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Back in 1934
Back in 1934, the total number of surfers in California was estimated at
approximately 80, most all in Southern California. "Because the number of
surfers was still relatively small," wrote Carin Crawford, "in the 1930s
and early 1940s, the arrival of each new participant was
duly noted -- it was a period in which surfers would stop to greet each
other when passing on the road." One newspaper report estimated that within
ten years after World War II's dramatic ending there were, "as many as 1500
surfers in Southern California." In his History of Surfing, Nat Young
wrote, "The surfing population grew to 5,000, with little colonies of dedicated
surfers springing up at Windansea, Oceanside, Laguna, Huntington Beach,
the South Bay, Malibu, Santa Cruz and good old San Onofre. They were all
aware of each other's existence through the movement of lifeguards up and
down the coast. These lifeguards formed a strong, prestigious movement which
had begun with Freeth [the first professional lifeguard] at Redondo and
spread to other places; they were responsible for patrolling the surfing
beaches of California from towers erected every mile or so along each beach.
In the early years they were State-controlled; later the county took over
their administration. Because the job paid well, and it put them right where
they wanted to be, most of California's finest surfers were lifeguards at
some stage of their careers."