Time Capsules

By Tamara Collins

1971 The Advent of the Octopus
In the early '60s, the single hose regulator was a revolutionary new device, and the term octopus applied only to the beasties that lurked beneath the sea. If a diver had a back-up safety system at all, it was usually a spare tank and reg tied off at the decompression stop or a pony tank. In 1965, a handful of divers claimed to be the first to attach a second regulator to the extra low pressure ports that were beginning to appear on regulator first stages for pneumatic tools. The first regulator manufactured and marketed as the octopus survival system was the Sportsways Waterlung ATM-750, first advertised in Skin Diver in February 1971. Touted as the world's most complete sport diver's scuba system, the ATM-750 first stage came with a Sea-Vue Gauge and two second stages for $209.60.

1965 Rock 'em, Sock 'em Divers
In 1965, when winter came to the Northwest, a hardy group of spearfishermen turned to a new sport to keep in good diving shape. The Puget Sound Mudsharks called it Underwater Football, but it looks more like an underwater brawl. Four to eight men would line up at opposite ends of a pool wearing a mask and snorkel. The football, a neoprene covered building brick, was placed in the center of the pool, and when the whistle blew, the teams would attempt to control the ball and seek the goal. The ball could only be held or touched while underwater, and it had to be passed before coming up for air. Short of drowning your opponent, pretty much anything went. Author William L. High wrote, minor injuries must be accepted as part of the game. Black eyes and broken ribs were the norm.

1958 Heli-Divers See Action
The March 2000 Time Capsules featured a January 1958 article about the Douglas Heli-Divers, a group of rescue divers who worked for Douglas Aircraft Co. A few weeks later, Chuck Blakeslee, co-founder and publisher of Skin Diver from 1951 to 1963, wrote to tell me about a follow-up article in the May 1958 issue. In the original article, Heli-diver coordinator Bob Johnson said that the team had never been called for a Douglas air-sea tragedy. In March, just two months after that article was published, a Supersonic F4D Skyray went down off Malibu, and the pilot was forced to eject. Danny Danison, the Heli-diver who was featured on the January cover, came to the pilot's rescue. Thanks for the tip, Chuck.