Growing Up in O.C.: Surfer Don Craig Celebrates the Joys of San Onofre

Don, center, with brother Tom and dad Doug

Photo courtesy of Don Craig

Don Craig
b. 1948, raised in Hermosa Beach and Newport Beach
Founder of the Old Guys Rule clothing line, former team rider for Jacobs Surfboard and others, former surfwear sales rep

The San Onofre Surf Club started in ’52 and we were original members. We went down there, camped and surfed. San Onofre holds an annual competition and you have to be a club member. It’s usually the Saturday and Sunday after Labor Day. They have every age group from 8 and under, to 65 and over. It’s really a fun family event.

[For camping,] first we had a station wagon, probably an early ’50s Ford. My dad built a big box on the back of it that held a Coleman stove and little hibachi to cook on. Dad and Mom slept in the back seat, my little brother was between them, and I slept on the front seat. Our surfboards were on the roof.

It was a kid’s nirvana. We had our run of the beach and hills before the power plant was built. We had forts up in the hills. There were trees and valleys and we just kind of owned it.

Back then surfers were very much pooh-poohed. Everybody thought we were a bunch of bums. We had a friend, Dr. Don Cram, who was a chemistry professor from UCLA and he won a Nobel Prize. He was a surfer. Jim Arness from “Gunsmoke,” he and his family were down there. There were doctors and lawyers and dentists and painters. Teachers, engineers. It was a real cross section of all Southern California with the common bond of loving the beach and San Onofre. There was no hierarchy down there.

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