I told my wife she cut my head off when she took the pic of me, she's been watching Henry VIII on TV lately, so she said I was giving her ideas...

Here’s some old Ventura PICs I dug up from my stash.  I snapped all but the first one:

Yours Truly, in Farmer John, right-go-left, south side of the pier, Fall-1970

Stan Fuji, Pipe-Winter 1970-71

Stan Fuji, Pipe-Winter 1970-71

Unknown test pilot, 1st-generation W.A.V.E. Hollow-Winter 1970-71

Unknown @ C-Street, beaver-tail flying-Winter 1970-71

And here (in the interest of getting back on topic) is MY first surfmobile.  $200 in 1964.  Note the suction-cup-and-gutter-clip surf racks: state of the art for the time.  40-horse, flathead four-banger.  Non-synchro, 3-speed manual tranny with square (not helically-cut) gears: all downshifts were double-clutched. Top speed: 60mph, down a long hill.

The front seats folded up all the way to the dashboard, so watching a movie with your lady at the drive-in (remember THOSE?) from the back seat was like spooning on a sofa in somebody’s parlor.

“Spooning”?  “Parlor?”  Whoa, hold on: even I"M not THAT old!


The break north of C-Street was called "Stables" back then, cause that's where the fairground stables were.  And weren't there houses out there before they built all those condos and the hotel?  I seem to remember a "surf ghetto", but that was 50 years ago, so I could be confused.

The good news is you aren't confused, those old houses existed along the promenade where the hotel and condos are now between the pier and fairgrounds. My kid-goal in life was to live there and surf all day. They were gone by the time I got to the proper age...on one level that probably saved me a lot of trouble and heartache. As it turns out having the goals changed by the time I worked my way to them...that's been a constant throughout life lo these ah several decades since then. Moving targets are harder to hit - and that works both ways!

“I remember living at the Del Norte apartments off Wells Rd., paid $160/month for a one bedroom”

paid $90/month to live in a converted garage on South Jordan that year:
archtypal surf-rat accomodations.  When I blew into town I was dead
broke, so I scavenged the front 2/3 of a broken board and and a random block of foam out
of a surf shop dumpster, shaped and glassed a new tail (it wound up
being about 6’4") and laid up a fin for it over a (get this) Masonite core.  That’s the one I’m riding
in the PIC at the pier above.  After I got a job and saved a little
money, rode a 6’6" round pin single-fin with a crowned “S” deck (Mike
Noble shaped it, I glassed it)  as well as  a 6’10" diamond-tail
“Thought” shaped by Chuck Vinson.  I think Noble charged me $35 for the shaped blank.

“but we do have improved wetsuits and surfboard designs”

True dat: some of those early short boards were REALLY terrible.  And I remember freezing my ASS off dawn-patroling The Pipe in December and January when those offshores would come howlin’ down from Ojai.  All I had was a “Farmer John” over a neoprene, crew neck pullover top: no rash guard, no hood, no booties and no sealed seams.  That wind was COLD and everytime I punched through, the suit got flushed.  “Would you care for an ice-cream-cone headache with your hypothermia, Sir?”


1960 Plymouth Valiant, bought it in spring of 66’ for $200…

a year later drove it from SF to Baja with a buddy, whipsawing it over some of Baja’s worst, Jimi Hendrix and Cream on the 8-track… made it as far south as Colonet,  camped by the point, surfing a small west swell…second evening one of the villagers cruises up and starts rapping…turns out to be a Berkley professor who’d taken a sabatical two years earlier to do a research paper on the Indians living there ( the true Baja Natives), started eating local peyote, fell in love with the tribe and lifestyle, shacked up with a young thing…said he still had a wife and two kids back in Berkley… the villagers, maybe 30 of them living in a neat cluster of shacks inland a ways from the point, had neat gardens, cattle, chickens, pigs, fished…all smiles to us…fishermen traded us fresh fish and lobster for a few pesos…we spent a lot of time digging that Valiant out of the sand getting in and out…

The open range of the 60’s…  ‘Ive got $100 for gas and food, can you match it?  Cool, let’s leave for Baja tomorrow, we’ll surf our way down and back, sleep on the beaches, have a blast.’

and back then you really could…

61 Ford Falcon, 2 door, 3 on the tree.   Oxidized fire engine red.  Bought for 200 bucks in about 74.  Drove it to Baja a bunch, too.  Mike

Car I learned to drive on, ditched school in. It was a '63 or a '64. Belonged to my mom - back then kids weren't given new cars to play with as soon as they learned how to drive. Worked a city work crew and dishwasher jobs to buy my first (that '64 Nova wagon I mentioned earlier). Loved this car. Buried it to the frame trying to drive it in to - did they call it "Hobo Jungle" - up there at the top past Stables? Camping trip gone off track. Dug out like it was freaking Baja and ended up sleeping in the Valiant in the dirt lot at the Fairgrounds.

 Photo taken in Oregon on a combo surf trip and delivery run as we turned it over to family in Portland. Wish I still had both those cars...and that nifty Hollow too.

Oregon coast, 1973

So which engine was in your Valiant: a 273 or a slant 6?  Those  slant 6s are hard to kill unless you run them out of oil: not a lot of top end, but plenty of torque and run forever.
I had a couple of those W.A.V.E. Hollow boards, too: a 6’6" swallow and a 6’10" diamond tail.  They were fun to ride, especially the 6’6", but their Achilles’ heel was the rail seams, which always wound up splitting sooner or later from internal air pressure changes.  The one on your car looks like an early one, with a white, crowned, “S” deck.  Mine were second generation with that ‘70s, beak-nose thing goin’ on.

my 60’ Valiant had the slant 6, with a three speed on the floor…took a beatin’, kept on tickin’…never an issue with it…

My Bing 7’6" and first non work car.

So which engine was in your Valiant: a 273 or a slant 6?  Those  slant 6s are hard to kill unless you run them out of oil: not a lot of top end, but plenty of torque and run forever.
I had a couple of those W.A.V.E. Hollow boards, too: a 6'6" swallow and a 6'10" diamond tail

That car had the slant 6 with the "typewriter transmission" on the dash. Bombproof. It went to other family members as I was rolling in my Nova wagon - I could sleep in that comfortably and lock boards inside. 

The Hollow I had was in fact a 6'10" DT. I never had a problem with the rails, but I was told early to remove the drain screw most of the time (except when in the water of course). One of the guys - Blinky, Bob or Pete at the Ventura Surf Shop on Front Street...ah, too long ago to remember, but one of them very casually said something to that effect. Blinky used to whack the rails of a display board with a broom handle or something similar...I remember that kind of sold me.  The deck is what failed for me, since I did not use a leash and surfed the point nearly every day. Rocks put a nice crack in the deck and I played around clueless with repairing it. Finally called the factory, or maybe stopped by - it was in Saticoy and I remember going there - and the fix for deck repair was to use fiberglass and resin. I figured, well hells bells...I can go back to whole surfboards made out of fiberglass and resin. Which I did...