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Interview with Joseph Funderburg, June 10, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Joseph Funderburg, June 10, 2005
June 10, 2005
Joseph Funderburg recounts his experience of the '60s surfing scene on Wrightsville Beach, including the Wrightsville Beach surf club which formed in reaction to the town council's attempt to impose restrictive surf zones on local surfers. Funderburg also describes the early surfing competitions held near Wrightsville Beach, such as the 1966 South Atlantic Surfing Championships. In addition, he discusses his relationships with many other local surfing notables.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Funderburg, Joseph Interviewer:  Fritzler, Peter Date of Interview:  6/10/2005 Series:  SENC Surfing Length  1 hour, 30 minutes


Fritzler: Today is June the 10th, Friday. My name is Peter Fritzler, librarian here at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. The topic of today's interview will be Joe Funderburg. We will be talking about the origins of surfing in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina as well. We are at William Randall library at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, in Wilmington, North Carolina, for today's interview. The image in which the camera is focused on now is a decal laminate from a surfboard made in 1976, from Paul Pierce at America's Surfboards in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The laminate is an exclusive custom design for Joe Funderburg. As you'll see the name is written on the board. We'll begin the interview now, so I'm going to focus back on Mr. Funderburg. Okay, Joe, if you could briefly state your full name and when you were born and where, we will go ahead and start the interview.

Joseph Funderburg: All right. My name is Joseph Edward Funderburg and I was born in Waycross, Georgia in 1948. And I have a couple of nicknames, one of which is Surfer Joe, which I got early on, and then later, Skipper. But my formal name is Joseph Edward Funderburg.

Fritzler: I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how you grew up on a beach and how you were first exposed to the water on Wrightsville Beach.

Joseph Funderburg: Well when I was born in Waycross, Georgia, my father was working for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. And in that day, that was kind of known as "the job" in the Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and Cape Fear region. It was a good job, but in order for him to-- his career, to move his career, he moved down to Georgia for a couple of years, and that's where I was born, down there. Then we moved back to Wrightsville Beach after that point.

So during that period when I was born, my parents leased beach cottages at Wrightsville Beach, like their parents had and so on and so forth. And we always had a beach house at Wrightsville Beach, leased, during the summers from my birth, forward, and also, coupled with that, my mother-- I would like to state my father's name is William Sturgeon [ph?] Funderburg, Senior, and then to go back to my mom, her name is Clair Fergus Funderburg. And of course she was paramount in my growing up at the beach and being around the water and learning to love the water and so on and so forth. And my mom, during the World War II period my dad went to war, and he got back safely from war and from World War II, and my mom stayed home. And my brother was born in 1944. He was born in '44, I was born in '48. And in any event, my mother, at the time of World War II and the guys getting back, coupled with all of that, a lot of the local doctors at that time, at least the one my mother had, prescribed then for stress, there was so much stress involved with World War II, so many people were getting killed, so many of the guys just didn't come back, for stress relief they prescribed to my mother to go to the beach, you know, and walk on the beach, enjoy the water, bathe in the water, so on and so forth. So that was after my dad got back to North Carolina in the late 40s, after my birth. Then it was almost like doctor's orders that we go to the beach and frequent the beach for my mother's health and for raising children. So that's kind of the way I first started off when I was born, having the beach house.

And then the job my dad had paid well in that day, and so we took a lot of vacations, and we frequently vacationed to Cypress Gardens, Florida, to the water ski capital of the world. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad wanted my dad to move to Florida instead of coming back to North Carolina, and that was part of the reason we frequented Florida, was my dad was trying to sort of coerce or convince my mom that that was the place that his career could go higher, by moving to Jacksonville, Florida. So that's why we went to Florida so much and saw everything down there back in those very early years of the late 40s and early 50s. But as it turned out we moved back home. And that's kind of sort of the way that _________ out. And then from my birth, from 1948 moving forward, leasing the cottages and the stuff, the activities, we __________ both at Wrightsville Beach and particularly at Cypress Gardens, Florida, you know. My parents were enjoying the activities as slalom skiing, trick skiing, jump skiing, barefoot skiing, all kinds of skiing championships, and so forth like that. So it was an awful lot of water skiing and boating and things like that involved.

Dating back a little further, my mother's family, from the early 1900s, her family, the Fergus family, owned Cape Fear Seafood Distributors down here in Wilmington, North Carolina, on the Cape Fear river. And her family also owned a famous floating restaurant at the foot of Market Street in downtown Wilmington, on the river. And it was known as the Fergus Ark. So her family had been in the commercial fishing business and industry for many years, and that had a lot to do with what we did at the beach fishing and so on and so forth. And then my dad differently, his family was traditionally, from the turn of the century and the late 1800s, his family was involved in the tobacco industry and farming, which we still own the farm and property today. So come on back up to moving back towards the late 1940s into my early years, then here we are. We're all ___________ beach. We're enjoying all the beauty that Carolina has to offer with the beaches and the ocean and the sounds and the marshes, and that's kind of where I was born and how we ended up back at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

Fritzler: So what were some of those first activities that you liked to do at Wrightsville Beach? Besides fishing, swimming in the water, were there any other types of activities that you engaged in? You had mentioned to me in a previous conversation your activities at Johnny Mercer's pier and the surf mat experience. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Joseph Funderburg: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. The love of the water, you know, it just came naturally to all of us. There's salt in our blood and there was nothing unusual about that. And it was a healthy, very healthy, thing that people looked at it, as it was a health thing at that time. And the centers of activity on Wrightsville Beach, at that time, were either the Surf Club on Mallard Street or Johnny Mercer's Fishing Pier or the Carolina Yacht Club or the Hanover Seaside Club or the Crystal Fishing Pier. Those were kind of the hubs of where the activity was right along the ocean itself and on the beach. So typically, though we'd lease cottages, when we went out to the beach, we would walk from Moore's Inlet to Masonboro Inlet, that was a frequent thing we did, was to walk back and forth up and down the beach, and particularly my mother, and my brother and I in tow all the time, was collecting shells and, you know, enjoying the beauty of the water and so forth.

So we just kind of as we observed these things, we picked up on activities that were going on, on the beach at that time. And one of those was of course the surf matting at Johnny Mercer's Fishing Pier. They also rented surf mats at the Lumina pavilion, further down south on the south end of the beach, and we certainly did a lot of surf matting down there, too. We rented the mats, and they were canvas mats. And the lifeguards were there and beautiful girls around that area, around Johnny Mercer's and Crystal and Lumina, and we learned how to surf mat and swim. We had to learn how to swim 'cause the ocean was dangerous. And so about, I would say, sometime between 1953 and 1954, in 1954 I was 6 years old and I had joined the YMCA and there I learned my formal swimming lessons, and boating lessons started at the YMCA, too, in 1954. So learning how to swim was critical, to both enjoy surf matting, body surfing and swimming, there in front of those floats and piers. So we went out into the surf and we would come in, both, you know, prone, we'd come in on our knees, and, you know, perhaps we stood up or whatever, but mostly it was just a whole bunch of us out there, a bunch of kids, grownups too, riding the surf mats in. And there were lots of them. There would be 30 or 40 of them out there at one time. And we'd come surfing in on the waves. And all of us that did that, at that time, learned a lot about wave judgment, where to position yourself, how to ride in, and, you know, what could happen if you wiped out, you know. What the consequences were of losing your raft and being tumbled around in the waves and so forth, and how that worked. So we were really young, you know. When I was that young, at 6 years old, you certainly were only in the short break, you didn't go out beyond to actually catch the waves. You had to be a pretty good swimmer to get out there for a take off point. You had to be up there maybe, you know '55, 1955, 1956, along in there, you had to be 7 or 8 years old before you could get out that far because it was just-- there were rip currents back there too, that's nothing new. And so it was a very serious thing to let kids go out there and do that. But we all had a blast. It was just a wonderful, wonderful period in time. We all had so much fun.

And then on Johnny Mercer's pier, particularly, they had water ball, and there were all the things there. There were shops, beach shops, and they had a juke box blaring all the time, and you could kind of hear that in the background a lot. And it typically had beach music, some country music and then of course, you know, the mid 50s, when Elvis Presley and all his hits came, he was big on the jukebox. And- but we'd frequent go up on the pier and, you know, go fishing and so on and so forth. So that kind of gives a general idea of what went on in terms of surfing on surf mats and things of that nature.

Fritzler: Now in 1962, you mentioned that your parents purchased a beach cottage on Wrightsville Beach, and that you became year round residents down there. How did moving from Wilmington to the beach influence your lifestyle on the beach?

Joseph Funderburg: That's a good question. That's a very good question and I like that question. We had, back in those days, in the 40s and in the 50s and into the 60s, my family owned a townhouse, a beach house, and then we had a place in the country, too. And when they decided to move to Wrightsville Beach full time in 1962, that's when they purchased the beach house down there at 4 Channel Avenue on Wrightsville Beach, down behind Station One. And what had changed the lifestyle, was there was a big concern about moving, I remember well. My mom and dad were-- whether they should move the crystal, the china, and the silverware, and what furniture to take to Wrightsville Beach during those very early 60s, because you have to realize in the big scheme of things, in the big picture, North Carolina beaches were devastated in the mid 50s by six major hurricanes. And the most prominent one, which we all remember here locally, is of course Hurricane Hazel. But there were four or five others that were just destroyed, you know, the Carolina coast and parts of the gulf coast. But to get a beach cottage at that time it was a big concern about what would be left, you know, if there was a hurricane. So moving down there full time was a big consideration of property and, you know, so on and so forth. So it retained a lot of our wonderful family heirlooms and things that we owned. And we saved those and we would keep those in our townhouse.

