May 21 - 27, 2017: Issue 313
This week we are beyond stoked to bring you a small insight into a lady who is a legend to many of us and a dear and loved friend to others.
We thank Ron Turton, older brother of Pearl, for all his tireless efforts in helping with this page and his recognition that some kind of bigger record is way overdue for someone who did so much for women's surfing, not just when she was a champion, but for decades afterwards - in fact Pearl is still right up to date with what's happening in the surfing world and still cheering on and applauding those who are pushing themselves to excel.
Pearl Turton, was born in Surrey, England on the 5th of February 1947.
In October 1949 Ronald Charles Turton and Pearl Elizabeth Turton arrived in Australia along with their children, eldest son Ron (four), Pearl (two), and Ross on the way. They settled in Sydney and by 1950 had moved to Careel Bay.
"Our place was called ‘Goodawada’ and was on the high side of the road just before you climb up the hill to Surf road, we overlooked Stokes Point. The base of the house was sandstone and the rest fibro and wood, tin roof, a water tank, a bit of everything really." Ron recalls
"Pearl was and is still the kind of girl who would go in and tackle the boys playing footy but then turn up looking beautiful, and was always a lady, a girl.
I think she got a lot of it from mum – mum was on the stage on England when dad first met her with a group called ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) who used to entertain the troops. I think a lot of mum’s athleticism and ability went through to Pearl and I.
Every kid climbs a tree but Pearl was always the quickest, and excelled at everything. To me she seemed like those good footballers that can anticipate the play.
My early visions of Pearl were at Goodawada when we had this tricycle, a really solid one. We’d go up this steep hill behind Goodawada and I’d be riding it and she would be on the back. We’d come down this track and Pearl would be saying, ‘faster, go faster’. This tricycle didn’t have very good brakes so the way we’d stop would be to run into a lantana bush.
Mum would recall hearing us screaming as we went past the house – but it was that screaming of having fun.
I dug out a book Pearly had got me last night, ‘The Sea Eagle has Landed: The Story of Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club ’ a limited edition work about the Manly Sea Eagles. In the front of this Pearl has written – “Dear Ronnie, the love of footy was installed in me at age 6 when you convinced the lads that I could make up the numbers on the greenbelt at Palmy. So my thanks go to you, along with this book.”
The greenbelt was where all those houses along Barrenjoey road back onto Pittwater at Careel Bay. There’s a path there that’s grassed. In those days people used to mow this land behind their properties and we kids could play footy and cricket, I remember someone put some swings up. There was big Tom Gilbert, Ken Mackey, Penny Hall – we all knew each other… I remember she would crash tackle big Tommy Gilbert, then the next minute she’d be walking off like a model.
As time went on, and as we were only 18 months apart, we were both at Avalon Public School. I’d see her in the playground and you always kept an eye on your little sister just in case anyone tried to do the wrong thing, that was what dad brought me up to do, to look out for my little brother and sister. I’d see these really tall girls playing what we now call Netball and there was this little terrier in the middle, intercepting balls between these two tall girls and then off she would go – that was Pearl, she could read the play.
Anything that required balancing she excelled at – if there was a fence she’d jump on it and walk along it – that was always there.
In running she would be up there with them too, this tiny little girl. If determination meant anything, she’d get marks for that.
Avalon Primary (Public) School 6th class in 1958!
Pearl is in the second row (from the front) 4th from the left! That’s Geoff Searl 2nd from the left in the back row (suffering from a dash of photophobia - never did like it into the sun!). The late Midget’s wife - Beverlie (Carter), is 6th from the left in the 3rd row. Pearl and Beverlie have been lifelong friends.
Photo courtesy Geoff Searl, Avalon Beach Historical Society. Teacher is Mr. Archbold.
The funny thing was though, with all that fierce determination, if she didn’t win something she never spat the dummy, just moved on to the next thing – so it was about having all this energy to expel too, this great appetite for life and enjoying those moments and then moving on.
To me she was like this throughout all those decades, she had a passion for joining in and having fun but always had that restraint too, knew how to conduct herself, ‘grace under pressure’ in some ways but also as though this was inbuilt, her nature.
Towards the end of 1957 we moved to Palm Beach, to the golf course. Dad had moved us to Liechhardt for half of 1956 and half of 1957. Then the manager of the Palm Beach Golf Club, whose name was Ron Gassman, who was a friend of dads’, contacted him; ‘I can offer you a job at the Palm Beach Golf Club and it comes with a cottage out the back. You will be back to where you really belong mate’. This was towards the end of 1957.
