“This shot from the North Shore in the 70s actually takes me back even further to my childhood in La Jolla: Nothing’s more fun at 8 years old than entering a packed, cordoned, swimming area, mid summer, with a head-high west swell running. Amped up lifeguards with rescue tubes whistle at the moving pack of hundreds of swimmers who are oblivious to rips, currents, sandbars, and red flags. If you drive out from El Cajon, you’re not going to sit on the beach. Your Hodgeman raft is fully inflated so you finally put on a t-shirt (because your rash is getting worse) and head out for multiple speed runs. You go flying over tourists and turn hard to get barreled. For me, this was an era when we watched Superman and Soupy Sales after school. (Remember when Soupy flipped off his producer?) We’d ride bikes with playing cards in the spokes. Our skateboard wheels were torn off roller skates. The moms, whose shrill whistles communicated a lot over a two-square-block area, controlled our neighborhood fiefdom.
“The overlords were the dads, all fresh from the Korean War or WWII—vets with short haircuts, Tarzan builds, young wives, and kids. Some had Golden Glove boxing trophies and were just entering the civilian job market. The Windansea bad boys were notorious but we knew the dads were way more badass. They were charming, diplomatic, and smart—but scary. They were disciplinarians. We never told them about our joyrides through the tourists.” —Jeff Divine
Fifty years ago, TSJ’s photo editor Jeff Divine picked up a Pentax H1a and began shooting the surf landscape and its denizens, creating images that in many cases have now become iconic. In this semi-regular series, we’ll blow the dust off a half-century’s worth of slide-sheets and dig around for the under-seen shots, always with an eye for compositions that offer riffs on time, place, and the backstory to his body of work.
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