FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2011 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
August 18, 1888
|A GAY QUEEN OF THE WAVES.
A group of summer loungers on the beach at Asbury Park, N.J., were watching the extraordinary antics of a dark eyed, bronze-faced girl in the sea a few mornings ago. The object of all this interest and solicitude was beyond the line of the breakers and standing on a plank that rose and fell with the swelling waves. Her bathing dress was of some dark material, fitting close to the figure, the skirts reaching scarce to her knee. Her stockings were of amber hue, adorned with what from the shore seemed to be vines and roses in colored embroidery. She wore no hat or cap. Her hair, bound across the forehead and above the ears by a silver fillet, tumbled down upon her shoulders or streamed out upon the wind in black and shining profusion. Her tunic was quite sleeveless, and one could scarcely fail to observe the perfect development and grace of her arms. As a wave larger than those which had gone before slowly lifted the plank upon its swelling surface, she poised herself daintily upon the support, her round arms stretched out and her body swaying to and fro in harmony with the motion of the waters. As the wave reached its fullest volume she suddenly, quick as thought, and with a laugh that rang full into shore, drew herself together, sprang into the air, and, her hands clasped together and clearing her a way, plunged into the rolling sea. There was a little cry from timid feminine watchers on the sand, but the smiling face was above water again while they cried, and the daring Triton was up on the plank again in another moment and waiting for a second high roller. So she has been amusing herself and interesting the mob for three mornings. She is as completely at ease in the sea as you or I on land, and the broad plank obeys her slightest touch.
The following article is the Police Gazette's contemporary description of the legendary surfer known as "Sandwich Island Girl." The Gazette's cover illustration of her—shown below—in 1888 predates by a long shot any other depiction of surfing on the East Coast of the United States. Surfing purists may debate whether Sandwich Island Girl was actually "surfing," but whatever she was doing it was in the same ballpark as surfing and apparently had not been seen before on the East Coast. Read the extensive discussion on Sandwich Island Girl written by surf historian Joseph "Skipper" Funderburg and Police Gazette editor William A. Mays.