So back we went. What a place to live, overlooking Lion Island, so close to the beach.
Turton family 1957 at Palm Beach Pool; Pearl snr., Pearl, Ross and Ron Jnr. holding dog 'Shane'.
Mr. Ron Turton Snr. on Palm Beach, March 20, 1961
Pearl and Ron's Mum Pearl Turton taking in the sun at Palmy March 20, 1961.
Like Ron, Pearl travelled to Narrabeen to go to high school, as her brother explains:
Pearl attended Narrabeen Girls High School, as everyone did then from that area, those that were permanent residents; 'Narrabeen Ladies College’ some of them used to jokingly call it. There’s a couple of girls in those photos who were into the surfing too.
Pearl at Narrabeen Girls' High School (front row left of sign). Winter uniform.
Pearl second left of sign with her great friend Sandra Painter (holding sign) another Palm Beach mate Patsy Lane is pictured one row up fourth from left. Summer uniform.
The move to Palm Beach is when our real interest in surfing started. We’d just walk around the corner to the beach. We did not have surfboards at first. We used to just body surf and then we rode these things called “surf'o-planes”. They were a blown up rubber with two handles and you had to paddle like mad to catch a wave the bigger the better then lay down and hung on. It was fantastic. Before too long Pearl decided it would be fun to ride these things like a jockey and I can still see her flying down these waves one hand on the handle and the other hand raised in the air like a rodeo rider rocketing around terrified body surfers. It was so much fun.
Pearl could run like the wind and had enormous hand eye coordination. Pearl excelled at track and field, basketball (Netball really) and gymnastics. It was the surf that soon became the main attraction though.
Looking back the timing was right. Before we were teenagers things were starting to change. By the end of the 50’s music, clothing and SURFING were changing. Pearl took to the surf with all my mates she was just another of the gang.
None of our gang by this time owned a surfboard. They were for the older boys and men. However that was all about to change. There were about half a dozen fellas of my age around twelve years who bought nine foot balsa wood Malibu boards. Some of the Surf Club members had let us have a ride on the 16 foot long hollow plywood boards and some had the same in the nine foot length. They were so heavy and awkward to ride so the balsa wood board coated in fibreglass and resin at the time were lightweight by the standards of those days. It was just a matter of time before Pearl borrowed my board and off she went, this petite little thing could just ride.
Pearl had confidence and raw talent to burn. It became a way of life not a sport and as she had always been one of the Palm Beach gang there was none of this “what’s a girl doing on our wave” stuff that I often here of even today.
Some of original Beachcombers Surfboard Riders Club members - Palm Beach 1961 near the present day dressing sheds. Note Johnny Hawkes Beach Buffet in the background washed away in king tides. The Beachcomber’s Club was underneath the Beach Buffet.
Back row – Ken ‘The Blue Streak’ Mackey, John ‘Pine’ Prosser, Richard Parkinson.
Front – John ‘Olly’ Oliver, Ron Turton, Johnny McIlroy (with hat on)Pearl Turton, Glenys Pearson, John ‘Beaver’ Gonsalves, Ronnie Berczelley (smoking!)and Laci ‘Hompus Stompus’ Berczelley. Note the jackets with the initials on them. ‘Cooky’ Burnes style from 77 Sunset Strip!
Pearl aged 14 at Palm Beach Golf Course, 1961
Avalon Beach when we were teenagers. Wayne Reed, Ron Turton, (Front Left to right) Patsy Lane, Sandra Painter, Bridget Berczelley, Pearl Turton.
Pearl left school early in her mid teens and started working at the Palm Beach Pharmacy as a trainee beautician and used to surf before and after work just as long as the surf ‘was up’.
There were no contests at the time however in 1963 and the first one came along, “The Interstate Surf Meet” to be run under International conditions at North Avalon. It ran over two days and there was a senior and junior men’s division and a ladies division. This event became the forerunner of Australian and State titles so it was pretty big deal. I'm pretty sure Rodney Sumpter's parents had something to do with organising that contest.
Pearl rode in the ladies event on the Sunday. I must mention that it was nothing like the surfing we see today. Back then the boards were heavy and there were no leg ropes. If you fell off or got wiped out you had to swim to shore then paddle back out through the white water and start all over again. You had to be fit!
Anyway in the ladies demolition derby with countless ladies riding Pearl prevailed and overnight became very famous.
