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.
An interview by Paul A. Dolan
November 16, 2000
PAD: I am Paul Dolan (PAD), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee. For sometime the Committee has been conducting oral interviews of prominent members of our Club. Today, it is my pleasure to interview John T. Goss (JTG), past president and long time active member of the Outrigger Canoe Club. We are in the boardroom of the Club on this beautiful Hawaiian day.
PAD: Good morning, John.
JTG: Good morning.
PAD: We have a lot to cover this morning. (Laughter) How about starting by discussing your ancestors and family?
JTG: First, it should be of help for you to know that our family consisted of six. Only two were born in the United States. Secondly, my mother’s ancestors, Harvey Rexford Hitchcock and Rebecca Howard Hitchcock, were among the fifth boatload of missionaries who departed New Bedford, Mass., November 26, 1832 and arrived in Honolulu 173 days later. They were assigned to Molokai of all places and Harvey spent the rest of his life there as a friend and minister to the Hawaiians. Two generations later Cora Hitchcock, a descendant of Harvey, married Henry Townsend and one of their off springs was my mother, Alameda Elizabeth Townsend, born in Hilo on March 2, 1897. Henry was a brilliant educator and superintendent of schools in Hawaii. He finally became disgusted with the politics involved, (seems like nothing has changed since then) and moved to the Philippines where he taught for over thirty years and was instrumental in the establishment of the first university. They subsequently retired to their original home on Wainuinui Avenue in Hilo. There were lots of Hitchcocks. One of them was in the first class at Punahou.
PAD: Your Dad?
JTG: My father, George Edward Goss, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on May 28, 1886. The family then moved to Fall River, Mass., where his father, my grandfather, John Goss, built and operated a company that made looms for the textile industry. George Goss, one of John’s sons and also my father left the family after graduating from Yale and traveled to the Philippines to complete his masters degree by conducting an anthropology study of the Philippines. There he met my mother, Alameda, who after graduating from Punahou School, was studying at Oberlin to become an opera singer. Her stories of trips from the Philippines to Hawaii to attend school were full of harrowing tales of the crew trying to tie down the grand piano during a typhoon and of a 31-foot alligator crushing a pig under their stilted house during the night and finding it asleep the next morning. Yes, I have a picture of it with fourteen people holding the skin.
They were married in the Philippines just prior to World War-I and George, my dad, was assigned by the International YMCA as its representative with the Rainbow Division in Kansas where my brother George “Pete” was born at Manhattan, Kansas, on September 26, 1917. When the Rainbow Division was shipped to England, my mother followed and two and a half years later my sister “Peggy” was born in England on January 16, 1927. She died on September 21, 1996 in Cordo Madera, California.
During the war (WW-I) my father set up all kinds of sports and athletic programs for both the American Expeditionary Force and the British. After the war he was headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and that is where and when (December 19, 1923) I came into the picture.
PAD: Who were your siblings?
JTG: George Edward “Pete” Goss, Jr. worked for Hawaiian Electric for many years and then for Matson. My sister, Margaret “Peggy” Goss, didn’t like the name Margaret and preferred “Peggy”. As for my younger brother, Howard “Howdy” Goss, was two years younger than me. He was born in Manila on April 6, 1926 and died November 11, 1973 in Honolulu. Howard was a long time member and president of the Club at 47. To this date, we are the only brothers who were presidents of the Club. I really don’t know how or why our family got from Switzerland to the Philippines and then to China and Japan and to New York.
PAD: That’s amazing
JTG: From there we resided on the east coast of the U. S., living in Briarcliff Manor, New York, a real nice town. Dad commuted forty miles by train to NYU each day where he was the athletic/physical director. All was fine except that all of a sudden he died at the age of 49 on January 13, 1936. He was in top physical condition too. I was twelve. We suspect it was an after affect on his kidneys, he having been gassed by the Germans during World War-I.
So for a mother of four children the question was – Where is home? Hawaii was, because her father Henry had retired and returned to the old family home in Hilo. Mom put us on the S.S. TIMBERUSH, a tramp freighter, and we headed for Los Angeles. Of course, we kids didn’t have the slightest clue where that was.
