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.
Interview by Don Machado
August 29, 1987
DM: This is Saturday, the 29th of August, 1987. I am Don Machado (DM), a member of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club and I have the pleasure of interviewing at the Outrigger Canoe Club, Mr. Fred Hemmings, Senior (FH). Fred, tell me about your family and your background to include where you were born and when you came to Hawaii.
FH: I was born – you’ll get a kick out of this – I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My mother was one-quarter French and Indian, a quarter English, a quarter Irish. At any rate this makes me one-eighth Indian, one-eight French – the Indian Mokawk tribe which is of the Algonquin nation up on the border of the State of New York and Canada, and my dad was strictly English–Irish. At any rate, all I know is that he was in the Navy he was in the Naval Air Service. He was one of the first people to go down to Pensacola Flight School although he was an enlisted man. We were Navy – a Navy family. We left New York when I was four years old.
DM: What do you remember about New York, leaving at such an early age?
FH: I left when I was four and the only thing I remember was the night of the Armistice of World War I. I remember, all I could see was the glare of skyrockets and explosions – the sky was lit up and I mean it lasted several hours …. and that’s always been with me, even though I was only four years old. I’ve never forgotten that and it is the only thing I can remember about New York. But anyway, we ended up at the Naval Air Station in San Diego and then from there my dad came out to Pearl Harbor – the Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station – and as a Navy family we followed, so I was eight years old when we came to Hawaii and right away I got into the water where the Hawaiian Village is now – they had a thousand-foot pier, just a little old rickety wooden pier that you walked on, and they had a big hole in the reef where the reef had not grown. There was a giant sandy bottom and people would go out there and swim. One of the first things I got was a surfboard, I mention the surfboard in association with the Outrigger surfing and stuff, the board was made for a bird colonel at Ft. Shafter by an Army carpenter, and I got news for you, in those days the surfboards were just plain redwood, and he knew nothing about making a surfboard. It was 12 feet long, 24 inches wide, two inches thick. All the boards were made of redwood. That’s before the coming of foam and plastic and all the sort of thing. The next thing that came along was balsa wood, and the balsa wood board weighed 110 pounds. From where today’s Hilton Village is where I lived and I’d pump up to Waikiki surf for three, four, five hours – go in exhausted and have rice gravy. We had rice and gravy at the Outrigger’s little food concession there. The lady who ran it was Chinese; her name was May Caldwell.
DM: Let’s back a little bit and tell me how and when you joined the Outrigger Canoe Club. How old were you?
FH: I remember my mother gave me a membership on my twelfth birthday. I got a junior
membership and my mother gave me that present, so it must have 1927.
DM: You were 12 years old, so you were born in 1915 …..
DM: It was founded in 1908, so the Outrigger would have been about 19 years old …..
FH: Right. It was down at the old site, right next to the Royal in fact the Royal was not
even there at that particular time. They started building the Royal in 1926 and finish it in 1927 …..
DM: I interrupted you – you said you’d come in and have something to eat from May Caldwell’s food concession.
FH: The Outrigger at that time was a two-story wooden structure of a dark redwood stain and underneath was a place to store canoes. On top was a large, you might say, dancing place where you could have a dance or a party if you liked. Remember, these were the days of prohibition, so there weren’t too many cocktail parties. At any rate, back of this structure in the ocean direction was a large concrete surface area which was covered with hau tree – it was almost as good as a ceiling and at the mauka end of that hau tree area was a place where you could cook. They had about five or six little gas stoves – in the days before electrical stoves. You could bring some food down to the Club and cook it in this place – cook your own lunch. The directors decided that we’d have a food concession, so May Caldwell – a Chinese lady married to a haole guy by the name of Caldwell – got the concession and if she let you you could charge there. It was not a Club operation, and I am very proud to say that May carried me to the amount of $300. That was a lot of money in those days. It was a fortune, and I’ve got news for you, even after I married – how many, many years later, I paid May the whole $300. I am not going to mention any names but prominent businessmen in Honolulu didn’t give her a nickel, and she was just so put out; she’d been so kind to them.