So it took, I don't know, probably every bit of 2 or 3 years before they started migrating everything back down. We'd move stuff down just for the summer months, most of the stuff, excuse me, for the winter months we had most of our stuff, and then typically during the summer months, when the hurricane season came, they'd take the more valuable stuff, the china and all that type stuff, they'd move it back to the townhouse. So it was kind of a going back and forth, back and forth, for 3 or 4 years, and then finally, no totally devastating, you know, number 5 or number 4 hurricanes came, so finally it just all stayed. So that was part of the big transition of living at the beach. But moving from Wilmington and moving to the beach full time by 1962, you know, it just gave an availability of being on the beach, being right there all the time to wake up at the beach. And you were at the beach. You didn't have to take a car back and forth. You didn't have to load it all and unload it and so on and so forth. So it really, to us, as I've mentioned before, is the club, you know. It was our club, our family club there at the beach. It was our home but it was also a club that my parents thought was important that that was our club, that we weren't members of the Hanover Seaside Club or the Carolina Yacht Club. But at that time it would've been very easy to get in. There were many offers to get in, opportunities to get in the clubs. Plenty of people lobbied to get my parents to join, but they chose not. They chose that 4 Channel Avenue was the location of our family club and that's where we were raised right there. So those are some of the ways that it changed things.

Fritzler: Between the years of traveling to and from the beach, and then those years that you lived there year round, growing up we generally have people that we look to for influence and people that we have respect for and who have positive and sometimes negative influences on our lives. Were there any characters that lived at Wrightsville Beach that had an influence upon you, between those transitory years, between the beach or your year-round years at the beach?

Joseph Funderburg: Absolutely. Well I think the, you know, the paramount person at that time in my life is obviously my mother. She was one of the original surfing moms and she got-- once we did-- another reason we moved to the beach was she was licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to be a captain. And she opened up her little boating business, Clair's Boat Tours and Skiing Lessons, and certainly I served as mate on the back of the boat and, you know, I learned how to run boats formally, you know. At that point, taking people out on the water that weren't familiar with it was serious, a serious business. And so she was certainly being the surfing mom, and as athletic as she was, she was probably the lead person. Though she was my mom, she was aquabelle to many, I can tell you that. But there were certainly others. My dad was always there. My dad basically made the bacon. He made the bacon, he worked, and when he came home, he was very tired and he enjoyed. It was just fine with him to sit on the porch and enjoy the rocking chairs we had there or the hammock or so on and so forth. And his attitude at the beach was a little more leisure, in terms of recreation. He liked leisure, he liked to watch and just relax. Certainly there were others, you know. In those days there were many personalities at the Carolina Yacht Club, many personalities there, because they had actively-- there were sailing, they had a lot of sailing guys in the summer, active swimming competitions and different things there at the Carolina Yacht Club. So there were many personalities there and as well at the Hanover Seaside Club, many personalities there. And then of course our neighbor at that time, Bill Preesy [ph?], Bill had owned a balsa surfboard in the 50s that was from Waikiki, Hawaii, and he was a big influence on us. He had two daughters, Beth, and I'll think of her sister's name later, but anyway, he was a big influence. And certainly the local neighbors in that area were a big, big influence. Shooney [ph?] Britton and the Shooney Britton family. When we first moved there in 1962, they owned a little putt putt golf course that was just, you know, 30 to 40 feet away from our back door. And certainly I spent a lot of time enjoying putt putt. And Shooney Britton and his family were, you know, very well respected people. And they had the juke box and an arcade and then the putt putt in back. So being a youth and loving those things, they were paramount as well.

Certainly there were others, you know, with being on the water. There were many well known water skiers at that time and water skiing was very popular. Certainly Roddy Kidder and- being an early surfer, wet board surfer, in the mid 40s, and all the families, the 400 Club families, which were typically the Southern aristocracy and antebellum south families that owned the plantations in the south, they were the ones that were the club members, and a lot of the formal people there on Wrightsville Beach. The others that were family members, there were certainly other family members, many of my uncles and stuff, they had boats, and many boats would come down there, there'd be just a gaggle of boats there in front of our beach cottage, with our family and friends and so on and so forth. And then there was a big impact that I do remember locally, Jackie Lord [ph?]. He was probably, I don't know, 6, 8 years older than me, and he married my cousin. And he kind of took me in, he treated me like a son. And he was big. He was a football star and he was, local football star, and he was a very good friend of Roman Gabriel, and still is today. And anyway, Jackie had the wherewithal and the physical presence that he was a great, great skier. And he was muscular, he was big, this is the size of Greg Noll [ph?]. And he was a big influence and he taught me a lot of the early things about skiing and so on and so forth.

Also, other things that were not just at Wrightsville Beach were major effects, particularly in my family. One of the big impacts of persons, ____________ not so much locally, but I just can't, you know, Esther Williams, the famous swimming star, and early out and out good surfer from the 40s and 50s, you know. She was a really big impact on my family. In 1944 Esther Williams starred in Bathing Beauty and it was Hollywood's first big swimming movie. And they kind of set a tone for after World War II that people who were water __________, their families were water _______, they loved the water. It set a tune of recreation to celebrate life and, you know, just kind of the mindset of that period, so many people just lucky to be alive. The guy, the early surfers from the 40s in there, in the mid-40s, they had seen it in Hawaii and, you know, it was like, boy oh boy if I ever get him alone, I'd just love to do that, just for a year or two. So Esther was a big influence on a lot of the beach, and then in 1958, Esther Williams became our Azalea Festival Queen here in Wilmington. And we literally followed her every step of the way when she was here in Wilmington. From the second Esther got off the aircraft here at our local airport, to the second she got back on the aircraft, my mother, and my brother and I in tow, we followed Esther around every step of the way. And she was just the aquabelle of the area, the aquabelle of the era. She was the pin up girl of World War II for over 20 years. And she was just a real big impact. It kind of set a mold and a model, you know, for my mother and other athletes, particularly women athletes, in Wilmington to follow. She was just such a stunning beauty, very athletic. So she was a big impact too. And those were some of the folks. There were many others and I'll have to think about that some more. I'm sure there's folks I missed, but that's kind of big impacts.

Fritzler: Who were some of your peers that you ran around with at the time? As a youth down on Wrightsville Beach, I imagine you didn't do a lot of these activities alone, that you spent a lot of your time hanging out with friends being the typical grommet of the period.

Joseph Funderburg: Mm-hm. Urchin. That's right.

Fritzler: So who were some of those early friends of yours that you hung around with down at Wrightsville Beach?

Joseph Funderburg: Absolutely.

Fritzler: Okay, we're back online. We just marked off for a second here. Joe was just about to talk about some of his friends that he associated with when he lived on Wrightsville Beach as a youngster.

Joseph Funderburg: Mm-hm. Yup. Well, Station One beach was where we lived, like I said, 4 Channel Avenue. And when you were very young, you know, and you weren't really allowed to go much further than a block or two away, up until you could prove yourself as a good swimmer and a strong swimmer. Not just in the sound, but in the ocean. You really couldn't go that far, but by 1962, you know, I was a teenager by then and, you know, I was a pretty strong swimmer, so I was able to kind of move around the beach pretty good by the time we actually bought our beach cottage. I found ____________ where the oyster shells were so I didn't get lacerated and, you know, just real important, serious things that someone could get hurt, or worse, drown. So I was able to get around the beach pretty good.

So certainly at Johnny Mercer's Pier there were many prominent personalities there, but Norman Akel, of course, was one of my next door neighbors when we were there in 1962, when we first bought there. And Sandy Alpert and her family, she was a neighbor, you know, they were two doors down. And then there were others that were close by, Boyette, Steve Boyette and Woody Beddoes' family. The Calhouns were down on Parmalee [ph?] Isle and the Currys, Mike Curry and his two brothers, were over on Harbor Island, very close. And Michael Deep, he was closer to where Robert Parker lived, down around Johnny Mercer's Pier. And David Darnell, he lived a little bit closer to the south there. Charlie English was in the WLI club, his dad was, the Wilmington Light Infantry, and I think they were three doors down from our beach house. All the WLI club folks, they were there, and then the Fergus family, they were a little bit to the south. There was Ginny Fergus, Dolly Fergus and-- Ginny, Dolly and Ginny. And then the Flowers family was a little closer, Skip and Dee Dee Flowers, they were closer down towards Johnny Mercer's Pier. And Eric Noll, the Hindys, Huttons, Charlie Jones, John Jordan, Phil Callees [ph?], I don't think they ever owned a place at the beach there, but the Kings, Gene King and Jerry King, they owned a place down closer to Johnny Mercer's Pier, Lee Pearson, some of the Massey guys, Cathy Dean, she lived down at Parmalee Isles and was very close. Evan McCrary, he was across the intracoastal waterway, down closer to the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.

And of course I don't want to leave out Will Allison, he was certainly known at that time, but he lived more towards Middle Sound, a little further north. And then there was Lee Pearson and the Rippys of course. They were a little bit towards the Carolina Beach Yacht Club. And Jimmy Shepard, their family lived very close to the area. They were, I think Jimmy's family lived closer to Johnny Mercer's Pier. And Jim Sullivan family, they lived down there, Charles Sutton, they lived close to Johnny Mercer's Pier, Wayne Sutton, David Thomas family, they lived over towards Masonboro and Greenville Loop area, and the Tommy Thompson family, they lived across on Harbor Island, the Rosalls [ph?] lived on Parmalee Isle, and of course the Warwicks and the Wessels were around the Hanover Seaside Club. But some of my closest friends to begin with, you know, during that period, most of them would come down and go to Shooney's [ph?] and the _____________ Crest theater. We'd be out on the water, down at Johnny Mercer's Fishing Pier, so on and so forth. And then those people were probably, you know, Norman Akel, Robert Parker, the Wessells, Bobby Wessells and all his-- Bob Wessell, Tommy and his sisters, Nancy and ___________, the Rosalls, they were very good, very young friends, David Thomas, very good, young friends with him, Jim Sullivan. They were all just a gaggle of us right there. Jimmy Shepherd, he was a little older, like Robert Parker, by I think 4 years, but then Alan Rippy, his brother, Fred, he surfed, and he was a very good friend of mine, we went to elementary and junior high school together. And the Owens kids, they were big on the beach 'cause their dad owned dredging equipment. And they had a lot of dredging equipment around so they were around all the time. And of course Cathy Dean, she was one of the young beauties of that day and a girlfriend of mine, and, let's see, who else.