The trip in the old freighter was great. I was seasick as hell during a small hurricane off the coast of Florida. The ship went into dry dock in Panama. We had a fire while coming up the west coast and then we arrived in LA – NO SMOG. Smog hadn’t been invented yet. It was then on to San Francisco and to Hawaii via the S.S. LURLINE and to Hilo in the S.S. HUMUULA. So that is “how we got here.”
PAD: How did you come to Oahu?
JTG: We left Hilo as soon as we could and lived almost everywhere on Oahu, Waikiki, Manoa, Makiki, Nuuanu, Kaneohe, Niu. You name it and we lived there. I was subjected to a two-year, 24-hour-a-day education at Iolani and especially the education after school as a boarder–It was something else. Just ask me sometime what I learned that wasn’t in the books. For a curly blonde haired haole with dimples it was a challenge.
While renting at Waikiki, I made my first surfboard. Ten feet long, solid red wood and so heavy I had to drag it. I can remember two things. When you slid right (surfing maneuver) you slid right all the way to the beach. At first I didn’t know how to change directions and wiped everyone out in that direction. The other was, that if you were a little too far forward on the board there was not much leeway and it would “pearl dive.” It would go “crunch” straight down to the bottom and then fly up in the air.
PAD: So your first surf area was where, Queen’s?
JTG: Yes, it would be off there.
PAD: How about other sports?
JTG: I started swimming at age four in a pool and then in the Atlantic Ocean; played football at age 13-14 at Iolani and then at Punahou at age 15-18. I received the first time award for the most inspirational player (three year Letterman); I was
captain of the track team; Rugby at Cal Berkeley where we won the Canadian World Cup; Football with the semi-pro town team “Mickalums” in Honolulu; Fishing started at age eight in Martha’s Vineyard near Nantucket; sports fishing on our boat the NENE-O-KAI, moored next to Duke’s (Kahanamoku) in the Ala Wai. Some free diving, surfing, and sailing starting in 1941 with Jinky Crozier at the Pearl Harbor Yacht Club in Stars, PC’s and S-boats. My daughter Mele and I won the State father and daughter tennis tournament. Some golf. Moderate mountain climbing in Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, Yosemite, Switzerland, Grand Tetons and Hawaii, but you should know I have always been given much more credit than I deserved.
PAD: Oh, that’s great. How about your immediate family, your wife and children?
JTG: My wife, Marilyn, being the most important one of the group, of course. We were married for forty-eight years at the time of her death. I met her as a blind date. She came to the islands from Beverly Hills, California, after she graduated from USC. She had been going with the wrong boy, which most daughters do. The family brought her over here with a girl friend.
Her parents were having a party for twenty-five people at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and they needed some dates (males). My brother, Howard, had married a mainland girl, so they called him up to get some dates. Wilbur “Bill” Morris, a Club member, was living with me at Pau Street in Waikiki. “Howdy” (Howard) called up and Bill who was in the shower said: “What do they look like?” I asked my brother and he said: “One of them is blonde and the other is a brunette.” Bill says: “I’ll take the blonde” and he regretted it thereafter. So that’s how I met her at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1949.
PAD: Now the big question? When did you get married and where?
JTG: About six months later. I tell people we got married in her back yard and that got her very upset. She said that was a formal garden in Beverly Hills – It was not a back yard. The problem was that it showed up in the newspapers about the “glamour girl” in a big picture was marrying this native from Hawaii. Everybody figured I was Hawaiian (Laughter). They kept me in the background, wearing my Air Force uniform, and towards the very end I stepped up and they were expecting to see this “Hawaiian” and they were all quite disappointed. (Laughter) I brought her back here to the Islands and she taught at Hanahau’oli, Punahou and the Church of the Holy Nativity.
PAD: Great! Your children?
JTG: The oldest is “Jay” Goss. He legally changed it. He was “John”, but he has a cousin who is a little bit older and “Howdy” had named his son John Goss. So he decided to change it to “Jay Keoni Goss.” In school, I thought he was a little radical, but he is now so square he makes me look like a radical.
Then there is Melanie, who was about a year behind him. She went to Punahou also. She’s not a member of the Club. I wouldn’t give her a membership in those days, because I felt there was too much loose sex and drinking, etc. going on around this Club and I wasn’t going to have her in the middle of it.
