60’s & 70’s in Cocoa Beach
I don’t think I have anything new... mostly some great memories people might like to read about.
60’s & 70’s in Cocoa Beach
After years of crappy boards, in 1973, my neighbor, George Easley (of the Gadsden Lane Night Riders), gave me my first real board; it was a swallowtail with a rainbow design and was in great shape. Even more cool was that his signature was underneath the clear coat. Of course, I started surfing right away at the Pier, where I later met Tony Graham and Greg Taylor. I remember being in awe while watching Greg doing 360’s and all the other cool moves he had. I had a crush on both of them; they were hot and were surf-gods to me. Which brings me to think of Gary Propper, Mike Tabeling, Jeff Klugel, Richie Rudolph, friends Charlie Kuhn and Matt Kechle, and more. I was finally a surfer; my room was covered in surf posters and Surfer Magazine littered my bed and floor. I still have a comic from a 1974 issue, “Murphy Gets Stoked.” I was stoked, for sure.
We were at the Pier ALL the time... surfing, partying a LOT, and playing pinball and air hockey in the huge game room they had then. The place next to the Pier (now an ice cream shop/game room), used to be a house we all partied in. Those were definitely the days because if you got caught with booze or a joint, the cops would mostly just reprimand you and send you on your way. Another memory of that time was the day I pearled into a floating mass of Man-o-War. That sucked. It was around this same time (1974) I met Rich & Phil Salick and Wilson Schemanski (sp?); I spent hours and hours in their surf shop, buying bikini’s and dresses and hanging with the big dogs. Talk about great guys. I still run into the brother’s often; just saw them at the 2009 Port Fest, actually. They are always happy and smiling, as we all should be.
I’ll also never forget the day in ‘74 when I arrived home from school, and saw that the trees and scrub at the end of my street were gone. All that was left were flat lots surrounded by fences. I asked my Mom what was going on, and she said, “They’re building these new things called condominiums.” Well, it only took a few short years to realize our beaches had been taken over and were being destroyed by developers. It was very depressing to watch the Cocoa Beach we knew and loved begin to quickly disappear. However, I kept surfing and stayed happy until that board was worn out. There were days the waves were a foot high, but if there was a ripple, it was time to go surfing, no matter what I was riding. In 1985 I bought a Quiet Flight 6’1” tri-fin, squash tail; loved that board and surfed on it until 1996, when some asshole stole it out of my garage. And so, surfing went by the wayside for a while. Another good friend gave me a nice, new Neilsen 7’6” funshape 2 years ago, but a lot is happening in my life. The more life happens, it seems the the less time there is for surfing (I know, this is wrong!). However, it’s still warm... and Spring isn’t that far away either.
Other memories of the 60’s & 70’s for me in Cocoa Beach were:
- Patti Lowery, Class of ’78 & Cocoa Beach resident since June of ‘67 - 11/13/09
I moved to Florida from Hawaii in the late summer of 1971. I rode paipo boards (google it). I lived in Orlando. My friends I met in school were guys that surfed Cocoa Beach. So I began going there. Problem was that the waves were always crumbly. So I bought a surfboard, a 7'2" Javelin. Fun, but too long for me. I got to know Bill and MarJane at Oceanside. They were good people. Always allowed me to put my boards on a lay-a-way and surf them when I came over to the beach. Roger Baskt was a great guy there as well. I picked out a Gordon & Smith 6'6" and that did the trick. All of the breaks, Lums, sharks pit, 2nd light, O-Club, out front of Oceanside, 4th street, 16th street, Sebastian, Monsterhole, inside the Canaveral Jetty on big storm surf with no leash! That place had an unreal long point type break before it got dredged. Pig farm in Canaveral, Twin Palms. Sheesh I could go on. Some people that I met there were either egotistical or wave hogs or both. Garry Propper to me was not one of them.
Hell we pioneered the leashes. Friggin dogleashes with surgical tubing. Then we switched to a bungee cord. Oh and trying to get a place on the board to attach it. 1st drilling a hole in the skeg. Or wrapping a pencil in duct tape, waxing or using Crisco to coat the duct tape, (so it wouldn't stick) then setting it on the deck at the tail over the top of the fin and glassing over it to form a loop. This is where we attached the bungee. Needless to say that they worked ok in small stuff but in larger 4-6 foot forgot about it!
Anyway, this is where and when I began my surfing. It will always be a special place in my mind and heart.
- Joe Skinner - 10/6/09
Another old photo sent in by Greg Westnege on 6/26/09.
Surf Contest at the Pier - 1965
This photo was sent in by Greg Westnege. Thanks for the memories Greg!
Cocoa Beach Trivia 70's and 80's
This is a pretty classic walk down memory lane - or Brevard Avenue / Minuteman-etc. Lots of Surfing history oozing out of Cocoa Beach. Going all the way back to Gary Propper, Codgen, Tabeling, Loehr, Munson, Wolfe. It's become a wild fire that all started with a spark of inspiration.
Gary Propper lived right up the street from me. I came across GP cleaning wax off his board in his yard when I was 12 years old. I didn't know who he really was but when he showed me all the photos and trophies on his garage / bedroom wall it was really an inspiration to me.
Amazing all the board building that went on in those days. From Dave and Sam of D & S surfboards, to Scott Busbey of Contact surfboards. All pretty contemporary boards coming out of the garages of Convair Cove. All this also inspired me and my brothers to get in the game and make our own custom boards.
Dick Catri was building boards out of the back of Primo surfshop and gave me a job sweeping floors. Primo surf shop was a very inspirational shop with all sorts of contemporary new & used boards to look over. My first brand new legit foam fibreglass board was a Dick Brewer knee-board that my Mom bought me from Primo. Back then it was hard to come across good kid boards that were small enough. So little kids would have to opt to buy knee-boards if they wanted a board that fit their size scale. I also bought a Plastic Fantastic knee-board from Tabeling at Surfing World.
Little Hawaii was a great shop, Bill Volmur was a very fair businessman that just loved the surfing lifestyle. He also had great boards and his son Alan became part of the 3rd Street Islander Hut Surf Klan.
Gary Propper opened Lightning Bolt East at the end of Minuteman with the wild looking and inspiring DCB custom shaped Bolt boards. DCB was way ahead of his years in shaping creativity.
(It would be really cool to see a list of all the surfshops that have come and gone in the Cocoa Beach area. All many thanks to these guys.)
And of course the Salick brothers. Richard and Phil Salick with Salick Surfshop became mentors and sponsored me and some of my best friends and all the best surfers in Cocoa Beach area. The Salick brothers gave me the hope that Pro surfing really could become a reality.
My first trip in the back of the Datsun pick-up truck to Sebastian Inlet was the first of a life long love affair to the Inlet. The Inlet is a more unique and powerful wave that was hollow, wedging, and allowed for a even higher energy and closeness to all the surfing stars. From that point on I had to rob many of piggy banks to scrape up coins for gasoline. Jim McClaren was always down to take me to the Inlet in his old Impala.
All these tales, talents, and energy are all worthy of a book! All this a synergy that has lead on to multi World Titles to come out of Brevard County and other countys here on the Florida coast.
Cocoa Beach, what's really in that water?
- Matt Kechele - 12/25/08
Anyone want to talk old surf story or have original trivia about Cocoa Beach and Brevard County?