HOME >Valley Cowboys


An attempt at a historical perspective from SFV surfers past and present compiled by Editor, John Matthews, Cere Muscarella, Chris A, Robin Daniels, Mark Richards,Allen E. Rizzi.

Last update 11/17/2014

LA MAPThe term "Valley Cowboy" originated at Malibu surfrider beach. Before the release of the movie "Gidget" surfers were surfers, Many lived inland traveling anonymously to the beach fitting in with those lucky enough to live in beach towns. Surfing pioneer Bob Simmons lived in Pasadena, heck my Dad made a kook box at Pasadena HS woodshop class prior to WWII.

Then along came "Gidget". Gidget is a 1959 Columbia Pictures CinemaScope feature film. It stars Sandra Dee, Cliff Robertson, and James Darren in a story about a teenager's initiation into the California surf culture and her affiliated romance with a young surfer.

Post Gidget all young people wanted a piece of the action regardless to where they lived. Soon new faces began clogging line ups up and down the california coast and elsewhere. Malibu being the setting of Gidget was the place to go. The "Beach Party" movies fanned the flames. With minimal surfing skills these inlanders struggled to learn the new sport / lifestyle they embraced.

Ther orgination of the pro noun "Valley Cowboy" is unclear but most notably was published in surfing publications which attributed the phrase to Mickey Dora. Ironically Mickey was in "The Valley" chasing girls constantly. In the 50's and 60's there were still many ranches in the SFV before suburbia completely filled in. "Val" "Valley Kook" and other variations soon followed. Graphitti soon apperared "Valley Go Home", "No Vals" etc. on the wall at Malibu and other locations road side leading to the beach. Eventually any surfer living inland no matter where were considered "Val's" Localism was born.

Being a "Val" had its ups and downs in the 60's. The biggest upside was NO SURF REPORTS. Gremmies would mow lawns, collect bottles for refunds, do most anything for gas money. The older Val's who could drive would offset expences bringing the grems along. Not having the luxury of stepping out your door to check the waves, Valley surfers went out in any conditions considering the effort spent to get to the beach. Locals generally would only surf when it was up and or perfect dismissing windy, rainy, stormy conditions. Val's were friendly to one another back then. Car loads of surfers returning from the beach driving through malibu canyon would almost always give the thumb up or down to those heading to the coast communicating surf size. to be continued...

"Vals" filled the pockets of surf moguls from Velzy on. The clueless bought surfboards (pop outs) from sporting goods and department stores again enriching companies like Ventura Plastics, Healthways and more. My sister Pam surfed before I did. Her first surfboard was made by Joe Quigg, used cost $50. A fortune in the early sixties. I regret hacking it up using the foam for a later 60's transition era shortboard that rode poorly.

Val Surf LogoHistory was made in 1962 when Bill Richards and his three sons, Mark, Kurt, and Eric opened a shop in the San Fernando Valley that was to be the very first inland surf and skateboard shop of the time carrying all the top surfboard brands. Mark was president of the UCLA Surf Team in the mid '60's. They have 5 stores now and are still going strong after 50 years!


50 plus years of VAL SURF LOGOS
Above logos sent by Mark Richards, no relation to EDITOR lol :)

Valley Cowboys?

by Allen E. Rizzi

In the 1960s there were indeed many of us from the San Fernando Valley in the water at any given time. We embraced the sport as boldly as those who lived on the beach. Yes, we were envious of our beach friends even to the point where many of us later moved to the beach. I lived for a short while in El Portal near Manhattan, California and later in Santa Barbara just to be closer to the ocean. Most of us fit in quite well because we were great surfers and good sportsmen. There were definitely rivalries between coastal and valley surf clubs but nothing nasty that I can remember. Any grudges were settled in the water through regular contests and in the end we were all good friends. Pride, local and club affiliations were abundant but minus the unsportsmanlike conduct that grabs the news today. Back then surfing was considered a “clean” sport and I was proud to be a part of it, even though I lived in the town of San Fernando.

