Surf mats were popular until boogie boards took over in the late 1970s and many a “baby boomer” learned to the ride the waves on the canvas-covered inflatables.
Called “rafts” by the tourists, the locals always referred to them as “surf mats.” Many became quite adept at riding them while kneeling or, in rare cases, even standing up. The commercial variety was the ride of choice and most beach stands did a lively business renting surf mats from the 1950s through the late 1970s.
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Photo courtesy of Bill Fuhrer