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 complete transcript is shown below the video.
Interview by Moana McGlaughlin-Tregaskis
April 10, 2013
MMT: Today is Sunday, the 10th of April, 2013. My name is Moana McGlaughlin-Tregakis (MMT) from the Outrigger Canoe Club Historical Committee, and I’m sitting with James Growney (JWG) to talk about his oral history. We are at the back of my house in a cabana on a beautiful Hawaiian day; two doggies are running around. Ja-ne de Abreu, Chair of the Historical Committee, is filming a video as we speak.
JWG: A perfect day.
MMT: Please tell me your full name.
JWG: James Walter Growney.
MMT: Where and when were you born?
JWG: August 9, 1932 in San Francisco, California, at Green’s Eye Hospital. (While driving in the car) my mother started going into labor. My father saw a green cross and it turned out it was an eye hospital. I was delivered by an ophthalmologist. That’s how life began.
MMT: Please tell your parents’ full names.
JWG: Alice Kuaihelani Macfarlane and James Norman Growney. He went by Norman. His mother wanted him named James and his grandmother wanted Norman. He hated the name James and called himself Norman all his life. My mother was part-Hawaiian. They met in San Francisco. She was a concert pianist. He swept her off her feet and they married. Well, they were happy for about three years. He wasn’t really good marriage material. He was a traveling salesman, loved to play golf, had a lot of friends and liked to party. After I was born she didn’t like the partying aspect. They got divorced and we moved to Honolulu in approximately 1935. She married a man named Jack Casassa. He was an interior decorator and in 1938 he re-decorated the Throne Room, in fact the whole Iolani Palace.
MMT: Is this all documented?
JWG: Well I think it probably is all documented. The famous throne chairs were re-woven under his direction. Kekau Kawananakoa’s mother was the president of the museum association. Then my sister was born in November 1938 in Honolulu; my mother died in childbirth. So at that time my sister returned to San Francisco with her father, and I returned to San Francisco with my father. We returned to Honolulu and I was the only survivor of the Punahou kindergarten class of 1938. When we had a reunion; nobody knew who I was – it was at Nancy Pfleuger’s house. I walked around with a sign that said, Mystery Alumnus, and whoever got it correct would win a magnum bottle of champagne. The only ones who knew who I was were Jack Walker and Dougie Philpotts. So they won a magnum of champagne.
MMT: You went to San Francisco in 1938. When did you come back to Hawaii?
JWG: My grandmother was Kamokila Campbell. She brought me over a number of times after the death of my mother. I came over in 1940 before the war. Then I came over right after the war more times. I learned to surf and paddle canoes at the old Outrigger Canoe Club. In summers I spent the entire summer there. When I came over in the ’40s Charlie Martin recruited me into the Boys Ten and we won on the Walter Macfarlane Day. I was also on a winning boat although I did not become a canoe paddler – I do not like to do repetitive things.
MMT: You had something to do with small boards then – the paipo board?
JWG: No, no. I came over in 1950 and I saw the first small board. It was made of balsa covered with fiberglass cloth. It was balsa on the inside and fiberglass on the outside. By that time we did have small boards – they were about ten feet. They were made of balsa and redwood. But there was no way to keep the balsa from being damaged. There was a lot of upkeep. We didn’t have resin so we had to paint them all the time. We had to take care of them like a boat. The board I learned to surf on belonged to Johnny Hollinger, who was a very close friend of Walter Macfarlane, my uncle. I forget who the boy was but he let us use this big redwood board. We were getting it out of the locker and this big thing fell on me; it pinned me against the lockers over on the other side. The beach boys, Charlie Amalu and some others, got me out. So then we went out, the two of us. One would tread water out at Queens Surf and would push the board to help the one who was riding – to get up on it. That’s what we did for the remainder of the summer. That must have been in ’46 or ’47.
MMT: You were in California when in school?
JWG: I was, I went to school in the Catholic School System up into my junior year, in California. I got so far ahead I got bored with going to school and I stopped going. [laughter]
MMT: How old were you?
JWG: Well, I guess I was 17; 16 or 17. And so they finally expelled me from school and so I went to work for a company changing tires; big truck tires and I went and got my GED when the Draft started since they would have drafted me into the service. In fact, some of my friends got drafted in and I was appalled. I said, “You are going in where they’re shooting bullets and you don’t even know how to fire a gun”. [Laughter]
MMT: Did you want the Marine Corps at that point?
