Houses of the Holy

Greg Noll team, 1966. Photo: Val Valentine
Waxing up at the Ranch, 1966. Photo: Ron Stoner
Gordon and Smith Surfboards, 1963
Maryland surf shop, around 1965

The late-'50s surf shop was an exercise in minimalism: a wood countertop and a few boards in a bare-walled “showroom” attached to a fumy garage-sized workspace stocked with a drum of resin, a roll of fiberglass, some cardboard mixing buckets, and two or three sets of boardmaking racks. This was all reconfigured during the boom. By the mid-'60s, surf shops were mostly clean (if never fully sanitized), decorated, and fully provisioned. The “gone surfing” sign that used to hang from a locked fro...

The surf shop was a clubhouse and salon as well as a factory-retail outlet. A hot local surfer or two could usually be found on premises, either making boards or working the counter; gremmies dutifully shuffled in after school or on weekends as much to be in the presence of greatness as to check out the new merchandise.