Back in the 50s and 60s, one of the best ways for a kid to learn how to water ski was to practice on a surfboard. Now, the surfboard that I'm writing about bore no resemblance to surfboards seen on ocean beaches. No, the lake version of a surfboard was something altogether different. It was a broad wooden board with one end turned up, similar to a sled. (In fact, some folks called them sled boards.) The tow rope from the boat fastened directly to the board. The surfboard rider stood on the back of the board and held a rope that was fastened to the front of the board. The rider couldn't maneuver the board at all, but the balancing effect was similar to water skiing. And because surfboards were broad and flat, they rose easily out of the water; it didn't take much of a boat to tow one.
The picture at left, taken about 1963, shows the author surfboarding. (I haven't changed a bit!) My father was towing me in a fishing boat with a ten horsepower motor. The view looks south toward Washburn Point on the Gravois Arm. How did we ever have fun back then with such little boats throwing tiny wakes?
Text and photo © 2001 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.