Monday, September 21

Avila Beach in the 1930's

My father, Don Skinner, grew up off of South Broad Street in San Luis Obispo. Born in 1921 to a hard-working Union Oil man from Templeton and a doting mother from Tennessee, he and his younger sister, Margaret, would become part of the greatest generation of kids who experienced relative innocence before the horrors of WWII re-defined their view of the world.

Avila Beach in the 30's offered a great getaway from the somewhat bustling burg of SLO. Picnics, swimming, trying to get a suntan and people-watching were the main fare. Take your best friend and just have fun --- all encouraged, financed and supervised by your parents. I doubt if he enjoyed that last point as he entered the hormone crazed teen years.

Dad was a great model builder, trumpet player, Boy Scout, swimmer and track star. Oh, then there was the lady's man image that I don't need to detail.

And all of this brings me to the real reason for this blog. I need your help in identifying the homemade board stuck in the sand behind my dad. The year is probably 1938 since Grumpy was a big screen star that year. Was this board used to ride the waves or water-skim on the shore? I really doubt it was used for surfing as most boards at that time were extremely long and heavy. [But later research information from the SLO Tribune's David Middlecamp has debunked this ignorant theory! Thanks, David]

Gary Lynch has told me this much about it: "It is a very common design/shape seen on the beaches of So Cal starting approximately after the turn of the last century (1900). It is a take off of early Hawaiian shapes and used in abundant numbers both in private ownership and rental concessions at many of the most visited beaches in So Cal and other areas of the USA." Gary lives in Templeton and is the author of Tom Blake: The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman.

Tom Wegener Surfboards website labels this board style as a Hawaiian Alaia. Yes, it is still used on the waves!

You could also share any vintage beach and surfing stories, pictures and SLO area trivia for my readers. Thanks!

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