Winner Pearl Turton (Palm Beach)
2nd. Dorothy De Rooy (Newport Beach)
3rd. Kristine Binning (Kristine Binning is Tanya Binning's sister - they lived at Harbord now called Freshwater)
Pearl Turton, 1963 national titles at Avalon Beach - photo by Vic Joice
Pearl Turton was only 16 years old.
"Snowy McCallister awarded me my trophy.” Pearl remembers.
“I remember when Pearl went out for that final – I was that excited” Ron says, “Pearl said when she walked past me I said ‘just win it’ - ‘so I did’ Pearl recalls.
1963 Womens Interstate Champion Pearl Turton in action at Whale Beach the same year - clipping from The Surfing World, courtesy Ron Turton
The win set in motion 12 months of intense attention on the teenager was on all the stations and graced the covers and pages of Pix, Everybody's, the Women’s Weekly and The Sydney Morning Herald, among others.
THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY Presents
October 2, 1963
SHE RIDES THE WAVES
Pearl Turton, our 16-year-old cover girl, competed at the Interstate Surfboard Riding Championships held recently at Avalon Beach, near Sydney, and was judged the best girl surfboard rider. Living and working as a trainee cosmetician at nearby Palm Beach, she spends most of her spare time in the water - winter and summer. Petite and feminine, she laughed at the idea that riding the waves should be strictly for the boys. "I'm just stoked (crazy) about board-riding," she said. "It's a great sport for girls, too." So why don't YOU take up surfboard riding this summer? On page three we tell you all about it.
NEW SWIMSUITS, pages 4, 5
Supplement to The Australian Women's Weekly
Not to be sold separately. Teenagers' WEEKLY (1963, October 2).The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 1 (Teenagers Weekly). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46449817
Pearl wrote a women's surfing column. 'Ask Pearl', another first, for Jack Eden’s Surfabout magazine. Girls from all over Australia and New Zealand used to send in questions for Pearl to answer.
The 16 year old champion even starred in a live-to-air broadcast with Brian Henderson the host of Bandstand filmed at Avalon Beach SLSC during the height of ‘The Stomp’. Bandstand was a very hip music show back then. Pearl was interviewed wearing only her bikini;
“That was embarrassing” Pearl says, "I was so nervous."
Pearl (Palm Beach) and her surfing buddie from Whale Beach Linnea Greenfield (now Putter) pictured at Whale Beach as contestants for the Miss Sydney Gidget 1963 contest. The fellas in the background are Whale Beach SLSC members Richie Stewart, Bob Lynch and Ted Szagmeister. Bob Lynch's son is Barton Lynch who went on to become a World Surfboard Championship Winner. Courtesy former Whaley surfer Linnea Greenfield (now Putter) and living in South Africa.
Alex McTaggart, Pearl and Linnea Greenfield wax up for a few hours surfing at Palm Beach before Pearl went to work at The Palm Beach Pharmacy while Linnea used to jump on the 190 bus and go to school. Pearl reckons surfing with Linnea getting up when it was still dark were some of the best days of her surfing life. "We used help and encourage each other. It was fantastic." Pearl says. Courtesy former Whaley surfer Linnea Greenfield (now Putter) and living in South Africa.
Have YOU tried the stomp?
By KERRY YATES
Everybody's doing it, doing it. Doing what? Why, THE STOMP, of course. It's the craziest dance ever to hit Australia, and it has caught on like mad.
WHAT is the stomp?
"It's just ..." said the dozens of stomping teenagers I interviewed, "well, it's just the stomp."
They weren't much help to this prospective stomper, so I turned to my dictionary. It read, "Stomp, verb, to stamp," and that's about it.
Just fling your arms and head about, lift those feet and stamp like crazy, and that's the stomp. Sounds silly and you'd never do it? That's what I thought until that party a few weeks ago.
We were jiving and twisting en the band announced that the next bracket was the stomp, my cue to leave the dance floor.
But when the music started and others began to stomp, it was almost hypnotic. Soon I stomping with the best of them.
It's primitive and really simple. There's no set step. teenagers everywhere have evolved their own versions and variations, and you'll find yourself inventing your own as you dance.
Some do the hopping stamping with one foot and moving to the right and then the left or going forwards and then backwards. Others do steps that resemble an Indian war dance-heads ti, arms held behind their backs, and they stomp around in a small circle.
The stomp arrived in Australia from America a few months ago, but it's only over the past few weeks, when the craze for surf music has reached "s peak, that the stomp has really caught on here.