JWG: No, I didn’t. My father fought in the first World War and when he found out that in college I had enlisted in the Marine Corps he was appalled. And I remember, he looked at me and he said, “Jesus Christ, why didn’t you talk to me first?” And he said, “We both should have gone into the Navy”. And I said, “Well, I am in the Navy technically”.
JWG: Fortunately, the way it worked out I graduated when the Korean War was over; I never heard a shot fired in anger.
MMT: You were lucky.
JWG: Yes, I was quite lucky. All of my friends, there were about six or eight of them, all lived through the Korean War and, in fact, no one was wounded. So that turned out all right, too.
MMT: You didn’t get out right then?
JWG: No, I went in after I graduated from college so I was in from ‘56 to 1958 and I served in Japan and Okinawa. Then when it was over I was offered a regular commission but I turned it down. I had decided by that time that I didn’t really want a military career.
MMT: Did you serve with (Brigadier General) Buck Schmuck?
JWG: No. I had heard of Buck Schmuck when on other trips to the Outrigger but I never met him — because he was in the Korean War when I was coming through. So then when I came back, the first time I met Buck I still had my Marine Corps haircut with the white walls, and he said, “Would you by any chance have been in the Marine Corps?”. I said, “Yes, sir”. And so from that point we went out and had some drinks and Ward Russell came by, and Cline Mann I had met all ready, because he’s my cousin, in fact Cline took me back, I guess it was when I came over after the War. He was going to Dartmouth so he took me back to the mainland. We were travelling on the Lurline, on the boat. He said he had a hard time keeping track of me on the ship. He quipped on one occasion, there was a cocktail party and somebody pushed him into the swimming pool. It turned out that it must have been me although I can’t remember. [laughter] At that point, when I first met Buck I had been invited to the Outrigger and then they had a membership drive and they lowered the membership fee to 200 dollars.
MMT: What year was that?
JWG: It was about 1961. So I joined. That was the opportunity because it had been almost double that or more. Stan Haddie joined at the same time. Quite a few of the kids that were working also joined. We were there at the Old Outrigger until they opened the new one in 1963 I guess it was.
JWG: By that time I was working for Dillingham. What I did was their Public Relations, Advertising, and wrote the Newsletter; a whole bunch of things. They (Dillingham) called me up one day and said they had found bones on the site they were working on — they were excavating the site for the new building. So I got David “Daddy” Bray, who was a Kahu at Bishop Museum.
MMT: I remember Daddy Bray.
JWG: Daddy Bray was one of the caretakers, he had a long time job; he worked for the Bishop Museum for 40 years or more. He came out, set up a screen and they shoveled all the dirt, all the sand — it was on the Club because they were going to move it —they shoveled it up on screens and they collected all the bones. In those days collecting the iwi was a lot more casual. So they collected the bones and then we put them in burlap sacks, and the workmen took them out and put them in the back of Daddy’s car, and in the inside and on the front seat — that’s how many of them there were, and then we had a big party afterwards for all of the workmen, many or whom were Hawaiian. After that — I asked him later — “Daddy, what did you do with all the iwi?” He said, “I took care of it”.
MMT: What does that mean?
JWG: Unknown. We also did the same song and dance when they built the Kaimana Hotel next door. We went through the same thing. They found a whole bunch of iwi. It was natural; they (Hawaiians) buried people where it was the easiest to dig. That’s why there were so many in Kaneohe. It was all sand. At the Old Outrigger, two long time members —one, Wally…
JWG: Yes. Wally Young, who was great friends with Tom Reiner…
MMT: Yes, they both were pilots.
JWG: Yes, Tom Reiner lived in a cottage on the property and raised his two daughters, who were absolutely stunning. I remember them just as little girls, everybody going swimming and playing on the beach; Tom would give them their shower and read to them, or whoever was around would read to them. And that’s what it is about. Right before we started the construction there were three guys, one of them was named Hugh Kelley, who started the Hotel Bali Hai in……
JWG: Moorea. Hugh had to come up every six months and we had an imu where we did the pig and had a big party there because Reiner was going to have to move off. I had started surfing there — I was living at the Surf And Sea Apartments. When we were uncovering the imu, Hugh Kelly, who had been imbibing quite heavily, the local beer, we all picked up the net and he didn’t let go when we pulled. Hugh fell into the imu and all the steam went up. We thought he was killed. We yanked him off of there and all he had been perspiring so heavily that all he had were were some light burns on his knees and his toes. And that was it. [laughter)] I can remember to this day his shirt and bathing suit were steaming. I’m glad it had a happy ending.