PAD: That sounds Victorian. (Laughter)
JTG: Well, I was kind of square. (Laughter) You can just ask her and she’ll tell you. She reminds me from time to time, as she now lives in Texas, that I owe her a membership in the Club, which of course, is a little more expensive now than it would have been in her younger years.
Then, I have identical twin boys, Jim and Jeb. They also went to Punahou. They were rascals, but are good citizens now. Jim is an animation artist with Disney in California and Jeb works on the Big Island and is one of the coaches for the Waikaloa Canoe Club, and was the steersman in the Ironman Race last year two years. Sons, Jay, Jim and Jeb are all OCC members and participated in paddling and volleyball.
PAD: Well, are they all successful children?
JTG: They are all normal good kids.
PAD: That’s good. It really lends to a parent’s peace of mind. How about your education?
JTG: After attending Iolani, I went to Punahou on a four-year scholarship for athletics. I graduated in 1942. The war really changed my career. I was a senior at Punahou School on December 7th, 1941 and was an officer in the JROTC program. The football team had gone to Maui to play the last game of the year. Sunday morning found me sitting on the top of the roof of Ione Peter’s home in Wailuku. From there I could just see a submarine shell the Wailuku Sugar Plantation buildings. Dr. Peters agreed to let me have his 22- caliber rifle, because I was going into the hills if there was an invasion, which thank God there wasn’t.
Two weeks later we all flew home and a new life began. I volunteered to join the newly established aviation cadet program because it seemed better to fly than walk. The program was slow in getting started so I finished school. I drove a dump truck at the Kaneohe Naval Air Station after school. In addition, I was a guard assigned to Rocky Hill on the Punahou Campus. The Corps of Engineers had taken over the school because they had mistaken it for the University of Hawaii and were too proud to admit a mistake.
In the summer of 1942 I passed all the tests for the aviation cadet program and was billeted at Hickam Field. Things were awful itchy that first night. In the morning I saw bed bugs all over so I went home and got my blowtorch and blasted them. Soon I was shipped out on a freighter full of returning soldiers to Angel Island in San Francisco, then to Santa Ana Army Air Base for indoctrination and all kinds of tests and exercises. Primary flight training was at AAFFTD in Glendale, Arizona, flying PT-13s (Stearman biplanes). There, but for the grace of an instructor who got me over being airsick on a flight that if I had failed, I would have had no career flying.
It was then off to AAFBS Minter Field, California and then to advanced training in twin engine aircraft at Stockton Field, California, where on June 21, 1943 I was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant and received my wings as a pilot. From there I was sent to Clovis, New Mexico for multi four-engine training with night-time, cross-country and instrument flying. Upon completion, I was shipped off to Lowery Field at Denver, Colorado for B-24 bomber
training. It involved dozens of maneuvers, day and night flying plus cross-country navigating, flying on only two engines and on and on.
In Denver one of the enlisted men on base was an artist and for a few bucks would paint almost anything to identify your plane. Both of my planes were painted HULA WAHINE. I could reach out of my window while taxing and pat her okole. By August 8, 1943, I was fully qualified for daylight flying in B-24s in addition to being instrument qualified. Soon, it was off to England (27 Oct. 1943). Enroute my new navigator even missed Florida where we were to land on the first leg. Not a good omen. My good friend Lt. Glans didn’t even make to Puerto Rico. His plane disappeared and was never found.
After landing in Puerto Rico, my brakes gave out as I was taxing into a hanger and there were splintered two by fours all over. We had to stay while all my friends left the next day. We had to await a replacement engine. From Puerto Rico we flew to Natal and Recif, in Brazil; Dakar, Africa; Then to Marrakech, Morrocco, and finally Bungay AAFB, Norwich, England. It was a big navigation challenge and quite exciting. Truly, I fired the navigator on arrival by saying: “I did not refuse to fly combat, but would not take him along.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that I was appointed the PRINCIPAL PILOT which meant I was the command pilot or first pilot whichever term one wants to use. This was rather unusual at age 19, with my co-pilot at age 25. It meant that I had to act a lot older, be stern and responsible. I think I was the youngest principal pilot of a four-engine bomber in combat in WW-II. Most of the missions were over Germany and some over France. The planes got shot up pretty good. My biggest donation was really my blonde curly hair. I lost half of it over there.
