Porridge surfing, once the craze of the late 20's and 30's in Canada and mid-Western America, has started to make a modest comeback.
The revived National Association of Professional Porridge Surfers (NAPPS) has recently arranged a trial glissage to be held in November at Footloose, Nebraska. Footloose, now a small town of a mere 754 inhabitants, once hosted crowds of several thousands at the Porridge Surfing stadium, where the likes of the great Jock McWalruss thrilled the spectators.
Amy Wumbitt, 94, who has lived in Footloose for her entire life, remembers those days. "I saw Jock [McWalruss] in my father's store once im 1929. He needed some bison-fat for his board, and I we were completely out of stock. Pappy had to sell him a can of sardines and he used the oil out of that instead. Maybe that's why he only came second that day. But he was a fine figure of a man. I'd have married him in a moment if he'd only asked me."
Though there are no professional porridge surfers left in the USA, some keen enthusiastic amateurs are ready to fill the place of McWalruss.
Curt Galowski, 19 years old, talked about his enthusiasm. "I don't really know how I got into it. Like, it was breakfast one day and I kinda looked down at my plate and stuff, and I thought, like 'Wow!'. Then I got, like, this really neat book with pictures and stuff from the library, and these old dudes were so, like, cool." Finding the board and the knee-straps needed for porridge surfing proved an obstacle, but Curt's uncle, Mayne Erelesczy, came to the rescue.
"My father, Curt's grandfather, used to talk about porridge surfing when I was younger. So I knew what Curt was talking about when he talked about Jock McWalruss and the other guys. But making the board and straps took some work. I did some digging around in the archive section of the State Museum and I found the names of the guys who had made Wally Fitzherbert's boards. Of course, their business had gone bankrupt years ago, but I did some pretty smart detective work, though I say it myself, and tracked down their original plans to an archive in South Dakota. Once I'd got the plans, the materials weren't hard to find, and it turns out that Curt is almost exactly the same size as Wally used to be, so that was easy."
"Cool", adds Curt, turning a "flanking wizard" feint on his new board.
The National Oat-Growers' Association is sponsoring the November 12 glissage, hoping that the revival of porridge surfing will increase consumption of oats, and promote oat awareness throughout the community. Other sponsors include the Canadian Banana-Growers' Federation, and, reflecting the sport's Scots origins, the Scottish Bagpipe and Haggis-Twirling Machinery Co., plc.
The NAPPS Web site is located at http://www.another-bloody.com and provides more information on the history and culture of the sport, as well as related links.