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Volume #1: 1895-1969
Volume #2: 1970-1989
Volume #3: 1990-2004

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"SANDS OF TIME" is a complete history of Men's and Women’s beach volleyball, including its roots that began with the indoor game.

The following is a selection taken from the book: "THE SANDS OF TIME"


Noel Neil, above left (Lois Lane), spent a lot of time, playing volleyball on the sands of the Santa Monica Beaches. She also spent some time on the silver screen, chasing after the "Mild-Mannered" Clark Kent/Superman (George Reeves).
Photo courtesy of Noel Neil
With the success of volleyball on the beach, the beach scene was now more sophisticated. Santa Monica's "Gold Coast" at the California "Incline" and Sorrento Beach to the Beach Clubs there was a large contingent of players and celebrities.

The Beach Club’s were a haven for motion-picture stars, many of whom developed into superb players. Celebrities like George Murphy, Buster Crabbe, Doodles Weaver and Joel McCrea often took part in games. Crabbe was reputed to be one of the better players around. Spectators included Joe E. Brown, Harold Lloyd and many others.

State Beach added more courts and retained its reputation as the spot where the best players trained and competed. Not only the men, but the women were out on the court as well.

One of the top female beach volleyball players, of the 1940's and 1950's, was Lila Shanley. Lila first began playing volleyball in 1935 on the beaches and at recreations centers in California. She was also a top player at USVBA events. Shanley was a member of the Santa Monica Mariners, the Women’s National Champions from 1955 to 1960 and played on the United States Women’s team in the Pan American Games in 1959. She also played on the U.S.A. Women’s team that went to Paris in 1956 and Rio de Janeiro in 1960.

Betty Aylsworth Fraker was one of the top female beach volleyball players during the 1950’s. She played with the top female and male players of her era as well as with various Hollywood "Stars". In the above photo, on a sunny day at Sorrento Beach, Fraker (left) watches Dave Kaplan hit one of her "Five-O"sets.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Goff
Shanley was also a versatile stunt woman and excellent swimmer, that doubled for such movie Stars as Dorothy Lamour, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine. Betty Aylsworth Fraker was also a top player of the 1940's and 1950's. She remembers playing with actor Peter Lawford in front of the Kennedy beach house, also with Doug McClure at State Beach. Also during this era, Noel Neil another volleyball devotee, came to the beach with the Hollywood crowd. Neil sang for Bing Crosby and she also played in some of the Henry Aldrich comedies. But she became famous for her portrayal as Lois Lane in the "Superman" movies and TV series. Neill was an outstanding beach volleyball player even though she was less than five feet tall. During this era the celebrities continued to come to the beach, and a fair amount of them spent time on the volleyball court.

As a sign of these "Golden" times, there was one time when actor John Carradine came to the beach, but not to play volleyball. Carradine arrived with a lovely lady wearing a mink coat over her bathing suit. In a very refined manner, she walked down the stairs to State Beach and cast off the mink coat, placed it upside down on the beach and positioned herself down on it, proceeded to oil herself with copious amounts of baby oil. The lady then stretched-out on the satiny lining of the coat to "take-a-tan."

Other notables that showed-up at State Beach over the years includes: basketballer’s Pat Riley, Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kiki Vandeweghe and his father Ernie. Also Hollywood personalities, Richard Widmark, Ted Healy, Ted Grossman, and Vince Minette.

Marilyn Monroe spent some time relaxing on the beaches of Santa Monica. She also utilized the area for various photo shoots, like these famous volleyball photo’s. Left photo: Marilyn Monroe shows-off her unquestionable "volleyball-form" Right photo: Marilyn takes a break from the photo session.
Photo courtesy of "dEDIENES"

Wilt Chamberlain was a huge force to reckon with on the volleyball court, indoors or on the beach. Left photo: Indoors, Wilt "pounds" a set from Ron Lang. In the Right photo, on the beach, Wilt blocks the hit of Miles Pabst.
Photos courtesy of (left) Bob Van Wagner (right) Dewey Schurman

Keith Erickson was an outstanding beach volleyball player. He could compete with all of the top players. In the left photo, Erickson hits a set from partner Gene Selznick, past the block of Gene Pflueger. In the right photo, Erickson (right) poses with (left to right) Ronnie Lang, Gene Pflueger and Gene Selznick.
Photos courtesy of Bob Van Wagner


During the early days of beach volleyball, the Santa Monica beach volleyball sanctuary of Sorrento Beach was the location where the closest thing to a "Hall of Fame" for beach volleyball was established. From the mid-50's to the mid-70's there was nothing more Californian than a beach volleyball tournament at Sorrento Beach. The parking lot, beside and behind the "Sorrento Grill" was packed.

