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
February 16, 2018
BDP: This is Friday, the 16th of February, 2018. 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 who have interesting memories of our Club. We are here in the boardroom and today it is my pleasure to interview David Rochlen (DMR) who we call Baby Dave. Good morning, Baby Dave.
DMR: Good morning, Barbara.
BDP: Thank you for being with us today. Before we get into your stories about the Club, I’d like to get some background. First of all, how did you get the name Baby Dave?
DMR: That is kind of often asked question especially since I’ve had it for so long. There was a previous Dave Rochlen in our family. It was David Yale Rochlen who is my uncle. He was the youngest of the six siblings and my dad was oldest of the six siblings so there’s only a small twelve-year difference in our ages. We both had similar upbringings, interests and attributes. We’re both watermen, both lifeguards, both surfers, both swimmers. Nobody knows the difference between David Yale and David Michael so they would often confuse him with me. I was working in the 1960s when I was in the Navy at Surf Line (his uncle’s company) on the weekends. That was owned by Uncle Dave. I was dating his secretary, Judy Jams was her name.
I’m over in Vietnam and I started getting mail address to Baby Dave Rochlen. Then I get magazines subscriptions addressed to Baby Dave Rochlen. I get wedding invitations. Who is this Baby Dave Rochlen guy, you know? I get home and I’m going, “What’s going on?” She’s, “Oh, Dave. I have to take responsibility for that. I got so tired of saying, ‘Do you want to talk to big Dave or the other guy?’ So I just say, ‘Do you want to talk to Big Dave or Baby Dave?” That was it. That was it.
BDP: That’s very interesting stuff.
DMR: Well, there’s also four Dave Rochlens now so I’m-
BDP: There are now four?
BDP: Who are the other two?
DMR: Well, David Pua who is (my cousin) Dave Rochlen’s son. He’s named after his dad. Pua had a son. He also named David Yale Rochlen.
BDP: So that’s four generations of Dave Rochlens.
BDP: How interesting. Where were you born?
DMR: Long Beach, California, Seaside Memorial Hospital.
BDP: Really? You grew up there too?
DMR: No, no, no. Grew up in Southern California. Mostly the Los Angeles area. My family are long-time residents of Santa Monica. My uncles and aunts all went to Lincoln Junior High School and Santa Monica High School where my brother and I also went. So there’s generations going to the same school. Had its advantages with the older teachers.
BDP: So what did you do before you came to Hawaii?
DMR: Well, mostly we got to Malibu. We were in Venice, California then Mar Vista, California and the school district, we were living in the LA City School District was horrible as far as academia. Next to us is the Santa Monica City School District but we didn’t live in Santa Monica. So my parents bought a lot out in Malibu at Point Dume which was in the Santa Monica School District so we can go to the better schools. It was a forty-minute bus ride each way to and from school every morning and afternoon.
DMR: So we grew up in Malibu mostly.
BDP: I see. When and why did you come to Hawaii?
DMR: Well, the first time I came to the islands, was in 1953 when I was ten years old. I was on my way to Guam to spend the summer with my dad. My parents had separated. My dad was living in Guam. So it was my summer to go to Guam. They didn’t fly to Guam in 1953. You had to take a military sea transportation ship and it stopped in Hawaii for refueling and replenishing and I was traveling with a foster family who were my guardians and they didn’t have much to do with me so I had the run of the ship. I was excited about arriving in Hawaii. So I got up and I went outside and the sun was coming up. I’m sitting there watching Diamond Head and now we’re cruising around and going into Pearl Harbor, I mean Honolulu Harbor and I experienced a rash of sensory reception explosions in a very short amount of time that I remember as if it was yesterday.
They were as follows, here’s a kid, ten years old, who had only seen brown and green water in California, never saw a rainbow except in the coloring book. I’m sitting there and the sun’s coming up and it’s beautiful over Diamond Head. The rays are shooting up and it’s getting brighter and I look out in the water and I realized that it’s not just blue water, there’s five colors of blue, the turquoise, the light blue, the darker blue. I mean, I’m pretty excited since blue is my favorite color. I was thinking, “That was pretty fabulous,” and now we’re going through the channel and the reef and on both sides of the reef the waves are breaking. The sun is coming up and for the first time, I saw rainbows in the spindrift of the breaking waves. As the winds out of Nuuanu Valley, like an offshore wave blowing the tops off the wave, and the spray was creating the rainbows by the back lit sun. That was pretty exciting. I was in awe.