DM: Why did she leave?
FH: The reason she left was because the Club started serving its own food and beverages and had a dining room – you know, the whole shot. They redid the entire structure I don’t remember what year that was.
DM: Did they tear down the old structure?
FH: Yes, they took away the old redwood structure and put in an entirely new structure.
DM: Was that wooden also?
FH: The new structure was like hollow tie covered with plaster of some sort, so you didn’t see the tile. It was a two-story thing once again with canoes underneath and dining room up on top at the end of the building closest to the Royal was the Hau Terrace; again they had left some of the hau trees there and that’s where we got the name Hau Terrace; that’s where, sometime when prohibition was over, we used to have some great sessions drinking beer after canoe races and so forth at the Hau Terrace.
DM: I am curious, what kind of food did May Caldwell cook – it wasn’t gourmet food, I take it.
FH: No, it wasn’t, it was just nice old time kind, you know. There was stew and rice, and that kind of stuff, and there were sandwiches, and our favorite food as kids was rice and gravy. You’d get a whole mess of this wonderful rice and then she’d pour gravy all over that, and we’d just sit there and bolt down that rice and gravy. Oh, it was so good! Then wait for a little while and go back out and surf for another three or four hours.
DM: And what did you pay for the meal – do you remember?
FH: I remember – the rice and gravy at first was fifteen cents. . .
DM: To get up to $300. That must have been a ….
FH: Oh, I had a lot of food – a lot of rice ….. but, of course, as time went by the prices went up.
DM: Sure, sure.
FH: She had to because everything was going up. I suspect that rice and gravy in the end was 50 cents; but there was other food, sandwiches and cold drinks and so forth …..
DM: Was this lunch or supper?
FH: No, there was no supper. She left the area about five in evening. There was no supper
it was lunch or breakfast type thing, and it went on until about five.
DM: And, where did you eat – was it downstairs, was it upstairs?
FH: Her place was right on the ground level and we ate in this large area where you could have cooked the food yourself; it was covered with hau trees.
DM: Out in the open…
FH: It was covered with hau trees ……..
DM: I see.
FH: It was so thick you couldn’t see the sky, I mean it was just like being in a room with a ceiling … and then you’d take your paper plate, go sit there and bolt it down, put the plate in the rubbish and then get out and go surf again.
DM: Maybe you can tell me about some of the people that you knew at that time.
FH: I want to get in here the name of a man that nobody, I don’t care who you choose in this Club today can say that they really and truly knew him. He was a Navy Lieutenant. His name was Lieutenant Kendrick. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor and he liked to take care of small kids. We had a little group of us, four, five, or six kids whom Lieutenant Kendrick would take on sightseeing trips, on a Saturday, we’d to for a hike and I remember we drove a car out towards Hanauma Bay direction, remember now, there was no Aina Haina; there was no Hawaii Kai; There was nothing, and there was no road where Lunalilo Home Road is today. We’d leave the car there and we would hike up the steep hill. We would then hike down into Hanauma Bay and come back up. We wore shoes, Keds, to be sure we could walk on the rocks. There was no road there was nothing. We had to walk to his car, and then we would walk to the Blow Hole. We left the Blow Hole and then we’d trudge all the way back to the car which was parked down at the bottom where Lunalilo Home Road is today. That man’s name was Lieutenant Kendrick and he took care of a whole bunch of us kids. One of the things that Kendrick did at his own expense was to install at the Outrigger, a few yards away from May Caldwell’s food place, a chinning bar, a bar where you could chin yourself. The Club didn’t do that; Kendrick did it on his own time and with his own money.
DM: He was on active duty here – three years or so.
FH: Two years. He really became part of the Outrigger, he put the chinning bar up and he took care of small kids.
DM: There weren’t too many active duty people who were members of the Outrigger in those days.