Phil Kelly was a really good friend, very close friend, and I would have to say Billy Hegemann, Gene Cannon was a very close friend of mine and Jimmy Fisher. Dee Dee Flowers was the sweetheart of a lot of us, a girl, surfer girl, and her brother Skip was a very, very good friend. Charles English, of course, he was a neighbor and great friend. Mike Deep was a fantastic friend of mine and so was Mike Curry, and of course Bill. Bill Curry, he was a little younger, and Kenny, still younger still. I mean Mike was particularly one of my best friends of that period. Then the Calhouns, Gay [ph?] was my age and she was a very good friend. Steve Boyette's a good friend, Woody Beddoes, the Batsons, and John Bates was a good friend of mine. Sandy Alpert was-- had a lot of great friends. They were just some of the names that was associated-- that were on the beach at that time, growing up in the early 60s. We were all youths. We were all either tweens or teens during that period of time and some of us were probably starting to approach 16, 17, years old by 1963 and 1964, particularly, you know, Robert Parker and Jimmy Shepherd and Charlie Davis. And some of the few other, older fellows that Jimmy Shepherd and that _____________ long time. Those are kind of some of the friends that I was very, very close with. And it's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly which one was my very best friend, but all of them were very good friends on the beach at that time.

Fritzler: So you're running around on the beach, having a great time, surf matting, swimming, fishing, snorkeling, spear fishing, all of the various activities, putt putting and hanging out at the arcade at Shooney's and so on and so forth, going to the Crest. When was your first recollection of actual surfing on Wrightsville Beach?

Joseph Funderburg: Well I really think that the modern era classic boards like this surfboard, probably the earliest recollection I have of that, is probably, I would have to say very close to 1963. There were other before that time, you know. It's like I would probably have seen more of it, but very typically, they did it early in the mornings, and they were already gone, so part of the wooden area, I had some very vague, you know, not vivid images and memories of what went on during that period. And a lot of that was associated with skiing. Because it wasn't just-- at that time it didn't really turn into surfing until after Gidget and on into the early 60s. Before that time, it was wave riding or wave shooting, so on and so forth. So even if I had seen it earlier, I probably didn't know what it was, you know. Or they were riding prone or, you know, a variety of things. But just the classic beach, typically Hawaiian, California beach setting, with all the surfboards around and girls in bikinis and that typical surf culture setting, I think the earliest memories I have of that is probably around 1962, and most definitely by 1963. Those are my earliest memories of that. So...

Fritzler: Who are some of the first people to have a surfboard? Or how did you come across your first surfboard?

Joseph Funderburg: Okay, can we break for one second? Okay, I just want to get something to drink.

Fritzler: Sure, we're gonna take a 5 or 10 minute break and then come back.

Fritzler: We're back from taking a break and we'll continue on with the interview. We were talking about earliest recollections of surfing on Wrightsville Beach. And you had mentioned that the earliest period that you recall contemporary surfing, as we would think of it today, would be about 1962 or 1963, in and around that time period. So when did you get your first board? Did you ride someone else's board or, you know, how did you come to actually get involved with surfing?

Joseph Funderburg: Okay, well, I would say that during that period of '62 or '63, when it really hit me that I wanted to be a surfer, and I was already a waterman at heart, but when I really fell in love with surfing was probably close then to 1962 or 1963. And I was going down to Wrightsville Beach, and during that summer the guys that I saw during that period of time that had let me use their surfboards, were a combination. There was a group of them that were there together, some of the first days I observed it, and that group was comprised of Robert Parker, Jerry and Gene King, Jimmy Shepard, Alan Warwick, Roach Jones, Charlie Davis. And I, myself, came upon the group. And there was just one surfboard. And to my recollection it could've been owned by Jimmy Shepard, I think it was, but also there may have been a second surfboard that showed up later, and that was probably the board that was owned by the King brothers. But they let me surf that day and I had a lot of respect for those fellas because they were a little bit older. They were 3 or 4 years older than I was and they could stand up, not all of them, they weren't great at it, but it just kind of clicked. That's when it kind of clicked to contemporary surfing, was around that summer, and it just came full circle. That's what I was driven to do. That's what I was born for and, you know, it just hit me. I just had to do it, I was hooked, you know. Just totally hooked at that period, it just clicked.

And so those folks were nice enough. I knew them all from Johnny Mercer's Pier, from surf matting or the YMCA, or from life guarding or around the water fishing, skiing, boating, you know, the marinas, that sort of thing. We all kind of knew each other. The beach just wasn't big at that time. There was only 200 families that lived year round on Wrightsville Beach back at that time. Everybody knew each other. So they let me ride the surfboard and I learned all about it that day. And then around the same period, all the pop out version of the mass production surfboards came along. And then as the '62 and '63 rolled around, all the local places started carrying the surfboards, instead of when we went in there, typically to Pickard's or to all the sporting goods stores that were around, Newell's shopping center, so on and so forth. Prior to that, we had gone there to buy fishing equipment or baseball gloves or something, some kind of balls, you know, softballs, baseballs, bats, things of that nature. All of a sudden there were skis too, please don't have me forget that, all the wonderful skis, the Cypress Garden skis that were there when we grew up in the 50s and 60s. All of a sudden, you know, there was something new there. And there were big surfboards standing there. So we all looked at them and we admired them and they had pictures and so forth. So we all wanted these pop out surfboards. And I think my first year, probably in '62 or '63, along there, just, you know, borrowed people's boards, used them, you know. The gentlemen that I mentioned, Robert Parker, and I made better and better friends that summer. And I kind of was-- Robert was a magnet, and certainly I was attracted to Robert and that sort of thing. And not just in Wrightsville Beach, but around that area, we heard there was a guy down in Carolina Beach that was actually making surfboards locally. So I don't think I ever outright owned a pop out. There were certainly pop outs in my home, they were photographed to everything from my mother on them, to my dog on them and some of my friends there at our beach cottage, but I didn't really go out and buy a Bing or a Bic or a Dexter or a Malibu or those pop outs. I had enough friends that had them. There were enough of them that were out there that I just borrowed them from my friends and so forth. But by late '63 or '64, we heard about a guy up at Carolina Beach. He was actually gonna build surfboards and had a surfboard shop. So we all went down there and of course it was Lank Lancaster and East Coast surfboards, and that's where I bought my first surfboard. It was probably in 1964, from Lank Lancaster. And the mindset in my day, at that time I was a sophomore in high school at New Hanover high school in Wilmington, and our colors were orange and black. We were wildcats. And so my first surfboard were my school colors, orange and black. It was orange, the bright orange, safety orange, and then on the bottom of the nose, it had a black teardrop that covered the concave-- there was a concave section in the nose, on the bottom of course, but back here, and that was designed by Lank Lancaster and myself. Lank had heard of the idea and I had heard that, you know, at that time, already by that time, I was hotdogging, nose riding, and he knew that I was good. He had heard I was good enough, so that's what we made. He made that surfboard and I purchased that surfboard and that was the first surfboard I owned, was a East Coast Surfboard from Lank Lancaster, that was owned personally by me. And it was a wonderful board. I had a lot of great days on it. And of course Robert Parker and others bought the East Coast surfboards, and eventually as '63, '64 rolled along, we formulated, or Lank sponsored, the East Coast surf team, of which I was a member. And we went to many competitions, both in North Carolina and South Carolina, Virginia and so forth, as members of the East Coast surf team. So those were some of the very first boards, custom surfboards, that were around the area were built by Lank.

Fritzler: Now you bought a Hansen around '65.

Joseph Funderburg: Yeah, right, from Robert.

Fritzler: Because Robert was a Hansen surf rep.

Joseph Funderburg: That's right.

Fritzler: How did you get involved with Robert and the Hansen surf team and his activities to help...

Joseph Funderburg: Well I think simultaneously, you know, starting the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club in probably 196,2 that my family and I started and so forth, and then the East Coast surf team coming along and the Onslow Bay surf team coming along, you know, you were members simultaneously of more than one group. It wasn't like that if you were on the East Coast surf board teams you couldn't also be on the Hansen team. I mean it wasn't-- it was just kind of loose. It was looser than that. But particularly by the next year, when it started rolling around from '64 to '65, I was fortunate, like I say, I got wonderful parents. I was very fortunate. A lot of parents would not have purchased a surfboard for someone my age and then six months down the road said I want to sell that one and get another one. But to my folks it was okay. So when Robert got the dealership for the Hansen surfboards, since we had been on the East Coast team together, I was hot to get a Hansen from Carter, California. And, you know, he had a couple of them and I bought one of them. So once I bought the surfboard, then we started transcending a little bit from the East Coast surf team, 'cause I sold my East Coast surfboard and I bought the Hansen. And so that's when we formed,, or Robert formed the Onslow Bay surf team. And I was a member of that. And we certainly went to many, many competitions, and it was a bigger name, it was a bigger name. The Hansen, at that time Hansen surfboards were as big as Reynolds and many of the others. I can't think of all the names now, but they were a big name. They were in Surfer Magazine. They were out there. He did a lot of advertising, Don Hansen, and they were great surfboards. They were fantastic, high quality work, high quality craftsmanship. So that's kind of how it kind of changed going from the East Coast surf team to the Onslow Bay surf team, and the transition from the East Coast surfboards to the Hansen custom surfboards. And in that time, Robert and I were making incredibly good friends, and some of the other members of the East Coast team were also moving on to the Hansen team. And that's kind of how the first surfboards came about.

Fritzler: So what was the whole Wrightsville Beach Surf Club organization about? Who founded it and who were members? What was its purpose? You showed me the photograph of your 1949 Packard hearse, which was the official club transportation, so let's talk a little bit about the Surf Club and what it was all about, and what you guys were aiming to do in the organization.