BDP: At ten years old?
DMR: Oh yeah. I’ll never forget it. So now, the boat keeps moving and now we’re getting into the harbor. I look up and I’m looking up and I’m looking up Nuuanu Valley and it’s like this pungent, flowery beautiful smelling air is coming down, hitting me in the face. Along with that air, I’m hearing these sounds and it’s Hawaiian music, the first Hawaiian music I’ve ever heard. It was great and I’m going, “Oh, pretty far out.” As we got closer to the pier, I’m looking and here’s all these gals they’re dancing in their muumuus, these older ladies along the pier. Behind them are the guys playing the musical instruments and they’re all wearing these super leis. I was getting pretty overwhelmed by then.
Now we’re docking and I was sort of relaxing and I hear the sound that every young kid wants to hear and that’s other kids who were laughing. They’re squealing. They’re laughing. They’re so excited. I’m like, “What’s going on?” I followed the sound. I followed the sound. I looked over the side and there’s all these kids, maybe thirty or forty of them diving for the quarters and half dollars that the arriving tourists are throwing into the water and they’re diving for it. You look down there, these kids, they look like chipmunks with these giant cheeks because they’ve got money in them. They got half dollars and quarters. They didn’t even go after the dimes and nickels. There must be thousands of dollars in the Honolulu Harbor of dimes and nickels because the kids and the bigger ones (coins) went down slower so they could grab them.
So that was my arrival. I said, “This is a place I’d like to stay.” Then I got a little older. I went back home and then I started surfing. I really got into surfing and Uncle Dave lived in Hawaii with (his wife) Keanuenue and his family. So I said to my mom, “Hey, I want to go to the islands and go surfing.” “But you’re only fourteen. You can’t travel around by yourself.” I said, “But Uncle Dave lives there.” “Oh, you’re right. Okay, just make sure he calls me when you get there.” I lined up a couple of my buddies and we all … They told their parents the same thing and we hit the islands, flew in. I couldn’t afford the $148 one way United Airline ticket so we shopped some newspaper, the LA Times and found that there is an unscheduled freight airliner that went from Burbank to Hawaii for $74. I said, “That would be me.”
BDP: What year was that?
DMR: Well, let me see. I was ten. Four years after, 1957. We would fly in, we arrived at the airport. The airport then was just a four-foot fence, unpaved parking lot, and the runway and a little terminal. We got off the plane, four young kids with nine foot six surfboards, the long boards. At that time, every cab was a Cadillac. Every guy who was driving a cab had a Cadillac and they weren’t about … They didn’t have the where withall to put a board on it or anything. They didn’t want to get near us. So we finally realized we’re the only four guys left at the airport. Everybody else is gone and we’re going, “Oh.” A guy walks up to us and says, “So you guys need a ride to town.” We go, “Yeah, how much is the charge?” He says, “I won’t charge you anything. I’ll give you a free ride to town but you got to buy a car from me. My name is Lippy Espinda. If you buy a car from me, I’ll give you a beer and you can have the car for one-hundred bucks.”
I said, “Well, we don’t have a license.” He’s, “No worries. No worries.” “Well, we don’t have any insurance.” “Don’t worry about it.” We said, “Okay.” We threw the boards in his pickup truck. We drove into, it was on Ala Moana Boulevard at the time. We got this car. They gave us a Primo beer which none of us could drink. The taste is horrible. We didn’t know how to drink beer anyway but that was horrible. We got this 1947 Plymouth four-door sedan that looked like a Tonka toy. It was absolutely perfect except it was missing the rear right fender. There’s bare tire out there but no safety checks, no problem. Ran like a champ.
So we surfed and we went down to check in witht Uncle Dave. Went back to Ala Moana. Rented an apartment. Slept on the floor because right across the street from Ala Moana we can go surf all the time. We would go home and in California, you can’t have fireworks but in Hawaii you can buy fireworks for the 4th of July and New Year’s. So we get trash and leftover plate lunches and we bought a suitcase on the way to the … In from the airport and we threw it out in the sun and we threw all of our old garbage and old plate lunches in there. We got rid of our kimchi, the whole thing got real, real ripe. They didn’t have zip lock back then so we got Saran wrap. We wrapped up all of our fireworks and stuck them in this suitcase and closed it.