From that point on they started the construction and Hawaiian Dredging was the builder. Buck was the vice president in charge of business development. I used to work quite a bit with him — writing materials and things relating to that; we were in the Ala Moana Building. Our ultimate boss was the vice president — a very severe-looking guy, handsome and very rugged features — named Archie Carswell. One of the members, Hal Henderson, and I used to surf in the mornings when the surf was up; we’d go down there. Carswell had this big magnifying glass and he would check every morning to see if we were there. Then they’d call our office and say he wanted us to meet him up in the office — if we could break away from surfing long enough! Of course we’d get there at 7:30 because we knew something like this would happen; frequently we never had a chance to shower. So our hair would be salty — I cut it pretty short; I still do. Anyway, it was one of the little peccadillos that we went through at work. (laughter)
MMT: I’d like to go back to the small board; the paipo. You developed it?
JWG: Yes. I developed the design. It was triangular. Most paipo boards were rectangular and I went down one day — I was surfing in Waikiki —- and I was walking back to the Outrigger and I looked out and I saw a man on a belly board; Hawaiian style belly board which is about three feet – three and a half feet long, about wide; they’d tipped the nose and curved it up a little to make it plane. He was going so fast, I was just so struck — it was astonishing. So I waited and he came in; his name was John Widelich. I said, “How do I do that? I want to learn how to do that”. He said, “Well, come up to my house”. He lived up on 13th Avenue. “We can make one of these things. It’s simple.” We used three-quarter plywood, he cut out this rectangular board and we took a rasp and curved the the nose up a little and then varathaned it. I started using that.
This board already was much faster than the surfboards, because they don’t have much wetted surface in the water. The less wetted surface, the faster an object in the water can go, whether it’s a canoe, or whatever it is. We started talking about this — oh, John was starting his family and his daughter, Marika, had been born and he had her in the shade of a tree with a little thing over her; and she was a week old. This wiggly little thing — I was afraid to even pick her up.
We started discussing these boards, we started surfing them, there (Waikiki) and at Makapuu. Then one day we went over to his house and we developed a design that made them triangular. The theory was that if you were going right, the left-hand side of the board, and only that corner, would be in the water. This was much faster than the belly boards that we were using. We made three of them; John and I each made one. Then we cut out the shape; we built them up so the nose was about high out of the water by overlapping U-shaped pieces of wood. And then we rasped them down. We painted them with resin. John’s was really good looking because he took aloha shirt cloth, put it down, and resined it onto his board. So his board was quite colorful. Then on mine — I’m not much of a craftsman but he helped out.
Jaron Hancock built one. A number of his friends were members then (also built paipo boards)— there was Oley Johnson who moved to the Big Island — oh, I have those names in the article, a recent article that they did and that was “Paipo Boards”. There was John Naughton who was a doctor, PhD University of Hawaii, had a very distinguished career. Another man named Mike Irwin who lived at the top of Wilhelmina Rise; he was studying for his finals around Christmas time and he could see these streaks going across Public’s. He had been out there but he was so far away (atop Wilhelmina Rise) he couldn’t see what they were — he had a car, a Volkswagen; he got in the Volkswagen and he drove down there and saw us. Then we made him a board; we cut one out and he worked on it.
So this was the initial blueprint. Then we used to drive to Makapuu where other people wanted to use them. We just simply had them get a piece of cardboard and we would make an outline of the board, trace it, and at the same time. I think about seven or eight years later the “Advertiser” had a cover on the sports page with all of the surfers at Makapuu and most of them were using these Paipo boards that we developed.
As we went on we found out we could ride bigger and bigger waves. Finally John and I started riding at Sunset Beach, and then Laniakea, and all of the breaks on the North Shore. We rode Waimea Bay on Big Wednesday. We rode right with the surfers, with the surfboards. A guy named Hedman, (SP?) who was the editor of “Surfer Magazine”, wanted to ride as well. They said makanoi. So I rode in there and I said, “Yeah, you’re the publisher….” And he said, “Well, I don’t know; you ran over me one day at Sunset Beach ….” (laughter) And I said, (words hidden in laughter). So he did a small article for “Surfer Magazine”. Jimmy Makoa, Reyn McCullough from Reyn’s Sporting Goods — he wrote two articles that appeared in “Surfer Magazine”, and Greg Noll wrote one about John White’s blindly running over him on Big Wednesday. (Laughter; “You’re gonna get killed.”)
