Inside a one-story building in Huntington Beach, off the side of an alley three blocks from the beach, is the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, surfing's house of nostalgia.
Rockin' Fig and I visited the museum, which has been customized with a rooftop artwork of old long-boards stuck together at odd angles.
Fig: \o7 Yeah, what are they? Antennas? I wonder what kind of signals they're picking up.
\f7 The museum is staffed by volunteers. Fig and I were greeted by Ann Beasley, who is vice president of the museum's board of directors.
When Figgy saw Beasley, he poked me with his elbow and said, "Check out her name tag; it's rad." Instead of a hard plastic, biz-style nameplate, Beasley sported a downsized wooden replica of a single-fin long-board with her name inscribed on it! Too cool.
Surfboards on the roof. Replicas for name tags. Fig and I knew we were at the right place.
Inside were more than two dozen boards neatly displayed, including pristine paddleboards with deep Vs in the bottom that served as rudders, which contrasts with the tiny, five-inch fins now being used on boards.
Beasley gave us the story behind a board made in Hawaii about 70 years ago. The donor didn't know its value until he was offered $4,000 for it, after he used \o7 nails\f7 to attach a rear skeg on it.
Figgy and I gave the bloke an A for treasure hunting and an F on the modification.
A large piece of granite, encased in plexiglass, caught Fig's eye. It was the cornerstone of the old Huntington Beach Pier that was unearthed during the recent demolition. Inside the granite is a time capsule containing among other things, a June 12, 1914, edition of the Huntington Beach News, which highlighted the city's celebration of the new pier.
Beasley read us a News report identifying participants in the celebration. Hawaiian surfer George Freeth's name was mentioned for a "surfboard riding" demonstration.
"We're very proud of this because we believe that George Freeth may have been the first surfer in Huntington Beach. This was back in 1914," Beasley said.
Beasley, who is always willing to conduct tours, said that since the museum's creation in 1988, it has been slowly gaining widespread prominence. The London Times, French Skateboard magazine, and Australian Living surfing magazine are among the publications that have done stories on it.
Visitors, well-known surfers and celebrities are always dropping by. Dean Torrence of the pop group Jan and Dean lives nearby. Dick Dale cruises in, and so does Robert August, who starred in Bruce Brown's classic documentary "The Endless Summer."
Last September, Louis Kahanamoku, a brother of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing, attended a fund-raiser at the museum. He told stories about the Duke, growing up in Hawaii, and added insight and background to the museum's photograph collection.
Surf artists have also found a home at the museum's latest addition, the Nalu Art Gallery. In the past, the gallery has featured artist Ken Auster and others.
The watercolor and acrylic beach scenes of Donald MacDonald (a.k.a. D.J. Mac) of Huntington Beach are being featured. D.J. Mac's captured a beach scene of the pier that excited Rockin' Fig, who surfs the north side with his band of pier rats.
Beasley said the artist's exhibit is especially popular with surfers here because his backdrops are local scenes. For those who surf north of Golden West Street, you have to check out D.J. Mac's "Life Guard Tower 20." It's almost like being there, and you don't even have to feed the parking meter.
On April 4, surfers from the famed Palos Verdes Surf Club are bringing an exhibit that will include the photography of LeRoy Grannis.
The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is at 411 Olive St. Hours are noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free, but donations are suggested. For kicks, have Beasley tell you about the Duke's stolen hood ornament. For more information, call (714) 960-3483.
Contests: Jeff Booth of Laguna Beach beat Rob Machado of Cardiff to take first at the U.S. Bud Surf Tour contest at Seaside Reef in San Diego County. Contestants had excellent, four- to six-foot surf, with a high tide that flooded the parking lot. Larry Rios of Hawaii was third. Dale Dobson of Encinitas won the long-board competition, beating Josh Baxter of San Clemente and Mike Downey of Huntington Beach. In bodyboarding, Hawaii's Chris Burkart took first, followed by Jay Reale and Brian Wise, both of San Clemente.