FH: No, I believe Lieutenant Kendrick was the only guy who was in the service; he was the only one. But, an amusing thing, I used to walk way around a guy because he was “Admiral” Tulloch, and my God, I was a small kid – my dad was in the Navy- and you don’t get close to the admiral – I mean, holy macaroni. I was almost a teenager, probably 13 or 14 years old when it came to me that “Admiral” Tulloch of the Outrigger was called “Admiral” Tulloch because he worked at the Navy yard. (Laugh)
DM: “Pop” (Alexander Hume) Ford – what do you remember about him?
FH: As I understand it – my memory is so vague – “Pop” was one of the guys who started the Outrigger Canoe Club.
DM: He founded the Club in 1908.
FH: One thing I remember about “Pop” Ford. He was on the premises a great deal, but “Pop” Ford was never caught without his coat and tie. I don’t know why. I remember sitting on “Pop “Ford’s knee and he was telling me some stories and that sort of stuff, and he also had an eye for watching for the small kids. I remember “Pop” Ford I can see his face …
DM: He wasn’t big man.
FH: No. he was slight; he was thin but you couldn’t tell how thin because he never took off his coat you know what I mean; he was never in a bathing suit. He was thin and wrinkled, he was silver haired, not a full head of hair, but he was silver haired, and if I remember correctly every once a while he’d have a silver moustache; but that was just once in a while.
DM: So this would have been around 1927. He founded the Club in 1908, so in ’27 he was still around and active with the Club.
FH: Yes, yes. He came to the Club almost daily. In those days we had just a Club manager. We didn’t have a board of directors like they have today. Next to the Club was the Royal and we would have movie stars who’d come down, and the Club Beach Service provided the beach services for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The guy who was in charge of the beach service who first started it was Ted Waters, and his mother was a swimming instructor.
DM: By beach services, what do you mean?
FH: Canoe rides; rent a surfboard, set up the little folding chairs and umbrellas you sit on the beach with, and that sort of thing.
DM: And it was done as a service?
FH: Yes for the hotel guests. Ted Waters’ first job was to get there early in the morning, set up the umbrellas and chairs that the hotel guests sat on at the Royal Hawaii.
DM: This was Ted Waters?
DM: . . .and he was in charge of the beach services?
DM: . . . and a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club?
FH: Oh, yes, he was a member, but didn’t hang around the Club. Then, I don’t know, my memory fails me, but I think he went to Maui or retired. The guy who took his place was “Sally” Hale (Louis Sallisbury Hale). Now the name “Sally” Hale may be familiar with some of the older members. He was a blondish guy, haole guy never did get a good tan, and he ran the beach services which primarily was to provide the service for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In those days, as far as beach clubs were concerned, there was the Outrigger Canoe Club and there was the Hui Nalu. Their locker room was actually the bath house of the Moana Hotel, and the guy that built the locker rooms in there for the Hui Nalu boys was Francis Ii Brown. He was like a mentor; he came up with a couple of bucks when Hui Nalu really needed some dough …
DM: You said “boys”. Didn’t they have women also?
FH: No women. Now there’s women in Hui Nalu today and they’re active in canoe racing
FH: but in those days it was strictly beach boys, those guys around the beach.
DM: I see.
DM: Panama Dave, Chick Daniels, “Splash” Lyons, Joe Minor, Johnnie Makua, “Colgate” and Curley Cornwell. I mean, they were all Hui Nalu boys who worked on the beach and were actually the old time version of what the beachboy really was. A beachboy would be assigned to a family at the Royal, and he would take the kids swimming in front of the Royal, and put them on a little surfboard, or he would take the older children, or say the wife out tandem on the surfboard if they could swim pretty good in what we used to call Canoe surf right in front of the Royal Hawaiian there. They were really and truly consummate beachboys. The people came in by boat; we didn’t have airplanes in those days. In those days the boat left on Saturday – the Malolo, the Lurline, and that kind of stuff, and so the tourists would come down and tip the beachboys and in those day fifty bucks was something else, those guys would get a fifty dollar tip and really they did not work that hard. They would have enjoyed themselves on the beach anyway.
DM: It sounds like a pretty nice life …..
