Bill Kent Interview

Bill Kent

Bill Kent Surfing Bolsa Chica December 2011


April 6, 2016.  
Oral History Interview with Bill Kent at the home of Dennis M. in Sunset Beach.


Bill Kent- (1952-Present)

Bill Kent was born in Wilmington, California in 1952.  Growing up in a waterfront community, Bill became accustomed to hanging out at the beach when his mother would drop him and his friends off on her way to work.  Living a full life with experience in many types of jobs, Bill worked as a bagboy at Market Basket, salesman, engineer, and ski boat builder.  Bill and Dennis M. provide insight into the history of surf culture's popularity and how particular clothes, film, music, food, and automobiles became infused into the California cultural identity that arose in the 1960s. 


April 6, 2016. 12:56pm.


The interview was conducted in conjunction with the Oral History Program at CSULB and was recorded at the home of another local surfer, Dennis M. in Sunset Beach. Interviewed by history student Colin McGuinness.


surf clothes, history of California surf culture, benefits of surfing, long board vs. short boards, stand-up paddlers, sharks, surf food, odd-jobs, art of surfing, professional surfers, soul surfers, surf clubs


Oral History, Interview


This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. 


(0:00-1:49)... Interviewer outlines intentions of project, how the interview will be used

(1:50-3:59)... How Bill started surfing, being thrown in water by his father. 

(4:00-8:13)... Redondo Beach, describes surf mats (1961), Wilmington becomes culturally popular (1964), first surf shop [helicopter flying overhead]

(8:14-11:59)... Surf boom, Nardone's Deli (PCH and Avenue 1) for a quarter get soda and garlic bread, surfer diet, boom in those places as compared to Wilmington, Mid-60s surf style becomes distinguishable from San Diego and Huntington surf cultures, surf trips

(12:00-12:26)… How often Bill surfs

(12:27-13:57)... Plans to surf in Hawaii on cruise

(13:58-15:02)... 'Soul surfer' definition, discusses being pushed to compete

(15:45-17:29)... Living spontaneously, peace movement in the 70s

(17:30-20:38)... What Bill sees as surf culture items, the lifestyle, and benefits of the VW bus to surfers and their lifestyle, Levi's and plain White t-shirt with a pocket, (bag clothes)

(20:39-23:50)... Professional surfing, Hung up on the money, describes a pro-surfer

(23:51-26:57)... Long board v. short board discussion, Stand-up-Paddlers, popularity

(26:58-29:59)... Built ski boats and got into water skiing for 10 years, skiing thrills, injuries

(30:00-33:14)... Seen 4 Great White sharks, whales, dolphins [crosstalk]

(33:15-36:09)... You could describe surfing as an art form..."

(36:10-39:29)... Bill used to skateboard [crosstalk]

(39:30-44:18)... Surfing in private vs. interacting with other surfers, "sharing"

(44:19-45:01)... Corky Carroll (surfer) and their relationship

(46:02-53:11)... Falling back into the surfer lifestyle, missing work, odd jobs

[Construction noise in background continues to the one-hour mark]

(53:55-59:25)... Beach helps his marriage, wife does not surf, watching sunset

(59:26-1:01:21)... Never satisfied with one wave

(1:01:22-1:04:29)... Paying off the textbook fees, candy sales

(1:04:30-1:09:34)... Bill's experience with the draft and possibility of going to Vietnam

(1:09:35-1:15:04)... Skin cancer, sunscreen

(1:15:05-1:20:59)… [Dennis M. joins interview] Bill interviews Dennis, Alpha-Beta, party lines, Dennis M’s views on surfing [crosstalk]

Another local surfer, Dennis M., joins the interview: 



(1:21:00-1:24:49)… Meets Phil Edwards, 50s clothing, t-shirts with pocket [crosstalk]

(1:25:50-1:32:59)… 'Blackballing' of surfing definition, strips stand at Nellie's underneath Huntington Beach Pier (closed in 1966 when Pavalon Ballroom burned down) [crosstalk]

(1:33:00-1:38:29)… Influx of Polynesian culture from surf movies into California surf culture [crosstalk]

(1:38:30-1:40:19)… Driving to Baja California and filling out permission forms to gain access [crosstalk]

(1:40:20-1:41:11)… Why Hawaiian culture was able to take root in California so easily [crosstalk] END of Tape.

Bill Kent Interview