The place of San Onofre in the history of surfing, subject of a new book

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David Matuszak has been surfing the waters of San Diego County for over 40 years. One of her favorite spots is San Onofre State Beach at the northern tip of Camp Pendleton.

About eight years ago he got the idea to write about the memories of his friend Wally Duesler, a pioneering surfer who first surfed in San Onofre in 1937. He came up with a 50 to 100 booklet pages. But before he even started his research, Duesler told his surfing friends about the idea, and they wanted to share their memories as well.

“From there, the project turned into a runaway train. What I thought was a six-month project turned into an eight-year odyssey and a labor of love, ”said Matuszak.

One by one, dozens of original San Onofre surfers invited Matuszak to their home to tell their stories. He recorded oral histories of each of them and collected hundreds of historical photographs from their family photo albums that chronicle the early days of surfing in California dating back to the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

It was the start of what turned out to be a comprehensive 1,550 page story of surf culture and the role San Onofre played in shaping that legacy.

Matuszak’s massive body of work, “San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surf Beach,” includes 5,000 illustrations and interviews with nearly 200 surfers, some world-famous and some pioneers who made surfing a quintessential California sport. .

“This is the story of California surf culture seen through the eyes of surfers at San Onofre Surf Beach,” said Matuszak, who has ridden from Redlands to San Onofre every week for decades to surf.

Leilani Dowding at Old Man’s in San Onofre in 2015 with the vintage Jacobs longboard by Matuszak circa 1961.
Excerpt from “San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surf Beach”, by David Matuszak.

(Pacific Sunset Edition)

The book includes famous surf names like Tom Pōhaku Stone, Mickey Munoz, Paul Strauch, Corkey Carroll, Joyce Hoffman, Mike Doyle, Jericho Poppler, Keith Malloy, Steve Pezman, Glenn Hening, Steve and Barrie Boehne, Tom Morey, John Severson, Bill Stewart and Bing Copeland.

“But the real stars of the book are the countless ‘Regular Joe’ surfers,” said Matuszak. “It was the surfers who created the aloha spirit that is the hallmark of the San Onofre lifestyle.”

Matuszak set out to weave their stories and place them in a historical and cultural context.

“Everything about surfing is explored in depth: the art of surfing, music, cinema, literature, lifestyle, the evolution of surf clothing, surf vehicles, African-American surfers, surfers and the impact that San Onofre’s surf culture has had on the world, ”says Matuszak.

The book covers the history and culture of surfing from around the world dating back to the early days of surfing in Polynesia, Peru and Africa and delves into the history of San Onofre, dating back to Native Americans, Spanish settlers, rancheros, farmers and at present -day Camp Pendleton.

“The book takes you through the rich beach and surf heritage of San Onofre and beyond, and touches on all kinds of related topics – such as surf music, art, clothing, founding families and cars – and connects them all to the big picture. It’s a meticulously researched labor of love, a monumental tribute to a magical place in California beach history, “said Jane Schmauss, founding member of the California Surf Museum and her historian The museum shop is one of the local surf shops that sell the book.

"San Onofre: Memories of a legendary surf beach,"

“San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surf Beach”, book cover.

(Courtesy of Pacific Sunset Publishing)

“My primary goal is to allow the reader to experience all aspects of San Onofre’s surf culture and begin to understand the significance of the contributions San Onofre has made to California and global culture,” said Matuszak.

“Ultimately, for those of us who have arrived too late to experience the golden age of surfing in San Onofre, I want every surfer to feel like we have lived through those years that were truly the Shangri-La of surfing. ”

One of the most salient characteristics of San Onofre is its aloha spirit.

“Given these troubling and conflicting times, the rest of the country could learn a lesson in the peaceful coexistence and harmony that has been San Onofre’s hallmark for nearly a century,” said Matuszak.

A first limited edition of the book was published two years ago and now a general-purpose general edition is sold in San Diego County surf shops as well as pacificsunset.com. List price is $ 79.95.


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