This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual.
Autobiography submitted by Mr. Ackerman in 1997
Coordinating Director: Long Range Planning – 1981
Born: September 1, 1922, Rockford, Cook County, Illinois
Married: 1948 to Barbara Eves in Honolulu; divorced 1960
1950: son Brant was born
1952: daughter Charron born
Married: 1965 to Valorie Ringer
1935-36 – Attended Roosevelt High School – 8th & 9th grades
1937-40 – Attended Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii; Graduated 1940
1940-42 – Attended Menlo Junior College, Menlo Park, California Associate of Arts Degree
1942-43 – Attended Stanford University , Palo Alto, Calif.
1946 – Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts Degree
My father was born in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii in 1898. He attended Hitchcock Military Academy in Oakland, California. At the outbreak of World War I, he was sent to Camp Grant, Illinois as a Second Lieutenant and became a bayonet instructor.
My mother was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, which was located near Camp Grant, and it was here where my parents met and eventually married. My mother’s parents emigrated from Sweden and were obliged to go to night school to learn the English language.
My brother, John Douglas “Jack” and I, were both born in Rockford, Illinois, where we lived before moving to Hawaii when my father was relocated to Honolulu.
My grandfather on my father’s side, John Douglas Ackerman , was one of three brothers from Boston. He started out as a cabin boy aboard a clipper ship, which sailed around the Horn and up along the California coast, where they were attacked by bow and arrow from the native Indians.
John Douglas eventually became the captain of a ship, which sailed between San Francisco and the Hawaiian Islands. He later retired to the Big Island in his 40’s, where he met and married a Yates girl from Hilo. Over the years they had eleven children, of which my father was one. His first business venture was growing pineapple in Waialua Valley, but he was wiped out by a tidal wave, and eventually acquired ranch land in Kealakekua where he remained until his death.
Upon graduation from Stanford University in 1946, I returned to Hawaii and went to work for my father as manufacturer’s agent, a line of work I continued my entire career. I married in 1948 and had two children, namely Brant and Charron Ackerman. I formed C. E. Ackerman & Co., Inc. and served as its president until I retired. Today (1997) Brant Ackerman is the current president of the Outrigger Canoe Club.
While attending Stanford University, I was a member of the ROTC field artillery program, consisting of 150 horses, caissons, French 75’s, etc. We would go on maneuvers over the vast acreage of land belonging to the University. My particular class would not complete its term, since manpower required by the war canceled our program, and we were all called into the service as “buck privates.”
Being from Hawaii, I was sent to Schofield Barracks to undertake six-weeks of basic training. Upon completion, I was assigned to Hickam Field for pilot training assignment that was eventually canceled. I found myself in the Air Transport Command, under General Ryan, and assigned to the Air Operations and Space Control Office.
In early 1944, I was assigned to the Air Operations Office in Nandi, Fiji, where I was to spend the ensuing 18-months. Our field was a stopover for P-38 fighter planes and B-24 bombers headed for Guadalcanal, coming in from the Hickam-Canton run. Some planes went on to Townsville, Australia.
In mid 1945, I was re-assigned back to Hickam Field to remain until January 1946 when I received my discharge from the service. It was during this period that I applied, as a 1st 3-Grader, for direct appointment to Second Lieutenant, having passed a written exam and oral test before a review panel. I received my lieutenancy and was in the Reserves for the following five years.
For the records:
Enlisted Serial No. 19118724
Officer Serial No. AO 1851481
OUTRIGGER CANOE CLUB MEMORIES AND PERSONAL BACKGROUND
My brother and I joined the Outrigger Canoe Club in 1936 as junior members ($6.00 entry fee) and I recall seeing Alexander Hume “Pop” Ford (its founder) walking the Club grounds. The Club then was located in Waikiki next to the Royal Hawaii Hotel, then known at the “Pink Palace.” It was here where I learned to surf and paddle under the guidance of the beach boys and Louis “Sally” Hale of the Beach Patrol. We eventually became pretty good volleyball players on the sand courts there.
I recall our paddling coach, “Dad” Center, would tie an inner tube from our canoe to a nearby coconut tree and make us keep the tube taut for a grueling length of time. Sometimes we raced in the Ala Wai Canal and paddled in the Leilani and Kakina when I was 15-years old.
I recall when the famous Al Jolson spent his honeymoon with Ruby Keeler at the “Pink Palace,” and when he was asked to sing a few songs on the beach. He sang for two hours. Likewise, with Eddie Cantor. There was always a celebrity on the beach and many had their meals at the Outrigger Canoe Club.
My brother, “Jack” Ackerman, became an experienced deep-sea diver and was the discoverer of black coral. He opened a jewelry store in Lahaina, Maui, under the name of Maui Divers which featured black coral jewelry, which is known world-wide today.
I was elected to the Board of Directors in 1978 and became treasurer of the Club the following year. The next two-year term, I served as president of the Club in 1980 and Coordinating Director of the Long-Range Planning Committee in 1981. Before this I served many years on the Admissions Committee at both Club locations, as well as other committees over the years.
During my presidency, we saw the need for a workout facility that would benefit the entire Club, both sexes, all ages, and specially for the paddlers to attain peak conditioning for the canoe racing season. Consequently, we passed and appropriated the expenditure to enclose two parking stalls to house this facility with the best equipment available. Today, this facility has proved to be a most beneficial and popular segment of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s athletic program.
As Coordinating Director of the Long-Range Planning Committee, I was appointed by the president to assist in getting the Club’s athletic foundation launched. Tommy Holmes was elected to be the committee chairman. So together, we went before the Board of Directors and solicited startup funds. The funds were used primarily to announce to the membership, by mailings, the purpose and existence of this program. A loan of $5,000 was voted and passed to be used for this purpose.
The program and its objectives, was received enthusiastically by the membership, and soon donations began to roll in. Today, this program is an integral function of the Outrigger Canoe Club, and continues to grow annually. Over the years it has assisted many athletes to be able to participate in various athletic events. This program was later merged with the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and continues today.
2007 Elected to Life Membership
SERVICE TO THE OUTRIGGER CANOE CLUB
Board of Directors
1978 Coordinating Director Public Relations & Historical Committee
1981 Coordinating Director Long Range Planning
Admissions & Membership Committee