FH: . . . but continuing that story, I remember we had surfboard polo in those days. At the Ewa end of the Royal was the Bertha Young property. Bertha Young was part of the family who started the Young Hotel. Bertha Young’s place fronted on the ocean right next to the Royal. So right opposite her house they would put a little net device like you see in a pool, you know water polo in a pool. About 100 yards or more in the Diamond Head direction they’d set up another one. Then they would have five guys on surfboards, and they’d have volleyball. The idea was to get the volleyball into your opponents’ net, or vice versa.
DM: They would be on surfboards? Not the kind of water polo you see today.
FH: No, they were on surfboards. It was surfboard water polo. It was right in front of the Royal, and of course the Outrigger members had a team, Hui Nalu had a team, and a couple of others such as Queen’s Surf and Waikiki Surf Club. It was very interesting. Playing for the Outrigger team – are you ready for this? Buddy and Buster Crabbe, they were members of the Outrigger water polo team, and it was just a lot of fun watching that stuff. “Toots” Minvielle and “Yabo” Taylor are still around. I have an 8”X10” picture of this team.
DM: It’s hard to picture being on surfboards.
FH: There were five guys. There were ten people out there on surfboards. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was a lot of laughs and a lot of fun for the guys.
DM: I bet they would keep bumping into each other …
FH: Oh, absolutely. Tempers could flare, but it was all good fun.
DM: Good crowds?
FH: Oh, my God, yeah everybody would be down there to see the surfboard polo. They couldn’t have played it had they used the balsa boards, because the balsa boards were light and when the nose of a board hit the balsa, forget it. These were the days before fiberglass. The balsa board was extremely light and covered with shellac to keep the water from soaking into the wood.
DM: What are some of the other sports that you remember?
FH: In those days, the best time of my life was canoeing. I was in a four-man team and
we paddled the old Kakina, which was a very short four-man boat.
DM: Do you remember the other three people were?
FH: The thing that annoys me is, I can’t remember that kid who was number one. He was out of Kam Schools, and he was part-Hawaiian; in those days you had to be part-Hawaiian to go to Kam. He wasn’t a dark Hawaiian. He was very light, in fact he looked haole – I forget his name. The thing that get me thinking about that boy is when the big one came along, World War II, he got into the Air Force and he fought in Europe in P-38s which was a twin engine fighter aircraft. Now that boy didn’t come home when he ended his tour. He remained there and signed on for another tour in B-24 bombers- are you ready for this? This wonderful person was killed in killed in the Ploesti raid. The Ploesti raid was raid when the American B-24s went all the way across Europe and bombed oil wells in Romania to deprive Hitler and that gang from getting the oil out of Romanian oil fields.
DM: This was during World War II?
FH: World War II, yeah. So he got killed in the Ploesti raid which was really sad to me. The other three members of this four man team were a kid named Eddie Hustace. Eddie Hustace’s aunties were the two little old Ward sisters who were of the Ward Estate, which was on King Street …. right next to McKinley High School.
DM: Where the concert hall is ……
FH: All of that property was the Ward Estate …..
DM: Old Plantation …..
FH: Old Plantation, right. That was the name. so, he and I would be number two or number three in the boat because I could gain or lose 10 or 20 pounds in a week and sometimes, depending on where we were going to race it would make the boat balance better if I was in front and Eddie was number three or vice versa. The steersman was “ Sally” Hale, who was in charge of the Waikiki Beach Services. We didn’t have many races, but today, my God, in canoe racing they start at 8:30 in the morning and race all the way ‘till five o’clock. In those days we had the Outrigger, Hui Nalu, Healani and Waikiki Surf, we only had four clubs, and we didn’t have as many races, which means we didn’t have as many kids as today’s regattas.
DM: And were these all four-man crews?
FH: No, no. We had six-man, two-man, and women’s races, and so forth ……
DM: But you were in the four-man canoe races.