With the many local and overseas surf records ('"Pipe-line," "Avalon Stomp," "Surfer's Stomp," "Surfing Safari," etc.) on the hit parades, there wasn't a dance to go with them, so teenagers started to stomp and now they can't stop.
TEENAGE members of a "Saturday Date" audience show viewers how to stomp.
They're stomping at dances and parties everywhere, at special "Stomp Nights" arranged by clubs and social groups, and the stomp seems to have taken over as the most popular dance on all the teen-age television shows.
On a recent programme of Jimmy Hannan's "Saturday Date," the teenage audience were so carried away with stomping on the cement studio floor that the cameras were vibrating and the singer couldn't be heard.
In the end the singer and Jimmy Hannan gave up trying to compete, and joined in the stomp instead!
Brian Henderson, popular compere of "Bandstand,"' says: "Stomping is really big-a real challenge to the twist."
Over the past few weeks many artists on "Bandstand" have stomped as they sang, and for the finale of a recent show the cast and technicians, too, presented the stomp in swinging style.
"It's more fun to do than to watch," said Brian, "and although surf music is the most popular you can stomp to any-thing."
Many parents seem to think the stomp is really the end, and although teenagers usually win them over to their new dances this may be difficult.
The stomp can be really wild, and is more suitable on a hard dance floor than on the loungeroom carpet at home.
Stomping is an electric, magnetic dance. You may as well be in it. You probably won't have any say when the music starts, anyway.
Yes, it looks like good-bye to twisting. Now it's "stomping the night away . . ." Have YOU tried the stomp? (1963, September 11). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 3 (TEENAGERS' WEEKLY). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46239070
Just while on music and all that jazz...
Pearls’ Music ‘Career’
When we were at Avalon Public School the original headmaster, Mr. Les Maguire’s wife loved music and was also a teacher. There was also another lady, Mrs. Chapman who encouraged music in the students. We had a stage at that early 1950’s Avalon Public School which originally had been part of a hangar at Richmond Air Base.
We had a really good choir and the eisteddfod’s that were part of pre-Christmas festivities were, to us, like a professional act. Mrs. Chapman was a terrific music teacher.
Unfortunately, Pearl didn’t have the right voice to fit into the choir and so didn’t become part of that, not that that worried Pearl too much.
When we went to Leichhardt for that year I remember Pearl coming home, jumping up and down; ‘Ronnie, I’ve been picked to be in the Leichhardt girls choir!’
“Gee, they must be pretty ordinary.’ I replied, “How did you get that?’
“Oh, they wanted someone with a Helen Shapiro type tone.’ Pearly replied, ‘Someone with a bit of bass.’
To this day Pearl still laughs over these early singing adventures.
Years later, during her surfing days, because she was on the front of everything going, Sony records rang her thinking they were on to something and said ‘we’re going to cut a record and you’re going to be singing on it’.
Pearl answered, “look, I’ll tell you right now, I can’t sing.’
They told her, ‘with all the music chambers we have and the background we can add in, we can make anyone sound good. What we want you to do is sing a few songs, put them on a tape and post them in.’
We were living at the Golf Club at the time and Pearl went into the bathroom to get that echo effect. The poor little thing was in there with a tape recorder singing all these songs and all you can hear in the background is my brother Ross and I laughing our heads off.
Anyway, she sent this in and got a phone call from the boss of Sony music some time later; ‘Pearly, you were right. You can’t sing.’
He considered her a great sport though and sent out an invitation to the Sony Records Christmas party for that year – 1963 or 1964. She went and met Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye, Judy Stone and Dig (Digby) Richards, all the Aussie stars of then.
Once again, Pearl thought this was hysterically funny.
The upshot of that was though that back in the 1970’s mum and dad moved up to the Central Coast to a little place called Bensville, which no one had heard of then. That was rezoned, they sold it and did alright, buying a much better block overlooking Brisbane Water which dad built a kit home on and they moved up there.
They used to go to the Central Coast Leagues Club every Monday or Wednesday – there was a thing on the Monday called ‘Monday Madness’ and on the Wednesday it was ‘Wacky Wednesday’. This was a fun afternoon – I remember going at least twice when visiting them. They always had a resident compére for these, someone who could entertain, sing, draw prizes, that sort of thing.
The girl who had been doing for years was offered a job on a ship, which she took.
Little Pattie turned up to do the job in the interim.
Pearl was up there one day visiting mum and dad and they asked her to come along and watch the show; ‘it’s terrific, you’ll love it – a really good show and they have a bit of a sing-along’.
Pearl went along and during the halfway intermission Little Pattie walked past and greeted mum and dad; ‘hi Ron, hi Pearl.’
