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A Ride Through O’side Surf History

By February 16, 2021February 18th, 2021Stories

Surfing culture is vibrant and alive in O’side! The history surrounding the sport’s lifestyle and uniqueness is spotlighted at none other than Oceanside’s California Surf Museum (CSM)! Since 1986, CSM has worked to preserve iconic surf memorabilia for visitors and locals alike to experience the joy, skill, culture, technique and entertainment of surfing, water sports and the ocean firsthand. The museum hosts rotating exhibits in addition to its signature historical timeline of surfboards, Bethany Hamilton’s shark-bitten surfboard and MORE! While the exhibits explore the global influences that contributed to the sport of surfing, the museum also highlights local Oceanside surf stories and athletes. Get a taste of the historic O’side surf scene with the epic throwback photos below archived by CSM Staff Historian Jane Schmauss.

Young Phil Edwards and Local Surfers

Phil Edwards on the cover of Surfer Magazine

Phil Edwards, who became the world’s first professional surfer in the late 1960s, was raised in Oceanside and honed his considerable skills on the local beaches. In 1999 Surfer magazine featured him as one of the “25 Most Influential Surfers of the Century.” At thirteen Phil was part of the brand-new junior lifeguards program, and by age eighteen he was making and selling balsa wood surfboards out of his garage. His ­­­superb craftsmanship also extended to designing and building catamarans with a successful career with brand Hobie!

Pacific Street "Then" // McClendon Family Photo

Pacific Street "Now"

Robert Lee “Black Mac” McClendon was a San Diego local who shaped his first boards with balsa wood and eventually progressed to foam and fiberglass. His family is pictured along the Oceanside shoreline with Pacific Street in the background! Today, when you visit Oceanside beaches, Pacific Street is still an iconic coastal stretch you’ll often find surfers snagging a parking spot on before they head down to catch a wave! Even with decades gone by, the convenience, breaks and weather continue to attract phenomenal surfers and their families to Oceanside.

Oceanside Surfing Club 1950s

Oceanside Surfing Club 1950s

Having a surf shack on the beach was a hot idea in the late-1950s, and a group of teens decided to call themselves the Oceanside Surf Club. Overnight they constructed a wood-and-bamboo structure that would provide shade from the summer sun, support their sturdy longboards, and create a “clubhouse” vibe. Local authorities, however, ruled that the hut was a liability on city property, and it had to be torn down. Today the Oceanside Longboard Club maintains the surf club tradition and is an active participant in numerous community events.

Special thanks to CSM Staff Historian Jane Schmauss for providing the photos and stories featured in this blog!