As a young boy in the early 1950's I was fascinated by anything related to water. Every summer my parents would spend a week at the beach and I always had my kiddie mask and fins swimming around in the surf. I would read all the National Geographic articles about Cousteau's adventures. We lived about 30 miles from downtown New Orleans and had to go into the New Orleans to shop. There was a store not far from where we parked the car called Roland's Army Surplus and Sporting Goods. The owner, Roland Revere was a diver and one of the very first to bring scuba gear to New Orleans. He sold U S Divers gear and eveytime we went to the city I would go to the store and stare at all the equipment and get a US Divers catalog.
My brother who was 15 years older than me had built a swimming pool at his home in about 1955, it was the first and only pool in town at the time. I had graduated from my kiddie mask and fins to a real Squale mask, snorkel and Churchill fins and would spend hours in the pool with them. In 1957 I convinced my parents to let me buy a tank and regulator and I bought a Voit VR-2 with green hoses and mouthpiece and a Voit tank with green webbing harness with my odd job money. I spent many more hours in the pool practicing clearing hoses and mask, doing ditch and don, all the things in the instruction manual.
From the pool I went to Lake Ponchatrain which was a couple of miles from home. It was great to be diving in a real body of water even if visibility was only 6 or 8 feet on the best days and only 15 feet deep but it was real diving where I could see fish and crabs and maybe stumble across a long loss wreck or other treasures.
I graduated from high school in 1962 and my brother had a general hardware and sporting goods store and I went to work for him. I put in a diving department and became a U S Divers and Voit Swim Master dealer and put in a compressor and cylinder bank.
In 1967 I bought my first boat, an old 18 footer that opened up new diving opportunities such as the gulf oil rigs. Not being able to rent tanks without a certification card while on a trip to Puerto Rico to visit relatives lead me to taking the YMCA scuba course in 1970.
In 1969 with a new wife and a child on the way the store could not support two families so I took a job with Union Carbide Corporation at its' local chemical plant but I remained part time at the store running the scuba department until my brother closed the store in 1973. I kept the left over stock which included a DA Aqua Master that is now converted to a Phoenix, and the compressor which I still use.
I put away the two hose regulators in the early 70's and made the switch to a single hose. I spent the 70's and the early 80's diving the Florida keys, Destin and the Louisiana oil rigs with a trip or two to Cozumel.
In 1983 my diving buddy at the time and I decided to start a dive charter boat business out of Grand Isle, Louisiana. We bought a well used 1967 31 foot Bertram that we restored and outfitted for diving and named it Tiger Shark after my beloved LSU Tigers. We ran the business until 1988 but with both of us working a regular job plus the charter boat took a toll and we sold the boat. I had become somewhat burned out with diving and working at two jobs and for 9 years I had lost interest in diving. In 1997 my wife and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean for our 30th wedding anniversary and I decided to bring my scuba gear along. That trip jump stated me diving again.
About 4 years ago while surfing the net I stumbled across vintage diving and as they say the rest is history. I dusted off my Aqua Master and other old gear that had been in the closet for 30+ years and met Bryan, Rob, Joe at what was to later be designated Sand Dog 1.
I never had any idea that that first vintage dive in Florida in March 2004 would lead to where we are now.
Great vintage diving to all NAVED members.
Doing it right should include some common sense, not just blindly following specs and instructions. .Gary D, AWAP on SB