Mum said, ‘I’d like you to meet my daughter Pearl.’ and introduced them.
Pearl said, ‘I remember you, all your great singing.’
Little Pattie said, ‘What’s your surname?’ – ‘Turton’
‘I remember you – you were the surfboard champion.’
Pearl said in jest, something along the lines of “I’ll tell you Little Pattie, if I could have sung a note, you wouldn’t have made a hit of that ‘He's My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy’ that would have been me.’
Apparently Little Pattie just cracked up and they had a real good yarn.
Later that year Pearl was featured in a film 'Australia - Surf and Underwater Girls' (December 8, 1963) - the blurb reads:
"YOUNG AUSTRALIANS LIKE PEARL TURTON, TYPICAL OF THE SYDNEYSIDERS WHO START EVERY DAY REALLY EARLY. SHE'S BEEN RIDING SURF-BOARD FOR TWO YEARS, AND, AT SIXTEEN, IS ALREADY A CHAMPION.
"YOUNG AUSTRALIANS LIKE PEARL TURTON, TYPICAL OF THE SYDNEYSIDERS WHO START EVERY DAY REALLY EARLY. SHE'S BEEN RIDING SURF-BOARD FOR TWO YEARS, AND, AT SIXTEEN, IS ALREADY A CHAMPION.
SOME SIXTY-THOUSAND SUCH BOARDS, IT'S ESTIMATED, ARE USED ON AUSTRALIA'S BEACHES... AND PEARL TURTON OWNS HER OWN. SHE TALKS ABOUT THE QUALITY OF WAVES, THEIR SIZE, THEIR POTENTIAL, HOW THEY CAN BEST BE MASTERED. HERE IS THE THINKING OF THE AUSTRALIAN OUTDOOR GIRL.
THE BOARDS, LIGHT AND EASILY MANOEUVRED, COST ABOUT 40-POUNDS EACH.
THE AUSTRALIAN SURFING ASSOCIATION HOPES THAT SYDNEY MIGHT BE THE VENUE FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NEXT YEAR.
THEN COMES HER WORKING DAY - AS A COSMETICIAN IN A SYDNEY PHARMACY.."
Ron sent us the link to a silent version - we haven't as yet tracked down the version where the soundtrack is intact. You can view this here.
Later 1963 was also the last time the lady surfed before a crowd. Ron explains:
" Pearl only competed again once after that. There was an event at Bondi on the Southside of Sydney Harbour. She did some modelling work in the morning suffering from middle ear infection and did not feel at all well. She turned up all the same and I remember her paddling out for her heat and just sat out the back and did not attempt to catch one wave. I was there and felt so sorry for her."
Pearl Turton and Kevin Platt (Later Platt's Surfwear - his mum used to make the boardshorts). This photograph is at the Australian Surfing Titles Bondi 1963. From Surfing World January 1964.
Pearl, aged 16, surfing at North Avalon 1963/64, with Dickie van Straalen, aged 18 (Dick van Straalen surfboards) Linnea Greenfield, when aged 14. From Everybody's magazine. Photo by Jack Eden.
There was more to come though. Pearl was still working at the chemist shop in Palm Beach when American filmmaker Bruce Brown approached her to be in a surfing movie. "I didn't even know the name of it, they just arrived at work and asked me if I'd do it I said yes and away we went:” Pearl says.
Little did Pearl realise that she would be immortalised in the first Endless Summer, still one of the best surf films of all time.
“I feel quite honoured now, very flattered to be in a movie so legendary. But at the time I was embarrassed because I felt they knocked our Australian surfing scene" Pearl said in an earlier interview.
“Pearlie was working for Alf Curtis at Palm Beach Chemist. Bruce Brown, who many people may not realise did a lot of motorbike stuff to begin with – one he did being ‘On Any Sunday’ which has Steve McQueen in it.
Steve McQueen was a fantastic bike rider, did all his own stunts. People who have seen The Great Escape may not realise that when he’s going over the wall of the prison in those sequences, that’s actually him, not a stunt double.
There’s also a Barry Briggs, a world speedway champion and a Kiwi from Christchurch in that film.
Bruce Brown didn’t muck about – he got out there on a board and filmed a lot of early footage. He picked two guys, one of whom was Robert August and the other Mike Hynson; the idea being to go all around the world following the sun and the surf.
That movie is the most famous surfing movie of all time. It’s still shown at a place near Huntington Pier California every Friday night. People have to book in to see, they sell t-shirts like hotcakes - it's an amazing phenomenon that has persisted.