The (Paipo) boards became extremely popular. We rode them for years. The big south swells were steamer-laying bricks. Wally Forsythe, another famous surfer, told me that the last time he had seen them come up — the big south swell, 25 feet for bigger; 30 feet — it breaks way outside of Castle Surf. So you are out in the blue water when you’re catching these waves. In the ’60s they broke three or four times, and on one of the occasions — and that’s what I wrote the article about — Widelich and I rode from outside Public’; we caught the wave and we got off at the Moana Hotel. I think the remarkable thing about it was that prior to that time when Public’s was breaking, we would catch Castle’s and we’d go down to Public’s and we’d go across the roof and walk back to the Outrigger — because couldn’t swim; you had to swim against the current. That day that we ended up at the Moana Hotel, that’s what we did; we walked back. No one saw us do this unfortunately.
MMT: Was it early in the morning?
JWG: Well, there were no guys in the water photographing anyone or filming these things. But Joe Quigg went down. I was living on Owena Street right across from the Park. I woke up about two o’clock in the morning because it was very light winds and you could hear this huge interval in between the waves. So you could hear the wave crash and it seemed like two or three minutes, and then there would be another crash. I thought, My God, how big must they be? So we down, went out, and in those days the board surfers didn’t have leashes, so when a big set came through it wiped everybody out. But the Paipo board, even when you got wiped out — it had negative buoyancy; it just barely floated — so the wave would break and when we came up, there was our board, even if we weren’t able to hang onto it.
Joe Quigg — he saw us out there. He got his binoculars, he climbed up on top of the Outrigger. He set up out there and he watched us. He said that when we were getting up on these waves, it would lift us up and we’d free fall out of the top of the wave and down, and catch it. We would catch them and then we would go shooting off. And he said, then the next time he saw us was when we were passing Castle Surf; we were way outside. The big power surfboards have – between Castle’s and Public’s, in front of the Natatorium — the wave gets very flat. So the boards lose momentum, as do canoes, so they can’t make it across there. What happens with the Paipo board is we have so little area in the water that we planed right across it. Then we would go off, and as I said, catch Public’s and then we’d go to Queen’s Surf; then we’d walk back to the Outrigger. I also board surfed. But I was always working so when the surf came up, and got my Paipo board and went out Paipo boarding.
MMT: Are you still using the Paipo board today?
JWG: Yes, well, because it’s kinda labor intensive to make one; you can buy a boogie board and now they are using boogie boards at all the big surf spots. So I think that there’s no real need to go out and make one of ours. But there are some people that surf them. They’ve kept them from a long time ago. As I said, there’s a whole section of Paipo boards with pictures in articles on the Internet. You just put in ”Paipo Board” and they have from the old Hawaiian boards, to the ones that we did, to the new ones that other people are making.
MMT: We should check that.
JWG: Yes, the site is enormous. A guy named John Clark did–
MMT: The beach specialist with a new book?
JWG: Yes, he did the recent book. He interviewed me and he and another friend of his (discussed) different kinds of boards and body boards down at Public’s during the summers. Some time in the late ’60s the Club purchased a number of Sunfish. So we had sailing lessons and lot of activity. Cline Mann became an absolute fanatic sailing the Sunfish and he organized Saturday races. So we’d get sometimes eight or ten or twelve of the Sunfish. In a corner of the Hau Terrace there’s a spot called Cline’s Corner; we would sit there. We would race for pitchers of beer. When the races started they would go up to Diamond Head buoy and then down to the wreck buoy — there was a wreck down there with a wreck buoy on it — and then back to the Club. The races got pretty ragged the more beer we drank. And the rules got a lot looser, too. So we’d turn each other over, or we’d take the sheet line off of one of them and hold the boat; the boat would turn over — (laughter). I remember very worthwhile girlfriends I lost because I’d come back and I’d say, “Well I’ve got time for a little nap,” and I’d lay down for the nap and wouldn’t get back up again — with all the beer and the surfing.
