From the Archives: Surfing on wheels

Sep. 10, 1976: SURFING’ ON WHEELS--A youngster makes the most of the wettest Sept. 10 in local hist
Sept. 10, 1976: A youngster makes the most of the wettest Sept. 10 in local history by gliding a bike through a flooded area at Culver Boulevard and Pacific Avenue in Playa del Rey.
(Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

On Sept. 10, 1976, Tropical Storm Kathleen came out of northern Baja California, Mexico, and pounded Southern California. It was the first tropical storm to arrive in Los Angeles since 1939.

Los Angeles Times staff photographer Art Rogers found this youngster “surfing” through a flooded street. The image appeared on the front page of The Times the next morning.

The accompanying Times weather story reported six people died in the storm. Damage was widespread, but the Imperial Valley bore the brunt of the storm. Also, there were many rescues. One rescue involved bicycle rider Gerald Stewart, 13, of Covina. He was washed into the Walnut Creek flood control channel.

The Times reported: “Gerald was washed a quarter-mile down the channel, still astride his bicycle. County firemen threw the youth a rope, but he refused to abandon the bike.

“Finally, firemen Michael L. Steele made his way through the water to the boy, tied a rope around him and, after ordering him to leave the bicycle, had him hauled ashore.

“The bicycle was swept downstream but Gerald was unhurt. Steele suffered skinned hands.”

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