The Surfing Life: John Severson, 1966

20/06/2013 § Leave a comment

John Severson, Surfer Magazine John Severson, Surfer Magazine John Severson, Surfer Magazine John Severson, Surfer Magazine surfermag5 John Severson, Surfer Magazine John Severson, Surfer Magazine John Severson, Surfer Magazine

“We could be in the middle of putting out the magazine, but if someone
said the surf is up, this place would be deserted in five minutes.”

In honor of International Surfing Day today, a few pictures I’ve been saving for awhile of John Severson, the original founder, editor and publisher of Surfer Magazine, taken in San Clemente in 1966 by photographer Bill Ray for Life Magazine.  At the time of the feature, Severson was 32.  The photos show a bit of his life at the office (where he preferred to spend only 3 hours a day…in flip flops), as well as with his wife Louise, and their two daughters, Anna and Jenna.  I especially like the one of the girls parading while Severson plays the tuba.

“I had an attache case once and found that the more I kept it around, the more things I found to put in it and bring home from the office.  So I put it away and get along just fine without it.”

“Each year when you go back to the surf, there is a certain amount of fear of the waves to conquer.  Anyone who hasn’t been on the waves in quite a while and says he’s not afraid when he first returns is a liar.”

If you would like to read the original article, you can find it here.

Summer in Southern California

21/08/2012 § 1 Comment

For a perfect summer in Southern California, you’ll need golden light, a ton of palm trees, broad white beaches, a polka dot bikini, a beach shanty, some zinc oxide and a group of your closest surfing friends.  Add a dash of PCH, a little rum, some ice and blend it all on high.

For the second half of August, I’ve decided to turn my sights back to the coast I know best — the west.  While I may currently live on the east coast, and have quite an admiration for all things Northeast, summer will always mean very specific things to this California girl.  These photos taken along the So Cal coastline, from Malibu to San Onofre State Beach in Oceanside, were just the ticket.

See also:
Summer on the Cape
Summer on Long Island

Gidget in Malibu

Taken by Allan Grant in 1961 for Life Magazine, via the Life Archives.

LIFE Archives: Kathy “Gidget” Kohner, Malibu 1957

07/06/2011 § 2 Comments

The rising temperatures have me thinking about the beach constantly.  I adore the beaches in New York, but they will never replace the love I have for the ones I grew up on in Southern California: Malibu, Zuma, Mother’s Beach, Venice.  To that end, I went for a wander through the LIFE Archives to see if I couldn’t find some images of California surfers and surf culture for my Tumblr.

I was so pleased to find images taken by Allan Grant in Malibu, for an article that appeared in the October 28, 1957 issue of LIFE Magazine on the real-life inspiration for the fictional character Gidget — Kathy Kohner.  When you hear “Gidget” you might think of the Sandra Dee or Sally Field incarnation, a boycrazy girl who took up surfing to get close to Moondoggie, but from what I can tell about Kohner, her learning to surf had nothing to do with boys and everything to do with surfing.

The original novel, “Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas,” was written by Kathy’s father, screenwriter Frederick Kohner, in 1957 and was based on Kathy’s experiences breaking into the “boys only” Malibu surf culture at the age of 15.  Frederick was intrigued by the surf slang he heard his daughter using and ended up pulling quite a bit of material for his novel from Kathy’s own diary.  Spawning multiple movies, two television series and further novels, Kohner was a bit more counter-culture than Hollywood was ready for and so her story was watered down.  Luckily, a glimpse of the real Gidget shines through in Grant’s pictures.

Gidget retrieving her longboard

Ritz crackers and cigarettes.  Badass.

From the LIFE article: Among the surfers themselves, the novel made hardly a ripple.  “If I had a couple of bucks to buy a book,” said one, “I wouldn’t. I’d buy some beer.”  In Kathy’s own opinion, “The book’s all right, but there isn’t enough surfing in it to suit me.”

Kathy on the phone at home…

…while her father listens in to learn “surf slang.”

These pictures warmed my California girl heart right up.  Even made me pine a little for Malibu, just a little.  Read the full LIFE article here.

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