The San—O Beach and Surf Club history book by David Matusak is a limited run, immense in page count, absolutely unique, one of a kind effort about a surf cultural subject. Obviously the result of laborious research, Matusak’s ninth book establishes a stunning degree of context by actually plowing back, long before the advent of the club to track surfing’s evolution from pre-history, through Polynesia, Peru, Hawaii, then to California and world-wide, along that way finally encompassing the coastal tract that became Indian lands, Mexican rancho, cattle range, military training grounds, “surf beach”, State Park, and along that path, a benchmark of how surfing can become a centering lifestyle with all the trappings. This all culminates at San Onofre in particular as it is the rare surf destination to which you could and can drive to park on the sand, allowing one to bring along all the ideas, tools, toys, gear, instruments and accouterments as well as playmates, friends and family you can imagine with which to articulate your time, which does happen there. All the attendant aspects of getting there over the ages, and being there, who was there at various stages, where it is, how it has changed, etc. etc. etc. are presented in stupefying detail. In a sense it ventures beyond any intent, trying to grasp the overall gist of that surf beach, what it represents whether you’ve been there, or not, with nuggets of previously unknown information to startle or inform, or create context where none existed previously…it manages to capture between its inclusive pages something intangible that comes only from experiencing those grains of sand and soft waves.—Steve PezmanThe Surfer’s Journal
It’s the Bible of surfing!—Mickey Munoz, legendary surfer
Congratulations on a FANTASTIC work. I love the book, it was beyond amazing…With my aging and damaged back I can barely pick it up and carry it around the room…It’s really a big book. That said, this also is really a beautiful work and does justice to the amazing heritage of San Onofre…The place is just loaded with surfing history: George “Peanuts” Larson riding a wave from Lower Trestles all the way through Church that was so big (some say 40 feet) that guys had to stand on a boxcar parked on the railroad tracks just to see it; Phil Edwards and Mickey Dora shredding the place in the 1950s; and Leslie “Birdman” Williams, Pete Peterson, Hobie, James Arness, Kit Horn, Eddie McBride, Benny Merrill, Barney Wilkes, Hammerhead, Burrhead (some other “heads” I can’t remember), Mike Doyle, Mickey Munoz, Dick Metz, Dale Velzy, the Paskowitz family, the Turner family, the Hopps family, Jim Irwin, Hevs McClellend, the Calhoun girls, the Harrison family, the Fly, the Flea, all the other creatures and so many more important names that it would take a year’s worth of space for me to mention. Almost anybody who was anybody in the surfing world had some sort of connection to San Onofre. This book does an amazing job at documenting that heritage and history. I mean, the thing goes so far as to mention classic surf mobiles people drove—and there were some great ones. It is just the most complete and lovingly done dedication that you can ever imagine. I strongly recommend the book to anybody who has spent any time at all surfing San Onofre or who just loves surfing history and culture.—Corky Carroll, legendary surfer
Absolutely the most unique book on surfing I've ever seen—the ultimate labor of love—that reflected your relationship with San O' to an extraordinary degree!—Glenn Hening, co-founder Surfrider Foundation
For a place to become designated as a California State Park, the locale must share a compelling story of both natural and cultural history. In 1971, President Richard Nixon and then Governor Ronald Reagan joined together and dedicated a stretch of wilderness coast in the heart of Southern California as San Onofre State Beach.
Today, author, scholar and adventurer, David Matuszak has captured the compelling story and sense of place that emanates from this most special zone of California culture and history, in his encyclopedic “San Onofre, Memories of a Legendary Surfing Beach.
San Onofre was memorialized in the 1960’s by the “Beach Boys” in their iconic hit song, “Surfin USA." The beach at San Onofre epitomizes the” California Dream” of sun and fun and idyllic days spent wave riding at the spot many consider to be the “Crucible of Modern Surfing.”
