The most overwhelming single event in my surfing life (believe it or not) was seeing and absorbing for one dazzling week, the very first surf magazine ever - 'The Surfer’ in 1960.
I was at the Bill Gates record hop held every Wednesday night at the Brisbane Boys College rowing club boat shed - smack bang over the riverbank at North Quay (it's a freeway now). Bill was the hottest DJ on Brisbane radio. Although I was a panel operator at the same station (4BH) I worked the breakfast show and hardly ever spoke with Bill - He was his own man. On Wednesday nights Bill intro'd the tracks from the small stage at the shed, and then spun the 45 at huge volume for the era. Probably a lousy 100 watts!
Us animals either jived the night away, or if you were a particularly lousy dancer like me, you just hung on the edge checking out the babes. Of course our activities were primed up with a couple of tallies of XXXX or Bulimba beer, illegally obtained by us 16 year olds when the drinking age was 21. Most of the blokes there were clubbies, surf life savers, the only form of surf culture in existence in 1960. We kinda knew each other, by sight or better, through weekends at the coast, either North or South, now called Gold and Sunshine.
Anyway, on to the magazine. I knew a few guys from the Tallebudgera surf club quite well. Algy Reed, a total ripper who showed me tube riding, and later settled in Byron (smart guy!). Another was Mickey Gay, a bit older, and a born leader in the Tallebudgera club. So this night at the record hop, I walk in the door, Mickey comes up to me and says “have you seen this Bob?” and flashes me the front cover of this huge wave at Sunset Beach with an out-of-focus goofy foot dropping down this sweet face. “The Surfer” printed in green on the lower part of the page. I freak out. Mickey grins his red-head freckle face wryly as he slowly turns the pages. I try to take the magazine from him, but he pulls away. I crane my neck around closer to see more mind-blowing shots!
The entire Californian surf culture is captured on these pages: old beat-up surf wagons, long hair, guys wearing cool tees and old coats, barrel rides, nose rides, quasimodos, head-dips, tandem, trandem! Names like Mike Doyle, Joey Cabell, Miki Dora, Jose Angel, Pat Curren, Phil Edwards, Donald Takayama, all the heroes who were destined to lead surfing for the rest of their lives. Little did I know they would all become my friends or acquaintances.
I bargained with Mickey, swapping my hardback 'The Big Surf of Hawaii' book for one great week. I devoured that magazine into my 16 year old being. Turns out Mickey had just driven to Sydney and got the magazine off Barry Bennett, that quiet master entrepreneur of the surfboard industry. Barry was in touch with the Editor/ Publisher of Surfer Mag, John Severson, since John visited Australia a year earlier. John even designed that best-of-all Australian surfboard logo, the Bennett vertical diamond for Barry.
Of course the magazine kicked on, and now 57 years later the title is still in circulation.
So what's newsworthy about all this? Well, unfortunately Mickey is no longer with us, but his son Adrian incredibly, dropped into our Byron factory with a special gift. Yes, once again I'm borrowing that exact same magazine, 57 years later!! How's that?
Sure, the impact isn't the same, but in our short lives it's pretty amazing that an incident from 1960 can reverberate through so many decades and complete the circle so beautifully! Thanks Ado.