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. A full transcript of the video may be found below.
An interview by Barbara Del Piano
September 29, 2017
BDP: This is Friday, the 29th of September 2017. I’m Barbara Del Piano (BDP), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee. One of our projects is to take oral histories of longtime members, or former members, who have interesting memories about Outrigger’s past. We are here in the Board Room, and today, it is my pleasure to interview Charles B. Schrader (CBS), who we call Chuck. Good morning, Chuck. The paddle in the background is a large steering paddle made specifically for Chuck by George Downing, former Outrigger Canoe Club coach during the mid-50’s.
CBS: Good morning.
BDP: Thank you for being with us today. Before we get into your stories about the Club, I’d like to get some background. I know you were born here in Hawaii, but can you tell us when?
CBS: I was born in November of 1929.
BDP: When did your family come to Hawaii?
CBS: Well, my folks came over here in the early 1920s, separately. My mom came from Southern California, and that was a big adventure for a young lady to come to Hawaii in those days. And my dad came over from Northern California, and down the … A lot of the single people in those days lived at a place called The Vida Villa Hotel, which was right across the street from McKinley High School right near the Chinese church on King Street. There are tennis courts there, and apparently, that’s how my folks met, was-
BDP: On the tennis court?
CBS: Playing tennis on the tennis courts at the Vida Villa Hotel where a lot of the singles lived in those days, and-
BDP: Is that where Kaiser is now?
CBS: It’s actually right across from McKinley High School, and there’s a Chinese Christian church, which is right on the mauka side of King across there. This hotel was just on the ewa side. Ewa side of that Chinese church. And that’s where they met.
BDP: How interesting. And how did they happen to come here?
CBS: My dad was in World War I, and he ended up being a lineman up in Marysville, California. Someway or other he ended up getting a lead for a job over here. At Von Hamm Young, which was, I guess, was one of the Big Five in those days. And my mother just came over with her sister as an adventure, I guess. And she ended up working at C. Brewer Company in the old days.
BDP: How interesting. What neighborhood did you grow up in?
CBS: I grew up in Kaimuki. My folks were renting different homes up in Kaimuki, and when I was born they were living right up on … Above Waialae Avenue, off of … It’s called Highview Place, which is off of Center Street. Right there in Kaimuki.
BDP: Where did you go to school?
CBS: I went to Aliiolani, which is in Kaimuki. And then went to Robert Louis Stevenson. And ultimately ended up at Roosevelt High School.
BDP: What year did you graduate?
BDP: I was 1945.
CBS: You were ahead of me, yeah.
BDP: Did you have any siblings?
CBS: A sister who has since passed away. Younger. About five years younger than me. We’re just the two of us in the family. Two kids.
BDP: Why and when did you join the Outrigger?
CBS: I got involved in the Outrigger through a membership that my dad got me during the war as a junior member. I know one of the questions you asked was if I remembered any of my sponsors, and I don’t remember having one as a junior member, probably. But my mother was a member of the Uluniu Swim Club, which was right next to the Royal. Between the Royal and the old Outrigger location, right there on the beach. I started kind of hanging around down there on weekends, when we’d have a picnic and stuff. And that’s how I got involved with going out surfing. My folks bought me a little surfboard, and I went out in front of the Royal there at … They called it Manini Surf, and we’d stand up and push the board and catch waves out there. As a kid. And I got involved there and my dad was nice enough to get me a membership at the Club. At the Outrigger.
BDP: Was he a member of the Club?
CBS: My dad was not, no. He got it for me as a junior member. I think it was maybe 1945 or so. Somewhere in there. During the war. Latter part of the war. World War II.
BDP: And you learned to surf early on?
CBS: Right. That’s where we started. Right out there in front of the Royal. Standing up on the reef and pushing the board to catch the waves. And went from there.
BDP: When did you start to paddle canoes?
CBS: I got involved with the kid’s crews here at the Outrigger. Not here, but the original place. I kind of got involved with steering because I just … I don’t know how. I can’t remember exactly how I ended up going from a paddler to a steersman. But somewhere or other I guess I wasn’t a good enough paddler, so they put me as steersman.
BDP: Do you remember who else was on your paddling crew?
CBS: I do. God, I had so many different guys. I had a great kid’s crew. And we won several races. I can’t remember except a couple of them. One was a guy named Tommy Fink, who was a younger brother of Bill Fink, who I think was a member of this Club for many years. The Outrigger. And I think … Bobby Daniels, was Chick Daniels son, was one of my kid’s crew. We had a great crew. And a good junior crew. Richard Sylva. And Archie Kaaua, who was one of my crew member. Gosh, I remember so many of the old-timers. Al Lemes was one of my great strokers for a junior crew that I was involved in, and we won a few races. Al Lemes. John Russell. My goodness, I can’t remember all the names. Ed Halden, Tom DeHarne. On and on and on.
