I knew Margo Godfrey (as she was then known) was very young when she took 4th in the 1965 SURFER Poll. I didn’t know till just now that she was in fact just 12 on the night of the awards ceremony in mid-April 1966. A braces-wearing sixth-grader! With that in mind, my newly adjusted Top-Five Greatest Preteen Surfers is as follows:
1. Jeff Hakman
2. Margo Godfrey
3. Donald Takayama
4. Jeremy Flores
5. Carissa Moore
Hakman for the win, I think, because at 12 he was riding hefty North Shore waves on a board he shaped himself—but the competition-oriented among you might give Margo the nod over Jeff, and I wouldn’t argue. In 1965 she won the debut Menehune 12-and-under event at La Jolla Shores, not only beating the other female entries but all the young dudes as well. “Blonde Margo Godfrey surfed off with top honors,” Patrick McNulty wrote in SURFER. “She turned on with some fabulous noserides that really showed the boys up.” The accompanying photo shows Godfrey in a very Dora-esque moment of nose-trim, face calm, hands by her sides, smooth and stylish way beyond her years. That write-up alone probably secured her 4th-place finish in the SURFER Poll. Margo was 3rd for the next two years, behind Joyce Hoffman and Joey Hamasaki, then hit #1 in ’68, following her win (at age 15) in that year’s World Championships, then repeated in ’69, at which point the Poll was retired for eight years.
In 1978, when the Poll returned, Margo was still on top, and if we were to make another Top Five list of surfers who landed that Evel Knievel-like jump from longboards to shortboards, she’s up in the mix there, too.
Oh, all right . . .
1. Nat Young
2. Jeff Hakman
3. Jock Sutherland
4. Margo Oberg
5. (tie) Midget Farrelly, Joey Cabell
And of all those adaptable souls who so magnificently crossed over, long to short, only one stayed at the very top of the game all the way into the 1980s, and that of course is the Divine Miss M, who won her fourth world title and fifth SURFER Poll in 1981. She was still only 28.
Meanwhile, way over here on the other side of the age spectrum . . . .
“Dead in the Bathtub at 99? You Could Do Worse!” was the header on a long-ish 2016 blog post that didn’t make the cut for EOS 2.0. The first bit of the post, which I’m glad is finding a new home here, reads as follows:
I don’t actually know for sure if Pop Proctor, vagabond surfer, heart and soul of Doheny State Beach, died in the tub. But I have a Life magazine article here on geezer surfers that says Proctor, in 1979, age 97, finally lost his driver’s license, after which “he spent most of his time in the bathtub” until he died two years later. Proctor was born in Tynemouth, England, in 1881. Came to America with his folks, but got sent back from the godless colonies at age 12 for a proper Catholic school education. From there, it was the usual—merchant marine, gold miner, ferryman, blacksmith, steamboat engineer, rum-runner. Proctor didn’t start surfing until age 56, at which point he’d drive 450 miles from his home near Sacramento to San Onofre, and back again. Did it all the time.
Proctor bought a panel van when he retired, installed a bed, and parked at Doheny. At dusk he would trawl the nearshore reefs for dinner, and every night he had a glass of red wine and 7-Up. Did some lifeguarding, and held court in the afternoons with the local gremmies. Sometime after Halloween, he’d gas up the van and drive to Anza-Borrego, a mostly uninhabited desert area two hours east of San Diego, where he’d stay until May.
Proctor vowed that he would surf until 100, but everything depended on him keeping the van, and when the license went, so did the wheels. Not sure where Proctor spent his final two years, an Orange Country seniors’ facility would be a good guess, but what I read into that Life epitaph is that the bathtub was the closest thing he could find to the ocean. I like to think that, in the end, Pop lowered himself in for a nice soak, drained his wine-and-7-Up, closed his eyes and paddled into the hereafter with a giant lobster scrabbling on the deck of his board.
Thanks for reading, everybody, and see you next week!
[The first part of today’s Sunday Joint is a repost from 2021. Photo grid, clockwise from top left: Margo Godfrey, Sunset, around 1977; 1968 SURFER Poll portrait, photo by Brad Barrett; 1967 Ocean Beach noseriding photo by Ron Stoner; North Shore, 1968, by Greg MacGillivray. Margo surfing Kauai in 1980, photo by Bernie Baker. At the 1978 SURFER Poll Awards with Steve Pezman and fellow winner Shaun Tomson, photo by Tom Servais. Pop Proctor knee-paddling at San Onofore in 1951. Surfing Doheny in 1967, photo by Stanley Wulff. Proctor and his beloved panel van.]