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G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Surfing In Santa Cruz" Hits Bookstores


My friend Thomas Hickenbottom co-authored the best book on surfing in Santa Cruz Cali in the early 1960's that's ever been published. I wrote a piece for the local newspaper. You can read about half of it here. (Editors....cheesh! Actually I liked some of the changes the (non-surfing) editor made. But substituting the word "gremmie" with "grommie" was ignorant beyond well, words. What a kook!)

I attended the book presentation at McPherson Center Saturday night with M, which was well attended and fun. I ran into a lot of folks I haven't seen in a while and it was good catching up. I'm glad I got my signed copies of the book early. The place was just mobbed after the first hour and up until closing.

If you're interested in the real deal, get a copy. You won't be sorry you did.

Footnote: Thomas will be signing copies of the book this evening at Bookshop Santa Cruz, so it's not too late to get your signed copy. This is a keeper that you'll be stoked to share with your little "groms." (Modern day synonym for, and translation of the 60's term, "gremmies.")

Book Review: Surfing in Santa Cruz by Thomas Hickenbottom with the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society.

How could a surfing museum fit into a backpack? The answer is Thomas Hickenbottom’s book, Surfing In Santa Cruz. This excellent pictorial history could only come from a native son with credibility and local knowledge. The book offers the reader an ultimate insider’s look at the roots and evolution of modern day surfing in Santa Cruz.

Hickenbottom’s insightfully organized stories and pictures, impart historical facts and life to the surfing world, as it evolved from the heavy wood boards of the 1950’s and before, to the light “foamies” that emerged in the early 60’s. It is this time, this era, which has contributed everything to the current age of surfing as it is known and enjoyed in Santa Cruz and around the world today.

As a surfer, writer, and local, Hickenbottom is the “perfect storm” for creating this meticulously documented first-person retrospective on the beginnings of surfing in Santa Cruz.

Thomas started surfing in 1959, an 11 year old “gremmie” (youthful surfer). He progressed quickly, and as a member of the premier O’Neill’s Surf Team, was one of the first sponsored surfers, competing in contests up and down the coast, surfing against and beating the best surfers of those days. His meteoric surfing career was disrupted by the War in Viet Nam; but Thomas never lost his passion for surfing. In retrospect, Hickenbottom still thinks Santa Cruz surfing didn’t get the recognition it deserves, because of the geocentric nature of the Southern California surf media.In addition to his creative power on water, Thomas is a first class writer. Having earned a degree in creative writing at UCSC, he has published short stories and poetry. Following Surfing In Santa Cruz, he is ready to find a publisher for his first full-length novel about the destiny of a colorful cast of wild West Coast surfers during the turbulent 1960’s.

His knowledge of places, events and people stretches back to the early days of surfing and the first Santa Cruz Surf Club. Without his contacts, many of the stories and photos, especially from private collections, would not be available to the public.

As a title in Arcadia Publishing’s prestigious Images of America series, Surfing In Santa Cruz is a wonderfully rich collection of images and stories of what surfing in Santa Cruz was like in the early days. To have all this together in one volume, bound between the covers of this affordable book, is for surfers like finding a secret surf spot.

The author will be signing books and talking story with a literal "Who's Who" of Santa Cruz surfers on August 15th at the McPherson Center. Join seven decades of local surfers, including Gary Venturini and Danny Anderson (60's rippers), Harry Mayo, Bill Grace from the 30's/40's gang, Betty Van Dyke and Dave McGuire from the 50's, from 6P-9P as they celebrate the publication of Surfing in Santa Cruz with Thomas Hickenbottom.

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