The Law of Attraction centers around the belief that like attracts like. When you surround yourself with positive people and positive thoughts, great things happen. The Manhattan Beach Surf Club in the 1950s was prime example of the phenomenon, as it attracted two of the most legendary figures in the history of surfing. It was in this club that Dale Velzy met Greg Noll and taught him how to shape surfboards. Noll then passed his craft (and surf shop) on to Eddie Talbot in 1972. Eddie and his partners picked up where Noll left off and changed the name to E.T. Surfboards.
I don’t remember exactly when my twin brother, Eric, and I first went in to E.T. Surfboards, I just know we were young. We didn’t surf yet, but were hypnotized by the smell of freshly glassed surfboards, Neoprene, Sex Wax, and the salty air of nearby Hermosa Beach. The colors were intoxicating (this would have been the early 1980s in the height of the neon era). Our eyes would dart from Slime Balls wheels to Body Glove wetsuits to the airbrush jobs on custom Pat Ryan or Ronnie Williamson boards. We knew we couldn’t afford anything in that store, but we were determined to be a part of it.
In 1987, no one cared about hockey in California. California was the land of beaches and women in sexy bikinis, not pasty white, mullet-sporting men in hockey sweaters. That is until Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. Hockeymania hit and everyone was trading in their volleyballs and beach cruisers for rollerblades and street hockey sticks. The Kings acquired Kelly Hrudey the following year to team up with Gretzky and Luc Robitaille in an effort bring a Stanley Cup to L.A. But, they needed to attract more fans to the games to help pay for their investment. So, they sent Hrudey and Robitaille out to surf and skate shops all over the South Bay to perform slap shot and goal tending demos. And, yeah…my brother and I went. We caught Hrudey and Robitaille at Dive N’ Surf in Redondo Beach. Of course we watched the demo, but the most impressive thing we saw that day was “the pool.” The history of Dive N’ Surf, Bob and Bill Meistrell, and the invention of the wetsuit is too rich for this space. It deserves a blog all on its own. But, “the pool” (an actual swimming pool) was the area in the back where the wetsuit was invented. Since the 1950s, it has become a place to train new divers proper techniques before they hit the deep sea.
A year or so later, my brother and I pooled together $10 and bought a used, neon green surfboard at a garage sale. The board was missing a center fin and had pressure dings all over it. But, it was our baby. It had to be. It was the only board we had between the two of us. The first thing we did was slap two stickers on it: one for Dive N’ Surf and an E.T. Surfboards sticker.
It is the lore of E.T. Surfboards and Dive N’ Surf that sucked me and my brother in. Everyone wants to be a part of something special and we were no different. The history of surfing and diving could not be told without mentioning these two shops and we felt lucky to somehow be a part of them (no matter how inconsequential of a part that may have been). Shopping at E.T. and Dive N’ Surf was like paying homage to the legends that have walked through their doors and the contributions that each have made to surfing and diving. With every step through those buildings, we felt like we were ensuring that their respective legacies would live on.