FH: I was in the junior four-man. We were the junior four and couldn’t drop back in classification. If you started out as a junior or senior crew, you couldn’t help out somebody in back of you: you had to remain in that classification or move up. But the good fun was when we all went down to the Big Island to Kailua-Kona and raced at Kealakekua Bay, to transport us from ….the Kona Inn in Kailua, which was a little old wooden structure, they’d have life boats from the Inter-Island Steamship Line. We didn’t have planes in those days. We had the steamship line and with their motorized life boat they towed one or two life boats with the kids down to Kealakekua Bay for training, of course, the big meet was on a Saturday, and win, lose, or draw, after the regatta we’d go back in the Kona Inn direction – the only place to stay – and we’d have a big luau. The luau was at the Amfac lumber yard (Laugh) and the road was dirt – a kind of sandy dirt.
DM: How old were you then, approximately?
FH: I graduated from high school at seventeen – I was like, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.
DM: This would have been about 1932.
FH: I think we first went down there, maybe 1929 or 1930, (1933) and we did this for three years. We all went down on the Coast Guard ship Itasca …….
DM: What was the name of Coast Guard ships?
FH: I-t-a-s-c-a, Itasca. I don’t know if it’s still sailing, but it was a big white Coast Guard ship. We had the time of our lives going down there. I remember this was during prohibition and there was no drinking or that sort of thing. It was just good fun and camaraderie. Inter-Island steamships like the Humuula and Waialeale, especially the Humuula a one-stack job that carried cattle up in front – their motorized lifeboats would pull us down to Kealakekua Bay where we trained. Without aircraft, you couldn’t just run back and forth, so the whole gang was at Kona and Kealakekua for the whole week, the best part was the road was dirt and they had these little Kona nightingales. These were little burros, and they stood about four feet high, and they owned the place. You’d have to stop the car, get out and push the little buggahs off the road. (Laugh), they wouldn’t move. You’d come down in a car, they’d look at you and stay right there, and you’d have to push them – almost primitive as compared to today, but such good fun, and such camaraderie.
DM: How did the Outrigger do in those races? Did they do pretty well?
FH: Oh, I know with my particular crew – I’m boasting – we never lost a race.
DM: This was the four-man crew?
FH: This was the junior four-man. We had six and we had women, but women were not that
big because we didn’t have enough women paddlers in those days.
DM: I see.
FH: Then we would all come back on the Itasca; they’d bring us back the next day.
DM: That’s the Coast Guard.
FH: That’s the Coast Guard. We’d all come to Honolulu …..
DM: How long would that take?
FH: That was an over-nighter. What you’d do, they’d give you a blanket and a mattress, and you slept on deck. Nobody had a cabin. It was a crowded situation.
DM: I bet it got rough too, sometimes.
FH: Sometimes it was pretty rough, but those were great days. Great days, and, of course, then along came the airplanes. I have one more thing, it’s no claim to fame, but I think it was the last year of the crew races in Kona, at Kealakekua Bay, and that particular year I stowed away on the Inter-Island ship that brought down the tourists and the mothers and fathers, the people who came down to see the race – the boosters and supporters of the Club.
DM: This was rather than go on the Coast Guard ship, the Itasca, and sleep out on the open deck …
FH: Many a romance was started there. At any rate, I remember this, somehow or other, the purser of the ship found out there was a stowaway aboard, so he was going from stateroom to stateroom to find this stowaway and put the hebeas grabis on him who ought to be arrested. Well, somebody told me “Hey, the purser is after you”. Now, he didn’t know my name or anything, so the whole night I was running from one stateroom to the other, and then when we got to the port the thing was, I knew the guy, not real well personally, he was an older person than me, but I knew him- I forget his name now – but, at any rate when we got to Honolulu Harbor the next morning, it was like seven or eight the next morning, he was standing down at the bottom of the gangway. He was going to grab me as I came off the damned boat, and grab a cop or something. Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen, so I went out the other side of the boat into Honolulu Harbor.
DM: You just jumped in?
FH: I just dove over the side and swam to the pier – in the opposite direction.
DM: With all your clothes on?
FH: Yeah. Somebody took my shoes, but I had my pants and shirt, et cetera.
DM: Who was you accomplice?
FH: I can’t remember who.