When we got to the airport, they go, “Do you guys have anything to claim?” “No sir.” They unzip, open that thing and that guy couldn’t get that thing closed fast enough. We never got caught and we go back home and we’d sell the fireworks to help defer our plane ride home. There were guys waiting for us to get back because they knew what’s happening. We’d leave the car at the airport. We’d get out of the car, pop the hood, undo the battery cables, lock everything up, fly back home. Go down to Malibu when we get back, “Anybody going to the islands? Smith, you going?” “Yeah, I’m going.” “Do you want to buy a car for 100 bucks?” “Well, yeah.” “It’s right at the airport.”
So we’d sell him the key for $100. He’d land. He’d go to the car. Put the battery cables back on it and drive away. He’d do the same thing when he came home. We had the same car for four years. It rotated. It finally went over at Kaena Point because by now we’re eighteen, the guys are drinking and they got drunk and they drove it off into the water at Kaena Point. We had to start over with the cars. That’s how I got here.
BDP: Oh, that’s wonderful. So when did you move here permanently?
DMR: After high school, I immediately came to Hawaii. I got a job working with Hawaiian Dredging. My buddy’s dad was the president. I walked into his office, and said, “I need a job.” He says, “What do you do?” I said, “I’ll do anything.” He said, “Okay, you’re going to work out at the Kahe Power Plant. You have to be at the old Kapahulu Theatre every morning at four o’clock and the company bus will take you out there to go to work at Nanakuli.” I was the only haole guy out there. It was so hot out there. I would pray for clouds. I was a laborer. A little to the left, a little to the left because it’s so hot. We’d ride back into town. The bus would drop me off at the Outrigger. So I’d hit the water and met all the kids down there. I wasn’t a member but then I went back to … After one year, I got injured. I got an infection, a coral poisoning and I had to go back and get it treated and I recovered in California and decided to go surfing in Europe.
Some friends of ours bought a castle in the south of France, said, “Come on down. Come on down.” The family contained one of my old girlfriends so I said, “Okay, sure.” So we went down there and went surfing in Biarritz, Sauzon, Deluz. On the way back home, I went to St. Ives, Cornwall and went surfing in St. Yves. It was pretty interesting down there. I hitchhiked to Zermatt. Oh, I’m over there and Patty McKinney says, “Hey, Dave. We’re over here in this finishing school in Geneva,” because she and her friend Suzie Garver were kind of rascals. Suzie Garver and Patty McKinney were, they were wild things. Their parents sent them off to Europe to a finishing school to take them out of the beach scene and they knew I was in France. They said, “Well, come up and see us. We’re going to be in Zermatt for Christmas.” So I hitchhiked which is not a really good idea to Zermatt because I got caught in the French Alps and it was cold and it was dark and I wasn’t going to make it to the train station because nobody was driving on the road, nobody. So I said, “Well shoot. I’m not going to go higher where it gets colder. I might start walking down the mountain, walking down the road.” Because I didn’t want to freeze to death. I see this car coming and the car stops. I’m standing out in the road. My suitcases says, “California ala Swiss.” I’m going from California to Switzerland and big chalk mark in them. Holding my suitcase out there. The guy had to run over me to get by and he stops.
I looked inside and it’s a priest in a full monk outfit and the whole deal. He says, parle vous francais? Just a little bit. He says, “Oh.” He said, “I speak English.” I said, “Great, so we can converse.” “What are you doing out here?” “I’m trying to get to the train.” He says, “You’ll never make it.” I said, “I know. That’s why I’m going back downhill. What are you doing up here?” “See that light up there?” I look up the mountain, there’s a light. “That’s the monastery where I live and I’m on my way home.” I go, “Oh.” He said, “But listen, I haven’t spoken to anybody in English for thirteen years and if you talk to me, I’ll give you a ride up to the top of mountain to the train station.” I said, “Done deal.”
So that’s how I got over there and took the train down. I’m running through Luzon railway station and I hear somebody, “Rochlen.” I turned around, here’s a Outrigger Canoe Club T-shirt on this guy who’s running the opposite direction where the kids that I know over here went to school. He’s like, “I can’t stop. I’m going to miss my train.” I said, “Me too.” That was pretty bizarre. So I went surfing over there and I had an incredible, incredible adventure in St. Ives, Cornwall and I introduced surfing to them. I introduced skateboarding to them. Showed them how to make a surfboard. Left my Dewey competition board with St. Yves Porthmeor Surf Life Saving Club which I’m an honorary lifetime member of. I gave them a rocket ship and they’re driving biplanes. They took really good care of me down there and I got back.
