As reported on latimesblogs.latimes.com
Who stole the bronze bust of George Freeth, the father of California surfing, from its perch on the Redondo Beach pier? A $5,000 reward awaits the person with the answer, courtesy of Body Glove founder Bob Meistrell, the Daily Breeze reports. The bust went missing sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, hacked loose from the concrete pedestal where it sat for 31 years.
Freeth, half Hawaiian and half Irish, came to the U.S. in 1907 after Jack London, awed by the 23-year-old surfer’s athleticism, wrote about him in “A Royal Sport: Surfing in Waikiki,” an article published in the lady’s Home Companion, according to Surfing for Life. London’s raves led real estate tycoon Henry Huntington to hire Freeth to put on surfing exhibitions in front of the Hotel Redondo, billing him as “The Man Who Could Walk on Water.Â Thousands came to watch him and soon, he was traveling up and down the SoCal coast, spreading the gospel of surfing.
George Freeth, the man who walked on water In 1909, when a fishing boat capsized in heavy surf in Santa Monica, Freeth swam out and saved all seven men on board. For that, he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. Freeth went on to be the first lifeguard in Southern California and organized the state’s first professional lifeguard corps.