PAD: Any wounds?
JTG: No. Not me. My co-pilot, Lt. Lee, said that after our mission to Munster there were 211 bullet holes in the plane, gas tanks, a flat tire and one engine gone. Lt. Calvin H. Hanlyn, my navigator, had Plexiglas in his head. My first plane lasted about twenty missions. It was so shot up after leaving Brunswig, Germany it never flew again.
PAD: Were you still able to bring it back?
JTG: Yes, when we approached the field they gave us the go-around signal, but to hell with that, we landed. It was kind of a sloppy landing because the tires were flat and we kind of bounced across the field. I turned around to congratulate my co-pilot. “Hey, where the hell is everybody?” They had gotten out of the plane as it slowed down and there was nobody in the plane. They were afraid it was going to burn up. So I shut the engines down and got out.
There were many interesting flights. The Germans had constructed huge numbers of ramps and “buzz bomb” sites and began to blast London. So for “SPECIAL MISSION (NO BALL),” we were ordered to bomb a specific one and all the pilots were told to bomb ONLY the target assigned and if it could not be done to return. Our target was covered with clouds, but we spotted another one that was clear. I asked my bombardier: “Could he hit it?” and he said: “Yes!” We blasted it. I learned that the C.O. was livid and I might be court martialed, but when he saw the mission photos he dropped the subject.
I finished my thirty missions and I was packing up to get shipped back home. A friend of mine who was a pilot came in and said: “John, tomorrow is D-Day. We’ve just been alerted and the 446th is the lead bomber group of the whole 8th Air Force and we’re the lead squadron and I’m the lead pilot. We will have the commanding officer. Would you like to go as co-pilot?” I said: “Sure, I don’t have anything going on tomorrow.” So we took off and we were the designated lead bomber of the 8th Air Force on D-Day. Of course, that was an easy mission compared to the other ones I had. The biggest problem there was not to bump into somebody or have somebody bump into you, because there were so many planes in the air and we took off before dawn. Then I was transferred back to the U. S. as an instructor pilot in Idaho and I thought that was too dangerous so I volunteered for the Pacific. I was then transferred over here (Oahu) and luckily Walter Dillingham was just transferred out as operations officer at Hickam, and they asked me if I wanted the job. I said: “Sure!”
PAD: This was at Hickam. What was your rank at the time?
JTG: I was a first lieutenant. (Laughter)
PAD: First lieutenant? You went up the ranks quickly, didn’t you? (Laughter)
JTG: I ended World War II there. Then along came the Korean War.
PAD: Did you stay in the service?
JTG: No, I got out. I figured I didn’t have a college degree and I hadn’t even started college yet. That’s when I went to Cal Berkeley and graduated in 1949. Then the Korean War started and they sent me a notice. I declined it. They then sent another notice, which said, “you shall.”
I was assigned to CINCPAC, (the Navy). The Air Force needed to have experts in various fields and I was an expert in petroleum, because I worked for an oil company previously. (Laughter) I spent the Korean War on CINCPAC staff as a petroleum supply officer for the Pacific.
PAD: So you got out….
JTG: That would have been at the end of the Korean War around mid-1953.
PAD: What was your final rank?
PAD: What kind of awards did you finally end up with?
JTG: I earned a DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) and four Air Medals and two battle stars and some ribbons.
PAD: Which medal is more senior?
JTG: The DFC. I think there is one unusual event in my endeavors, and that is I might be the only Outrigger member to sign up for a volleyball game by air. It was during the latter part of World War II and I was operations officer at Hickam in charge of all the military aircraft. I flew a twin-engine plane (C-45). I rigged up a little parachute and put on it “sign me up on court #1” and I flew over Waikiki. I came down fairly low about 20-feet off the top of the roof of the OCC and dropped it. I missed it a little bit and it ended up in the ocean about 25-yards offshore of the (old) Club. Somebody paddled out on a surfboard and got it.
PAD: Were you able to play?
JTG: Yes! (Laughter)
PAD: How about College?