When I got back, I said, well, I tried to go to school. Didn’t work out so well. Vietnam was really getting crazy and they were going to draft me so I joined the Navy. The Navy, went to boot camp. The Navy sent me to a ship, brand new ship home ported in Honolulu. So 1966, the kid rolls in back in here and the ship was brand new. It was super advanced. It was a very advanced warship. It was a guided missile destroyer and it had made one cruise to Vietnam and on the shake down cruise, they found out all of the things that they’d screwed up on when they built that thing so they had to fix them when we got back to Honolulu.
So I was right there when it came back and the first thing we had to do is take off all the ammunition and unload the entire ship because it was going to be in dry dock for eighteen months. So I just slept on the boat and surfed at the Club, eighteen months. That’s when I joined. It was-
BDP: That’s when you joined.
DMR: No, let me think. Yeah, I think I joined in 1966. Yeah, I joined in 1966.
BDP: The Club had already moved then.
DMR: Yeah, but at the old Club, one of the first guys I met at the beach, it was Blue Makua Jr. and we became super brothers, super friends. I was older and I had a license so I bought a mail truck. In between the Moana Hotel and the Outrigger, there’s a little parking lot. They’re having all kinds of problems over there. Guys getting drunk. Guys fighting. So Blue and I convinced the … We were working on the beach, doing beach stuff. We’re setting up the Club every morning with the umbrellas and the chairs and raking the beach. For our remuneration for doing that, the Outrigger Canoe Club said, “Well, you guys should have breakfast at the snack bar.” So Doris and Richard just loaded us every morning. We ate like a king. We couldn’t eat anything till dinner time. So we got real familiar on the beach and Blue and I went over to the Moana Hotel and convinced them that we would take care of their parking lot problem if they let me park my mail truck which we slept in in the parking lot and then we can leave in the morning. They said, “Sure. No problems.” So that’s where we stayed for that summer.
BDP: Where did you put your truck during the day?
DMR: We went surfing. We did the beach, ate breakfast. We got in the thing and we would go off surfing. We went surfing.
BDP: But and leave your-
DMR: Everything’s in the truck. The heavy stuff ws at uncle’s house.
BDP: Oh, I see.
DMR: So the old Club, I had a lot of great memories of the Club. That’s where I met Auntie Eva (Pomroy) who became my all-time sweetheart. Everybody knows how wonderful Auntie Eva was and she knew I wasn’t a member in the early days, in the early 1960s. There’s this guy, what’s his name? Marilyn (Kali) told me the guy’s name, the manager at the time. (Peter Van Dorn)
BDP: Henry DeGorog?
DMR: No, he’s close there. He’s one of them but he wouldn’t chase me. The only guy that wanted to catch me all the time. So he’d be looking out for me. I’d see him coming. So I would scoot around in the lobby where Auntie Eva is standing at the desk. Aunt Eva was very large and with muumuus. She’d see me coming and she knew what was going and so she just step back and scoop me underneath the desk, she’d stand in front of it and she reached over and she grabs the membership directory. In those days, it was a little pamphlet that says junior members, senior members. So Uncle Dave was a member. He’s a Senior member. So she holds up the thing, puts her thumb over the Senior member and says, “Are you chasing Dave Rochlen?” “Yeah.” “There’s his name right there. He’s a member.” She covered for me and I was bulletproof after that. That’s so much fun.
As you know, perhaps Keanuenue Rochlen, my uncle’s wife, had been married to Rabbit Kekai who was the beach captain at the Outrigger for many years. So Uncle Dave said, “If you’re down at the Club, you make sure you pay your respects to Rabbit” So I introduced myself. This is when I was a kid, when I was fourteen, fifteen and I met Rabbit. He took me under his wing and I was … He says, “Don’t screw up on the beach.” I was a Boy Scout. I’m a good kid. He learned that that was true and nobody would mess with me. I didn’t have a haole problem. Because Rabbit says, “Hey, leave him alone.” He nicknamed me Pohaku, rock. We were friends till his recent passing last year. His (Rabbit’s) kids were adopted by Uncle Dave so they’re my cousins.
DMR: That’s how the family got going. I lucked out. It was just-
BDP: You really did, didn’t you?
