WORD | California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties

Last night at a dinner party I was given the book California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties ($32). It came out a year and a half ago but I had never seen it. This is a special book in that it's not just capturing an aesthetic of an era or a niche sport's golden era—although it does that really well, it tells a story about Americans in the 50s. Yvon Chouinard, one of the book's three authors, said it so well in his intro:

"The fifties were easy years in California. With full employment from the Korean War, we were enjoying all the fruits of the fossil fuel culture. Gas was a quarter a gallon, used cars could be bought for twenty-five dollars, campgrounds were free, and you could easily live off the excess fat of society. Those of us in the countercultures of climbing and surfing were, as climber Peter Sinclair said, the last free Americans."

8 comments:

Jen G said...

"Valley Uprising" provides a more in depth look at the rock climbing revolution on Yosemite. It's pretty sick.

MarLa studio said...

Wow... yes - "the last free Americans". This is one badass book - thanks!

Mamavalveeta03 said...

Fantastic photos!

Anonymous said...

Great images! While I understand the feeling behind the book and the "last free Americans" quote by Yvon Chouinard, I feel the need to say that all this was possible because they were European/White Americans. Check out the doc "White Wash" (I saw it for free on Hulu) for an amazing story about surf history and POC. Thanks!

Lisa Style said...

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Julianoh Catacutan said...

I love old photos as I see in it the innocent face of the people.
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Casey Creates said...

Amazing! Now on my want list.

Phyl D said...

In the second photo there is a blonde-haired woman in the upper left-hand corner of the picture (with a dark jacket thrown over her shoulders) who looks just like a young Marilyn Monroe. Is that possible?