DM: You stayed in somebody’s room?
FH: Well, I stayed in several rooms because the damned purser was going from room to room. He’d pull a surprise … he’d go to two or three rooms …..
DM: That’s a good story.
FH: Without any announcement, you know, just knock on the door, this is purser, may I speak to you, and then he’d look around. “I understand we have a stowaway.” I don’t know why I was always able to keep from getting caught. “Eh, Hemmings, get down out of the way, the purser’s coming”. So I ran into another room. He thought he had me cold turkey in the harbor, but I dove over the side of the ship and swam to the pier next door.
DM: This was an overnight trip so you had a few hours to worry about it.
FH: It was hectic with this guy chasing me all over the damned boat. And I saw him down at bottom of the gangway, and I thought, “oh, my God, I’ve had it”. So, I dove over the side of the ship on the other side.
DM: That’s a good story. I am glad we included it.
FH: We went down there for three successive years. The thing that makes it nice to think
about is, that compared to today, it was the end of old Hawaii. I have children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I go to all the races, but they’re not like the good old days.
DM: How many children and how many grandchildren do you have?
FH: I have six children and nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. We’ve introduced quite a crowd here to the Club, and my mother was a member of the Club, so we’ve had a heck of a lot of Hemmings down here.
DM: You were telling me how your mother happened to join the Outrigger Canoe Club. Was she a member a long time before you joined?
FH: No, she was not. I think she may have joined after me, but my mother and father became divorced. My mother, in Outrigger history here, she married a guy who was just a prince of a fellow named Sam Poepoe. He was an Outrigger member and he was a fairly dark complected Hawaiian, and an amazing person. He went to Kam Schools, and Punahou School, and he was a graduate of Stanford University. He worked for Young Brothers Tug and Barge Service. He passed away, but he was a member of the Outrigger and I guess that’s why she joined. I can’t recall when, but it was after I was a member.
DM: She gave you a membership in the Outrigger Canoe Club as a birthday present ……
FH: Right, my 12th. The best part of the whole thing is – the people reading this, they’ll tear their hair or swear or something. There was no initiation fee, I paid five dollars a month. I was a junior member. In those days we only had three memberships – there was junior, senior and Women’s that was all. Today they have a conglomeration of memberships. When I got to be 18 years old, I got a letter from the Outrigger. I opened the thing up, it said, “Dear Fred, Happy Birthday you are now a senior member”. My dues went to $10 a month. (Laugh), I was so mad I came within a hair of going down and swearing at the Club, and quitting because one day I am paying five and next day I am paying ten dollars for same thing.
DM: That would have been in 1933.
FH: In 1933 – that was a good amount of money. I was a youngster, and I don’t know how many adults knew this, but the property was owned by the Trustee of the Queen Emma Estate, so our lease was with the Queen Emma Estate, and of course, when the lease began to run out, obviously they were going to do something in Waikiki which we could not afford.
DM: Tell me what you remember about that time when the Club knew it probably had to move.
FH: Let me step a little back further than that. We had this wooden structure that later became a concrete one, you know, a hollow tile stucco thing at the entrance out near Kalakaua Avenue. In those days you could park your car right on the property. You came in right off Kalakaua, and there was parking space. There were not too many cars in Honolulu anyway, and I got news for you, you had to be kid of rich to own a car and the Outrigger had its share of well-to-do people. Then as you came into the premises from the parking lot there was the Club building. As you came around one end of the building there was a grass area. You could sit on the grass and watch the volleyball. The surfboard lockers were on the ocean side of the property, and in back of them there was a whole bunch of hau trees. I can still remember this- on that property, goodness knows how many years ago – water from the Ala Wai Canal which was fed by run-off from Palolo Valley would appear at the Outrigger Canoe Club on the Kalakaua side of the volleyball courts. On occasion it would appear like a little stream had started there. It was a very nostalgic thing, when I think about this; there was this little stream, but not all the time.
DM: Cause by heavy rains?
FH: Yes, I guess so, and it would enter the grass area near the volleyball court …
DM: Go right in, back into the ocean?