DMR: Oh God, another Waikiki thing, it was we go surfing in the mornings and one of the little [Samir 00:23:21] brothers, these are divers and watermen. We’re all little kids. One of the kids’ name was David Nueva. Turned out to be a super famous professional surfer. But at the time, he didn’t have any teeth. He was just a little beach rat guy. But his father was the manager of the Waikiki Theater, the only air-conditioned space in Waikiki in 1953 or 1954 and we’d surf and when we’d get all hot and he’d say, “Let’s go to the movies.” “Go to the movies?” You’d sit there and of course Mr. Nueva just let us in. We’d sit there and there’s the palm trees and they’re playing the organ out there and the stars are on the ceiling. It was just great. Then we’d cool down and we have our afternoon surf session. I don’t know too many guys that got to do that. I was so lucky.
BDP: So when you joined the Outrigger, did you get involved in any of the competitive sports?
DMR: Oh, by then I was a pretty proficient surfer and a very good paddler. Won the Diamond Head Paddleboard Race on Rabbit’s board. I asked him weeks ahead of time. So when the other guys asked him if they could use it, he said, “No, I’ve already told Dave he can have it.” I won the race but they never gave me my trophy. They could never find it. The local guys.
BDP: Did you join any committees while you were on the-
DMR: No. Not at that age. When I got older, I joined a bunch of committees. But then that time I was on the surf team. In fact, I won the Club championships in I think 1972. But usually, the Club champion gets to go down to Peru to represent the Club but they had a revolution and a coup and there was blood on the streets and the Club decided not to send anybody down there to Lima, Peru during the revolution. So I missed out on my trip to Peru. But then when I got older, I was on the … First, I chaired the Surfing Committee. I think I was on the Volleyball Committee for a while and then as I got older and less active, I wanted to have … I got into the Historical Committee but first it was Entertainment Committee for about five or six years. Then later on I switched over to the Historical Committee which I had great fun in. Then due to some health reasons and some job changes and scheduling changes, it was really hard for me to be involved in all these things so I took a step back and here I am today.
BDP: Well, you were on the Entertainment Committee for a while, weren’t you? What did you do on that?
DMR: Anything that needed to be done to mostly associated with the Luau. I didn’t obtain the entertainment. The local gals that knew everybody did that. I’d help out. Make runs up to Dale Hope’s place to get the flowers and all the foliage and decorate the Club, stuff like that. Also, I arranged for several, each year, the committees when I got to the Historical Committee, we put on events four times a year and I was able to get several interesting people to show up and do book signings and talks at the Club where we had on the Stew and Rice nights. That was a lot of fun.
BDP: That was when you were on the Historical Committee?
DMR: The Historical Committee, yeah. I also was the librarian. We got a whole bunch of new library books.
BDP: Yes. Where did you meet your wife, Maxine?
DMR: Well, I went over to my friend’s house one night and I was working, I was selling nylon wallets before they were made in China. So they’re a pretty nice item. My best account was Duty Free shoppers. I just made this enormous sale, the biggest sale I ever made. I went over to my friend’s house to celebrate a little bit. As I was walking in, she was walking out. She says to me, “How come you’re so happy?” “I just made this huge sale.” She says, “Oh yeah? Why don’t you take me to dinner?” I said, “Done deal. I’ll pick you up at eight.” I call her up and I said, “Okay, I’m on my way. ” “Oh, I forgot to tell you, I already have a date.” I said, “I’m coming there right now and you better be getting in my car.” She’s pretty hot. Of course I took her down to romance her at the club, it’s a Friday so we made it for the fireworks.” “Oh, Dave. You shouldn’t have.” This is all pretty dear. That’s how I met her. We’re still together after thirty-one years. Got married at the Club.
BDP: You got married at-
DMR: The biggest mistake I made was having it at five o’clock when everybody’s hungry. I ordered the pupu for the reception. Not knowing anybody getting married or receptions. We ran out in like twenty-two minutes. There’s no food left. I said, “Bring anything out.” The sun went down and blah, blah, blah. That was exciting.
BDP: So you’ve been married how long now?
DMR: About thirty-one years.
BDP: Do you have children?
DMR: Fabulous Eva Uilani Rochlen, named after Auntie Eva.
DMR: Auntie Eva was getting up there in age and having problem in her legs and stuff. Her last public appearance, we had my daughter’s birthday luau got shrunk down to where it would fit in the Duke room because that’s the only place aunt Eva could get into, wheeled into. So Eva, it was her first birthday luau. Before she was born, I went to Auntie Eva and said, “Hey, I’d like you to give her a Hawaiian name.” She says, “Okay, Uilani should be her middle name. Beautiful heaven.” I said, “Done deal.” So then Auntie Eva got older. We always had the Club Luau and we went to every luau for years and years. Eva (Rochlen) wanted to dance, Waikiki… No, it was at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel because it was Auntie Eva’s favorite song and dance. So Eva Rochlen, from when she was six to when she was about sixteen danced that song for Auntie Eva every year.