There was another boat, a racer boat, called a P-Cat which is a catamaran, a very fast catamaran. It was designed by a man named Carter Powell. Wally Young had one; it was there at the Outrigger for years. He made it a little bigger — he got it bigger; it was ten0 feet wide. A little size-up: We were out there one day in this P-Cat and it was very, very light air; we were kind of drifting around and we came upon a dead body. A man had drowned. He’s floating, quite high out of the water. We were in a sailboat and because the wind was light we couldn’t go very fast. We were trying to flag somebody down to come to take over and for us to get out of there, or else tow us back into the yacht club so we could call. Then comes a water-skier, a girl water-skiing, and we waved her away from us; veer off and go away. Well, she comes right by and she runs into the floating corpse and falls down. Then she sees what it is and she’s screaming, yelling, and is hysterical. Then her boat gets on the air and says that they’ve found this body.
In the meantime we snuck away. A guy named Bill Tackenberry (SP?) and myself — we just floated away. We went to the Outrigger, and the funniest line I’ve ever heard: Somebody else was at the table and we were telling people all the gruesome details and he said: “Well, is that all? Did anything else happen?” Takenberry said: “Well, yes! I reached down and I saw he was wearing a watch. I lifted his hand up and it was a Timex — and it was still running.” There was an ad of course at that time “takes a beating and keeps on ticking”. (laughter) So that was a big hysterically funny thing around the Outrigger. I don’t know whether it would be funny today.
Then we started surfing; on certain days you could surf these P-cats. Carter Powell who designed the boat in connection with Joe Quigg, wanted to take photographs of it. We got two boats; Bill Tackenberry had a boat and he brought photographer Bob Wenkam who was about six-foot-eight tall — incredible photographer. He didn’t swim so they tied him to the mast on their boat. They were going to photograph out boat, with Carter and I on the boat. The wind was very light and we got some incredible pictures. I can remember their boat — the boat Wenkam was on with Tackenberry — would be . . . It wouldn’t be down in front of the wave and so we got wonderful pictures. But the wind kept getting lighter and lighter. Finally we went to catch a wave; we just barely had enough wind to catch it and Carter Powell ran forward on the P-cat and the boat dropped into the wave. Then he slid forward and he’s now hanging off the bow. So I tried to take the boat over and I did manage to get it turned so it’s going — but the other boat, which has also gone into the wave — Carter had clambered back on but I couldn’t do anything and we steered the boat right into the other one. Then the surf, which was big, ten foot or more — broke on the two boats. It broke the masts and we had everybody — I had a trapeze on — we had Wenkam tied to the mast of the other one; when the boats collided I got tangled up on the other boat. They stayed together. I found Wenkam and I got him up so he could get some breath of air.
It turned out it wasn’t a tragedy but Wenkam hurt his back quite badly, and he lost all his camera gear. Carter Powell, who was a tremendous craftsman, fixed those two boats by Monday morning — this was a Saturday. We got the bow off of one and the stern off another one. Another boat owner, Larry Pratt — I was teaching him to surf his boat — he made a mistake and anyway he didn’t turn the boat back into the water and he went up . . . The boat got turned over and it just simply broke the masts off. I remember we having to tow that boat in. Another famous surfer and raconteur named Bob Casey also used to have a boat. Oh, and Claude Horan, the artist at the University, had a P-cat and he used to surf it all the time there . We surfed them in pretty good waves. It wasn’t a Sunfish.
MMT: Where did you keep the boats?
JWG: We kept the boats down at Waikiki Yacht Club, the catamarans. The Sunfish we kept over at the Outrigger. Then they set a storage for them in the back. Those were exciting days. In 1978 I moved my family over to the Big Island. So for about 20 years I was a Nonresident member.
MMT: Yes, I wanted to ask you about that — and also about your motorcycle period.
JWG: Well, God created the Big Island for riding dirt bikes. The motorcycle club over there started a terribly difficult Enduro, which is a kind of race against the clock — you try and keep up with the clock. It’s called the Rock Island Two Hundred. That was 100 miles in dreadful swamps down in the south of the Big Island. And in forests. Then another 100 miles up in the Aa lava and the rocks up north on the Big Island. That was great fun and brought in top motorcycle riders up there. I started riding on the mainland and doing a lot of surfing in those days on the Big Island. It was wonderful. We came back (to Oahu) in about 2000. There was a very colorful member, a very attractive woman named Carla Beach. She was married to Donn Beach, Don the Beachcomber —
MMG: They were not actually not members; invitees one way or another.