I believe Dora referred to all of us collectively as “Valley Kooks” and I’m sure that he was instrumental in the whole pejorative valley thing. Although I was never called a “Valley Cowboy” or anything of the sort, I do remember “Valley Go Home” as part of the graffiti that decorated the wall at Malibu. However, Dora’s name was there too along with others, some of whom were from the SFV. Most of us who lived as young teenagers in the San Fernando Valley regularly surfed more breaks than the beach dwellers. If you lived in Santa Barbara, you tended to surf breaks from Rincon northwards. Likewise, if you lived in Hermosa Beach, you tended to stay in the South Bay. Because we weren’t really near any breaks, we could head to the South Bay, north to Ventura or straight over Malibu Canyon to Malibu. Even Mexico wasn’t out of the question and we were regularly at K38 1/2. Nothing was out of reach and with gas being less than 25 cents a gallon, the whole coast was ours if we could just beat the quarters out of our friends we transported. I often took five other guys with me in my 1956 Chevy Wagon. At 50 cents a head, I was set and could captain that old boat anywhere!

The brand name of my first board (1962) was probably P.O.S. It was a terrible blank that was put together with terrible fiberglass by a friend with no skill. (You know who you are.) After it was broken in half by storm surf at Santa Monica a year later, I graduated to a 9’6” Jacobs for which I paid $120. That was a hell of a lot of scratch for those days so I took really good care of my baby. I surfed that Jacobs forever and in every competition that I entered. Eventually I picked up a couple of minor nose dings so I learned the art of fiber glassing from my father and opened-up a small repair shop. I parlayed the money I made from others’ misfortune along with a few blanks into what I thought would be a lasting name, Rizzi Surfboards. I think I made maybe a total of three boards, all 9’ 6” copies of my Jacobs. The only difference was that I reduced the square tail a bit and “un-chucked” the rails. I haven’t seen one since 1967.

While I remember Val Surf in North Hollywood, I was never really a Hobie fan so my visits were infrequent. I also remember the West Coast Surf Shop on Saticoy. However, like so many of us “Valley” surfers, I preferred surf shops that were where they should be; at the beach. It gave me an opportunity to meet the guys from the beach and learn from them. I soon found that the guys who lived at the beach and the guys who lived in the valley were all pretty much the same. The guys at Hope Ranch Surf Club and the Malibu Surfing Association, while having a bit of anti-valley prejudice at first, warmed up if you knew your way up and down a wall and weren’t a “wave hog.” In the end I had a lot of good friends in Malibu, Carpinteria, Manhattan Beach and Santa Barbara.

I remember vividly the reference to the “thumbs up, thumbs down” hand signaling that went on during road trips through Malibu Canyon. Also, if there was a really good swell going on, the traffic on that road would literally be bumper to bumper. This photo was snapped on our way to Malibu in 1965.

Malibu Canyon Allen E RizziOne trait that most of us “valley surfers” shared was to hit the road early or even the night before in order to be the first ones in the water. What we lacked geographically, we tried to make up by being crafty. I personally remember hearing a rumor about an 8 foot break at Malibu, driving to the beach at 1 a.m. and waiting for the first light so that I could be the “first one in.” (I was.) We eventually took this a step further and night surfed at Malibu when for sure there would be no one else around. It was a great technical training exercise, as you had to rely on sound more than sight. However, we soon learned that a moonless night could be catastrophic.

Simultaniously gararge's and cheap Industrial space spawned a growing surfboard industry in the San Fernando Valley. to be continued...


added info by editor

if anyone has info or details on Valley Surf Shops or lore, please send to: surfcrazy@sbcglobal.net









































































Aloha my friend.

Latest recollections..
Robin Daniels

About surf shops in "The Valley, I worked for Bob Pemberton in 1968 for a short time. I was a Santa Monica lad, it seemed strange to be working for a Valley surf shop, but my girlfriend (soon to be wife) had a crazy ex who had become psychotic so we fled SM for the safety of the Valley. It turns out my prejudice about the Valley surfers was ill founded. My wife to be,Dominique Preud'homme, was friends w/ Al Beach and Mike Sprock. Both Al and Mike contributed largely to our sport. And for the valley guys to make the trek to the coast was not easy. It required dedication. That localism existed in the north bay was no surprise, and those of us who had grown up there were justifiably pissed when the hordes showed up on good days. But after getting to know some of the valley guys, I realized they too went out whenever they could, good or bad. And to overcome the driving issue and just take a chance on finding waves took faith and determinism.

As a 20 year old with no skills, I was surprised when Bob hired me to build his display racks and help in the shop. I'd built a few board using Dave Sweet blanks, and had a back alley repair business of sorts, so he took a chance. Many trips to the Builders Emporium across the street were required, but I got the job done. And anybody who entered the area behind the customer area couldn't forget Diablo, the very mean and vicious German Shepard who was chained up to a drain pipe. Had I been more prescient, I would have realized that the character of a dog often reflect the character of the owner. I was good with dogs but Diablo was still scary. I was still into long boards, but the Psyche models were pretty interesting. Trippy art work "fur sure." I did ask an old friend of mine (Roy Seaman) if he would like to do some shaping, but he wasn't quite ready for the valley trek. I understood. Funny, both he and I married girls from the Valley.

