In Memory

Bing Cosby

Bing Cosby

Cosby remembered as "king of Surfside

SURFSIDE BEACH — Bingo Cosby commanded respect the same way he commanded the waves.

When you were surfing, you never took off a wave in front of him,” said Mark Muse, a Coldspring resident and avid surfer who initiated the historic Old Guys Surf Reunion. “Bingo was a king of the beach.”

Muse described Cosby, who died Sunday at age 71, in the grandest of terms — “king,” “pioneer,” — without a hint of irony. The owner of Bingo’s Surf Shop grew to become a larger-than-life figure on the island.

He is synonymous with Surfside,” Muse said.

The store on Fort Velasco Drive has covered visitors as far as beach necessities for the last 17 years, with its rows of surfboards, sunscreen and tie-dye T-shirts. But beachgoers stop by just as often for nourishment — both literal and spiritual.

Surfers can stop for burgers and all-day breakfast in Bingo’s restaurant at the back of the building. To the side is a surf museum full of classic surfboards, which doubles as a surfer church.

Even farther back is the workshop where Cosby made Bingo Boards, and up above are living quarters.

He touched a lot of lives,” a woman named Kelley said tearfully, leaning against the counter at the front of the store Tuesday. “I know that first-hand.”

Kelley, who asked to be identified only by her first name, grew up among the waves, even working for Cosby in his store after high school. She remembered Cosby puttering through his store as recently as last week, retaining every trace of the energy he had during his surfing championship days.

You couldn’t keep that man down,” Kelley said.

Cosby’s love affair with the surf began in 1964, when his father rewarded him and brother Johnny with two surfboards for helping him run the shop every summer. Bingo and Johnny walked to the beach every day they could and surfed for hours.

Within a year, Cosby was competing up and down the coast. Rows of trophies and photos bear testament to his success, lining the walls of the surf shop. As he got older and better, trips to Galveston and Corpus Christi became journeys to California and Hawaii. In 1978, Cosby went to Peru for a contest and fell in love, he told The Facts last year.

Cosby moved to California in 1986 to open a surf shop in San Diego County, leaving behind the gas and oil crunch that plagued South Texas. He reconnected with some Peruvian friends there, and they started making surfboards together.

After four years, Cosby picked up and moved to Hawaii. Hurricane Iniki forced him out in 1992, bringing him back to the Gulf Coast for good. He never begrudged the move, though.

I’ve been all over Central South America, Hawaii, California and the East Coast surfing, but it’s nice to come home,” Cosby told The Facts in May 2017.

Erinn Callahan is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.


go to bottom 
  Post Comment

05/14/18 04:41 PM #1    

Bill Marshall

I first met Bing at High School.  I am not sure that I remember him in any of my classes, but do remember that he had a very, and I mean VERY dry type sense of humor.  I can't remember an exact thing he would say, but I would catch myself realizing what he had just said a few minutes later...then I would chuckle to myself.  I did not really hang with Bing but would see him sometime when we were at the 20th Century Club, athletic events or just hanging at the Dairy Bar in LJ, Hart's Drive In in Velasco, I never surfed with Bing, but do remember after we got out of BHS that he had really gotten into surfing big time.  I remember a few times after high school dropping in at the Beach store and saying hello and Bing was still the same with that sense of humor.

Do not remember seeing him after the 1970's, but from reading his obituary he led his life like he did in High School.  I do not remember Bing taking things too seriously.  RIP Bing----you led a life full of so many adventures.   

05/15/18 07:40 PM #2    

John Gambino

RIP, BINGO.  PEACE, PEACE and PEACE to your family and friends. 

John Gambino


go to top 
  Post Comment