Joseph Funderburg: Right. Okay. Well, back in that day, in '62 and '63 and along there, you know, when my parents purchased the beach house, as I mentioned before, it was to be our club. And that's kind of where the name came from, was the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club was out of my family. And it was something that we as kids, you know, we all gathered up and we wanted a club and kind of that's where the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club came from. But what it was really about was, we had formal meetings, they didn't last very long, but we did have formal meetings where we'd all meet, but our goal, and the reasoning behind the club, was the law enforcement of the day.

Surfers were, in the late 50s and early 60s, they were viewed as rebels. They weren't necessarily white knuckle to the, you know, job and so on and so forth. They were thinking differently and doing things a little differently, and it was a little bit intimidating to the ruling folks of the era. So anyway once they came along, you know, we spent more and more time out on the surfboards and we were interacting [ph?] swimmers and so on and so forth, and particularly fisherman around fishing piers, and the fisherman took offense, particularly at Johnny Mercer's fishing pier and also at Crystal fishing pier. There was no shortage there, but by far in those early years, in '62, '63, Johnny Mercer and his manager and the Wrightsville Beach police chief, Chief Williamson, and his right arm man, John Ward, those two police officers, they were gonna clean up that beach, you know. And they did not really want surfing around. They tried to go to the town council. And it dates back to the early 60s, when they were at the town council speaking, the Wrightsville Beach town council. And to them they would prefer that they illegalize surfboards and surf skis on Wrightsville Beach, and within one mile of corporate limit of Wrightsville Beach. They didn't want it done on Wrightsville Beach. They wanted Masonboro Isle and Figure Eight to the north, too. So one of the goals of the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club was that we got together and figured out what we were gonna do about surf ____________ and what our rights were. Certainly we had some good people behind us. Our parents, we had, you know, some wonderful parents were back and ____________.

So we went to the Wrightsville Beach town council in '63 and we were lobbying. We were being lobbied against and so on and so forth by the police department and some of the folks down there. We were not interacting well. It was-- we _____________ swimmers, and the big boards were dangerous, so they just wanted to get rid of us. But we wanted our own area. So in 1964 the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club, some of the older guys who joined the club, we would go to the Wrightsville Beach town council meetings. And we presented ourselves as the southern surfers in the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club and so on and so forth, and that we wanted to cooperate with the Wrightsville Beach town council so that we could get a surfing zones established and so on and so forth. And what we really wanted-- so in the end, the end result of that was that again, Johnny Mercer and his manager, and probably in the background Crystal Pier as well, Crystal Fishing Pier, their manager and the police chief and those of that day, they just did not see how surfing could occur ever with swimming at the same time and be safe. Therefore they finally banished us from surfing on Wrightsville Beach. We were banished from Mallard Street, north, and that's all we got. We got Mallard Street north. And that's the only place that was allowed. Any other surfing on Wrightsville Beach, period, was unauthorized. That was it. So we didn't care for that too much because they had threatened it all along, they had threatened to kick us off the beach period, they weren't gonna allow surfing at all. And so we went in and we fought for it. I mean we fought just as hard back in those years as the current clubs and teams and individuals are fighting today for surf zones at Wrightsville Beach. Just as important to us. And they were really trying to get rid of us. So we went back, and we kept going back and kept going back, and finally-- well I want to back up.

We felt lucky that-- when we walked out of the Camptown [ph?] council meetings to begin with, we felt lucky that they hadn't even banished us totally off the beach. That was not gonna happen. So we felt lucky we had just got Mallard Street and the wharf. And that was it. But all the good surf, as anybody that surfs around here knows, the better surf is often towards the piers and Station One beach and Crystal Pier and all these places. We couldn't go there anymore. That was all unauthorized surfing areas. So we went back and we kept lobbying. We petitioned. We did everything we could to the town council and finally they gave us a break. We got our big break. The big break was that they decided that since at that time, at Wrightsville Beach and typically in the Carolinas, most of the summer months were very, very active times, and they've, you know, the difference between Memorial Day and Labor Day was night and day. It was like between Memorial Day and Labor Day, that's when everybody was there. After Labor Day it was like a ghost town and everyone was gone. So what they decided to do, the town council decided, what we'll do is we'll let them have the wintertime. We'll keep the shoulder season, but we'll just give them the wintertime. And they can surf at certain places on the beach, nowhere near the piers, but they can surf their surfing season during the winter only. And we went along with that for a couple of years. So we could surf, you know, in the wintertime in other places, other than north of Mallard Street. But those years, you know, today you think, well, that's pretty nice because you got all the wonderful wet suits today. Back in that day, the wetsuits were really uncomfortable. They didn't even have surfing wetsuits, you usually had a diving outfit or something and they were uncomfortable. They were hard to move around in and so on and so forth. But anyway, that's kind of where the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club worked, was going to the Wrightsville Beach town council and fighting for surf zones and fighting for our rights to really enjoy the sport, do the thing that we wanted to do to the beach.

So finally we just kept etching along and etching along and etching along, and finally they decided well then, what we'll do, is during the summer times, you can have certain zones that you can surf before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. So we went through transitions during those early to mid 60s with surf zones and so on and so forth. We were very fortunate at that time, that Kenneth Sprunt was the-- I'm almost positive he was mayor of Wrightsville Beach at that time. And Kenneth Sprunt and the Sprunt family had experience surfing in the 40s, through Roddy Kidder and his family, so even though we really weren't all that aware of it, Kenneth Sprunt really had a background in surfing. So he was really for us in a certain way. And there were others that felt like that too. The Burkeson [ph?] family, Lilas [ph?] and David Burkeson, and then the Alexis [ph?] family. Those families that were controlling Wrightsville Beach at that time were in the 400 club, they were in the Carolina Yacht Club, and so on and so forth. So they were powerful, too. And we certainly had kids-- part of us were involved were the ______________ aristocracy of that day, too, so we had some pull, you know, we were owners. We owned beach cottages down there. Our parents were behind us. So we actively lobbied and petitioned for surfing rights down there, and to keep surfing going on, and we were successful. Even though it wasn't what we wanted, they didn't get rid of us. And that's kind of what the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club had-- one of their main goals was, that's what it was.

And then the hearse, my father-- the history of the hearse, the 1949 Packard hearse, someone-- it's kind of an accidental occurrence of ownership. Someone owed my dad, a mechanic owed my dad some money, and he couldn't pay the bill. So my dad had gone to his shop, well they had done a funeral home here in Wilmington and they had had some work done to their hearse, this 1949 Packard hearse, and the funeral home-- the mechanic's repair, it was too much, the bill was too much, so they just left the hearse there. The mechanic didn't want the hearse so my dad took the hearse, probably around 1960 or 1961, on a bad debt. And he took the hearse and he left it out at our equipment place. And it stayed there in the country, it sat there for a long time, and then when my brother turned 16, he drove it around with me. And we had lots of fun in that hearse. And then of course by the time the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club came along and I turned 16, on my 16th birthday, excuse me, not on my birthday, but the Christmas of my 16th birthday, I received a key. It was on the Christmas tree. And I was 15 at Christmas, so I had to wait a few months to get my license, but that was gonna be my first vehicle, was the surfing hearse. So it didn't-- in the era, you know, the Munsters and what was going on in Hollywood and so on and so forth, you know, it kind of fit. And then we put the name Wrightsville Beach Surf Club on it. And we would load that thing full of surfboards and go to contests and drive it all over the place and, you know, so on and so forth. So in '64 I had the Packard hearse and we were all sophomores, or many of us were sophomores, in New Hanover high school, and I took the hearse to school because we wanted the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club to be a formal, official club. So I got it into New Hanover high school that we were gonna be a high school club and so on and so forth. And it stuck some, but they liked us, they let us have the Surf Club, they let us wear the jackets, you know. They let us wear our Surf Club jackets...

Fritzler: Which were maroon, right?

Joseph Funderburg: Were maroon, right. They had Wrightsville Beach Surf Club on them, our name was on the front, that was one of the things, was could we wear the jackets. Because from the 50s, they'd had problems with jackets and the way, you know, so forth...

Fritzler: Gangs.

Joseph Funderburg: Gangs and stuff, exactly, so...

Fritzler: I don't mean to interrupt you, but we've got 10 seconds left of tape. So let me change the tape out and I'll be right back up.

(tape change)

Fritzler: This is the second part of today's interview, the second hour of today's interview. Today is June 10, 2005. My name's Peter Fritzler, the interviewer, interviewing Mr. Joe Funderburg, who you see before you, in William Randall Library, at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, in Wilmington, North Carolina. And we were previously talking about the origins of the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club, part of their manifest, what their mission was to accomplish. And before the first tape ended, we were talking about their official club transportation, 1949 Packard Hearse. And where Mr. Funderburg left off was getting the key to the car, for Christmas, the year in which he was 15 years old.

Joseph Funderburg: Yeah, that's how it happened. I looked at the Christmas tree. And I had no clue. I didn't think I really got much for Christmas that year. I was curious why there wasn't more, you know, in the living room, in there. Then I found the key, and they had it parked down the block. So anyway, we turned that into the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club official transportation. And we'd all drive around in it and be seen, go to surfing contests and so forth. And as I mentioned...