My tenure at the shop was not long, and my last involvement came with a letter from the IRS demanding that I fork up the taxes Bob had "forgotten" to withhold. My stay in the valley was short, and later Santa Monica, Topanga, Malibu and Ojai completed my migration. I hope this note helps to contribute to the flshing out of a brief period in the history of surf shops in the Valley.

Robin Daniels

ED NOTE: thanks Robin !

I really enjoy checking into your website periodically. Glad to see the "valley boys" getting some of the credit they've long deserved. Back in the 1970s, the "shortboard revolution" was still raging. Cere Muscarella, with his advocacy of thick "totally flat bottom" planing surfboards was the design-theory opposite of Greg Liddle. Greg Liddle advocated thin, trimming, round-bellied, "displacement hull" surfboards. In my experience and opinion, Cere's boards worked well in grindy, hard-breaking beachbreaks whereas Greg Liddle's boards worked better in the softer-breaking point breaks that I personally preferred. Interestingly, Cere added rocker to his boards over time and Greg flattened out a lot of the belly on his boards over time. I used to wonder if they'd both eventually arrive at the same design. Surfer's Journal did an in-depth article about Greg Liddle a few years ago. Surfer's Journal should do the same for Cere! By the way, did you know that David Renson, author of the great Mickey Dora bio "All for a Few Perfect Waves" hails from the San Fernando Valley? Small world. Keep up all your good, facinating work. Great website. --Chris A

ED NOTE: DREW KAMPION a prolific writer with Valley roots : http://www.surfingwalkoffame.com/culture/Drew_Kampion.html / http://www.drewkampion.com/Homebase.html

ED NOTE: thanks Chris !

Hey Michael… like you, I didn’t know about Drew Kampion being from the valley… but Chris is a treasure chest of info. I don’t know how he does it – but he uncovers some of the best stuff! I loved reading his comments about the Pasadena shops – WE HAD ONE OVER THERE TOO! (Thanks Chris for jogging that memory!) I’ll never forget Bob Pemberton opening a Valley Surf Center over there! I managed the Reseda store and he was gone most of the time over there. We carried Corky Carroll’s “mini’s” at the beginning of the short board revolution! It was such an exciting time! We started building the Psyche’s and started selling Greg Noll’s “Pig” at the Reseda store (the Pig was my first team board from Noll – though I had to give up my Dora Cat – man, I would love to have that thing now!). So Chris brought up the rocker differences between Greg and me… yes, Chris, you were right, near the end of CME we were using a lot more nose (up to six inches) to tail (two inches) rocker (though still flat rail to rail). The rails softened up some from the middle thru the nose… but those tail rails, sharp for thrust! You just have to remember that we mostly surfed Malibu, Zuma, HBTS, Radar Towers, Rincon and sometimes Jalama. One of the major factors for the softening up was the number of boards we were selling on the Gulf Coast (where I am today!). Hey Michael – did you know that John came over to us for a short time… we thought we could have a representation of both worlds… but it didn’t last – John was a real independent! There was another guy who came on board for a while who liked the softer shapes – I can’t remember his name now – but he went out on his own too! Only George Reber, a Greenough-style kneeboarder stayed on with us to the end. The rest of us were hard railed kids all the way! Kirk Murray and Mike Marcellino were always taking us thinner and narrower and sharper. I remember shaping a 7 ft, 17” wide, 2¼” thick rhino chaser for someone – at the time that rivaled Barry’s Sunset blades. What crazy great days! Well, that’s all I have for now… each time I read something from the old days it jogs my memory just a little bit more. Fun stuff! Thanks for being so “Surfcrazy!”

P.S. glad you liked the Stanley’s footage. Oh, it made me ache for just one day like that again!