BDP: That’s wonderful. Is Eva here in Hawaii?
DMR: Oh yeah. Yeah. She’s working for the bank. First of all, she went to school, La Pietra. Couldn’t get into all the upper upper schools because her scores weren’t high enough but there is a reason for that but we won’t go to that. We knew we weren’t getting her an education. Best you can give your kid is love and education. I mean, that’s it. The public schools were not sufficient and we couldn’t get her into the better schools but she grew up down here and everybody knew her since she was born and they knew me for a really long time and I dated, during my run through the Club, dated some of the teachers that I had dated. They were teaching at La Pietra. Jimmy McMahon is on the board of directors. He knew, he said, “Hey, have her come to La Pietra. She’ll do fine because we can vouch for her.” She did. She had some problems making the transition and she got going and but the ratio of nine kids to one teacher had great dividends.
DMR: She gets into Chaminade and she gets … She has six classes. Orientation, religion, all the … She got straight A’s. Well, orientation. So what, so she goes the next year, the next semester, she takes twenty-two units. I haven’t taken twenty-two units in my entire effort in college. She did it in one semester and got straight A’s. I said, “Honey, how are you doing this?” She said, “Dad you and mom made those sacrifices and got me to La Pietra. They taught me how to study. Truth be told, it’s easier now than it was then and I want to kick ass.” She graduated in four years with a 4.0 average. I said, “Take a break. Go to Europe. Take a trip.” She said, “Dad, I’m getting a masters in eighteen months.” She got her masters in eighteen months. I don’t know where, it had to be from the mother’s, certainly not from me.
Interesting story, we got her a job at the bank, she’s working for the Bank of Hawaii and she’s doing very, very well, very well. That’s where she is to this day. Works at the digital products division and wins everything. Every time they try and do system and they measured, she always come out much better than anybody else’s results. So at these awards dinner, she gets to sit next to Peter Hall. All right.
BDP: Is she a member of the Club?
DMR: Yes, she is. She’s an associate member.
BDP: Did she surf?
DMR: Well, she surfed when she was younger. But as kids get older, some of them don’t want to do all these things that they used to do. She got other interests and other girlfriends and horsey stuff and she got to be … She was mostly a swimmer. She was, I mean, a state champion swimmer.
BDP: Oh really?
DMR: Oh, she was an excellent swimmer. One of the benefits that La Pietra got was that they didn’t have a swim team and at sixth grade, you couldn’t be on the varsity. So Eva was the junior varsity swim team, one person. That year, they got third in the state championships in the junior varsity division because Eva won everything. Next year, some of the her girlfriends from the club, swim clubs, different clubs, swim clubs, they wanted to go with Eva and to go to La Pietra and so now they have like five or six girls that are red hot swimmers. They were the varsity and they won the state champs the next year.
BDP: Oh my goodness.
DMR: Six girls. So mostly she swam a lot. She went up to the junior nationals up in the mainland and broke records, all kind of medals. She has hundreds of medals. I don’t know what to do with them. That’s our girl.
BDP: You must be very proud of her.
DMR: Oh, tears in my eyes.
BDP: Yeah. Did she paddle at all for the Outrigger?
DMR: Oh yeah, she paddled. She paddled, paddled and then she became … When she got other responsibilities, she couldn’t make all the regattas, she started coaching. She coached those young ladies and taught them some Emily Post characteristics. Most people don’t know who Emily Post was. She’s brought up that way. She’s a positive influence.
BDP: Are you still surfing?
DMR: No. I had some operations. One of which was a gastric bypass where they rearrange your interior. They take out four feet of your intestine and so your interior organs sort of adjust different ways. I was surfing for a while but it was too exhausting and when I laid down on the board, it squished the wrong parts. It was not comfortable. Then I had a mini stroke and a heart attack and it was real hard for me to continue surfing in the beach services and my wife and my kid, they said, “Hey, you’ve had enough surfing. We don’t want to have to swim out there and retrieve you.” I said, “Okay.” I mean, I did have the most blessed surfing career anybody can ever enjoy in their lives. So I sold the board to Jim Growney. I didn’t surf. I just swim a lot. That’s about it.
BDP: Did you ever paddle in the Molokai race?
