Frankly, I don’t know too much about Fred Wardy, the founder of Wardy Surfboards. But since we just got Wardy t-shirts back on our shelves, I thought I would jot down a few words about this important brand from the early ‘60s.
I usually start these musings with when and where the shaper was born, but I couldn’t even find this basic info…maybe I need to look a little further. But it was easy to discover that Fred Wardy started surfing at the age of about 15, when his father would take him to Malibu with his brothers. It sounds as if the boys had to share one board, which makes one wonder if this had anything to do with Fred learning how to shape surfboards. Regardless, he first started shaping in 1959, and by around 1961 had moved to the Malibu area and opened surf shops on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and in Laguna Beach. Of course you remember the Jan and Dean song "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"…you can just hear the words, “she’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard…”.
John Severson - the famed surf artist, filmmaker and Surfer Magazine founder - had spoken to Fred Wardy about the area; Severson told him of his success showing his surf films “out there,” suggesting that Pasadena isn’t exactly a beachside community. However, even as inland as it is, it had apparently become a hub for the emerging surf culture in the early ‘60s. Remember when surf movies were shown in small, local auditoriums and gymnasiums, and narrated live by the filmmakers? Definitely the good old days…
When Severson released the first edition of Surfer Magazine (originally called The Surfer) in 1960, the publication was just 36 pages long and featured a total of 13 ads – 10 of them for surfboard manufacturers. In addition to Wardy Surfboards, other recognizable advertisers in that inaugural edition included Dave Sweet, Gordie, Hobie, Ole, Surfboards Hawaii, Velzy and Yater. I noticed that the Dave Sweet ad featured new custom boards priced between $79.50 and $115.00, and laminated with 20 oz. fiberglass cloth. It appears that Wardy preferred using two layers of 10 oz., but wow, have things changed.
elow is a Wardy ad that supposedly appeared in the early days of Surfer…it speaks to the colorful character Fred Wardy must have been at the time. Pretty copy-intensive and almost disparaging in tone, but you have to appreciate the honesty!
In addition to Wardy’s Pasadena location, Fred opened a second shop in Laguna Beach. According to the Wardy ad featured above, it was really nothing more than an old, rundown red barn in a hard-to-find location. This is where the trail goes cold again…I’m not sure how long the shops remained open, but it seems that the most prosperous years for Wardy’s surf shops were between 1961 and 1966 or so. We do know that Fred Wardy was also a schoolteacher and a very bright guy. Hopefully someone can help me fill in the blanks! In the meantime, check out our new collection of Wardy tees…now back in stock!
Until next time,