Hermosa Surfing Walk of Fame inductees (seated) John Baker, Hap Jacobs, Tom Rice, Bob Meistrell and Paul Matthies. (standing) Alf Laws, Henry Ford, Daryl Dickie, Dave Boyce (not an inductee), Steve Wilkings, Sonny Vardeman, Mike Purpus, John Joseph, Peff Eick and Derek Levy.
Mark Levy spoke of fellow Surfing Walk of Fame inductee Steve Wilkings’ years at Surfer Magazine as the halcyon days. But though Levy was a generation younger, he too enjoyed at least the tail end of surfing’s golden era, from the late ‘50s through the early ‘70s. Levy won Junior U.S. Surfing Championships in 1974.
Now, he said, during his comments Saturday at the hall of fame inductions, held at the foot of the Hermosa Beach pier, the South Bay surfing is experience a new golden era, thanks to the walk of fame committee, headed by SB High School Surf League director John Joseph, and to the two-year-old South Bay Boardriders Club, co-founded by Levy’s brother Derek, Mike Balzer and Tom Horton.
“I’m a lucky man. All of us are, to be here on this day, at this time,” Levy said. As he spoke the spring sky was blue and warm, and a few hundred feet away, on the south side of the pier, Mira Costa and Redondo high school alumni were holding a surf contest in fast, peaky, three-foot waves. Levy had to excuse himself to blow his nose during his talk. He wasn’t over come by emotion. His sinuses were dripping seawater from his morning surf session. Levy credited the greatest part of his lucky life to his waterman father Saul.
Wilkings confirmed Levy’s memories of surfing in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. His biggest conflict during those years was deciding whether to take photos or surf, he recalled.
Wilkings bought his first camera from Bustler’s Camera onHermosa Avenuein 1964, and that same year sold his first photo to surfing magazine.
Friend Jim Cubberly, who introduced Wilkings, described Wilkings as a star maker because so many of the photos he took of fellow Hermosans, including Mike Purpus, Alf Laws, John Teague and John Baker, were published in Surfer.
In accepting his plaque, Wilkings thanked his photography mentor and fellow Walk of Fame inductee Leroy Grannis, who passed away last year.