These two very good surfers, Californians, followed the sun around the world, surfing at places some people had not seen surf at yet. One of them was Australia. They were searching for the perfect wave.
When they got here, Gopher (Rodney Sumpter), who was runner-up to Nat at a couple of contests, became part of the film. Nat is in there too. Someone must have said something about Pearl too.
Some of the sequences they were clearly taking the …. on our accents etc. – those where they’ve filmed some grommets on the beach saying ‘you should have been here yesTARdaaay…’ for instance.
At any rate, they got onto Pearly and asked if she could get some time off and come from a surf so they could film it. Alf said ‘off you go’.
They were shooting for four hours and to this day Pearl wonders what they did with the sequences they didn’t show. The whole thing seemed to be about showing a girl who could surf ‘a bit’ – they never mentioned she was the current National Champion – just seemed to focus on a pretty girl who could move a board.
All they cut in was her falling off or the guys pushing her off…”
Sounds like there was a sexist attitude Ron?...
Ron: Absolutely. There was also that ‘everything’s big in America’ culture going on too – these guys had come to show the Africans how to surf, the Australians how to surf – that kind of attitude. They never mentioned Midget, the current World Champion, who had just caned them in the water – in fact Midget wasn’t even in the movie. Blokes like Midget Farrelly and Rodney Sumpter, Nat Young, Mick Dooley and the late Bobby Brown weren’t mentioned because it wasn’t about that.
Pearl Turton in background - surfer Rob August in foreground at Palm Beach in a grab from The Endless Summer, 1964.
It was basically a fun American movie about two guys, great surfers, going for a long surf and discovering places they’d never surfed before – and as with so many American movies, the Americans are the stars, naturally. They had them flying too in days when everyone went by ship.
If you read up about that movie you will find it introduced to many Americans places in the world they’d never known existed prior to it being made. There’s a touch that in the U.K. and Europe too – if you’re over there you get bugger all news about here – you have to track it down. Whereas here we’re not living in a vacuum, you get news about everywhere else all the time or have easy access to it if interested.
When it was released Pearl, and I quote, ‘slid under the seat’. She explained they were trying to get her on a wave and then Robert August was going to cutback on a wave behind her and when he’d done that Mike Hynson was going to come from the other way, on the same wave and do the same. They did it and did it and did it and nailed it – and they never showed it.
Pearl said that during that four hours she got some great waves but all it was about was ‘here’s a girl called Pearl’ and them showing her backside but not her backside surfing manoeuvres. People missed out by not getting to see those scenes that were cut.
Text from above clipping:
LOOKING THE PART, TOO: By DAVID KNOX
Nat Young and Pearl Turton at Palm Beach last week. INSET: Sixteen-year-old Pearl in action. … IT was all about sun, surf and and just a little bit of innocent sex. The Endless Summer, a low-budget documentary that premiered in California in 1964, turned a generation on to surfing. Surf movie maker Bruce Brown scraped together $US50,000 to film two fellow Californian surfers' worldwide trek in search of waves and women. The film was a hit with surfers but it really took off after Columbia Pictures discovered The Endless Summer and released the movie in major cinemas. It played to packed houses in unlikely venues such as Wichita, Kansas and New York City. Brown, the struggling enthusiast who had been happy to break even with his previous films, became a millionaire as The Endless Summer went on to gross more than $50 million worldwide. Sun and surf Brown and his stars, top surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August, found in abundance as they travelled to …
"They came into the chemist shop where I was working at Palm Beach and asked my boss if I could have some time off to go surfing," said Pearl, one of Australia's first female surfers in the post-1956 Malibu board era. "They said they were making a surf film I don’t even think they had a name for it and needed me to do some surfing." At the end of the scene Hynson, with a lecherous smile, drives off with Pearl as August is left disconsolate on the sand. It was an accurate depiction, said Pearl. He was dropping her back to work. Brown filmed Pearl kissing the two surfers but the scene was cut.
Pearl said: "The boys were really nice. I remember the bit they cut out of the film. I was filmed giving them a good-bye kiss. That was the extent of our relationship." Pearl, who hasn't had contact with the trio for the past 31 years, wasn't thrilled when she first saw the film in 1965.