JWG: Oh really — Aah. Anyway, Carla had an arm of Hawaiian bracelets, from her bicep muscle all the way down to her wrist. Somebody was there one day and they said, Aren’t those beautiful. She was very flamboyant and said, Oh yes, it’s my gold collection — if I ever need emergency money — or something like that. He said, Well, be careful. Don’t fall in the water with those things on. She had a monkey. We all were there one evening and the monkey was sitting on her lap — I guess she had a little leash on it or something like that — and we were ordering Mai Tais. The monkey comes over, making perfect eye contact, reaches over and takes my pineapple, dips it up and down in the water [glass], then takes a bite out of it and puts it back in my Mai Tai. So I said to the waiter — would you bring me two more pineapple [slices]. He brought the pineapple and the monkey did the same thing. He made eye contact and he definitely reached out, he did his thing, and he ate it. He ate about 3 or 4 of them. He started becoming rather unmanageable. He was losing his balance and started to do things — he’d jump over to another chair and then he went to jump back and he missed Carla by a foot. She was saying somebody has done something to my — whatever the name of the monkey was –. (laughter; the monkey was drunk). Finally, I think in self-defense and to protect everybody, she took the monkey home because he had a reach as long as mine. The body wasn’t that big but he had tremendous legs; he’d reach over — some people had flowers in their and he’d reach up and take the flower. There were tremendous instances of parties and whatnot that we had — getting back to the Outrigger and the Elks Club lease, the director in 1938 and the first lease, stopped at $50,000 short of paying for the lease, acquiring it. That was one of the first large mistakes they made.
MMT: The Elks Club made.
JWG: Yes, we are with the Elks Club now. Then the new lease came up; this was the second renewal after the 1938 instance. When they were doing that, (the Outrigger) was having trouble — the Elks Club didn’t trust us, and a lot of the people were not sophisticated enough to know what happens, which is that you can get a big lump sum of money, like $38,000 I think they got from us in the second renewal, but if that’s going to be in place for fifty years, it’s not going to be worth much at the end of forty years.
MMT: You’re talking about the new club now.
JWG: Okay, so we built the new club and we still hadn’t done the renewal of the lease was coming up. They (OCC) wanted to buy the property; I think this was in the 80s. Stan Haddie, who was a member and a real estate developer, came up with the idea that he as a developer would go to the Elks Club stating that he would build them a new facility, a new clubhouse and it could be financed with the renewal payment by the Outrigger. Included in that, so that they could build a larger building, they would build a high-rise structure like ours. Then the Outrigger would build that structure and they would get X-number of additional parking spaces. Everything was fine, but the argument with several of the directors, as I recall now — this is all second-hand; I’m getting it from Stan Haddie — they said it was a conflict of interest for Stan to do this project because he was a Club member. He said, “No, I’m not. I’m doing this as a development. If the Outrigger wants to participate they have the option of participating. And if the Elks Club wants to participate, they have the opportunity. It’s the Elks Club that’s paying my fee. The Outrigger’s not paying anything”. Well, the long and the short of it was that things broke down, everybody got their nose out of joint, including Stan, and so they all stomped off and we never did get to renew.
MMT: That’s another side to that story that we haven’t had until now. There have been a lot of stories. Thank you for that.
JWG: Then the plaque in the front —
MMT: The Cline Mann quote —
JWG: [Re Annual Meeting.] Yes. Cline Mann is a calabash cousin of mine. He had a piece of property that John Moore and myself — and there were some other members working on it, too — we wanted to buy that property for a tennis club. We could pay for it by charging if we got X number of members, which we got. If we paid membership dues to play at that club, we’d have our private club. Then we’d be able to purchase the property. The property is out on Kalanianaole, a good piece of property. It’s kinda like a property; it’s not a good beach property. We could have kept canoes out there. The canoe thing got Cline upset because he said, “This is a club (Outrigger) for sun and sea and surf and I don’t think we should be doing other things”. The long and the short of it is that when it was mentioned about that added benefit of keeping the canoes out there, Cline I think interpreted it the wrong way — that we would be moving the canoes out there. So he spoke against it at an annual meeting and he was very persuasive. It didn’t occur.