(audio break)

Joseph Funderburg: ...we too-- I took that on to New Hanover High School, to the school. And, you know, we formalized having the surf club there at the school. And they accepted us to wear our coats and that was okay, that we were good kids and so on and so forth. That was all-- everything went fine. The only thing that really did not go fine was where I parked the hearse. Parking the vehicle was always kind of a problem. It just kind of gave people a eerie feeling, particularly if they were old. So the first day that I brought the hearse, I parked it on Market Street. I got there early because I was so proud of it with the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club name on there, so on and so forth. We had our club jackets. You know, we were a formal club there at the high school, and we were proud of it, you know. And I wanted the vehicle sitting there so everybody could see, you know, that we were formal. And the first day I parked it there, on Market Street, right in front of the High School. And it wasn't long after that that the principal's office called down. They said, "Joe, you've got to-- you're going to have to move the hearse. We respect your club, and we respect you. But the hearse is making some folks feel a little bit uncomfortable." So I had to move the hearse and park it a block away so it wasn't right in front of the high school. That's where-- my sophomore year, that's where I typically parked it so it was out of the way. And sometimes we'd get complaints from plac-- other places where I parked the hearse. Because it was a little bit disconcerting, to older folks, at that time, to see a hearse, you know, with-- just see it, period, the big black hearse. And it was absolutely beautiful. It was in pristine condition, and it was a wonderful memory. And all of us guys, who were both in-- on the East Coast Surf Team, Onslow Bay Surf Team, the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club, all of us had a good time in the surf car. We did all kinds of things with that. We were just kind of the-- it's easy to spot us when we were coming around. Because there wasn't anything-- you couldn't miss the big black th-- black car. So it was a lot of fun to own. I think it really represented our surf club well and showed our difference and so forth. But eventually, you know, it was-- made f-- some folks, the older folks, just feel uncomfortable. So that's kind of what we did with the club was to vie for surfer rights and to formalize it at Unaniver High School to ha-- recognize that we were surfers, we were there, and that we would be some folks to be athletes, and we loved it n-- we were proud of it. That's basically where-- what the mission was.

Fritzler: You mentioned earlier some of the agenda behind the club was as a political lobbying group.

Joseph Funderburg: You mean on our side or their side?

Fritzler: On their side to abdicate for access to the beach, for surfers, to be able to surf at Wrightsville Beach. There seemed like there was maybe a real sense of a real dichotomy down at Wrightsville Beach at that time. Remember coming across an article in the newspaper, in 1965, in which surfers were arrested for surfing too close to the pier. But at the same time, the Wrightsville Beach JCs sponsored the first annual surfing contest at Wrightsville Beach that very same year. So it does seem like there was a real sense of people that were for surfing and people who were against surfing. So were you a part of the group that was arrested for surfing?

Joseph Funderburg: Oh, yeah, yeah, they had-- I was one of the fortunate few. And that occurred, I think, in '64, '65, there. It was just a gr-- gwe--

Fritzler: 1965.

Joseph Funderburg: '65. It was just a...

Fritzler: In the paper.

Joseph Funderburg: Right. It was a really great day. It's one of those fantastic beach days where it's just crystal clear. Any breath of wind was lightly offshore. And the waves were, you know, a steady six, you know, occasionally maybe even a seven or eight, you know. Then the smaller ones were a good solid four, you know. We had just gorgeous waves that day. And that-- at that time, the sandbars were just right around Johnny Mercer's Pier. And, you know, as the northeasters came, sandbars would change and the-- as hurricanes moved along, you know, they'd move up and down where a surf spot was good. Sometimes it wasn't. But at that particular time, it was beautiful. And we just couldn't help ourselves. We started off at Mallard Street, then went out early in the morning, at dawn. And there was maybe ten of us, maybe a dozen, something like that. And we-- the-- as the tide dropped the better the surf got. It just looked like Hawaii or California. It was just an absolutely gorgeous day. It was some of the best surf I've ever seen in my whole life on Wrightsville Beach. And it was just too much for us, you know. We just kept getting closer and closer and closer to Johnny Mercer's Pier. And any surfer knows how that feels. Because that line, at Mallard Street, there was a big sign there, you know, "Surfing this way." And, you know, first, it was 100 feet over. We'd go there and surf awhile. Then it was, oh, boy, you know, the closer-- more that tide dropped the closer it got.

And so finally, you know, Chief Williamson and John Ward, they came down and they had bullhorn. And they told us all to come in, that we were surfing in an unauthorized zone. And all of us came in, except for one guy. And he was scared. It was Gene Cannon. He was afraid because he probably didn-- he just tried to paddle away is what he did. And he was going to paddle out farther and then paddle down somewhere north, come in at another place and so on and so forth. But once they saw all of us didn't come in-- they were watching us with binoculars, too, probably from Johnny Mercer's Pier. They-- that's where they were bullhorning us from was on the pier, then on the beach. They threatened what they would do is call the U.S. Coast Guard, and then the U.S. Coast Guard was going to come and find whoever, and then they would be subject to, you know, avoiding arrest. So he came in. Gene came on in. And they took us all. And they just took us down to Wrightsville Beach Police Department. And then they were fairly nice about it. They confiscated our surfboards. And then our parents had to come down. They gave us the surfboards, and then we had our day in court. They fined us all five or ten bucks or something and told us just to stay in the surf signs. But that still had a lot to do with why we were fighting for-- that's what we were fighting for. The best surf was always in the unauthorized zone, you know. And it goes back to going to town council and so forth. That, you know, the best surf, you know, they just started to banish them to the north end, because there was nothing there, nothing but sand dunes and birds and surf. There's nothing down there at that time. And Parmerly Isles [ph?] had gotten a start, but it was over on the south side.

So that's kind of what happened was-- as you say, it was a big dichotomy. They did not want us. They didn't want us near the piers. And certainly we absolutely were surfing in an unauthorized area. But I tell you, I've never seen surf that beautiful. And certainly, Peter, in your day and others', you know, you know the type of day I'm talking about. Everything is just there. Everybody's there. All your best friends are there. You're feeling good. You're surfing good. The surf's great. Everything's great. And then you can't go there. And it just-- there was so much youth in us and so much excitement and exhilaration that we just couldn't stop. So we-- edging closer and closer. Okay. So after that point, you know, that probably had a lot to do with-- certainly wasn't pending on that. But, you know, it was obvious that surfer rights and surfers, you know, as-- it grew the zones and so on and so forth. It's true today. It's the same problem they have today. So we just experienced that in '63, '64, '65, you know, long in that period of time when, you know, that's how we were treated. They were just trying to get rid of us. And they made a good effort, but they failed.

Fritzler: Who were some of the members of the organization? Do you remember who the officers were?

Joseph Funderburg: Uh-huh, oh, yeah.

Fritzler: You mentioned yourself as a founder. Were there any other cofounders?

Joseph Funderburg: I would say so, yeah. I would have to say absolutely, yes, there were certainly others that were p-- Robert Parker tha-- at that same period of time or after that, was-- he was-- Robert was closer to Mercer's Pier and had the Onslow Be-- Bay Surf Team coming along. But certainly anybody that was close to our-- my residence, because that was kind of where it started in about 1962. Certainly anyone that was close to that. Like, Morma At [ph?] w-- he was a neighbor and he was certainly in there. Jim Sullivan, he was across the beach and he was there. Mike Spencer, he was there. And there were certainly others, Lee Pierson, Steve Boyette, Skip Flowers, Mike Curry, Mike Deep, Charles Sutton, let's see, Jimmy Fisher, Brian Egats, Eric Normal, let me see, perhaps Fred Rivia [ph?], I can't recall that exactly, maybe. Some of the oldest guys, probably-- Eric McCrary possibly, Doug Massey definitely, Gene King, Jerry King, they were in there. And Charles Sutton and Tommy Thompson and Richard Versal and Larry Wessell, they were kind of part of that group that was affiliated with the club. But guys who were really more formally involved with it were probably myself and, particularly, Jim Sullivan and Michael Spencer. And, certainly, there were others without question. But we really didn-- we started off with Robert's rules. We tried that. But it was jus-- and we ch-- that only lasted one meeting. Because, you know, somebody had to take notes. So we elected a secretary and we did all this. But it jus-- it really just kind of fell apart. I mean, ma-- basically, you know, we had meetings and so on and so forth. But they were not well documented. And we had them at my house a lot. We had them at other people's houses a lot, you know. We did have meetings, but that's kind of the-- that group, out of the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club, out of the Onslow Bay Surf Club and out of the East Coast Surf Team, those were all those people. Not every one of them but most of them, the core group, are the members today of the Wrightsville Originals, you know, that was formed in 1996. So that's kind of the core group that came from three or four little clubs, the Wrightsville Originals is. And the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club w-- they were jus-- that was just one of them.

Fritzler: You prepared a nice record of your accomplishments in surfing contests that you had participated in beginning in 1965 and, really, going through '67.

Joseph Funderburg: That was the...

Fritzler: How was that whole era? What did it feel like to be a part of the surfing contest scene? When I was speaking with Robert Parker, he had kind of indicated that, you know, surf contests weren't really his thing, he was kind of getting out of that whole idea of the competitive aspects. Where does surfing contests reside with you?

Joseph Funderburg: Well, as I mentioned before, my mom and dad, my wonderful parents, who provided with this wonderful life at the beach and the beach cottage and all the toys that went along with it, the boats and the surfboards and everything, they, as I mentioned, in the late '40s, they-- the doctors were telling my mom that going to the beach was a healthy, you know, was a therapeutic thing and so forth. And, you know, we took a lot of vacations, because my dad made the money at the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. And then, in the '50s, he founded his own company. So he was entrepreneurial shooting star, and he made a lot of money in the contracting business. And when that occurred, we had enough money. So we just took a lot of vacations. We went to Florida a lot, again, as I mentioned, to Cypress Gardens Park for the skiing. But anything that was really of interest, you know, we'd take off and go weeken-- we went to all sorts of places. And one of the places that was very common was New York City. We went there a lot, and we went to just a lot of places. Why is that important with surfing? Well, the-- when I got interested in surfing and so forth, you know, we knew there was an East Coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach. We'd heard about it. We didn't know much about it. So, yeah, big deal, they just took us. They just took me there. So we just attended. I didn't know. It was more of a carnival than it was a surfing contest. You know, it was a combination. It was more like a circus and a carnival atmosphere than just strictly an athletic competition. So, you know, I didn't know what it was going to be like but, you know, saw that.