FH: No, no it just went right back into the ground. When it got into the grass and the sand.
DM: You could actually see water running?
FH: Absolutely. It was not running like a stream – it was just like a puddle, but it obviously was moving because it went into the sand there.
DM: It came underground there?
FH: It wasn’t across Kalakaua Avenue, it must have come underground and popped up there in the grass of the older Outrigger- so much for nostalgia on the little ol’ stream that used to run there.
DM: It must have been kind of pretty having it come through there.
FH: Yeah, but it was an annoyance, because you had to walk over the water and it bothered one corner of one of the volleyball courts. We don’t have that now, all this stuff here is cold turkey and modern, to me those were, shall I say, the good old days.
DM: The time came when the members knew they had to move because the lease would have been exorbitant.
FH: Then began the search for where we were going to go, and they had like a search committee, I mean people negotiating this and that. It was obvious that we couldn’t remain there because it was a source of income to the Queen Emma Estate. They couldn’t give us some ridiculously low rate when they could do what they have done- built those giant buildings up there and make a million dollars out of it. So we had to move and we had a committee which ended up dealing with the Elks Club, and we reached an agreement. We were going to buy half of the Elk property outright sale at a bargain price. It was a pretty good price in those days. At any rate the Elks here have to send all this information back to mother Elk and Mainland, wherever it is, I don’t know, and mother Elk came back and said no sale, you may lease, so we ended up with a 99-year lease. I don’t know what the figure is. I knew it at one time – the monthly lease rental is like stealing. But, I got news for you, I think in a couple of year the lease comes up for renewal. I think it is every 30 years or something, and it scares me.
DM: This may help you. My understanding is that the lease rental has to be based on the appropriate lease for a private club not, for example, for a hotel which would mean a big increase …
FH: I am not going to be around, I am 72 years old, but the thing that bothers me is the cost of membership and so forth for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If it goes up they
have to pay higher dues, et cetera, et cetera.
DM: I think as I understand it, they keep opening up negotiations every so often trying to buy it but as you say it has to go back to mother Elk back on the Mainland for approval. Fred, tell me about the Outrigger Canoe Club clock that we have on the grounds. What do you know about that?
FH: What I know about it makes me really happy, because I love things nostalgic and I love things of the past, and that clock, that big ol’ green clock hanging on the wall there used to be a clock on a metal pole downtown.
DM: That’s the clock that’s near the locker rooms?
FH: Near the snack bar. The great big round green lookin’ thing, its metal is green because it hasn’t been polished. But any rate it used to be on Fort Street right in front of Wichman’s jewelery store which was right next to the Liberty House. It used to be about ten or twelve feet above the ground and it was so large that from any place on Fort Street you could look up and see the clock and see what time it was. These are the days before people had waterproof wrist watches. People would go down town and look up to Wichman’s. I don’t know how the Club landed this. I think they were going to destroy it; I don’t know who grabbed it, but I am so happy to see that clock from Wichman’s jewelery on Fort Street, Honolulu, still with us. And if it came time and we had to refurbish it, I’d be real happy to contribute to keeping that clock.
DM: It’s my understanding that the clock used to be at the old club. Do you remember that?
DM: In fact, the reason I know about it, is that it used to be out in front of the Club …
DM: … and when you were out surfing, you could see what time it was. If you told your mother or father you’d come home at a certain time, you’d make it.
FH: My God, you’re right. Now that brings back memories. You have refreshed my memory, and of course now we have the thing here. We were here for quite a while before they put the thing up … I love that clock. Like you say, down at the old Club and you were out in the water and if your eyes were any good at all you’d see what time it was and not get punished for coming home late. I’d like to close with one more anecdote. At the old site, about 1929, the lease rental was due and the Club wasn’t going to be able to pay it full. We didn’t want to be kicked off the property so everybody paid their dues on time and one month in advance. Where she got it I’ll never know, ‘cause we were poor, but my mother put an extra $1,000 into the pot.
DM: Fred, thank you very much for sharing your memories of the Outrigger Canoe Club.