Like the many waves it’s ridden, the history behind a 1965 surfboard—which sits on display at Antique Lumber Company in Montauk—has come full circle.Former East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson bought the 9-foot-7-inch board from high school acquaintance Bobby Biondo for $25 at the age of 16. Almost 50 years later, Mr. Wilkinson has given the surfboard to Mr. Biondo’s son, Jason, the owner of the Antique Lumber Company—and he plans to give the board back to his father as a gift for Father’s Day on Sunday. (Psst: It’s a surprise, so don’t tell him.)
“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be sweet if this was able to come full circle?’” said Mr. Wilkinson on a sunny Saturday morning in the lumber company’s showroom, with his black Lab by his side. “Maybe it was some sense of … roots in Montauk and knowing it’s going through a lot of transition. I just thought it’d be nice to do.”
The younger Mr. Biondo, who is also a surfer, said he vividly recalls Mr. Wilkinson walking into his shop offering up the board in late April. “The store was open, Bill came in here and said, ‘I have it in my house right now,’ and I just kind of paused and looked at him. In a matter of seconds, I locked the door behind me and hit the gas,” he laughed.
The fact that the board has made its way from one generation to the next and then back again, Mr. Biondo said, exemplifies the unspoken bond that Montauk locals share, even after the hamlet’s seemingly overnight transformation from sleepy surf town to hipster-chic hotspot.
“I think we’ve always learned to live with the dichotomy of winter and summer life,” he said. “And with that, we’ve all learned to give each other a little sideways glance, or a smile or a wink. I think ever since 2008 or 2009, since Montauk was on the cover of French Vogue and all of that, we banded together a lot tighter. Little things like this—I think they’re increasingly a rare occurrence.”
Surfing, said Mr. Wilkinson, was also a rare occurrence in the hamlet during the 1960s, given the lack of places to buy a board and the cost of the hobby. “The only kid I knew in town who had a surfboard was Bobby Biondo,” the former town supervisor said. The board was a “pop-out,” meaning it was mass-produced instead of hand-crafted.
“As a first board, you’re endeared to it, and you get really close to it. Regardless of what it looks like or how unfashionable it may be at the time, it’s my first board,” he said.
Mr. Biondo said he thinks the board was his father’s last surfboard while living in Montauk before temporarily moving to California as a teenager.
“My dad hightailed it out of here for a while, when he was 17 or 18,” Mr. Biondo said. “This might’ve been the last one … my dad is the kind of person who remembers every car he ever drove. And I guarantee you that as soon as he sees this, he’ll just start smiling. He’ll remember.”