Hey I plugged in ET and Gunther Glass. Fill me in on Fluid drive as I’m focusing on shops to the 70’s, Bud Cravens ring a bell. California foam oh yeah, bought supplies there in the late 70’s. I think they eventually moved to Chatsworth. Where do you know Pharoh from ? If I’m not mistaken Rick got busted making “copy Cat’s” (perhaps the “bad” in this story, hey even Greg Noll said “ I would have hired the guy!”). What time period was the no name? Rode William Dennis late 68-69..Hey this great mind recreation, I’m going on a year of shaping again basically myself and my son. Lots of fun…

Aloha! Matty

John, sweet, i need reread my logocomment page a lots there, California foam, Rick Pharoh, Southland Surf in sepulveda, Fluid Drive Van Nuys, North Valley Granada Hills, Mission Hills, Bud Cravens, Goodtimes Surfboards by Russ Fass, Ocean Strand. I made around 50 boards no label foam signed, in ventura i had 2 guys trade logo work for boards, stanley's surfboards label lol.

Michael Richard
Stanley's Surf Gear

Cere, Don’t know if Mike has gotten a hold of you. BTW loved “the skunk” how many times did you get pulled over man! Regarding the “Valley” deal If nothing else I figure your good with surfboards America and CME. I’m after Glen and Greg and as Mike sez he is on ET Can you remember Doug Williams shop in Northridge, I know I got an Erickson there. Here’s what I have so far, any help your from your (like mine ”funky”) memory will help. Good work in the Lord, love the devotionals, always timely…

Aloha my friend. Matty

Mike, Contacted Greg Liddle and I’ll work on his story and I’m pretty sure I can get Kennedy to elaborate on his period. Working on shops other than Val surf from gee 62 on. It’s gonna take some time.

Aloha, Matty

Mike, Super job, brother! I love the beginning perspective. Tell me more about your Pops board, do you know if it was a pin tail ? Have any photo’s? I’ll give it a while but I’ll work on some “Valley Cowboy” stuff.

Aloha, Matty

Cool, hey John try recall every surf shop, manfacturer in the valley. make a list. i'll ask cere too.

Michael Richard
Stanley's Surf Gear


Hope you don’t mind brother but I stumbled onto the Stanley’s deal on the old “Valley Surf Center” and dear old Bob, crazy memories of being in the “surf club” . Before Bob, I bought a few boards from Al Beach, the last a new Weber, the first performer about 65-66. After school I would watch Larry shape at his shop (when he was there). Well anyway the surf center sold Weber and Bob had a team board in the window in 67 (BTY the two boards were order though Bob’s shop. Like most the Valley gremmies I joined up for the surf club and I can remember the trip to Mexico with poor old Jay Treat as chaperone . I could write volumes, it was great! I can’t remember if it was the SCSC or Green Waves Bee but if I’m not mistaken didn’t you start van surfing at the Woodlake bowl? I’ve attached some photo’s

Aloha, John Matthews

Hey John…

Wow! What a blast from the past! I do remember the club… but I wasn’t the one who started van surfing at the bowl (sounds dangerous)… I remember the Mexico trip but would love to hear your take on it (Jay was a kind of crazy guy wasn’t he!). I love the pictures of those old boards… and remember well the hatchet finned Webers… I remember a few other things about that era, but I’m not sure where you and I crossed paths… were you around in Doug Williams day? If you were hanging out at the shop in Al Beach’s time – I think I was just getting started there. Fill me in with some more details – my old mind may spark! Thanks for writing my friend! Be sure to send Mike (At Stanley’s) your pictures and stories – it will make the site even better!


Sent to: Editor...

Cere suggested I forward on some info. This may be a good start. BTW, love your site! The logo deal just blows me away. I spent many a day surfing and hangin’ at the “Diner”, remember “grasshoppers”??? Let me know more. I’ve got a site up www.malibulegends.com check it out. I’m a history kook…

Mahalo Nui

Hey John,

way cool site. .i dig history as well. My site started in early 80's, its been a trip meeting surfers / shapers / collectors via email world wide. Piecing together the history of valley surf / industry history has been interesting, being the black sheep of the surfing world a book should be written. I'll hook up some links to your site. btw, those grasshoppers were greasy.


Hey Richard,

Finally checked out your site, it’s bitchen! Good stuff! I’ll redo the website during the short days and reciprocate with links. The Valley Surf history is indeed a story! Losers, high rollers as well as the good, the bad and the ugly! Do you have anything going on Valley surf history? I’ve got some story from my perspective. Stanley’s as well, some funny stuff! Fill me in on the T-shirt scene. For the fun (I hope) of it I’ll attach a story that Cere will “somewhat” confirm and a shot of the club’s patch.