"I wondered why they used the shots they did," she said. "It was quite embarrassing. I nearly slipped under the seat when I saw it" . Another Australian in the film was Nat Young, who went on to become Australian and world champion and one of the sport's all-time greats. Young, 47, and his son Beau, 20, appear in The Endless Summer II. Young said yesterday that for years after the film's release people would refer to the sequence featuring himself and Rodney Sumpter surfing in Australia. "It's a fantastic film. It's so surf," he said. "It's the essence of surfing and it stacks up against contemporary surf movies. "It gives a perspective of how surfers look at the world and how the world looks at surfers." Young is looking forward to seeing how Endless Summer II compares. countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Australia, often suiting breaks which had never been ridden.
Clipping From The Sydney Morning Herald -Sydney, New South Wales. Sunday, January 8, 1995. Page 23
Pearl - Surfing World, March 1964
Pearl took on another position and this was another first - the newly formed Australian Surfriders Association voted her as the first women's delegate in 1964-65 - before finally stepping back from the surfing, marrying a fellow surfer and becoming 'a full time mum’.
There’s a photo I’ve sent you with Veronica Brown, who was Col Brown’s sister – Col was famous for his single spinner, the big Ford we’d go on surfing safaris in 'Surfaris'. There’s a good little yarn behind that picture.
There was a guy called John Cobcroft, from the Cobcroft squattocracy – at Palmy and Whaley there were a lot of farmers who had holiday homes – these were halcyon days for farmers in the late 1950’s and 1960’s – for some of them at any rate. John and his brother Brian had a holiday place between Palm Beach and Whale Beach and would have a six week holiday after the harvest at Willow Tree, which was up near Quirindi.
John invited her up to the family spread, a place called 'Parraweena'. Veronica and Pearl were going to make a surfing trip to Queensland in that car and thought they’d just drop in on the way, Pearl thinking it would be like just dropping in to say, Parramatta. John had told all his mates he’d won the heart of this beach beauty and they’d meet her soon.
Ronnie was driving and they got completely lost – it was dark, they didn’t know where they were. They saw a farmhouse and went and banged on a door. An old bloke answered, blinking – it’s a bit unusual to see surfboards on a car out that way, and they asked if he knew Johnny Cobcroft;
‘Do I know him? Everyone knows him – but he’s a fair way from here – hold on, I’ll call him.’
This farmer calls Johnny, who was waiting for them to turn up for dinner. John got on the phone and said "Just stay where you are!" to Pearl. He went and picked them up, but they'd missed the dinner and all the guests had gone home. Pearl had a day on the farm – it wasn’t for her though – she didn’t like the blowflies, or the smell of the cattle.
Veronica Brown's hot Morris Minor with a Sprite engine ready to take Pearl and Ronnie to Queensland surfing via Willow Tree, Quirindi!
Pearl, Ronnie and Ronnie's husband made it to the Gold Coast.
It didn’t end there though, Pearl has spotted and supported new talent like Chelsea Georgeson and Grace Quinney.
"I think we need to encourage young girls in surfing. When you see a bit of talent you need to support it. If I had the chance I would have loved to have made a career out of surfing but no one got paid to surf back then." Pearl says.
“Pearl would ring me and say ‘I saw this little grommet surfing and she didn’t come anywhere, but she has something – I can see something there, she was really having a good go. She’s getting my Encouragement Award and I’m going to give her something towards entrance fees for upcoming competitions. ’
I think some people have that ability to spot something if it’s there, and Pearl was like that, she could see the potential. Well it turned out that girl, still at school then, was Chelsea Georgeson, who has since won a World Championship. Pearl was really chuffed about her win.
Pearl always had a thing about giving too, thus the sponsorships. Even now at Christmas, when the presents are handed out, she’s more excited when I’m unwrapping a gift from her than what I may have given her; ‘now Ron, we spent a lot of time working out what to give you…’ to the point where I have a mental picture of what it may be before I’ve unwrapped it. Pearl has always had this love of giving, which is not a bad quality to have really.
That wasn't the only way she supported young surfers though, these documents will explain what she was up to during the later 1990s: -
Pearl and her father Ron before an award night
Pearl presents a surfing award Cooee
Pearl married and had her daughter Sheridan. As there was no maternity leave in those days, once Sheri was old enough Pearl would drop her off to a lady in Thyra road who used after children and go to work at the Chemist. The man who owned the business, Alfie Curtis, loved horse racing. In fact, when he passed away his ashes were spread on the Gosford race track. He was also the President of Palm Beach RSL when that new building opened in 1957.
In those days that were a lot of guys living at Palm Beach who owned racehorses, people like the Moses who had horses that ran at Randwick. Long before the ferries that now run across to the Central Coast you had fishing trawlers like the Caroline H and the Mary J that would go to the Gosford races of a Thursday. Every now and again Alf would say, ‘listen Pearl. We’re off to the races.’