The above photo shows the famous Sorrento Beach Wall in the back ground of the volleyball court action. Also, The infamous Sorrento Bar and Grill is just above the "Wall" to the right of the photo. The volleyball action includes Pete Hogan hitting a Bob Vogelsang set. Ron Lang (left) and Nate Parrish are ready on defense. The large house in the center belonged to Conrad Hilton, the famous hotel entrepreneur.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Goff

At Sorrento, there were two walls of prominence, the legendary "Sorrento Wall" on the beach and the other was at the "Wall of Fame" inside the renowned Sorrento Grill. The Sorrento Grill, frequented by most of the local players, was a weather-beaten greasy spoon, with a beer-dispensing back room wall that was covered with fading and crinkling photos’ of beach volleyball's "champions." There were photos’ depicting men's, women's, and mixed double's players in all the different ratings from "A" to "AAA." From corner to corner, it was an exposé of champions and contenders. Many of the Grill’s historic photo's, were taken by Dr. Leonard Stallcup along with several by Ivan and Kevin Goff along with a sprinkling of other photographers.

Above left: Dave Heiser was the man in charge of the action at Sorrento Beach. Above right: Dave Heiser is still the man in charge of the action at Sorrento Beach. Heiser also is in charge of the action on the main court in front of the "Fenced-in" Sand and Sea Club.
Photos courtesy of (left) Kevin Goff, and (right) "Couvi"

Beach volleyball "advocate," Dave Heiser recalls: "The Grill was packed from dawn to dusk every day of the summer, but it really jumped on Saturday. They would set up a beer and wine bar in the back of the Grill, carve a ham and roast beef, and get a band to play in the parking lot. The Hilton’s (Hotel entrepreneur Conrad Hilton and his family) lived next door and didn't care about the noise, so every weekend was just one big, long luau."

Ron Lang (spiking) and Dick Davis teamed-up together for some wins, including the Sorrento Beach "Draw" tournament.
Photo courtesy of Dave Heiser
The Sorrento Grill was demolished in 1975, about the same time that the Sorrento Beach Men's Open volleyball tournament diminished in prestige. The Grill was gone and with it the tattered and beer stained volleyball "Wall of Fame" vanished. Some, of the volleyball photo's, were procured by a few of the representative locals, but many of the photo's, were seized by local rogues in a late night raid the day before the Grill was scheduled to be demolished. It is too bad that copies of these historic photos are not available for the current Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke Massachusetts. (The Hall of Fame does have two large scrapbooks of photo’s taken by Stallcup, but most of those are from indoor volleyball matches)

After the Sorrento Bar and Grill was leveled, a large condominium structure was raised in its place. The beach and the "Sorrento Wall" could not be seen from the Pacific Coast Highway and the "Wall of Fame" was gone.

A restaurant called "Neinie’s," originally was in the location of what became the Sorrento Grill. It was run by "Neinie" Neinherhauser and was a legendary short-order restaurant. It was the perfect place to pop into for a fast burger, a piece of homemade pie, and catch-up on the local gossip. The tradition of displaying volleyball photo’s, prior to the "Wall of Fame" started in this establishment. When "Neinie’s," moved to another location, north of Sorrento, now known as Gladstones, The Sorrento Bar and Grill continued the tradition that eventually evolved into the "Wall of Fame."

Take a look inside Volume #1:

Sneak Previews to Volume #2:

THE SANDS OF TIME" and the "Winners" series, as well as additional beach volleyball publications are available from:

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P.O. Box 531
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