Wendy Vogelgesang: standing with her 1972 Morey Boogie at Steamer Lane | Photo: Laura Hardwick

She is a bodyboarding pioneer. Wendy Vogelgesang, from California, was a very young girl when the first Morey Boogie boards were launched. More than four decades later, the passionate wave rider shares her love story with the plank shaped by Tom Morey.

Vogelgesang believes she paid $19.95 for the early Morey Boogie Kit model. She still remembers attaching the skins with glue and wrapping the edges with tape.

"The tape fell off the first summer," reveals Vogelgesang.

The green and white bodyboard stood the test of time. Tom Morey, the inventor of the modern boogie board, told us how it was marketed and was happy to know that his products are made to last.

"The first Morey Boogie ad was in Surfing Magazine, who fronted my credit on a 1/3 page vertical ad. It was for completed boards. Price: $37," explained Tom Morey.

"But, I was getting sick from contact cementing skins to the core. So I raised the price for a finished one to $45 and probably advertised in Surfer."

"I was amazed that although sales of kits for $25 started to come in, sales for completed boards at $45 kept on going also. I'm so glad Wendy got her money's worth and enjoyed!"

Wendy's story is heart-warming.

She recalls the excitement of putting together and riding her boogie board. Her chronicle will certainly touch the soul of readers who own a Morey Boogie model.

Here's how it goes.

How I Fell in Love with the Morey Boogie Board

I'm a beach girl. I grew up in Westchester, a South Bay neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Some of my fondest memories of my teen years are spending summers at the beach.

In 1971, I was taking the bus or getting a ride from my Mom to Gillis, our local beach, to meet up with friends and to bodysurf.

I was a wisp of a girl, and as much as I loved the feeling of being in the water catching waves; my small frame would often get pounded while bodysurfing.

One day, in 1972, while looking through my brother's Surfer Magazine, I saw an ad for a Morey Boogie Board Kit.

The Morey Boogie seemed perfect for me, not only because it looked like it would be a lot of fun, but it could also make it easier for 75lb me to catch and ride waves with some protection. I just had to have one!

I came from the generation where if you wanted something, you had to earn it. So, if I wanted a Morey Boogie, I would have to earn money to pay for it.

At 12 years old, my only source of income was babysitting at a rate of 50 cents per hour, so I picked up a paper route and saved until I had enough money to order a Morey Boogie Kit.

I traded my cash for a check from my Mom, cut and filled out the order form from Surfer Magazine, stamped an envelope, and rode my bike to the corner mailbox.

I made sure the envelope made it safely inside by opening and closing the door a couple of times and looking deep into the darkness of the big mailbox.

I eagerly awaited the delivery and was so excited when it arrived! The memory is still so clear...

I set up my Dad's sawhorses in the garage and grabbed his jar of contact cement off the shelf.

I read the instructions carefully and began to stretch the skin over the foam core while using the contact cement to glue the skin in place.

It soon became clear that I would not be able to do this by myself, and I waited for my brother to come home so he could help me.

While he stretched the skin, I glued.

I then taped the edges with what looked like electrical tape included in the kit and thought about the following day when I could try out my new Morey Boogie!

1972 Morey Boogie: the board measures about 47'' long, 25'' wide, 2.25'' thick, and 3.75 lbs | Photo: Laura Hardwick

That next morning I woke up early, ate a bowl of cereal, put on my suit, grabbed a towel, my fins, and a sandwich, and begged my mom for a ride to the beach!

All I knew up until now was bodysurfing, and once in the water, my muscle memory went into action.

Along with my fins, I could now use my arms to paddle like the surfers did, which made everything so much faster.

The buoyancy felt amazing but was a definite learning curve when paddling out over incoming waves.

With bodysurfing, I would easily swim over or dive into the wave and come out the other side.

After getting flipped a few times, I decided just to get off my boogie board, hold it tight and duck! This method of getting out took a long time, and it wasn't much fun.

I eventually learned that I could do what the surfers did and push down on the nose with my arms, duck my head, and jet through the wave by paddling hard with my fins.

I can still feel the excitement of catching my first wave!

It was a right; I dropped in with a big "smack" that almost bounced me off the board. Holding on tight, I leaned to the right, and off I went!

My mouth was closed, but I was screaming inside! I can still feel and hear it... the speed, the sound of the board slapping the water, and the absolute thrill of it all!

I didn't care that the insides of my little arms were scratched from rubbing on the edges of the board while paddling or that my ribs were sore and red.

Unlike the years of Morey Boogie Bliss, this would be temporary.

