can anyone help me better understand (surf) nostalgia


Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2017
For me with surfing there was an immediate fascination with the boards and the fact that they were all unique and handshaped. Being on the east coast as a kid in the mid ‘80s I learned about boards based on whatever friends had or whatever we could find for free/cheap. Meanwhile every other consumer product was being mass produced in uniform fashion and except for the most expensive products was on a race to the bottom with cost/quality (think of decline in quality of most stereo equipment from the ‘70s to the ‘80s). Surfing had a non-corporate quality that was attractive to me then and the old boards still have that for me now. There are new boards/shapers that also have this to varying degrees but IMHO some of that is just fostered by carefully curated IG feeds.

Skating is a bit different. I had a Thrasher subscription when it was on newsprint, very non-corporate, and showed a world that was completely foreign to what I had experienced. I designed and helped build a ridiculous half pipe the summer I turned 12. I begged my dad to take my friends to the only reasonably nearby skatepark (spinning wheels). I still get out and skate and it’s one of the things I’ve been doing more of back on the east coast. I don’t have old decks on the walls but do buy and skate old completes or components when I find them cheap because it’s fun, reminds me of my youth, and I skate so poorly these days that the equipment doesn’t really impact performance much.


Well-Known Member
May 14, 2015
Ventura, CA
There was an old head that would sit way outside at the Fort Pierce inlet. He might catch a wave every hour but for the most part he'd just run his mouth. You could hear him from your car while you waxed your board in the parking lot - "I was surfing here before you were born!" or "if you think it's good now you should have been here 45 years ago!"

Isn't it just mentally exhausting to compare everything to the way it was _ years ago? I imagine there's an old head somewhere that stands in the back of Lowe's mouthing off to everyone under 70 about how a washer and dryer was $18.99 at Sears Roebuck when they bought their first house.

I'm 30 so I'd imagine the next time I see a 15 year old surfing I can tell them that I've been surfing for longer than they've been alive....just hasn't crossed my mind that anyone gives a shit.

Moral of the story from my perspective relative to the nostalgia of it all might be to just enjoy it today for what it's worth. Everyone wishes it was less crowded and you could still buy a home by the beach for $400,000....


Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2015
PNW between here and there
Actually, despite my seemingly dismissive response, really does some it up. You really got me thinking further about stuff I'd conveniently forgotten.
Nostalgia as such seems to be proportional to the feeling of ones past, their youth(fulness) perhaps in this case, as idyllic. For many here it seems that it probably was a wonderful time and hence the great stories and memories.
This was just not my reality. The 1st 10-12 years of my life I bounced around from one shitty step-family situation to another every 6-month or so and I never established meaningful friendships or solid memories other than that the beach was always near. By 15 I was a drunk drug addled degenerate living on my own hand to mouth and on my way to being expelled from high school. My 20's and 30's were just a shit show of attempts to keep my head above water. An good memories during this time are lost in the haze. This definitely explains ( to me at least) why surfing was/is an escape rather that a mirror for admiring how bitchen life once was.
We are closer as brothers than you may realize...never knew my father, nutz mother married 6 times, state took my sister and I way as youngsters and put us in a f'd up foster home for a year where we were both seriously abused...grew up angry, ready to fight at the slightest provocation, sister spent her life as a pain pill addict, wasted away into a shell..
Stumbled across surfing at 12, and it was like I had been living in the dark my whole lif, and the sun suddenly rose...nothing else matterred, just water time, embracing the pure joy felt every paddle out, and surfing became much more than a mere obsession, it became my sanctuary, the core center of my life.
Was also lucky that I did not have the addict gene...used most, never got a hold on me,...surfing was just too important to fuk up.
As much as I loved surfing, it only got better falling in love with the most wonderful, kind and supportive woman and raising our three kids together...surfing became avocation instead of vocation, because my family meant everything to being the father I never had and the kids needed, released me from the past baggage I had been dragging behind...

deep dive for a Jamboards thread...when a brother says how it is, however, gotta be real...we're all in this together, the minor shit matters not, only the core of who we are, and what we do..

this life, this long as we're still breathing, as long as we've been given another day, we can still try and make it right for ourselves and the folks we care about...and it starts by forgiving ourself and forgiving others for the pain we've felt and caused.

The best thing about surfing? It's always there waiting for us...
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Well-Known Member
Sep 7, 2010
I've been obsessed with other sports. Wrestled through college (DIII, mediocre), baseball until 22 (sh*tbird middle infielder), fast-pitch softball until my 30s, slo-pitch until 50. Four teams at a time, weekend tournaments, 120-plus games a year. Judo, swimming, basketball, football. My feeling about surfing is completely different from any of those. I'll come across a college wrestling match while flipping through channels, the only words in the thought bubble above my head are, "What the hell was I thinking?" Went to a Nats-Orioles game a few weeks ago with my wife and son and was bored to tears. (Exceptionally bad baseball -- pick-off throws to the wrong side of the bag, infielders, arrogant about their arms, too deep to make the play -- will do that.) But surfing's on another level. Can't really describe how I feel about it (so won't even try), except to say that the awareness I've had while competing in other sports is completely absent in surfing. No clue why. I remember matches from four decades ago with absolute clarity, the way a guy telegraphed his shots, blah blah blah, but on a wave my mind goes utterly blank. It's a little maddening. Does anyone else experience this? It's as if the whole thing exists above or beyond my comprehension (as do a lot of things), the record button isn't pressed, so there's nothing to replay. All I know is I want to do it again.

The only other thing I'll add is that I not only don't miss any of the other sports but am mystified if not regretful that I expended so much time and energy on them. I don't feel that way about surfing. I'll miss it when I can't do it anymore. Big time.