DMR: No, I didn’t. But I do have a record of sorts in paddling. I had the distinction of having the longest membership on the Outrigger novice paddling crew. If you paddle as a novice, you can come back the next year and paddle as a novice if you didn’t win a race. So if I was in Vietnam, I couldn’t race that summer. I didn’t win any races. If I was here for the summer, was it (Bruce) Ames and (Kent) Giles were our steersmen, they finished on the wrong buoy, we did … If we weren’t first, we get disqualified. Long story short, the only race we ever won was one 4th of July race and that doesn’t count. I got one gold medal for the Macfarlane day.
But for seven years, I never won a race. So by that time, I blew up, I got too big. I couldn’t fit in the boat. I had to sit on towels so my butt would go over the gunnels and I showed in my last year and they said, “Hey, Baby Dave. It’s over. Thanks a lot. You’re done.” So that’s when I quit paddling. But I never paddled more than a half mile. That was also a blessing. Oh my God. Those long distance guys, you commit your life to that paddling deal.
BDP: What was your career?
DMR: Well, mostly I was in sales. I’m sales my whole life. The early years, I was a surfboard shop manager for Hobie Surfboards up in Santa Monica. Then when I came over here, I got recruited by Jack O’Neil up in Santa Cruz because we’re family friends and he wanted me to get out of the service and work for him in Santa Cruz. See, weather wise, Santa Cruz, Hawaii. Freddy Schwartz and my Uncle Dave were partners in Surf Line and they wanted me to manage the Surf Line store here. I had a really good offer and I just didn’t go back to California when I got out of the service. I just stayed here and went to work in Surf Line for a number of years. Then after that, I thought that having a good family relationship, if we didn’t work for family.
So I got into the car business. Started selling some cars and then I got into the fleet sales doing State, City and County bids. I did that for about ten, fifteen years. Then that was about it for the working thing. In 2008, they dissolved the company that I was working for.
BDP: Aren’t you related to the family that owned Jams World?
DMR: Yeah, that’s Uncle Dave. When Uncle Dave passed, it went to Keanuenue and when Keanuenue passed, it went to Pua. David Yale Rochlen the second. That’s their doing.
BDP: Now that you’re not surfing or paddling, do you have any other hobbies?
DMR: Well, on this job, I have this new job, it’s very simple. I’m a vehicle transporter for the Manheim Auto Auction which is a subsidiary of the Cox Communications Conglomerate which is huge. They’re a local family. Barbara Anthony Cox would help La Pietra and so on and so forth. One third of the time, I drive a car. One third of the time, I have to wait for them to pick me up from driving a car and the other third of my day I’m in the van going to the next job. So I read voraciously. I read and read and read.
BDP: How interesting.
DMR: That’s about it.
BDP: Do you spend a lot of time here at the Club still?
DMR: Every morning that I’m not working, I meet up with the regulars. Solved all the world’s problems on the Hau Terrace with some coffee before we start our Honey-Do list.
BDP: Who are some of the other members of that group?
DMR: Oh my God. Freddy Hemmings, Jim Growney, John Lacy, Ron Haworth, Ricky Lemke. That’s the core group. Kimo Austin, of course.
BDP: Yeah. How about the social functions here at the Club? Do you attend those?
DMR: Well, I was for a while. In fact, I was a, yeah, I was involved in some of them. But now I’m really tired easily. I get tired and I run out of breath. I run out of breath and I’ve fallen down several times. The wife said, “That’s it. No more face plants.” So I just sort of stepped back from that a little bit.
BDP: What influence has the Outrigger had on your life?
DMR: Well, it sure has made a wonderful basis for living in Hawaii and raising a family and sharing the rainbows and waterfalls. My kid says, I said, “Let’s go home.” “Dad, can we go around Diamond Head so we can see the rainbows?” Or “Dad, can we go to Kailua, can we go over the H-3 so we can see the waterfalls?” I picked the right place to live. It’s such real people with … In California or in the mainland or most other places, everything is transient. But here, you got generation after generation, you’re going through the same pretty unique rarefied environment and you really get to know people and know who the good guys are, the questionable guys and you spend more time with the good guys. It’s just been wonderful to have that association and of course the Outrigger’s has a lot of members in businesses and they’re always helpful and it’s just been a wonderful experience.
BDP: What do you think the future holds for the Outrigger on this leased land?