Pearl described it as an unbelievably great day, where the ice was stored for the fish would be full of great food, Alf would be taking all his mates over, it was a great day out for them all. Pearl got to know all the Bookies and so if something was running five to one they’d give her ten to one. she wasn’t a big punter but she loved horse racing and learned of that through Alfie – he was just so good to her, introduced her to so many lovely people.
People still tell me they remember Pearl from then and that she was always so happy and kind to everyone.
Later on she worked at Palm Beach RSL when Tommy Lonergan was the manager and Brian Hillier the assistant manager. There again people remember her as a lovely girl, someone who was always giving to others. Laci Berzcelley worked there for a while, as did Johnny Limbrick – they all went on to do alright, did really well in fact.
Pearl was always a worker though, she got in and did it, didn’t expect anything from anyone. Pearl always worked – she worked during the day and she worked at night – and if you work hard enough you see the results.
As time went on she moved to Queensland, living on the Sunshine Coast for quite some time and then the Gold Coast, working there. Wherever she went she made friends, she is that sort of person.
Pearl loved action – loved the Speedway Racing that used to run on a Saturday night at the old Sydney Showground Speedway – it had originally begun there in 1928 – the smell of the racing fuel, the noise of the bikes warming up, the side-cars racing, and the speedcars; she was besotted by it. She loved the bikes, knew all the names of the riders, just as we all knew the names of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles players in those earlier days. There’s a photo of her with Phil Crump, an absolute legendary Speedway rider.
Pearl flew down from Queensland for that and I took her and dad around to the pits. To me it’s a great photo that one – two champions, pictured in 2002.
Pearl's great love of motor cycle dirt track speedway is has been a life long passion. Here she is at the 2002 World Speedway Grand Prix Final meeting at Olympic Park, Sydney with brother Ron and 1960s and 1970s Australian speedway riding legend Phil Crump. A world champion finalist himself.
Pearl moved ‘back home’ as we call it – back to Palm Beach and Avalon then Bilgola Plateau. I remember there was an election and she went along to vote, they said ‘you’re not enrolled’. She’d been taken off while living in Queensland. They explained she just filled out some forms to re-enrol. It turned out Pearl had to become an Aussie before she could vote – I myself only got my citizenship in 2007.
So Pearl went through what she needed to do and then went to a Citizenship Ceremony at Newport Beach – those they have each year as part of Australia Day celebrations. The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop was the one welcoming the new Australians.
Pearl was there and some of the old surfers came up and said ‘what a great honour – if anyone deserved to give out the Citizenship certificates it’s Pearl of the Pacific – you can’t get anymore Australian than this – our Pearl.’
Pearl said, ‘no, I’m here to be part of the ceremony.’ – I thought that was hilarious.
As I said earlier, later there was a culture of girls surfing of; ‘oh, it’s a girl…’. When Pearl was surfing she never experienced any of that, she was always acknowledged for being a great surfer. She had her own board, saved up and bought her own Scott Dillon board, which she still has the receipt for.
Even at that 2000 Noosa Festival of Surfing she was still acknowledged for her surfing and what she did. She has never been forgotten – that photo I sent you of her with Layne and Tom is from then. In fact, one year they got Robert August (Endless Summer) out as a guest and he hadn’t seen Pearly since the film and they caught up, went for a drink or dinner or something and had a great reminisce.
Gordon Woods, of Gordon Woods Surfboards Brookvale, with Pearl Turton and Jack Eden, one of surfing's greatest Surfing photographers - at the Noosa Festival Of Surfing 2000.
Pearl pictured with former Narrabeen surfer Mick Marlin at the Noosa Festival Of Surfing, 2000.
Today Pearl is still following what’s going on. When I ring her up she can give me a rundown of all the Men’s and Women’s surfers on the circuit and where they’re from. Her favourite surfer at the moment is John "John" Alexander Florence, an American professional surfer. She tells me ‘he’s fantastic’.
So Pearl goes right back to all these 1960’s surfers, Midget and Nat Young, and has followed all the women and still cheers on the girls.”
Even now people still reference Pearl, she was someone who was just good to everyone and is remembered that way. I think what she had was she loved fun, she wasn’t a show-off, she was determined, and when she was a friend she was a true friend.
“Never take it for granted. Make the most of it while you can," Pearl says, "It's still an exciting time for women's surfing.It always will be."