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The Half-Century Files: This Old House

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“Bummer Hill. A.K.A. Roach Road. North Shore, Oahu. 1971. The loud whining noise that we heard from the adjacent building was usually from Danny Calohan or Jim Turner’s planer as they went back and forth, shaping some of the best mini-guns available under the Plastic Fantastic label. Turner specialized in magic boards for Sunset Beach. People threw money at him for deposits and returned way before the due date to see if he’d made any progress. In the house, vinyl discs of Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and Hawaiian music played constantly. Turner convinced me to go vegan while creating his cashew butter in the run down kitchen area. My vegetarianism lasted about 72 hours. I slept on the floor. Once a month they’d pile up a large pyramid of excess foam pieces and torch it all, the flames shooting up as high as the power lines for about 20 seconds. Weekends featured cockfights, gambling, and late night drunkenness in Honolulu. Chitchat boiled down to: “Smoke? Did you see that chick? Check the surf? Ya wanna go eat?” I had the Surfer 1,000mm Century lens and only three other photographers in sight. We could have bought the place for $30K—panoramic ocean view, three bedrooms, one bath, outdoor shower. Fixer upper. (Actually, a tear down.) Now, on Zillow, the estimate is $970K.”  —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.