Well-Known Member
Dec 2, 2014
It's 2am, I'm very buzzed, but... for some reason this thread popped into my mind after a disucssion with my brother-in-law about San Diego in the "old days". Discounting memories of my wife and kids, most of my really amazing, personal memories involve surfing in some way.
"borrowing" my dad's Catalina and anchoring out in the kelp beds at whatever that spot was at the end of Point Loma on a big swell when I was 16 or so... my brother telling me that I had to dive in and tie the boat off to some strands of kelp because we didn't know how to anchor it properly and were afraid to get caught if we lost the anchor... Crazy big righthanders that felt like they were in the middle of nowhere....
Surfing Oceanside Harbor on a big swell and, later in the day, getting demasted coming into the harbor on a freak set when the channel hadn't been dredged for a while. My dad refused to abandon ship when ordered to do so and we brought the boat into harbor in spite of it all.... My dad and brother got washed overboard and I still remember overthrowing the life ring to my dad by about 30 feet due to the adreneline rush...
Driving south from La Jolla Cove on a giant day in the mid 90's looking for a spot "small enough" to surf until we hit Salsipuedes just huge and perfect. I was supposed to be finishing my student teaching by I told my mentor that I just had to go and she understood. Tore myself to shreds on the rocks getting out that day but it was quite a marker...
Watching Endless Summer when I was maybe 12 and my dad brought it home from the Jr. High where he worked. Everyone else went on to watch whatever football game was on that afternoon while I just sat there and realized that my life was changed.
Learning about old boards, hanigng out in shops, learning about ding repair, then about shaping... so much beyond and including the act of wave riding that has just changed and enhanced my life. I'm super nostalgic about surfing and surf culture, and super stoked about where I'm headed with it, wherever that may be.
Jeez, I love this life.


Well-Known Member
Jun 23, 2009
USA California
Smokin pot in my Buddy's garage while we fixed the dings. 70's vintage surf posters everywhere. I remember how cool we looked covered in foam dust. Juuuuust before it became a "sport".


Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2015
PNW between here and there
r that spot was at the end of Point Loma on a big swell when I was 16 or so...
'Ralph's'...a friend lived on Sunset Clffs, would stay with him coming and going from Baja..a couple of times we took his small sailboat with kicker out there, motor downriver to the point, sail back when the wind kicked...way fun wave...coming back one trip, he said want to have some we approached the sub base, he suddenly veered south and went past the warning signs...and here came the patrol boat, gunner on the forward 50 cal, siren going...the chewing we got before they let us proceed upriver...


Well-Known Member
May 7, 2006
Staying in the Game and thinking back over the years surfing affords me that last vestige of my youth.


Well-Known Member
Mar 17, 2010
Southern California
My mantra to this is that everyone has their own surf journey. Some pick up logging early and perch his brain off right in front of you when you just found out how deep and fun logging is but you're already old and knees hurt and cannot drop knee with style. Some get to travel to Mexico, Indo, Morocco and cherish the best waves of their lives while you are stuck with a quick hour session locally before your kids soccer practice and continue the routine until they graduate high school. But in the same sense your soul can never be copied by someone, nor could it ever be stolen, your surf journey is the one and only. At the end what stokes you is the only thing essential for you. Finding no common sentiment is normal I think because it's not your journey, and in my case, I can't relate by only surfing local beach breaks or points for the past decade haha
And I only have 3 boards haha(cry)haha but more than enough to keep me stoked - going into 7th year with my HotGen and it still blows my mind. But it's not really the gears nor if tropical island or not. It's that moment of experience sliding down on a beautiful natural phenomenon that keeps you sane and back to your natural state. It's def not a sport for me, but for some, it's an act to maybe become an Olympic gold medalist? and all hail to that it sounds like an awesome surf journey ;)


Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2004
USA New Jersey CMC
I started surfing in 67 or older brother bought me a 9' popout from Keller's shop in Lavallette, NJ for $35. I grew up surfing with a handful of other guys in my North Jersey suburban town at the cusp of the shortboard era. Going to/from the different Monmouth and Ocean County beaches was relatively easy then. Some guys were fortunate enough to have family beach homes then...always my dream...literally, I dreamed of walking or riding a bike to the beach.

Life comes at you pretty fast when you think about it. Girlfriends, careers,family. I became a cop in NJ in the late 70s-80s. North Jersey... Jersey City. I rented a shitty old apartment with another cop and also had a place at the beach. Monmouth County, Avon. We worked 4/10s so I had 3 days off every 4 days. It was OK. By then, I had become friends with guys that grew up blocks from the beach and were truly hardcore surfers...not weekend warrior types. Those guys turned out to be my best buddies to this day...and they still surf, one still competitively. My other best buddy moved to San Diego and became a fireman and still surfs almost every day.
Things went pretty well after I left the cops and entered the corporate world....lots of travel: US, Canada, Europe and we were able to swing buying that dream home a walk/bike ride from the beach and I tried to pass on the passion I had for surfing to my kids. It kind of stuck with my son...who liked skateboarding as much as surfing, but fishing even more, not so much with my daughter who plays tennis and golf but married a surfer, even though he rides shortboards.
I believe surfing is one strong connection to a life lived very close to the ocean. It's kind of weird in a way. Most people fret over approaching storms, hurricanes and head away from the beach.
I'm fascinated by the changes and love watching and being there from beginning to end. I see much the same connection with guys that fish. Both surfers and fishermen are in tune with weather patterns, winds, temperature changes, etc...Although, the guys that fish have more gear and gadgets and offshore fishing with boats, twin outboards, a whole different world.
I can think of no other activity in my life that has had the influence on almost every other aspect that surfing has had.