JTG: I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in economics and in 1949, then a MBA from Pepperdine in 1975. I thought I was getting obsolete so I went back to get the MBA and I found out I was really obsolete. My research paper was on THE EFFECT OF MANAGEMENT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERIZED INFORMATION SYSTEMS. I was a bit AHEAD of the times, but I made up for it later and have become BEHIND the times. I have been a member of the American Arbitration Association, and a Fellow of the Australian Institutes of Management.
PAD: Your careers. What was your first full-time job?
JTG: First job I had was with Inter-Island Steamship Company. I was little office boy, working in the summers. I remember cleaning up the place, emptying wastebaskets and stamping the new date for the next day. That led to other jobs along the way. The first job I got after getting out of college was with Union Oil Company as a management trainee and ended up managing twenty-on gas stations. I then realized that it took Bobby Rath nineteen years to get to be where he was and I really didn’t want the job anyway. I left to run a little company back in east Texas.
PAD: Very interesting, John. How about your career from thereon?
JTG: This one is a real laugh! My record looks like I could never hold a job – employment in Texas, California, Hawaii and Australia as a start. At least thirty companies employed me on a full-time or part-time basis. After doing the usual thing of working for one or two companies, I became a trustee of bankrupt companies and intermingled that with being a doctor of sick companies along with providing interim management until the companies recovered. A few of the better known names were The Hawaii Corporation, Oceanside Properties-Kukui Plaza, Hamakua Sugar Company, along with a number of law firms and others not listed.
PAD: You’ve been a trustee in bankruptcy for how long?
JTG: I’ve been a trustee for about thirty-five years.
PAD: Your most successful?
JTG: The Hawaii Corporation. It had eight subsidiary corporations, like Datsun of Hawaii, Telecom, Hawaii Textiles, located back east someplace. It also had real estate partnerships, etc.
PAD: I worked for THC Financial. Was that when Randolph Crossley dumped it?
JTG: That’s when he got dumped. It was a mess. They had $140 million in debts and out of cash. After several years we were able to rebuild some of the subsidiaries and sell them off at a profit. That’s where we made the money.
PAD: Wasn’t The Hawaii Corporation an outgrowth of Von Hamm Young Co.?
JTG: Yes, it was. That was one of the subsidiaries they had. They had Datsun of
Hawaii, along with a Japanese firm. It was very interesting dealing with the Japanese. Being local here, I could handle it a little bit better; because you have to learn to listen and realize that the Japanese personnel are only authorize to move so far. You can give them the world, but they can’t say yes or no. They have to go back to Japan, back and forth. It was a very interesting experience. From that, I had other bankruptcy cases. The last one was the Hamakua Sugar Co.
PAD: Tell us a little more about that one.
JTG: Well, that place was an absolute disaster. It had already been shut down in bankruptcy. The unions were very powerful as exemplified by having the legislature to approve an $8 million credit to have a final harvest. The Court appointed a trustee in and he lasted only five weeks and he quit. They asked if I would consider it. I said: “Give me a week or two to figure it out.” It was very; very controversial because there was no way they could ever rejuvenate the operation into a long-term profitable business. It was a matter of: Is it worth it having a final harvest to bring in the $30 or $40 million or will it just lose another $8 million for the State?
PAD: Hamakua Sugar – It was several plantations, wasn’t it?
JTG: It was a combination of about four or five plantations along the Hamakua coastline. There used to be one plantation for just about every major valley, because one couldn’t get across the valley very well. They would have a small plantation and just off-load sugar to the ships directly offshore. As the road system got better, then they could connect and ended up with two large plantations; O’okala and Honoka’a.
As I walked thru it, to me it looked like Sarajevo. I had never been on a sugar plantation before and with the steam leaking out of everything, and holes in the roof and I said: “What are those big square hole up there in the roof?” “Oh, we used to have fans, but they were so rusty we thought they were going to fall through.” They had taken the fans down and they had gigantic holes in the top of the place where they were making sugar. The main boiler had eleven hundred tubes, so when you had to shut down, everything shut down to repair these tubes. They were all beginning to explode.
PAD: Gosh, what good things came out of that?
JTG: Well, it employed 385 people for another year so they could make long- range plans. We paid off the State’s $8 million loan, with interest. They (State) got the slaughterhouse and four hundred acres of land. We made about $6 million net on top of that and the State got a percentage of that. So the State came out real well. It was an amazing situation.
PAD: Talk about being involved, huh?