He also spoke one of the funniest presentations I’ve very seen: They wanted to allow the divorced spouses to join the Outrigger after they were divorced. There was great talk, we had a full meeting, and it was overflowing and Cline came up to the blackboard and he said, “I’m against this for the following reason: The mathematical probabilities that can occur. Let’s say we have married couples AA, BB, CC, and DD. AA gets divorced and one of then marries E to become AE”. He started working these out and he got down — (laughter) he had all of these couples — he had already been explaining for about five or eight minutes — then whomever was the president at that time said, “I think you’ve made your point Cline”. Cline said, “I would like you to call for a vote”, they did and it was voted down after the persuasive presentation.
MMT: I can imagine…
JWG: Oh yes, it would have led to a lot of other things; also there was no way to know whether you really wanted the divorced partner, whichever side it was — you have to be a member.
MMT: [After taking a break:] I wanted to ask you about marrying the beautiful Priscilla (Jardine)?
JWG: Well, we were at a party on Kalanianaole. I saw her and she was wearing this lovely dress, and she had just come back from a vacation in Mexico. I graduated from the University of Arizona and used to go down to Mexico on holidays, go fishing and I’d surf down there — I started telling people about it and she said, “You’re stealing everybody away from my story”. I said, “Gosh, I feel so bad about this — they’re having a party at the Outrigger, how would you like to go down there? I’ll buy drinks”. So we drove down there. We come walking in and it’s a formal party. I’m in my shorts and a tee shirt — she probably had rather a bad start to this relationship. Finally we started dating and we ended up getting married .
MMT: She was born here?
JWG: She was born here, 1940. Then they went back to the east coast during the war. Her father served in the Navy as a Radioman. He had a very distinguished career in (when the German U-boats) were sinking all those freighters, the Liberty Ships; he had them going down all around him. And attacked. This was here now; he was sailing when they started the campaign, when they started penetrating the South Pacific. So he was on ships going out over here. They were getting attacked day and night. His ship never was sunk although a lot of good men were lost.
We got married on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo day in 1967. We had worked several more years and then we went over and worked in Spain. We lived there and I went to Artes de Fernanda and studied painting. I ran this little business that her father wanted to start in Europe. Everything was going great. This was after Franco. Her father wanted me to make this business a lot bigger which would have entailed us living there — continuing to live in Europe. I was about ready to come home so we finally gave that up and moved back to Hawaii. Then our son Kevin was born in 1970 and Kate was born in 1972. We lived in a place out at Portlock — a fix-me-up house — it was a perfect beach house and you didn’t have to do anything to it. We went through what a lot of young couples did in those years — we rebuilt the whole interior of the house. I remember when I was doing the drywall I needed a helper so I built a little step-stool; (Priscilla) was eight and a half months pregnant with Kevin and I gave her a hard hat and she would stand on this stool, and when I was putting the drywall up she would stand up and push the drywall on that side in — then I would take break and put the other side up; mainly she would be going. “Hurry up, hurry up!”.
But then we ended up moving. In the late ’80s we ended up — on a whim — we had a little house up in Waimea on the Big Island and we moved up there. We never came back. We spent about twenty years up there.
MMT: Was that the house I came to?
JWG: Yes. The children grew up there and it was wonderful. We were living as city slickers in the country and like all people who don’t know they’re doing — with horses and cows we’d never been around — we had tremendous adventures. Finally the kids went away to college and they never came back. Kevin worked in Los Angeles, and Kate worked in New York; she worked for Conde Nast Magazines as a writer for them for six or eight years. So we moved back here. We lived up at Tantalus and now we are living at Diamond Head Circle.
MMT: It’s a beautiful house. Convenient and lots of friends…
JWG: Yes. And now I’m down at the Outrigger a lot more again; it’s very handy. Lots of friends there. I make sure my name is not listed on the board as we (laughter).
MMT: You don’t want to be on the In Memorium board.
JWG: No. I think so many aspects of the Club that I enjoyed all along are still there. Of course it’s different people now, and I’m a lot older. I think it’s a wonderful Club, probably the best one anywhere.
MMT: We must never forget we are a water club.
JWG: Yes, and we maintain that tradition for all time.
MMT: Jim I want to thank you very, very much for spending time talking with us. Now we have wonderful stories from you. Sometimes people find it difficult to tell their stories; it is not difficult with you. Mahalo Jim.
JWG: It’s a pleasure. Like you, I wrote and I interviewed people and I think after you’ve done it for so long, you know how to keep their spirits up. When someone didn’t talk, I’d talk or I would introduce them, and the moment then flowed.