First diving book purchase?

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Britmarine
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First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:59 am

The other day I was trying to recall which title was my first diving literature acquisition. I vaguely remember borrowing a copy of Folco Quilici's The Blue Continent at a very young age from my local children's library. The book, subtitled "A documentary essay on the Italian National Underwater expedition to the Red Sea in 1952." was first published in the UK in 1954 and I was entranced by the pictures more than text.

The first two books I actually bought, however, using my own pocket money, were George Bronson-Howard's Handbook for Skin Divers and Barry J. Kimmins's Underwater sport on a small income. The front covers are illustrated below:
GBronson-Howard2.jpg
BarryJKimmins2.jpg

The first is American, the second British and both were first published in 1956. I purchased them in the late 1950s or early 1960s in my local used book store, which also sold some new titles, for 3 shillings (3s) and 2 shillings and six pence (2/6) respectively. You can still see the prices on the covers.

I won't go into the contents of these two tomes at the moment, but suffice it to say that they remind me of a very different age when I attended a very academically selective boys' school in the North East of England with little spare time for any extracurricular pastimes and interests. Anyway, I'll conclude with some bibliographical information about the titles I've mentioned, just in case anybody's interested:

1. Quilici, Folco (1954) The Blue Continent. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
2. Bronson-Howard, George (1956) Handbook for Skin Divers. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications.
3. Kimmins, Barry J. (1956) Underwater sport on a small income. London: Hutchinson.

I was wondering what other people's first diving book purchases were, and why you bought them? Did you eventually discard them or have you cherished them right up to the present day?
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Re: First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:18 am

This is hopefully humorous, and definitely indicative of my personality, but the first vintage diving book I purchased was Basic Scuba, by Fred Roberts. The forum was a different place when I first joined about 6 years ago, and answers to questions that had been asked 50 times were met with this phrase, over and over:

"Just buy Basic Scuba and stop asking about this."

At that point, I was in graduate school, living on soup, and trying to still find time to convince my girlfriend (now wife) to marry me even though I was a flat broke war veteran with aspirations of teaching secondary school. I repaired a few single hose regulators for guys (some of them are still on this board), and scraped up around 40 bucks to buy the book. It is quite the wealth of knowledge on all things vintage diving, and it lead to me spending hours upon hours in the pool at the dive shop trying to make my crazy regulator with the yellow hoses stop screaming at me.

This has been an interesting thread. I like learning about people on here, and using books as a vehicle via which to do so makes for wonderful conversation. Thanks for sharing :)
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:50 pm

Mine was Cousteau on TV and GI Joe Frogman... The first Book I remember well. Most of you know I am from BFE Southern Missouri. Party phone line, no shoes,no elementary school library...But the county had a library and during the school year they would send around THE BOOKMOBILE basically a converted bread truck with books for elementary school kids to borrow and enjoy. Much to my delight my teacher allowed me to pick the 12 books from bookmobile to share with the whole 1st grade class.
20140708_151256.jpg

20140708_151240.jpg

This is not the original copy.....I did cry when the bookmobile returned to collect it 2 weeks later (more to the story but I've bored you enough)
The first picture inside the book was burned in my mind forever the 1st time I saw it... In the book there were pictures of KIDS SCUBA DIVING. At that moment I knew it was possible for me to do it right away and not wait to be a grownup.
20140708_151223.jpg


That summer my Mom took me to the county library and let me check out the big Cousteau books (Sharks was my favorite) I'll post my 2nd and third after others have a chance to chime in......Great thread! Brings back lots of memories!
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Re: First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:53 pm

I know I had diving books before this one published in 1968, but for some reason I liked it the best, I still have the dog-eared original. It gave me all the basics - how to shoot fish, how to take underwater photos, how not to hold your breath and die - all the stuff one needs to know. As I recall there is a line in the book that says something about how all "experienced" divers prefer two-tank, double hose gear, and a photo of a customer looking admiringly at a set of Twin 38's in a dive shop. I'll take a look on my book shelf tonight and see what else I have.
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Re: First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:06 pm

Small world....I had already taken this picture to illustrate my 2nd and 3rd scuba books earlier today. The Little Golden Guide I took with me everywhere that there were friends or relatives who had not been thoroughly schooled on SCUBA diving.
The other book was one I found in Katz Drug Store when shopping for school supplies with my Mom before 3rd grade. Its no literary masterpiece but the story is about SCUBA diving in Hawaii,spearing sharks and briefly talks about how to assemble gear. I read it and looked at the illustrations hundreds of times.
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Re: First diving book purchase?

Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:59 pm

This book is really shabby and badly worn, but I'm happy to still have my first book about diving. I purchased it new in 1960, when I was 14. I just pulled it off the book shelf, and found myself looking through it again... wow, lot's of memories of my early diving. :D

I think it was early in the same year that I bought my first Scuba rig, a used Voit 72 with J-valve, harness and a green-hosed Voit reg. Before that I was still diving with my homemade Hookah rig.

Image

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:50 am

I always wanted to dive but don't recall having any books on it when I was younger. In early 2006 at the age of 25 I finally got around to getting into diving. Sadly my first diving book was probably my PADI manual I suppose. The first diving book I actually bought then was Vance Harlow's Scuba Regulator Maintenance and Repair. I was hooked and obsessed over that book reading it cover to cover multiple times. This was before I discovered vintage diving and its wonderful simplicity. I was just as hooked on working on the equipment as I was actually using it. I love these threads as it exposes me to books I don't have or have not seen, then I like to track them down to build up my library, and find books for my kids to read. At four years old they are already crazy about diving.
-Geoff

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:07 pm

Geoff,

Now you can pick out your first vintage diving book, because there are some great suggestions here. I can remember the first book about the ocean that I read too:

http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Bismarc ... 0590442694

I won this off the Scholastic book-mobile when I won my first spelling bee in 4th grade. I wanted to work at Woods Hole so bad between this book and Jaws.
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:32 pm

I first became obcessed with diving when I saw the June 1966 issue of Skin Diver magazine on the local pharmacys newstand. Being an avid reader I had to go to the local library to see what was available. They had The Complete Illustrated Guide To Snorkel And Deep Diving by Owen Lee. I probably checked this out 50 times (the librarian just shook her head each time). As soon as I was able I purchased this for myself. I don't see it referred to often, but I think it is worth seeking out for the vintage photos at least.

