A Look Back At Surfing's Rebellious, And Goofy, Past

Before surfers went mainstream, they were a group of rebels who just wanted to have fun.

The sport of surfing has come a long way since the days of wooden longboards and Duke Kahanamoku.

In 2016 alone, legendary pro surfer Kelly Slater built a mind-blowing artificial wave that could bring the sport inland, surfing finally got the Olympic recognition it deserves and female surfers made history by proving that their athletic prowess could surpass a male surfer's.

Bethany Hamilton caused a huge upset during round two of the Fiji Womens Pro in May 2016.
Bethany Hamilton caused a huge upset during round two of the Fiji Womens Pro in May 2016.
World Surf League

But before American surf culture became a powerhouse mainstream sport, it was a counterculture that arrived on the shores of America by way of Hawaii in the first few decades of the 20th century.

Men and women who belonged to this beach-loving community were rebelling against the prim and perfect roles society expected them to fill -- female surfers, especially.

"It was difficult [for these women] to be surfers when they were expected to have a family and make a happy home," Cori Schumacher, founder of the History of Women's Surfing Project, told The Huffington Post last year.

But men and women alike used surfing as their way out.

"There was this camaraderie of ‘Let’s escape from the bullshit ... and be together in the freedom of the ocean,'" Schumacher said.

Linda Benson <a href="http://encyclopediaofsurfing.com/entries/benson-linda" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="began surfing in 1955 at the age of 11" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="576b2521e4b0c0252e78606b" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://encyclopediaofsurfing.com/entries/benson-linda" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="10">began surfing in 1955 at the age of 11</a>. She was the runner-up of the 1964 World Surfing Championships and, in 1959, she became the first woman to surf the big waves of Hawaii's iconic surf break Waimea Bay.
Linda Benson began surfing in 1955 at the age of 11. She was the runner-up of the 1964 World Surfing Championships and, in 1959, she became the first woman to surf the big waves of Hawaii's iconic surf break Waimea Bay.
© LeRoy Grannis, courtesy of Linda Benson

"It was [a time] of love and good vibes. It was so early on in the sport," Linda Benson, an iconic big wave surfer of the '60s, previously told HuffPost, adding that some of today's professional surfers seem to be all about the money.

Back then, "you went surfing because you loved it and you loved the people you surfed with."

Below, relive surfing's humble beginnings with a sweet look back on its rebellious past.

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A Native Hawaiian with a traditional surfboard standing on a beach in Waikiki on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. (1890)
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Three native surfers ride their boards with ease at Waikiki Beach, with Diamond Head in the background, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1920s. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
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A surfer at Waikiki Beach stands on his head as he rides a wave into the shore, Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1925. Diamond Head is in the background.
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Sun bathers on a beach near Southampton, Long Island, USA, greet a trio of surfers pulled along the beach by an all-terrain vehicle.
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Surfers in Hawaii. (1940s)
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Surfers of Sydney, Australia, carry their boards across the beach. (1933)
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Surfers on the way to the water, circa 1930.
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Water ski champions demonstrating their skills as they ride the wake of a boat without a tow-line in California. (1965)
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These cars, also known as "Woodie Wagons," were an integral part of the American surf culture in the 1950s and 1960s.
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A group of surfers running on the beach at Sydney carrying their surfboards. (May 1931)
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Surfers in the water in Hawaii.
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A poster for the movie "The Endless Summer," made by Bruce Brown Films, 1966. The film follows two surfers searching for the perfect wave.
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Surfers Jeff Hakman, Bob Conneeley and John Day ride the small waves on a Pacific beach. (1970)
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World surfing champion Linda Benson at Hermosa Beach. (1970)
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A group of youngsters enjoy a day at the beach reclining next to the US Rubber Custom VW Volkswagen Bus and their surf boards.
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A group of surfers posing.
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John Calvin (left), John Fain (2nd from right) ride out with other surfers to catch a wave in a scene from the film "California Dreaming," 1978.
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View of three surfers silhouetted against a sunset, as they surf back to the beach. (1960s)
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A group of surfers running along the shore.
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Six surfers riding a wave, circa 1955.
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View of a group of surfers on the sand under the pier at Surfrider Beach, Malibu, California, January 1966. The photo was taken as part of a fashion shoot for Glamour Magazine.
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Surfers in Honolua Bay on the island of Maui on January 3, 1980.

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