By Thomas Takao
Tony Mikus is a well-known surfboard glasser in the Santa Cruz area. Having worked for many of the local surfboard factories and some freelance, Tony’s glassing has covered many boards since the 1970’s. Tony Mikus’s craftsmanship and surfing is a part of the Santa Cruz Surfing Community’s classic history.
Tony was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. He started surfing on weekends with two friends that went to the same Junior High School. They first started surfing at Cowell’s in the early 1960’s. Tony had a Velzy Jacob’s balsa gun which seemed like 20 foot long when he first started. He couldn’t carry the board very well, so older guys there would help. Chubby Mitchell was one of those guys and he would help Tony carry the board down to the beach from the parking lot a few times, back then. Chubby always carried the Aloha Spirit with him wherever he went.
The older surfers would watch out for Tony and his friend. A special time and place for both the young and older surfers of this era. Surf wetsuit were in the early stages of design development. So only a few older surfers were able to have a custom beaver tail jacket made by Jack O’neill. You needed cornstarch to get into those early wetsuit Tony recalled, because they did not have nylon lining.
During the winter when the surf wasn’t good Tony would go to Otto’s and glass a board for fifty cents a side, even though he didn’t know what he was doing. With the money that he earned, he would go across the street to Sis’s and get a hamburger and coke or just hangout at George’s. Tony learned how to glass from Bob Cates, Dan Haut, John Cross at the Haut’s shop on Swift Ave in the early 1970’.
After working for Doug Haut, Tony started working for Session surfboards in the 80’s, after Session, Tony worked at Santa Cruz Surfboards, John Mel ‘s Freeline Designs, Bob Pearson’s Arrow Surfboards, Bill Ryedale, Ward Coffey Shapes, and John Henderson at Strive Surfboards.
While talking about the process of glassing and the experience ones develops. Tony remembered a time while working for Arrow Surfboards. Halfway through glassing a double layer of cloth on the deck, the lights went out. The door was open with a little light coming in, but the room was dark. Tony continued glassing and finished the board. The glass job was fine and no one could tell the difference.
The experience glasser develops a feels, through the many boards that has been glassed. Most people watching a glasser glass cannot see this feel. Tony handed me a copied of the Pleasure Point Surfing handbook, actually two pages. Besides glassing surfboards, Tony is a charter member of the Pleasure Point Surfing Association.
Jim Phillips an artist (no relation to Jim Phillips the shaper), who was the secretary of the club at its inception, and who is the secretary of the reformed association has written an over view of its history. The following surfers were original members:
Mark Angell, Joe Ayer, Gary Benson, Jerry Benson, Duncan Blue, Gene Hall, Dan Haut, Doug Haut, Joe “LJ” Harris, Jimmy Hoffman, Tom Hoye, Joe Kienholz, Tom Kienholz, Bill Luke, Johnny McCombs, Paul Meltzer, Tony Mikus, Rich Novak, Jimmy Phillips, Dave Puissegur, Dent Snider, Davey Sultzer, Dave Sweet, Jeff Thomsen, Gene Van Dyke, Gary Venturini, Norman Walker, Mike Winterburn, Joel Woods and Johnny Rice,
FELLOW MEMBERS who have passed on at the time of the Tony’s story:
Ted Pierson, Jay Shuirman, Adrian Jones, Bob Richardson, Gene Williams, Rod Russell, Mike Searcy, Bruce Phillips, Pete Bowersock, Leigh Perkins, Gary Anderson, Hank Serrano, Rudy Zeiss, Gramps Scroggins, Mike Ryan, Steve Scofield, Kenny Edgett, John Manwarren, Jim Miller.
The following came from the PPSA Handbook by Jim Phillips: The Pleasure Point Surfing Association was the first organized surfing club in Santa Cruz County since the 1940’s era Santa Cruz Surfing Club. PPSA continued to earn it’sown distinguished place in history. It was formed in 1963 by seven charter members and continued to grow in membership over the next few years.
Originally, the PPSA came into being as a surfing competitive team, as the Santa Cruz response to statewide surfing teams such as Wind an’ Sea, Hope Ranch, Playa Del Rey, and various surfboard company teams. In 1964 the Santa Cruz Surfing Association held the first annual Northern California Surfing Club Invitational, November 28-29 at Steamer Lane PPSA held it’s own against top surfers of California, and took 1st place in the event which included clubs such as Hope Ranch, Pedro Point, West Wind, South Peninsula, North Side, East Cliff.
PPSA surfers contributing to the victory included: Junior Division: LJ Harris, Tony Mikus Gary Venturini Men’s Division: Davey Sultzer, Doug Haut, Gene Hall, Tom Hoye, Joe Kienholz, Tom Kienholz, Jimmy Phillips, Joel, Woods, Jim Schmedding, Norman Walker. (note: It is probable that other members were omitted from the program listing (source)
With top standing in the competitive field, PPSA reached out to the community and formed one of the first environmental programs in Santa Cruz County. PPSA placed the first trash cans at locations in Pleasure Point. To spread the environmental message the PPSA entered a float in the club division in the 1964 Miss California Parade, which occurred during the summer on Beach St. in Santa Cruz.
The PPSA float won 1st place! It consisted of a large crepe paper trash can built over a Volkswagen, it had the club logo on the can and “Keep your beaches clean” written below. The trash program exists to this day in the form of Pack Your Trash thanks to efforts covering many years by the PPNF and others, including establishing county trash can pickup and beach cleanups.
Pleasure Point Surfing Association produced a highly successful Surf Fair on April 15, 1965 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. It was from 10 AM to midnight, during the Easter Break. The event had booths by every major Surf Shop in northern California, Surf Clubs displays, movies, dancing to live bands, skateboard exhibitions, and prize drawings every hour. General admittance was $1.50. With the proceeds from the Surf Fair, the PPSA members enjoyed a one week all-expense paid surfing trip to Baja California.
Resuming the conversation, where in Baja did you guys go I asked? Tony replied Tijuana. We both started laughing. He goes on to tell about a classic story at the Long Bar in Tijuana. After the PPSA members crossed over the border to Mexico and found a safe parking spot, they made their way to the Long Bar.
"Hey you guys, come on in, have a good time" said the doorman with a Spanish accent swinging his one arm in a circular motion and pointing at the door with the other. A lot of surf clubs were there, the bar was filled with surfers having a good time, laughing, drinking, joking around, and talking stories. With a haze of smoke at varies parts of the bar, the ambience was right out of a B movie bar scene. The PPSA guys settled in and found some tables. It wasn’t long before the mood shifted, in other words, things started to get out of hand.
Tony standing nearby heard Bigler saying something to Sultzer. Sultzer returned the compliment and poured beer on his head, what followed was the biggest beer fight Tony had ever seen. Being only 16 years old, he had something to talk about when he got back. Everybody were pouring beer on everyone, it was one soaking mess.
The mariachi band that had been playing traditional tunes for the strippers began changing the tune. When the entertainment change from the stage to the bar floor, they began playing faster and faster until they were seen racing out the door. The noise soared to the ceiling, but after a while calm prevailed.
With a few guys still pouring beer on one another, most of the guys walked out through the puddles of beer suds and went looking for some dry clothes. A fitting climax for a surf trip to Baja, the guys caught good waves down to the border and good waves back up to Santa Cruz. Tony would pass on in 2014.