Friday, June 3, 2011

The Zuma Beach Lifeguard of the '60's, by Dave Rochlen

(The three photos above show the Zuma crews of the 1960's. Word has it that this paddleboard once belonged to Cal Porter.)


(Three contemporary photos immediately above of Zuma Beach, Winter 2011. Photos by Will Maguire.)

Recently, we received a couple of email messages from one of LACo's finest recurrents from the '60's, namely, (Baby) Dave Rochlen, who has quite an opinion about the circa 1960's talent of the Zuma Beach Lifeguard Crew. Well, here, let him tell it:


I am wondering if the Zuma Lifeguard is acknowledged as the best lifeguard per pound in the world? Please let me know if you are aware of any other lifeguard service, with a pool of about 30 guys who could match up with lifeguard competition as well as lifeguard rescue results in trying conditions better than The Zuma Beach Lifeguards of the early 1960’s? I mean talk about covering all of the bases! With the expert staff of professionals like Bob Burnside, Howard Lee, Gar Stiener, Bob Hughes, Haddock, Cal Porter being mentors to the up and coming guards who had made the cut to become Zuma guards-has to be unmatched at the time and perhaps even now. It just had to be a highlight of my life. Besides, being a local boy from Point Dume made it even sweeter.

I mean, how many guys got to be a part of so many Taplin championship Teams? How many guys got to experience the Radio Station Riots with just a skeleton crew of guards waiting for the motorcycle cops to arrive from town? Because squad cars could not reach Zuma since 101 was totally jammed with traffic all the way back to the Malibu Mayfair Market? How many guys got to witness Bob Hughes calming down a crowd of ho daddy’s with his calm, cool and collected manner? And that Brazilian guard who defended against a crowd of guys rushing a tower he was in? (Planted his foot into the chest of the lead guy rushing up the ramp knocking him backward into the close packed followers who then fell backward, ripping the rails off of the Guard tower ramp?) Oh, there are just so many memories-

Don’t want to get to excited at this age-

Dave Rochlen"


""Aloha Gang-

Zuma Rescues. Where else can a lifeguard, while swimming out to rescue victims in a rip, dive down 5-6 feet, dig ones fingers and toes into the bottom to no avail as the wave you are diving under, picks your entire body off the bottom and gives you the all time over the falls experience? Then after being bounced off the bottom and being washed half way back into shore, start the process all over again? One serious surf rescue at Zuma surpasses 15-20 rescues in Santa Monica.

At Zuma Beach, boys became men after working their first large south swell day from Towers 1-4. And, thank God for the guidance supplied by the permanent guard the novice was working with on those first reality check days.

Dave Rochlen"


Editor's note: Many Thanks to Dave for sharing his stories and memories of Zuma in the early 60's with all of us. And last but not least, enjoy a good laugh at Dave's contemporary and fellow Zuma recurrent from the 60's, namely, Larry "Duck" Loganbill, who chimed in after hearing and reading Dave's memories, as follows:

"To a man all the Permanents of the 60s were great mentors. I was just thinking sitting here with my morning coffee how we hardly ever saw Ted Davis and McKinley, the boat skippers... thinking they didn't really know who we beach lifeguards were. But whenever the surf was huge and we had a "blitz" and the Baywatch was there to give our victims a blow...... they always talked to me by name and usually had some positive reinforcement/praise for what I was doing in the middle of the madness. I know the praise and the use of my forename or nickname calmed me down while trying to figure out how to get my victims back to the beach with huge 8ft. Zuma surf crashing down on top of us.

Long may they ride... Ted and was it Leonard?


PS: It seemed to me the critical thing about lifeguard training was "when" to enter the water... most of us could spot the rip currents... it was the permanents that showed us we had to go as soon as we saw swimmers in the rip... no one wanted to look like an imbecile rescuing people who didn't need our help. Howard Lee showed me on one of my first days at Zuma in 1962... when I was standing in front of the rip watching the swimmers but I had not yet entered the water... when I saw Howie sprinting down the HQ stairs...(I was working Tower 6)... I knew then I had entered the "Zone of Proximal Development" as Vygotsky calls it... that "aha" moment like when you first figure out how to ride a bicycle or stand up on a surfboard. This is a skill that just cannot be taught with a slide show, film or video. I guess it's called "on the job training"? Actually doing it."


Many thanks to Larry as well for his remarks.


Until next time.....

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