Oral History – Teens On the Beach – 1940’s and 1950’s

From interviews conducted by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon – Oral History Committee
Compiled by Ann Hertzler from interviews with Andy Canoutas, Glenn Flowers, Margaret Ford, Isabel Foushee, Jeannie Kure, Jack Lewis, Ed Niedens, Mike Robinson, Ray Rothrock and Dub Hegler)

Swimming:
Some mothers went to the beach with their children. One family had a little dog that walked in front of their young son to keep him from going in the ocean. Some children could go to the beach in the day time where they could be seen, but not after dark. Older kids would sit on the pier or on beach blankets. No one had chairs. They’d play in the water, walk on the beach, look for shells, talk, and be teenagers. It was an innocent time. Lawrence Kure told 14 year old Isabelle Lewis, Punkie Kure, Roberts Hall, and Sun Waters not to jump off the end of the pier (1943-44). They nonchalantly walked out, and then ran to the end ironing_board_surfof the pier, jumped in the water, and swam back.

Surfing:
In the 1940s, the ocean had big waves. You used an inner tube or jumped on a wave and body surfed. Surf boards or boogie boards hadn’t been invented yet. Body surfing was swimming with the crested wave, going down like a surf board, and skidding in. A perfect surf board for riding the waves was mother’s ironing board – a flat board about 5 ft long – 2 ft wide that lay between 2 chairs or on the kitchen table. “When the wave breaks, you’ve got to keep the nose of the ironing board up. If the nose goes down, the point digs into the sand and you “could flat get a belly ache.” Some Moms didn’t know her son used her ironing board until he forgot to bring it home. Some surfers got a wide board and cut it bow-shaped. Later Andy Canoutas obtained a 15’ surf board made by a friend, hollow on the inside so water had to be drained after each use. Mike Robertson brought in surf boards to rent at Kure Beach Pier.

Life Guards: surfers
Andy Canoutas was the first paid life guard by local businesses at Kure Beach when he was 15 (1950). Andy guarded up to 1963 from the first jetty south of the pier to the next jetty with a stand for him to sit on. He wore short, tight suits like boxer shorts. Tourists from nearby cottages crowded the beach with the life guard. Parents would look after the little ones; but the 8 to 11-year-old boys were the wild ones. In times of danger, Andy had a whistle to get their attention. He used a buoy to rescue a lot of people because of rip currents. Bobby Ford and Eddie Neidens were life guards. No radio or phone was available to call for help; but the lifeguard had a key to the Town Hall to get to the oxygen system. Individuals also saved lives of friends and neighbors stepping in a hole in the beach with tremendous sand bars at low tide and quickly going from waist deep to neck-deep, or caught in the rip current.