John Matthews talks story 11/19/12

Southern California Surf ClubAloha Sports was actually in the middle of the school borders which allowed a greater diversity of membership. The dominant club at the time, Overhead was for all the older “big guys” and they would never have a thing to do with the likes of me. So I was able to convince owner Masa Watanabe to start a 15 and under surf club, God knows every gremmie with in a bike ride showed up. The Surf club at Aloha Sports became the “Ankle snappers” as to snub the “big Guys” we had T shirts man! Weekly meetings and member recruiting which rendered 2 parents a weekend to haul to the beach and two on the return, generally to the closest beach Sunset Canyon, or ding city. We would get dropped off at Sunset on Saturday morning and 6 am we were at the beach all day. We were stoked just to be at the beach.

Valley Surf Center Al Beach had just gone out of business or sold out but a new shop opened called Valley Surf Center and run By Bob Pemberton. The Ankle Snappers were just about over as we were getting older and getting to the beach on our own. I got my first performer from Al Beach by trading in the Jacobs during the Sunset era. The next performer I got through the Surf Center and began hanging out after school and don’t Ya know the shop is starting up a surf club and what’s more important they are letting daweebs like us in. It turns out there was another shop in Pasadena and the combined membership was large! The older guys figured out who could surf and I got hauled all over.

The club organized a trip to Mexico and around this time, I’m all of fifteen the trip is to Ensenada we’ll have chaperones one of which was LAPD officer Jay Treat what great guy. Once the parents got the news, at least mine were cool with the idea of letting me go. We all met in front of the shop Friday evening. The club had rented an 18 foot stake bed and had a 100 gallon water tank in the back. We loaded up our boards and camping gear and off the Mexico. I don’t remember much of the trip, but could you imagine the truck flying down the freeway with a bunch of gremmies huddled in the back! (Try that today!) When we finally get camped, most of us walked down to the beach. We could hear the waves breaking loudly, on the trail down we noticed this soft spot that you could jump on and it could spring back, weird. We watched the waves and the white water was glowing bluish from plankton and it was ominous.

The next morning we're up early. Guys are freaking on a dead seal on the trail to the beach, hey the springy thing Oh crap! We went down for a surf and checked out the bouncy, it was sick. Don’t know how we had missed the smell. The surf was medium sized walled up; we got our licks after all we were used to surfing 2nd.

Later that morning Jay and another older guy (don’t remember his name) came around and if you wanted some beer you pitched in five bucks. They took off in a VW van and a Chevy wagon to town. When they came back they were bottoming out coming down the road. It worked out to two cases each Tres X’s and Carta Blanca. Hey we’re fifteen that’s a lot of beer! We are camped by the (well then) dunes at Rosarito; we surfed the afternoon with the guys that came. We all kind of started whining about going into town. Now the older guy’s got to feel like I did when we had all the gremmies in the Ankle Snappers to look after, well these guys must have lost control.

I remember how cool it was to walk in to a liquor store and buy a big old bottle of mescal (yeah with the worm in it) a pack horseshit or Atlas cigarettes. Man the curbs are high in Mexico! We are getting rushed by our chaperones but managed to score large supplies of rockets, M 80’s and assorted large skyrockets and hundreds of bottle rockets. Back to the beach, diner and a drink fest. To this day the smell of lower grade tequila brings it all back. We had Sip’s old man’s tent and we were styling. We had our stashes of beer, fireworks and booze. Steve had bought a big wood bowl for his folks. I remember as it held all his firecrackers at the ready. The club gathered around the campfire drinking, camaraderie and stories after a while an M 80 goes off in close proximity to officer Treat. Party is over; guys are booking out left and right. Order is established and we are lined up and interrogated one at a time in the cab of the rental truck. I mean the third degree, “we know you did it, admit it and we’ll go easy” they never did catch the bomber.

Later all the gremmies chose sides and lined up on opposite dunes and take aim at each other. I think the older guys must have said “just let 'em kill themselves”. We had the rocket fight from hell, crap flew, and nobody got hurt too bad. The next morning was crazy. I was just waking up and I see a silhouette of a guy and he lights an M80 and lobs it on the tent roof, Boom this thing blows the crap out of the tent and SIP IS PISSED! The explosion gets everybody up. I’m looking out the flap of the tent and I see the grooms in the tent across from us getting ready for a bottle rocket attack, we got ‘em pinned down and a rocket zooms past me into the tent, Ah! It lands in Steve’s bowl! Boom it goes off we all just bail out. Considering we now had a skylight, why not a new window? The bowl acquired some “character”; we had breakfast and went surfing. The trip was great I’m grateful to have been a small part of the club.

Last update 11/17/2014

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