BDP: Who was your coach?
CBS: We had many coaches through the years. I think Dad Center was a coach at one time. One of our years. We had Sarge Kahanamoku as one of our coaches. Sarge was Duke’s baby brother. The youngest of the Kahanamoku boys. We had Toots Minvielle, who, as you know, organized the Molokai race.
CBS: He was the one who started the race between Molokai and Oahu.
Gosh, we had several different coaches. I tried to remember some of them here.
BDP: Did you know Duke (Kahanamoku)?
CBS: I did. The old days … The old-timers would go out there. Duke, and Edric Cook and some of those guys. Dad Center. Go out and sit in the evening and the afternoon among the canoes, there in front of the old Outrigger. And we’d go out there and sit around. We’d sit there and talk to Duke. I knew him. In fact, he called me Whitey, because I guess I had white hair in those days. But he was such a gentleman. Just a marvelous man, and just a real gentleman. And of course Dad Center was another one that was always nice to us, as kids.
BDP: How about Johnny Hollinger?
CBS: Johnny Hollinger was my mentor, really, when he was a beach captain. He kind of got me involved in steering the canoes in the surf. Because I got involved with taking the canoes out, that we could borrow from the Club. The old six-man, which was a great … Number 12, we called it. Some of the other boats, I don’t remember them all.
But I started paddling in the little two-man canoes that we had. I’d go out and try to learn how to steer there. Run into a couple people along the way, while we were trying to learn. Ultimately you got to steering the bigger boats.
BDP: Did you paddle or steer in any competitive races?
CBS: Yeah, many. Many races. I was talking about some of the paddlers that I had through the years, and different crews. I was fortunate to have some pretty good crews through the years.
BDP: How many different clubs were there competing at the time?
CBS: When we first started out … The first race I remember, we had Hui Nalu, and Waikiki Surf, and the Outrigger, as I recall. Old John D. Kaupiko was the Hui Nalu coach. And then the other clubs … Healani came in there later on. But the first race I went in, we just had one buoy out in front of the Club … Out beyond Canoe Surf, and we all raced for the buoy and turned around, and … Whoever got there first turned around and came back in, and hopefully caught a wave. And then we finished right in front of the Moana there. Didn’t have any lanes in those days.
BDP: What about the Macfarlane Regatta?
CBS: That was a great one. Because being familiar with the surf out there, sometimes we’d be behind and coming back in, and we could catch a wave and pass up some of the other guys on the way in, and win a couple.
BDP: But there were still just the three.
CBS: Three boats, originally, as I recall.
BDP: Did you play any volleyball?
CBS: Occasionally. Most of the time I spent was out on the beach, either surfing or canoeing. But once in a while I’d play out in the old sand court. Oh boy, that was a workout. Play doubles in the sand court and get all sandy, and go and take a good shower and relax a little bit.
BDP: How did you feel about the Club moving from Waikiki to its present location?
CBS: I wasn’t real happy about it. It kind of tied in with my personal life, in that I had gotten married, and had a family, and we were raising kids … And bought a house in Kailua. Struggling and trying to make the bills. I wasn’t real happy about seeing them move, but the timing was such that it was appropriate, I think, that it was time for me to depart the Club. So I really wasn’t much involved … after the Club moved to the present location.
BDP: Is that about the time you quit?
CBS: Yes. In the ’60s. We’d moved to Kailua. Spending more time on the windward sides with the family. And just wasn’t getting to the Club that much, so I resigned at that time.
BDP: Tell us, how did you meet your wife?
CBS: One of the old-timers around here was a guy named Charlie Martin who was my best pal. His sister, Joan (Martin Rodby), who’s a member of the Club now, and Beryl (Martin Haxton) who’s also still a member … My wife (Wilma) was from Canada. My first wife. Not BJ, but my first wife. And the mother of my children, Kalani’s mother. She’d come from Canada, and some way or other had met Joan Martin, Charlie’s sister, and was living there at her house. And through my contact with Charlie and Joan, I met her. So it was actually through Joan Martin. And then we went from there. She was a Canadian. Then became a citizen, originally. And unfortunately she passed away in 1993.
BDP: So you have remarried?
CBS: Remarried to BJ. We’ve been married, the second time around, so to speak … Gosh, almost 16 years now. I feel very blessed, that’s for sure.
BDP: With your first wife, you had how many children?
CBS: Three. Three children. One of whom is Kalani, who’s a member here at the Club now.
BDP: Are your other children members?
CBS: The oldest boy (Paul), unfortunately, passed away. We lost him. He was a waterman too. A firefighter. Air Force reservist. He was out surfing, as matter of fact, off the Marine Base in Kaneohe, and I guess had a seizure. They brought him in and couldn’t revive him, so we lost him very suddenly.
BDP: Oh, how tragic.
CBS: Yeah. Still miss him.