My best friend Christie and I spent summers at Gillis Beach catching wave after wave alongside the local surfer boys.

Every chance they got, the surfer boys would try to get their hands on our Morey Boogies.

When they were successful, they would take them out for a bit of wave action. I recall having mixed emotions when this happened.

Part of me was protective of what I had worked so hard to save up for... another part enjoyed watching the cute surfers catch a wave or two on my board before returning it to me.

One day one of the surfer boys thought of the idea to use my Morey Boogie as a skimboard.

I was amazed at how well it glided across the water's surface but was concerned about it getting thrashed.

Unfortunately, it did. It must have been a rock that sliced through the skin, leaving a big gash.

I was so bummed out and vowed never to let my Morey Boogie get away from me again.

Once home, I let the board dry out and repaired the gash with the same contact cement I used to attach the skins.

This gash, along with decades of old contact cement, can still be seen on the bottom of my Morey Boogie.

It was time to invest in a leash. I talked my brother into giving me a ride to our local surf shop, Dive N' Surf. My timing was good because my brother needed surfboard wax.

I recall the feeling of apprehension as I used a screwdriver to poke a hole through my board to attach the leash plug but knew it was for the best.

For reasons I can't recall, I didn't center the leash but attached it off to the right side of the board.

Years later, I attached a new leash and centered it. This is why there are two visible holes on my Morey Boogie.

The leash had a dual purpose.

The obvious purpose of saving me the time and energy of going to shore to fetch my board after a wipeout and, just as important, keeping it attached to me and away from people with Morey Boogie envy!

When I took a break from boogie boarding to eat lunch or rest, I would sit or lay on it, with the leash securely attached to my right wrist.

Between the wrist leash and laying on top of my board, I had different tan lines than my friends.

Most of the girls had dark tans on the front of their bodies, while I had a dark tan on my back that tapered off at my calves and a wide white band on my right wrist.

I didn't mind too much because I was having a lot more fun boogie boarding!

1972 Morey Boogie: Wendy Vogelgesang has two leash holes on her board | Photo: Laura Hardwick

Summer after summer, my Morey Boogie Board was a part of me not only at the beach but at lakes as well.

We did a lot of camping as a family, and my Dad taught me how to water ski before I learned to swim.

I would take my boogie board with me on our family camping trips and use it as a wakeboard (known as skurfing in the 1980s).

I didn't do any of the fancy wakeboard maneuvers... I just stood on it while being pulled by our boat.

Once I was able to drive, I ventured out to some of the beaches I had only heard about, like Toe's, Manhattan, Redondo, Hermosa, and later Malibu.

I had fun boogie boarding waves I wasn't familiar with.

As I grew from teen to adult, to wife and mother, I continued to ride my original Morey Boogie.

When my two sons were old enough, we bought them Morey Boogies of their own. The new boards were stiffer and larger.

I was loyal to my board and wasn't ready to trade it in for an updated board until I didn't have a choice. This happened in the early 1990s.

I was raising my family in Orange County. It was summertime, and a friend invited me to have a beach day in Huntington Beach. I was excited to get back in the water and boogie board.

We went out on the north side of the pier. As I paddled out, it was obvious I was out of practice and not as strong.

At some point, I was able to catch a wave. However, due to not having the strength to effectively paddle, I caught it too late, and it curled on top of my back.

After decades of use, my sweet old board just didn't have the strength to support me. It folded under the pressure of the heavy wave crushing my body and spirit.

I know it sounds strange, but it actually felt like I lost a friend.

Around this same time, we moved our family from Rancho Santa Margarita to San Clemente.

San Clemente has an old-school beach town feel and is known for some of the most consistent surf in California.

I soon went full circle and was now driving my two sons, with their Mach 7's, to the many local surf spots like T-Street, Riviera's, Lost Winds, Clock Tower, and North and South of the pier.

After some time passed and watching my sons having fun, I bought myself a new pair of Churchills and a brand new Morey Boogie Board.

There was a bit of a learning curve with my new board, but once I got the hang of it, I learned to enjoy the sturdiness, buoyancy, and speed.

One thing didn't change, though. While others were 'bodyboarding,' I was still 'boogie boarding!'

It's been 37 years since I ordered my Morey Boogie from Surfer Magazine. I'm stoked I still have it to this day.

It's been a long time since I've been in the water with it, but the memories are clear, and I hope they will stay with me for many years to come.

Thank you, Tom Morey and Surfer Magazine!"

Words by Wendy Vogelgesang | Bodyboarder from Santa Cruz, CA

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