And then the first con-- first surfing contests, around Wrightsville Beach, you know, that area, you know, were just really getting a start. And a lot of them were fiascos. They jus-- either was absolutely no surf, it was flat as a board, or they were organized so poorly that it just never really occurred and people just found something better to do, got bored with it, left. Or, you know, it was hindered, in fairness, by both exclusion and by localism. If there was any definition of localism, it was in that day. Localism was just absolutely rampant. It just depended on who the judges were and kind of what was going on. That-- they were fair, you know. There was some fairness going on. There was no doubt about that. Because I really sincerely believe those that surfed the best on those days, you know, that they really-- if they really cut loose and got some hot rides and got in the semifinals, got in the finals and were standing on the stage getting a trophy and so on and so forth, you know, they-- the real winners, no doubt, were there. They certainly have written a lot of surfing history without question. But going up to Virginia Beach, you know, was a big time at that time. Florida versus New Jersey. So when those guys, in the early days, came, I mean, they had, particularly in Florida, they had more years experience than we did. You know, they would-- they were more formalized. They had, you know, moved along in the surf industry, were selling surfboards and so on and so forth. So they really, you know, took a lot of the early trophies aroun-- not just in Virginia but up and down the East Coast. We were in there, and we surfed a lot. So our local contests, they were more, like, on Wrightsville Beach, North Myrtle Beach, you know, Carolina Beach, so on and so forth. Those are the contests, Folly Beach, Pollysiwa [ph?], Halahhome [ph?] South Carolina. And those were the ones in the Carolinas where we were really, you know, the Onslow Bay Surf Team and the East Coast Surfboard Competition Team and the Wrightsville Beach Surfboar-- Surf-- we were closer than the Carolinas with our success. Because when we went up to Virginia Beach to the East Coast Championships or we went down to Florida or something, we were around people that had at least two or three years more experience on us. And a lot of them were already represented by surfboard companies and so on and so forth. So they just had a little bit more experience than we did. So they were able to pretty well take us. But some of the early surfing contests, I mean, I went to all of them. I di-- certainly didn't place in all of them. Sometimes I just participated. I entered some of them. And a lot of them, you know, was-- what Robert Parker was mentioning was, like, you know, if I met a girl or something and, you know, she was very nice, we were getting along really well, I mean, I'd be in tight spot to surf and go off and do something with her or, you know, something like that. I went to the East Coast back in, I think it was, '67. The surf was much better at the south of Virginia Beach. The surf was hot there. It was a real s-- hot surfing spot down there. And we were there to go surfing. Yeah, so we would just, you know, we might surf a bit in the contest. But then we all wanted to go down there.

Fritzler: So you bailed.

Joseph Funderburg: We'd bail a lot. We'd go surfing someplace else if something was more, you know, because the contests just were very small and so on, you know. They wer-- you didn't have pros and amateurs. There was no ESA. Just loosely put together. And at Wrightsville Beach, the JCs, they did a lot of them or groups and so on and so forth. But if there was any one contest that, you know, to me, has more bearing w-- in 1966-- the year of those Carolina contests was '65 and '66 and '67, right in there. That was the focal point of my surfing contest career. And I was in high school, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful period of time. But the bes-- I really love winning. I mean, I loved winning first place down there, at Carolina Beach, at the-- I can't...

(audio break)

Joseph Funderburg: ...which name it is, which one that is. It's South Atlantic.

Fritzler: _______________.

Joseph Funderburg: Right. It's South Atlantic. That was in '66.

Fritzler: In November.

Joseph Funderburg: Yeah, that's right. The South Atlantic Surfing Championships in '66. When I won first pla-- now, that was just so sweet because all my friends were there. All my friends were there. My family was there. Their family was there. My girlfriend was there. You know, everybody was there that day. I was-- I got a big trophy, and it was the old trophy that we had-- it was the first time we saw trophies that actually had surfers on them. There were surfboards with men standing o-- they weren't these, you know, standard things that you get from a trophy shop. They were real nice big surfing trophies. And it was a keeper. I mean, it was exciting to win. And then, that same year, the other surfing contests that I won first place in was in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And that was, of course, the well, well organized Dewey Weber Performers Surfing Contest. And Dewey Weber and his Redcoat team were all there in force. And he, you know, along with the California surfers, California companies were coming over here, barnstorming the East Coast. But Dewey had a very, very tight package. He was well organized. He was well advertised. And typically, he held the surfing contest coupled with boat shows or other carnivals or other events that were occurring, as I mentioned before, like they did at Virginia Beach. It wasn't just a surfing contest. It was combined with other activities that were going on at the beach. But winning the Dewey Weber was probably, you know, t-- one of the sweetest in a different way. Because I got-- Dewey shook my hand and gave me the hatchet fin, the wooden hatchet fin. That was the trophies were the wooden hatchet fins. And they gave those out there. And to have Caroline Weber-- Dewey's wife was standing next to him, and she hugged you. And, you know, it was a very moving experience. But they were just so tight. There- they were totally organized. They had all the judges organized. The surf team was there. They had all their front people, their back people. They had all the surfboards. Everything was wonderful. You know, but the click was I was surfing on a Hansen surfboard. They were promoting, obviously, Dewey Weber surfboards. And, you know, but I, as I mentioned before, there were fairness in the contest. Had it been a totally unfair contest, then Weber and his group would have only given the trophies to the Weber people and that's it. They did not do that.

Another thing that made the Webers so special and so different was that they did not-- they only allowed locals to enter the contest. They did not allow-- it was a locals only contest. That's the way they held them. They didn't let Mike Tabeling, who was on the Weber team, at that time, you know, come in and surf in the contest or others, you know, that you saw their names early on in the Virginia Beach East Coast Surfing Championships record. You know, they were not allowed to come in from out of state. They let us do it. That was the North Carolina, South Carolina championships. And I was just hot that day. That's all. I, you know, you wake up. The wave's there. You're there. And, you know, you feel hot. You are hot. You look hot. And you do it. So it's not boasting. It's just that, you know, it happened at that time. Everything was right at that time. And they were just wonderful, wonderful people. So the Dewey Weber-- just meeting Dewey, having the Webers there, at South Carolina, was a really, really, really great memory. But again, a lot of those contests were just not very well documented at all, all of the contests that I surfed in there. You know, it's only fair that-- in the finals, sometimes we had six or seven people. But sometimes they'd only put the top winner or the second winner. They wouldn't even put who was all in the finals, the top seeds, the six guys. And then sometimes, just because no one else was there-- like, if I'd gone to Virginia Beach, in 1965, and gone as a midget, I would probably gotten a trophy. But I didn't even have, you know, it wasn't a concept with my parents. So it didn't, you know, we didn't take a surfboard with us in-- that far, that early time. But, you know, the point is is that surfing contests at that time were very active. We all went to them, but it wasn't the answer to our dreams. We had other things going on than just winning surf contests. And really what did it get you? It just got you trophies, got you some notoriety. But there weren't any-- there were some benefits, without question, on the Hansen Surf Team. You know, he provided us discounts on surfboards. He provided us gas for the vehicles. And he helped us with hotels and the food, all that kind of stuff. So that's kind of a little bit of a take on the surfing contests and championships, of that period, of the mid-'60s. And, well, I'll last say that my friends, not only myself but Robert Parker and Richard Versal and Mike Deep, Charles Sutton, everybody, at some time or another, got a trophy for something. I mean, jus-- there just wasn't that many of us. And most of us all walked away with trophies. Just so long ago that most of those things, most of the trophies, are gone. And certainly the records are mo-- you know, minimal at best. And so it's very important to look back at that day. And, you know, when we all look back at it, we see something, something really important. So to document these memories here today, at the University of North Carolina and so forth, is so important. Because when the memories go away, they're just gone. They're just totally gone. So there's really no other way to document and do things like we're doing here today. Is, you know, we're so fortunate to have Peter Fritzler here to help us document these. Because the records are just...

(audio break)

Joseph Funderburg: So that's kind of where the surf contests went. And after '67 and '68, along in there, right in that period of time, they got more formal. And we st-- you started adding the East Coast, you know, yeah.

Fritzler: You'd mentioned Dewey Weber's Redcoat team. And I've seen photos of the Redcoats in various advertisements of Dewey Weber back in that period. You mentioned earlier that you had surf club jackets. Looking at both of those examples, it seemed like there was a real sense of honor and privilege to be a member of a surfing type organization. Would you say that I'm on point with that?

Joseph Funderburg: Yeah, absolutely. Back in that day, the coats, the red coats and our burgundy coats and our dark blue coats with the surfer-- with the logos on the back and the names of our clubs and so forth, they were really very, very prized things to own and be able to wear. You had to earn them. Nobody gave them to you. And they were very, very pri-- you got to remember the Dewey Weber group that was down-- you're talking about David Nueva. You're talking about Donald Takayama and others, you know.

(crew talk)

Fritzler: So how did you guys come about making those jackets?

Joseph Funderburg: Well, we just purchased the jackets. And then, you know, we took them to a company locally, and they sewed the letters on for us. And it was true not just for the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club but the Onslow Bay Surf Team and the Weber Team. That's what theirs looked like as well, the Redcoats. But before we're talking about the Dewey Weber contests, the Redcoats, who were there, are already professionals. At that time, they were considered a professional team. Whereas, you know, the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club, the Onslow Bay Surf Team and the East Coast Surfboards Competition Team, we were amateurs. So that's why they didn't let, you know, the professional team, you know, get in that contest down in Myrtle Beach. And the-- as I mentioned before, I didn't want to leave out any names that were the folks who were there, not just Dewey Weber and his wonderful wife Caroline, wonderful people, but also Mike Tabeling, Nat Young, Phyllis O'Donnell, Joey Hanasaki, Rail Sun [ph?], Randy Rerick and Jimmy Bayers of the golden era. There were a lot of k-- people there. And they were very impressive. They were all very nice, and they encouraged us so much. Dewey was really a coach at heart. Dewey had won, you know, the yo-yo champions and all that kind of stuff. But Dewey was a great coach. I mean, he really, really had it down. He was a fine businessman. A whole lot of respect for Dewey.