I was blessed to work for California State Parks as both Lifeguard Chief and Park Superintendent, over a thirty –four year career, all spent at San Onofre State Beach. I was delighted to develop a strong working relationship with Dave Matuszak as he became an indelible fixture of authority in his painstaking research of the many, many stories that endow San Onofre with its status as “World Treasure.”
From fascinating geology and topography, which helped create the best year–round surfing zone in North America, to the arrival of the first people, the “Acjachemen,” Dave weaves the progressive story into the modern era, and has unquestionably established himself as the foremost authority on San Onofre.
The depth of his research and interaction with the people who have passionately spent their lifetime in the fabric of the San Onofre story, endow his book with an authenticity that takes the reader into the heart and soul of this magical place.
My congratulations and thanks go to Dave Matuszak for his dedication to this incredible achievement in producing what I like to call, “the Bible of San Onofre, a Legendary Surfing Beach!
—Steve Long, founder of The San Onofre Foundation and California State Parks Lifeguard Chief (retired)
In summary, San Onofre surfing culture offers a microcosm of California surfing culture that influenced the evolution of surfing and pop-culture worldwide. No other surfing location has contributed so much to both surfing and the California experience. The scope and magnitude (1488 pages) of San Onofre make it a valuable resource for surfing research in most any discipline.—Jess Ponting, PhD, directorCenter for Surf Research, San Diego State University
Thank you seems too small of a word for the size of the book. You have left no stone unturned at that famous cobble stone beach.—Ron Sizemore, legendary surfer
…It doesn’t disappoint. It answers pretty much any question one could have about San Onofre.The term “in depth” doesn’t do it justice…Matuszak has put together what has to be the most thorough historical record of any surf spot in the world. His research and dedication to the years-long project is simply breathtaking…For anyone who lives and surfs around San Onofre and has been even slightly interested in its storied history, this book is well worth the time and money.—Jake Howard, Dana Point Times
I enjoyed your work. Well done and worthy of a read by those that have any in depth interest in California history.—Gary Lynch, past historian Surfer Magazine and co-author of Tom Blake: The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman
I just wanted to let you know that I received your book! My goodness, I picked up the box and I thought you sent me a few copies by mistake. To find out that was only one book was staggering! In regards to any aspect of surfing, I think you compiled one of the most comprehensive collective on the subject.—Barry Assadi
I am so impressed with your ability to gather, catalog, and organize this book and to provide such a wonderful narrative for it…Congratulations! on an important history of surfing and San Onofre. I know it must have been a true labor of love.—Dr. Carla Lane
I can go on and on about your book but I’ll just keep it short. I gotta say this book to me is incredible and the history and the way it go’s in different directions of history on all sides. it’s really a masterpiece and thanks for your big efforts and your time spent. It’s so well done and I’ll be reading and looking at the photos for a long time and thanks for including me. What a big stoke, thanks again.—Brian Bent, retro San Onofre surfer
Wow, what a comprehensive history. I come back to it day after day to read a new section…—Steve Boehne, champion surfer, founder Infinity Surfboards
My goodness, what a production!—Tom Turner, pioneer surfer and past president San Onofre Surfing Club
It is mind boggling how you managed to put this whole thing together. Your commitment to portray the history and the people of San Onofre in your book is beautifully done…I wish Bob were here to receive this wonderful gift. I wish Bob were here with me to receive this wonderful gift. San Onofre was home away from home, as it was for so many in your book…my overall impression is an A+ !!!—Sara Nealy, widow of Bob Nealy founder of Surf More
My surfing friends like me are overwhelmed at the amount of effort, research, and dedication, David, you put into this book. If you want to know anything about San Onofre, read the book. Sitting down to read San Onofre gave me a similar feeling on paddling out into a new south swell on a summer day.—Allan Seymour, surf contest promoter, collector, and entrepreneur
Congratulations on completing this amazing history!…You write so well, David. And the way you have so faithfully and meticulously put so much detail together makes it crystal clear how hard you personally never gave up your search for historical evidence. You are a remarkable literary/historical detective!—Pat Thompson, past archivist Mission San Luis Rey