Hermosa to honor surf pioneers Scholes, Meine, Bergstrom, Anderson, Miller and Linder
Fenton Scholes, Dick “Mo” Meine
Fenton “Fent” Scholes is the sole surviving member of the Palos Verdes Surf Club, founded in 1935. This Saturday he and Mo Meine, who passed away March 26 at age 96, will join fellow Palos Verdes Surf Club members Doc Ball, Leroy Grannis and Calvin “Tulie” Clark as Pioneers on the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame. Scholes competed in the first Catalina Classic paddleboard race from Catalina to the Manhattan Beach in 1939 on a twelve foot redwood paddleboard.
He will be accompanied at his induction by Dixie, his wife of seven decades, whom he took tandem surfing at Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes on their first date.
“After we paddled out I asked if she knew how to swim and she said no. I should have known then that she was out to land me,” Scholes said in a 2008 Easy Reader interview. In a 26 stanza poem, dated January 1940 and titled “A Surfing Widow,” Dixie wrote:
They sit upon the beach and wait
Inside their thoughts do smolder
If looks could kill the surfers would
Be placed beneath some boulders
But then their patience is rewarded
As their surfer they do meet
Even though they truly know
He only came to eat.
Scholes’ 11-foot balsa surfboard will be on display Friday evening at the Hermosa Historical Society Surfer Walk of Fame open house. Scholes shaped it and varnished the Swastika Surfboard Company balsa blank shortly after World War II.
“But I wasn’t happy with the way it rode,” he told Easy Reader. “So, I took it to Dale Velzy’s shop under the Manhattan pier and asked him to reshape it. We had a hell of an argument, but I got him to shape it somewhere between what I wanted and he wanted. Then he fiberglassed it and it worked really well. It was the first fiberglass balsa board I ever saw.”
Dick “Mo” Meine, a Manhattan Beach home builder, was also an original member of the Palos Verdes Surf Club and began surfing redwood boards with Scholes at Bluffs Cove in the mid 1930s. In the mid ‘60s, Meine started “The International Surfing Magazine” out of Hermosa Beach with photographer and fellow Palos Verdes Surf Club member and Hermosa Beach Surf Walk of Fame inductee Leroy Grannis, editor Dick Graham, and surf filmmaker Bud Browne. The magazine evolved into “Surfing Magazine.” Like Scholes, Meine continued to surf Bluffs Cove through his late 70s.
Warren Miller built his first paddleboard, a hollow square tail, during his Junior High school wood shop class in 1937, based on plans he found in Popular Mechanics. He and his family lived in Topanga, which afforded him the opportunity to surf uncrowded Malibu. On the morning of December 7, 1942, he was surfing when he learned the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
He also surfed uncrowded San Onofre on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base with fellow members of the San Onofre Surfing Club. Club members were entitled to keys to the guarded base.
One of Miller’s first boards was a Dale Velzy/Hap Jacobs. This early purchase launched a lifelong between Miller and Jacobs.
Prior to becoming a celebrated maker of over 500 ski films (which always contained a segment on surfing), Miller taught skiing at Sun Valley, Idaho. One of his students was Frederick Kroner. After the Pacific Palisades writer shared stories of his daughter surfing at Malibu, Miller encouraged him to put them into a book. The stories became the 1957 novel “Gidget,” which launched the Golden Era of Surfing.
Miller moved to Hermosa Beach with his family in 1961 and operated Warren Miller Entertainment on Pier Avenue for over four decades. He and friends built a surf reef from sandbags in front of his home on The Strand at 31st Street. The reef produced ridable waves for three winters before disintegrating. When the Hermosa Beach Junior Lifeguard program was floundering in the early years of its formation Miller and a group of friends raised funds to keep the program alive.
Throughout Miller’s 55-year career as a filmmaker, he filmed body surfing at The Wedge in Newport, big waves in Hawaii, windsurfing inventor Hoyle Schweitzer and Pacific Cat inventor Carter Pyle surfing waves in Palos Verdes, San Onofre and Dana Point.
Miller now write a regular column and draw cartoons for newspapers across the country and for Surfer’s Journal and Ski Magazine.
At 90, his affair with the mountains and the sea continues. He spends his winters in Montana and his summers on the San Juan Islands.
Bob Bergstrom, Stu Linder, Beacher Anderson
“Guys like Bob Bergstrom and Stu Linder had a palm-front hut at 21st Street,” Surf and Ski Shop owner Dick Mobley remembered in a 2005 Easy Reader interview. “I learned a lot from them, how to work with your hands to make something neat. They were hot-rodders, and surfers, and sailors. They had style and I wanted to be like them.”
Bergstrom, respectfully nicknamed the “Beach Captain,” ran his own marine store, and later managed the King Harbor boat yard for many years. One day, after a morning of good waves, Bergstrom got out of the water with his balsa board and decided he was done with surfing. He gave his board to an eager kid he didn’t even know. The story inspired a similar scene in John Milius’ film “Big Wednesday.”
Bergstrom and Linder built some of the first modern catamarans, which they kept on the beach at 22nd Street, in front of Bergstrom’s home.
Linder would became a respected sailor, who competed in the early Transpacific Yacht Races, from Point Fermin to Diamond Head , and became an even more respected film editor. In 1996, he won the Academy Award for his film editing of “Grand Prix.”
While celebrating Linder’s Oscar in Bergstrom’s patio, passersby were heard to say, “They’re just a bunch of surfers. That Oscar is a fake.”
Bergstrom, Linder and Beecher Anderson shaped boards in Bergstrom’s garage and kept their boards beneath a palm frond shack they built on the beach in front of Bergstrom’s home. Like this year’s Walk of Fame inductee John McFarlane, pioneers Bergstrom and Anderson continue to live on Hermosa walk streets, just feet from the sand. Both Bergstrom and Anderson have been instrumental throughout their eight decades in helping Hermosa preserve its small town character. Linder passed away in 2006. ER