From Surfing World #393
Gidget, by Frederick Kohner (1957)
Long before Sabre Norris inspired a nation of tween rippers, it was Gidget – a fictional 15-year-old from Malibu – who captured the minds of girls around the world. The story behind Gidget is neat. Kohner, a Czechoslovakian Jew screenwriter, bailed on Nazi Germany in the 1930s (a wise move) for California, where his daughter Kathy became drawn to the ocean and the region’s burgeoning surf scene. Frothing on her keenness for the strange culture, which was largely considered boys-only, Kohner distilled her experiences into a coming-of-age novel about Franzie (aka Gidget), who’s taken under the wing of local boys as she rebels against the status quo to become a surfer dammit! It’s worth a read if you’re a youngster, or if you want a glimpse into how surfing went mainstream. Just don’t think too much about Kohner’s descriptions of boobs and teenage lust, considering the main character’s based on his daughter.