But that particular contest was just a great contest the way it was run. And it gave us an opportunity, as local guys, to really show our stuff and not have the more professional surfers jump in there with us and take all the trophies. I mean, it was very disappointing to go to contests and, as soon as you'd see, particularly, the Florida bunch or certain other ones, they'd come from California, you know, what was the point? You'd just count them up. It's like going into a university class, where there's, you know, 12 people, and you look at them and you go, "Wait a minute, six of them are premed," you know, "Four of them are graduate students. I'm an undergraduate student. So how well am I going to do here?" you know, "They g-- the As are gone," you know, "The As are gone. The Bs are gone." The bes-- that's how it was for me at Chapel Hill. When I went in the classes, you know, sometimes that's who it was made up of was 50 percent was premed. That's what the surfing contest st-- maybe a little different analogy. But that's what it was like. They were already-- you could already see who was going to win them. So, you know, that had a lot to do with what Parker was saying, too, was it was a little disenchanting when you were surfing against actually professional surfers of that day.

Another contest that was certainly a dramatic surprise, you know, was down at Wrightsville Beach. We had a contest at the Lumina Pavilion, and the Jaycees sponsored it. And it was a beautiful day. The surf wasn't really great. It was not a great day for surfing, but we had a skateboard contest inside the Lumina Pavilion. There was a skating rink in there. And we had-- it was set up as a little festival, so to speak. But the big surprise was Greg Noll, of course, as we all know, followed-- he was on Tobacco Road, U.S. 17, Market Street, headed through Wilmington, headed up north. He was leading-- touring the East Coast, again, barnstorming, that same year, just like Dewey Weber. And Greg came by and he followed a car, off Highway 17, to Wrightsville Beach. A car that had surfboards on it, he followed it down. So I remember it as clear as the day it happened. When Greg showed up, he's just a wonderful bear of a guy, huge fellow, and just so cordial and nice and friendly, you know. Jus-- he was just hugging you, just a wonderful guy, so personable. And, of course, he had his wife and family with him. It wasn't like he was-- he was touring, you know. It was a vacation for them, too. So he came and enjoyed our contest. We all knew who he was. He was a conqueror of Waimea Bay and a great at the Bonsai Pipeline in California. And, you know, we all knew who he was. So as Will Allison well put it, the-- it was a drop mouth thing. When he walked in, a lot of mouths really did drop. And I was injured. And I followed Greg around quite a bit, because I had been injured and did not finish the contest. And I just had a lot of respect for that period. And him coming down there and everything, it meant a lot to us that day at the beach. So that's kind of some of the greats, surfing greats. And if anyone, Greg Noll would certainly carry the mantle of surfing. And, you know, he's-- he was a great man that day and he is today. It's wonderful that Greg has helped the East Coast by encouraging also your document surfing.

Fritzler: You mentioned earlier, in the Wrightsville Beach Surf Club atmosphere, that you were active in the lobbying as an advocate for surfing. Did you guys ever put on any other events, parties, sponsored movies, things like that?

Joseph Funderburg: We-- I would have to say that parties were probably definitely something that we did. I mean, we definitely had a lot of parties. Because, at that time, when we were banished to the north end, down there, beyond Wri-- that sh-- the sur-- nor-- surf club there, beyond Mallard Street, they were all sand dunes down in there. And we had parties where-- they were campfire parties. Almost every single one of them were campfire parties. And sometimes, as those summers went by, I'm sure we had dozens of them. There was a lot of parties, a lot groups of us would have. But as far as films goes and things like that, we probably coordinated and helped with some, you know. But for the most part, mostly what we did was the lobbying. We had a lot to do lobbying there. We spent a lot of time doing that. And that's mainly what we did.

Fritzler: Were there any major films that you remember seeing or lesser known films that you either saw at the Crest or downtown maybe at the Bailey or the-- was it the Royal?

Joseph Funderburg: No. There's the Bailey, the Manor and the Colony. And then the lesser was the Bijou. And it was only because it was older, basically just had more popcorn, buttered popcorn, and soda pop spilled all over the seats. It jus-- it was just older. That's all. It was an older theater. And then the Manor was next up. It was equal to the Colony. They weren't quite as nice. Bailey Theater was, by far, the-- the Bailey Theater was, by far, the nicest theater. It had the nicest seats. I mean, it was just basically the nicest building, so on and so forth. That had air-condit-- they were all air-conditioned. And so was the Crest Theater. But we saw many surfing, not s-- just surfing-- but in the '50s, you know, and going to the Crest, in the '60s, and so on and so forth, there's so many, many films that were really, really fantastic, great films, you know, the Beach Blanket Bingo, Year of the Muscle Beach Party. All that kind of stuff started coming out in the, I would have to say, the late '50s or the early '60s. And then prior to that, you know, particularly Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan, who was a big surfer with Duke Kahanamoku and, you know, he surfed. Obviously, Duke Kahanamoku and Johnny Weissmuller are both in the Olympic swimming hall of fame, you know. They're together in that. And they were big swimming buddies and so forth. But, yeah, a lot of the movies down there, at, you know, at the beach. But there were many, many, many. But I'll...

(audio break)

Joseph Funderburg: ...tell you, a couple of them were very, very moving to me. One was South Pacific. And South Pacific came-- I can't recall the date right off. I don't know if I've written that in there. But for our next interview, I did not do all the films and put them in the years. I tried to start that yesterday, but I had misplaced my Azalea Festival Queen book and I couldn't find it. So I'm going to beef that one up a little bit on the, you know, what films I saw and so on and so forth. Because it's just kind of hard to remember all the names right back off that far. But South Pacific was certainly a big movie of that day. And it had the Pacific Bali Hai and the World War II setting and the surfing setting. There wasn't a l-- surfing in it. But it had everything there. And it was a wonderful movie and, certainly, you know, one of the bigger movies. There were surf flicks. We had, there, a few of those. And, of course, The Endless Summer, that's where I saw it was at the c-- I think it was at the Crest or probably at the Bailey first, you know. But there was just a lot of Hollywood influence at that time. But don't forget, I go back. I still go back to Esther Williams. And I, also, go back to Shelly Fabares. Shelly was the 1959-- I think she was the '59 Azalea Festival Queen. And she, of course, starred in Ride the Wild Surf in 1964. But she was, you know, she was a beach person. And, you know, she was, like, a swinging '60s gal, you know, at that time. So the-- but films, I- I-- I'm going to have to beef that one up a little bit, Peter. We'll get onto the films and all the names and so forth. I didn't get all of those, but I'll have that next time.

(crew talk)

Fritzler: Do you want to talk a little bit about Frank Sproul or Lank in the early surf shop scene, what that was like? Obviously, they weren't representative of what we have today, probably very basic, in terms of not only the boards but the accessories and apparel.

Joseph Funderburg: Well, you know, I'd have to certainly respect East Coast Surfboards and Lank Lancaster and Harold Petty and those folks down there, because going down there is really probably the first formal surf shop. There were certainly other people building surfboards in garages, as they are today in outbuildings and so forth. And, you know, was-- where folks generally built surfboards, from probably the '20s and '30s, was in somebody's garage or something of that nature. But certainly East Coast Surfboards, at Kahana Beach, had a formal business. And it was-- compared to today's standards, even compared to the standards back then, it was still rough. I mean, the showroom and the surfboard building room was all in the same structure. So it had the very powerful smell of fiberglass. There was dust. You know, it was more like it was a working shop, not a showroom. The showroom, there was certainly things there. And I think, at that-- then, he was selling Birdwell Beach Britches, which were these wonderful-- they looked like boxers, something boxers would wear in a ring. But they were really great surfing baggies. And he had those. And s-- course, I bought a pair of those. And...

Fritzler: Think they're Katins, actually.

Joseph Funderburg: Katin, that's right. Katins, that's right. Birdwells came after that, Katins. But anyway, no, it was just, you know, it was a family-oriented type thing. And when you went, Lank was there and he welcomed you like he was a dad or something. He was so happy you were there. He was so happy that you had chosen to purchase a surfboard with him. It was really meaningful. And he wanted to design it with you. He wanted to play an active part, you know, in whoever was buying a surfboard from him. He wanted to make sure that what you got was what was addressed, you know. The-- he addressed everything, made sure the color you wanted-- just like it is today. But he was very professional in that way, the length, the breadth, the thickness, you know, what the board was going to be used for, what type of skag, all those type things, you know. He was very attentive. And actually, what you ordered, I mean, they just had a simple order, one sheet of paper, you know. And you ordered that. And, you know, when it came, I mean, it was perfectly how he interpreted it and how I ordered it. It was perfectly done. It wasn't like it was this dramatic tour bus, you know. It was, bingo, right there on the money. So he was an ou-- f-- professional. And, you know, I was incredibly happy with that board. Another one of my favorite boards was, of course, my Greg Noll surfboard. And I ordered that from Frankie Sproul, and I ordered it through Frankie Sproul Surf Shop. And after Greg came-- and I had mentioned before, you know, about my wonderful parents. Because one might think how in the world did you own all these different surfboards. Well, my parents bought them for me. If I wanted them, my folks would buy them for me. And once I met Greg Noll, that was it. I had to have a Greg Noll. So immediately down to Frankie Sproul's shop. And, you know, I ordered a surfboard. And Greg had a per-- since it was in California, where the boards is built and shipped back over here, he had more paperwork. So there was more paperwork involved with ordering a Greg Noll surfboard. And it was more of an art piece, at that time, than my East Coast surfboard or my Hansen surfboard. Those were great surfboards. But the Greg Noll ha-- I had the figure eight stringers out of redwood, the big balsa stringers-- there's a big balsa stringer here, balsa stringer here. There was a redwood stringer down the middle. And then it had figure eight stringers, like this, that came down the board. They were very difficult to do. Pinstripes on the side, starter stripes, I mean, it was, like, tricked out. I mean, it was a full-blown...