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:16 am

Hey Lakediver, welcome to the forum! It's good to meet you, and to hear your story.
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:12 pm

I do not recall the name of the first diving book I read. I found it in the base library when I was in the USAF (1973) However, I do remember reading (paraphrasing) "not to purchase a new fangled single hose regulator. They are unreliable and expensive." I think the book was written in the late 1950s.

The first book I purchased was "Diving for Fun" by Joe Strykowski.
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Re: First diving book purchase?

Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:45 pm

Mine were a couple of the Cousteau books: Silent World, and The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea.

As far as a SCUBA instructional tome, it was The New Science of Skin and Scuba Diving, a favorite of mine to this day. Next to the NOAA Diving Manual, this is the best book for teaching the physics, techniques and skills of scuba diving IMO.
Too DAAM Many double hoses, It's not a hobby, it's an addiction.

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:12 am

Now that is a trip Ron -- I got that Bismarck book for Christmas when it came out. I remember seeing it for sale and getting super excited and having to wait to get it. I just ordered a new copy for my kids... I do have a good start to a library I have been developing for several years. Sigh - An original Basic Scuba copy still remains out of reach, even though I have several copies of later editions.



slonda828 wrote:Geoff,

Now you can pick out your first vintage diving book, because there are some great suggestions here. I can remember the first book about the ocean that I read too:

http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Bismarc ... 0590442694

I won this off the Scholastic book-mobile when I won my first spelling bee in 4th grade. I wanted to work at Woods Hole so bad between this book and Jaws.
-Geoff

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:04 am

I sense a natural hiatus in the thread, so I'll post a summary of the books mentioned:

Ballard, Robert D.(1991) Exploring the Bismarck. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Borgeson, Lil and Speirs, Jack (1962) Skin Diver Handbook. New York, NY: Arco Publishing Company, Inc.

Bronson-Howard, George (1956) Handbook for Skin Divers. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications.

Council for National Co-operation in Aquatics (1962) The New Science of Skin and Scuba Diving. New York, NY: Association Press.

Cousteau, J.Y. (1953) The Silent World. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Cousteau, J.Y. (1970) The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Gordon, Hal (1971) Divers Down! Adventure Under Hawaiian Seas. Racine, WI: Whitman Publishing Company.

Harlow, Vance (1999) Scuba Regulator Maintenance and Repair: A Complete All-Makes Guide to Scuba Regulator Servicing, Troubleshooting, Repair and Tuning. Warner, NH: Airspeed Press.

Horner, Dave (1966) Better Scuba Diving for Boys. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company.

Kimmins, Barry J. (1956) Underwater sport on a small income. London: Hutchinson.

Lee, Owen (1968) The Complete Illustrated Guide To Snorkel And Deep Diving. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

North, Wheeler J. (1968) The golden guide to scuba diving: Handbook of underwater activities. New York, NY: Golden Press.

PADI (1978) PADI Diver Manual. Santa Ana, CA: PADI.

Quilici, Folco (1954) The Blue Continent. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

Roberts, Fred M. (1960) Basic Scuba: Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc.

Strykowski, Joe (1969) Diving for Fun. Northfield, IL: Dacor Corp.

US Department of Commerce (1975) NOAA Diving Manual: Diving for Science and Technology. Washington DC: US Department of Commerce.

That's 17 in all, a mini-collection in itself. I have 11 of them in my bookcase. I've dated the titles by their first editions where that was possible. Quite a spread in terms of publication dates, from the 1950s to the 1990s, reflecting among other things the different times when we first entered the world of diving as well as differences in our ages. A similar variation in book genres, some biographical, some instructional.

There's also some variety in the target audience of these titles: just one explicitly intended for young people, Dave Horner's Better Scuba Diving for Boys. Whether we started with a book designed for adult or adolescent would-be divers depended, I guess, not only on what the bookstore happened to have in stock at the time but also on the year we first explored the literature of diving. Diving books for young people didn't come on to the scene until the mid-1960s. Horner's 1966 book starts with the following sentences: "There has long been a need for a "how to" book prepared especially for the young scuba diver and the scuba diver to be. Most of the available instruction manuals and textbooks have been written on the college or adult level. While these sources cover the subject thoroughly, they often fail to 'get through' to the boy who is a better than average swimmer, has used a mask and fins for several years, can converse in scuba terminology better than his father, and yet does not really understand the standard air-compression tables or the intricacies of the medical aspects of diving about which he speaks." I for one began with diving books targeted at adults and would have welcomed something more child-friendly in the way of diving literature.

Thanks everyone! Please feel free to add more books to this "first diving book purchase" list, as this message is just a summary of what we have so far. I've really enjoyed the personal narratives surrounding the book purchases. I'm convinced that stories aren't just found in the books we read but also in our interactions with those paperbacks and hardbacks. Indeed, books never come to life again until we open them up, learn from what we read and share our enjoyment with our fellow readers. Now I plan to start a new thread requesting titles of diving books that you might give to a relative or friend, young or old, contemplating becoming a vintage diver.

David

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Re: First diving book purchase?

Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:29 pm

Great summary David...it will help those who are interested when they search used book sites and stores.

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