DMR: Well, it’s frustrating because although I’m not politically involved in the higher echelons of Club politics, what really disappointed me was we were so close to having the lease ourselves and leasing it back to the Elks but there are some egos involved with the upper guys and we missed that shot. Then when they reevaluated the property and the Elks won. We’re never going to be able to acquire, I don’t think, the Club of the property for ourselves. I go, “Well, you know what, I’m just feeling fortunate that I got to be a part of the golden years in Waikiki and the early years here.” At seventy-four, I’m not going to be around too much of it. I just hope that cooler heads prevailed especially after all these furniture stuff and all the changing of the direction of the Club. “What do you think Dave? What do you think?” I think that I’m lucky to have had it the way it was when we had it and it’s going to go where it’s going to go.
BDP: Do you think the Club is still fulfilling its original mission?
DMR: It’s a lot harder. When they get to take a surfboard locker away from a fifty-year member because he doesn’t use a surfboard locker enough and a guy who just moved here from Ohio gets his locker, that seems to lose its flavor for me. It’s just, well, we’re the new people. We represent the future of the Club so the Club should cater to us versus the older guys. We got you here. Why wind it down on our terms? So there’s a little overlapping of conflict of, I don’t know, viewpoints I guess. But it’s still the best Club I’ve ever been to in the world and anybody that’s been our guest here has felt the same way.
BDP: Well, that’s true, isn’t it? Do you have any other funny stories or serious stories?
DMR: Well, I try to stay away from the serious stuff. I always accentuate the positive. Some stories can’t be told, of course. Those are the real fun ones. Well, one interesting story is when I was in the Navy, I rushed down to the Club and was surfing after I got off the ship wearing my white uniform and everybody gave me so much heat, “Two quarts of cream and a gallon of milk. Milkman, I want deliveries.” Everybody laughing, they’re teasing me. That’s okay. One day this guy says to me, “I see you’re in the Navy.” I never met the guy. I go, “Yes, sir.” He says, “Well, how do you do? My name is Ray Robinson and I’m in the Navy.” I go, “You are?” “Yes, I’m the public relations officer for CINCPAC Fleet,” which is the largest fleet to ever exist in the history of the world and he is the public relations dude for the command and he’s a Club member and he surfs.
So we go surfing together. He’s a super good guy, super great guy. Told me, “Dave, what do you think about the relationships between the locals and servicemen?” “Well, we all know about that one. It can be a little touchy.” “Part of my mission is to improve that situation.” I said, “Yeah, that would be a good idea.” He said, “Dave, I think I have a way to do this.” I go, “What is it?” “Well, I think that the Armed Forces should have a surf team and we should compete at the Makaha International Championships.” I said, “Well, that would be great.” “Okay, great. You’re the captain.” I go, “Wait a minute. You got to pull this off.” I said, “Well, okay.” He says, “Do you know any good surfers?” I go, “Well, there’s not too many in the Navy that I know of but the guys I grew up that are in the Navy aren’t in Hawaii. They’re on the East Coast.
“Well, get them over here. You see if they want to go surfing for the championships, I’ll send temporary orders.” I call these guys on the phone, three of them said, “Hell, yes. Count me in.” They thought I was BS’ing them. They didn’t think I was serious. They got orders for temporary assigned duty to Makaha Beach for the International Surfing Competition and they flew in on government planes. They got us these cabins out there. They had a chef out there cook food for us all for two weeks. We had surfing practices and everything. The Australians were just starting to come to the Hawaii a lot, were short on dollars. We said, “They’re good guys. Come stay with us. We have plenty of room.” They ate like kings. Somewhere, I still got those orders of being assigned to Makaha Beach to go surfing as a Club member.
BDP: That’s a wonderful story.
DMR: That was a wonderful experience.
BDP: Anything else?
DMR: Oh boy. My memory, short term memory, long term memory’s fading as I do. Luckily I read something recently that said, “Don’t worry about the long term. Enjoy the short term.” So I go, “That’s me.” So I’m sure if I dwell on it for a while, I can probably come up with some stuff.
BDP: That was certainly a great interview.
DMR: Well, I hope you enjoyed it, Barb.
BDP: Very, very much. But if there’s nothing else, we’ll bring this interview to a close.
DMR: Super. Okay.
BDP: Thank you so much.
DMR: Thank you for being interested in the exploits.
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Santa Claus for Keiki Christmas Party
Surfing and Paddling Committee
OCC Surf Contest
1974 1st, Senior Men
1970 1st, Novice Men
1975 3rd, Men 25-34
1996 3rd, Men 50-54
Diamond Head Surfboard Paddling Championship
1960 1st, Boys 17 and Under