Fritzler: Mercedes-Benz.

Joseph Funderburg: It had everything on it, and I ordered the forms. And when it came in, it was absolutely, you know, just a work of art. It had the tail block, you know, the teak tail block and everything. It had all the blocks. It had everything that you could buy at that time. So that was my Greg Noll surfboard. It was just a wonderful, wonderful memory to buy that there at Frankie Sproul's, to get it, to surf on it. And I'll tell you, it was the envy of a lot of people. Because the-- not many had seen a figure eight design in the redwood stringers and the co-- and all the combinations of woods and foam and different colors of paint. Typically, at that-- during that day, the surfboards were basically either plain with a s-- one stripe or maybe they'd have a stripe, you know, this way. Or, perhaps, something with a lot of stringers in it, was popular, was three redwood stringers. You know, that was very popular, too. But to see something that was absolutely loaded, you know, there were not that many of them at that time. That's what I ordered was a totally loaded surfboard. It was totally loaded. And so those were the two local surf shops that were impressive. Now, Frankie Sproul's shop was in one of Norman Apple's parents' businesses. They own the business district. They own the building. So it was a little bit more formal. And Frank Sproul did not build surf sh-- he did not build surfboards on his location. Frank Sproul was a retailer. He ordered all the equipment, skateboards and the clothing, surfboards and so forth. So-- and his mother was there, and she ran the shop half the time. Frankie-- Frank ran it the other half of the time. But it was just basically a retail shop. And he would order surfboards there. He had many, you know, pe-- if somebody wanted to order something, Frank would just order it for you, whatever it was. And sometimes it was a little more difficult to do things like that right out of a magazine, like Robert Parker did with the Hansen dealership. That was a good thing, without question, a wonderful thing. But Frankie set it up, and a lot of people shop there. And so those were kind of the two surf shops of importance of that day.

Fritzler: Is there anything you'd like to share, in closing, that maybe we didn't cover?

Joseph Funderburg: Well, just kind of peruse this here. I think I did a good job of covering contests and the surf clubs and that sort of thing and most of the folks that were involved with the early surfing years down here. And, you know, probably back up a little bit and just make sure that I, you know, got everything in there. I think one of the things growing up, too, that Robert Parker and a lot of us guys, too, you know, bring out, too, is waterskiing. We owned a lot of ski boats, and we were skiing from very early on. Most of us guys, we learned how to water-ski when we were, like, seven years old, eight years old, which, in my era, would've been 1955, '56, '57. We were all ski kings. And we had ski boats, so on and so forth. And skiing was really, really big. Many of us owned all sorts of skis, and we did slalom skiing, trick skiing. Then probably Robert Parker and I were best known, in that era th-- we were the two individuals that learned how to barefoot water-ski. We knew about barefoot waterskiing. Both-- Robert knew about it, but I had known-- my family knew about it from Cypress Gardens, Florida. So we were well-known to be one of the only two barefoot skiers on Wrightsville Beach early on. That was in the very early '60s, when we were-- around that period, when we were barefoot waterskiing. Also, the earlier surfers, you know, they were surfing in the '40s. They-- the-- Kidder, Rodney Kidder, and Dave Merkison, Howard Lexus and those guys, once they moved away from surfing, they also moved into waterskiing, so forth. And so they owned their own ski ramp. And the ski ramp was anchored up towards Masonboro Island. And it was there for all to see, all to peer, but not everybody to actually ride over and jump on. That was only for their group, and that was it. So all of those older surfers, they were all into skiing. And then the skiing kind of turned into sailing and then sailboats. And then the sailing turned into fishing. So, you know, all the water sports, we were doing a lot of those things when the surf wasn't up, you know. We were going out on our boats and doing a variety of things. And I've always been intrigued myself. Some of my first dates with girls, on the beach, were-- was in a boat, you know. When I dated Cathy Dean, when I dated any of the other girls that were on the beach, particularly Chris Farris over at the Wrightsville Beach Marina, you know, I dated in a boat. I went over there and picked them up on a boat. Because I didn't have a driver's license, you know. And my mom had started Players, you know, touring and so forth in 1962. That's when it formalized. So, you know, I was learning it as a trade. And so I knew pretty well. I was becoming pretty good at it by '60, '63, '64, in there. I was pretty good at it. So '62 and '63 I was dating in boats. And I certainly wasn't the only one who did that. I mean, there was others that did that. But just bringing out, you know, the mariner, the waterman, the whole waterman, aspect of where we grew up. Because, you know, there was shrimping and fishing and oystering. And we went flounder gigging at night. You know, we went out, at night, did all kinds of things to catch fish and just a multitude of water sport activities, around the beach, that our family-- that's what they moved down there for is to enjoy all that. And we did not miss anything. We didn't miss a thing, not one thing. We had all that going for us. And then many of us went to sea, you know. When I was in high school and Uncle Sam was rattling his sabre to selective sheriff's agency, the draft, Vietnam and all that was coming on, then, you know, tha-- I was going back to what we had learned. The biomedical lab, the Wrightsville Biomedical Lab, which is today the University Marine Center, you know, was put here in 1966, another huge year. And it encouraged marine work in marine biology and things like that. So, you know, by the time I finished high school, it was Vietnam or find somewhere to go. So I went down to Cape Fear Technical Institute and u-- honed my skills that I'd learned from when I was a child on boats and everything. I learned about the sea, and I went to, you know, ended at Marine Technology and on the advance.

And that's the same ex-- identical thing that Will Allison did. It's the same identical thing that Tommy Thompson did. We were all students that-- once we got out of high school, we were hot meat. And we d-- we really did not care to go to Vietnam. So we went to-- we went there to go into that school and get on the advance and get involved with marine research, marine biology, abymetrics [ph?] and geodedic survey, that sort of thing. That's what we had got involved with. So all of what we were learning as children and everything, we put to work. What we got out of it, you know, we put it to work by going to school and getting our certification. So they were training us to go into either the U.S. Coast Guard, the United States Navy or the United States Coast Geodetic Survey or some of those groups like that. And I, myself, went into the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which is now NOAA. And Will Allison went into-- he went down to the Gulf side. He could tell you more about what he did. And then Tommy Thompson basically went on to do other things. I don't think he actually went into any of the other services. But those things that we learned, back there, from childhood, those were all things that paid off, you know, okay, paid off, you know, when we finished high school and got out. And basically that's when-- once that started happening, right around 1968, that's when things really-- that was the change. That's when it all changed, because we were-- Parker, Robert Parker, and Gene King, lot of the other fellows had already gone in the army, you know. They were already gone. We had finished high school. People were going to college. That was kind of in that '60s era, surfing. Was a dramatic change, because we all finished high school. And with the impact of Vietnam, it was, you know, just a life change. That's when we all changed, at that time. Certainly, all of us love surfing. I surfed, you know, since the early '60s. I've never been a day that I didn't own a surfboard. And, you know, I loved it as much then as I do today. But it did change dramatically, as it does with all people when they finish high school and go to college and go into the service and so on and so forth. Sure we can get into that later, more of that. But it is important to note all the boating experience and my mom getting the U.S. Coast G--

(audio break)

Joseph Funderburg: ...her U.S. Coast Guard license. She was one of the first women in America to get that, and she was very proud of it n-- you know, was great memories.

Fritzler: Think this is kind of timely being end of an era.

Joseph Funderburg: I think so.

Fritzler: Would you say that the true, in the most literal sense of meaning, originals were the '63 to '68 crowd?

Joseph Funderburg: I would say I've been thinking about that at length. And I really think that it might cut off more toward '65 and '66. As I read the timeline and all the data, it really does seem like that the big year, where everything really started to grow was '66. It was very s-- ti-- teeny tiny in '62, '63. You know, and then it kept growing and growing. And then it grew more in '66 than it did in many, many years. So as in anything, it depends on who you talk to. But I would have to say that absolutely, that period that ends in '68, it didn't go much farther than that with the Wrightsville Originals. I mean, we were all graduating high school by then and so on and so forth. By stretch of the imagination, '69 or '70. But certainly around '67, '68, in there. What was the earlier date you said?

Fritzler: I just said, "'63 to '68."

Joseph Funderburg: '6-- yeah, uh-huh, along that five-year period in there, absolutely, that was the coming of age time, for several generations of us, to give us enough lap, you know, to catch the younger group, like Bill Curry, Allen Rippy, and a little bit of the older group, like Robert Parker and Jimmy Shepard and people like that, Gene King, Jerry King, little bit older, you know. So it gives that five-year gap in there. But that's-- absolutely that's where that era was, and that's how it ended. It didn't end. We just n-- changed to something different. And then we all came back full circle, in the '90s, to form the Wrightsville Original. Because, you know, n-- the-- those early friends you make, you never really have that much-- you never make the best friends and the best times. That's why life was so simple. It just was so nor-- it was so n-- I can't think of the word, can't put my finger on it. But, you know, you just don't forget th-- some of the best friends are your earliest friends. And a lot of those guys, in the '90s, now, that we have, the Wrightsville Originals, that's why they're interested in it. Because they like to look back, you know, and remember when they were kids and had all that fun, how much fun we had and so on and so forth. So it's wonderful that that many of us still get together and form the Wrightsville Originals, in the mid-'90s and coming into the turn of the century. That we still get together validates how great of an impact it was on all of our lives. This many people still care. This many people still remember th-- want to remember. And they're the ones that certainly form that group. So it's important.

Fritzler: Well, that concludes today's interview with Mr. Joe Funderburg. Thank you...

Joseph Funderburg: Thank you.

Fritzler: ...for giving us your morning...

Joseph Funderburg: Thank you. Absolutely.

Fritzler: ...and taking the time to really share and kind of capture some of the essence of what surfing was like...

Joseph Funderburg: Absolutely.

Fritzler: ...back in those, what appears to be, very special days. So thank you very, very much for that.

Joseph Funderburg: Thank you. Thanks to Peter Fritzler and your family and Ann and University and so forth. Thank you.

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