BDP: And your third child?
CBS: Third child is a girl (Malia). She’s five years younger than Kalani, who was the second of my three. She’s living here in Kailua too, right now, as a matter of fact. So I feel fortunate that my two kids are still here on Oahu. And they all get along fine with BJ. We have a great time.
BDP: Kalani is the only one that belongs to the Club?
CBS: Yes, Kalani’s a member of the Club here.
BDP: Is he involved in water sports?
CBS: Oh yeah. Kalani was Head Coach of the Outrigger Canoe Club for I think one year (1996 and 1997). I don’t know what year that was now, but it was a few years ago. And he’s still very much involved with the Club here.
BDP: What was your profession, Chuck?
CBS: I was an independent insurance agent. Started off at Amfac, in the old days when the Big Five had … Each of them had an insurance division. My dad was with them. After he came to Von Hamm Young he moved to Amfac and was in the insurance business himself, so I got involved through that. And then as the various agencies were shut down I ended up working with an independent agency, and retired from there.
BDP: Do you, by any chance, attend the Oldtimers Get Together?
CBS: I have. BJ and I have been to several of them. With the Nottages (Peter and Lois) and some of the old-timers. Yes. I haven’t been for … I think the last year or two we haven’t come.
BDP: They changed the name now to Kama`aina Kanikapila.
CBS: Yes, as a matter of fact I’m … In fact, I think you do. Maybe you’re the one who sends the notices out, and I think I got it but we didn’t … We weren’t able to make it. But we’ve had a lot of fun at that.
BDP: This year was a great year, still. So over the years, even though you’re no longer a member, what has the Club meant to you?
CBS: Oh, a lot. A lot. A lot of good memories. Just great memories. And because of my son Kalani being a member and being involved with the Martin family, who are members, we’re down here quite regularly for lunch or something. It’s still a great place, even though it’s too bad it isn’t where it used to be. But it’s the second best location, that’s for sure. I never mind coming down here, if somebody will bring us for lunch.
BDP: Do you have any other stories you’d like to tell?
CBS: Oh, gosh. One of the things that we used to look forward to was when the coeds used to come down. You ever remember that or not, but Oo my goodness. They’d bring … I forget the guy’s name that used to bring them down here, but they’d all show up and then the Outrigger would kind of host a party for them. And we were always fortunate enough, Charlie (Martin) and I, because we were involved in steering the canoes, and they wanted us to take the girls out canoeing. So we always kind of looked forward to when the coeds came, and we got invited to the party, and then we could kind of cull out the flock and maybe find some nice dates for the summer.
Of course when we’d take them out canoeing we had a little trick that we’d use. The old Number 12 canoe, which was a six-man. Just in front of the steersman is a little seat where then the person sitting there is facing the steersman. If we’d find a lady that we particularly wanted to get to know better, we’d always say, “Well you come and sit here, and be the second captain of the boat”, so we could kind of get to meet them and they could watch us steer and stuff. Make an impression.
That was kind of fun to have the coeds come down every year. I guess they don’t come anymore, I’m not sure. Kind of lost track of that.
BDP: I know the local girls did not like them at all.
CBS: Good old days, though. That’s for sure. They really were. A lot of wonderful memories. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
BDP: Any other things you can think of? Any employees that you particular-
CBS: Oh my goodness, yeah, my God. We had … Anzai was a famous bartender. His drink was Anzai’s Banzai. At the old Club… That was a powerful drink. And I remember Richard, who was the … Ran the soda fountain. I don’t know if you remember him.
BDP: Oh, yes. Everybody remembers-
CBS: Oh my goodness. Richard and his gang. Clara, I think it was. Clara, who was in there. And of course Eva Pomroy, who sat at the front desk for years and years. Bless her heart. She was just a great lady. But I remember Anzai real well. He was good bartender. He was first class. And Eva, and different managers that we had through the years. Gay Harris. And Mr. (Ted) Magill, as I recall. And a gentleman by the name of (Howard) Mosher, who was a manager for one period of time.
A lot of good employees. And loyal, very loyal. The head waiter at the Club was a longtime … Was a guy named Maxie. Filipino guy. He’d always take good care of us, when we’d go up and have the mahi mahi with the almonds on the top. So, yeah. It was a great family. Old-timers.
BDP: I’m so glad that you were able to share these memories with us.
CBS: Oh my goodness, and they are. They’re wonderful.
BDP: They’ll be wonderful addition to our archive. Thank you so much.
CBS: Pleasure to contribute, really. And I’m just honored that you guys asked me to come down and do this.
BDP: Well it’s our pleasure, and I thank you very much. So if there is nothing else, we’ll bring this interview to a close. Thank you, Chuck.
CBS: My pleasure.
Contributions to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Canoe Racing Committee
Macfarlane Regatta Wins
1951 Boys 17
1952 Freshmen Men