JTG: When the plantation shut down it was not a disaster. We had a celebration. Everybody, the kids, got on their trucks the workers had cleaned all up and they had a parade through the town with families on the trucks and the hula girls dancing in the main street at Honoka`a. Hey, we took this mess and built something out of it. It was “aloha” and time to move on.
PAD: Now, let’s get to the meat of things. How did you get involved in the Outrigger Canoe Club?
JTG: Well, I like sports of all kinds. Some guys invited me when it was located between the Royal and Moana Hotels and the women’s club (Uluniu Swimming Club) next door. I played volleyball. Actually, my sponsors were Willie Whittle and Bill Mullahey. It was a revelation when you gave me that information recently, because I had forgotten.
PAD: What year was that?
JTG: It was May 16, 1945 when I became a member. Willie Whittle’s name brings to mind that he was also a referee for football games. He took a liking to me and in one game, I remember, he kind of stepped out of line as a referee. I was a Punahou defensive back and he came over and whispered to me: “John, you might want to move over there.”
PAD: You were playing football and he gave you that help?
JTG: Yes. He only did it once. (Laughter) I thought it was unusual. He was really a nice guy and I didn’t have a father as my father had died. He figured he was going to help me out. (Laughter) You know, a little “Ho’omalimali” (to flatter) in those days didn’t hurt. (Laughter)
PAD: Who would have introduced you to the Club? Some guys from Punahou?
JTG: Yes, some guys going to Punahou. Jimmy Pflueger was big and younger,
but I can’t remember whom exactly. When I met my future wife, she told me she was taking surfing lessons from the beach boys. I said: “You just had your last lesson.” (Laughter) “I’ll teach you how to surf.” I must admit that we didn’t have near the competition (surfing and canoe paddling) that the kids have now. The kids now are really fantastic compared to us. We worked like hell, but the technology and the weight of the equipment is something else.
PAD: Did you participate in all the sports – Surfing, canoeing?
JTG: Oh Yes. Only about half the guys would use the over-head serve in volleyball, because it was not used that much. Of course, my volleyball was at the old club location. I paddled in the 50’s and my son Jeb has the old paddle mounted in his home.
PAD: So your real active use of the Club started in the early 50’s? From then on you really start contributing.
JTG: I contributed by having a good time working out there. Call it a contribution if you want.
PAD: Well, you served on a bunch of committees.
JTG: Yes, but in the middle of it I was shipped to Australia to set up a joint venture for HC&D with an Australian firm. I pick out a firm and selected the products to manufacture. The family stayed for a couple of years and then we came back to Hawaii. By the time I came back the Club was in the process of moving to the present location in the early 60’s. My involvement in committees began thereafter. I served on Long Range Planning, Public Relations, and Building & Grounds. Building & Grounds, I liked that one. It was right up my alley, because I worked for a bunch of construction firms.
I had noticed while walking around the Club that the concrete, (especially since I’m a concrete man) was blistered that it had been painted over through the years. The blisters were sticking out in the walls and columns. Once I got to be head of the committee, I took my little hammer and tapped on these little blisters, they pealed right off exposing the rusting re-bars. It looked like chickenpox.
PAD: What’s that called in the business?
JTG: Spalling. The Club looked like it had chickenpox for a while. It was kind of a laughing matter around the place. It was attended to and a lot of re-bars were cleaned of rust.
PAD: Yes, that was not too many years ago.
JTG: In addition, I was the coordinating director of the Historical Committee, Athletic Committee, Admission & Membership Committee, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President of Activities, Vice President of Operations, and finally President of the Board of Directors of the Club in 1991-1992. Thereafter, I served as a member of the Public Relation, Long Range Planning and Admission & Membership Committees.
PAD: What were your challenges as President?
JTG: Discipline of the membership. The Club has had a history of little groups or cliques that would get together and kind of run the place, which is fine. I’m not against that, but it kind of gets out of hand sometimes.
I made a point of making friends with the employees from the bottom to the top. You get a lot of information that way. I got the word that this one member was really harassing a particular waiter and had threaten to throw him over the seawall. The waiter had an inclination toward his own sex. The member would require that this waiter would wait on him, regardless of where he was assigned. The member would say: “I don’t care, you have to wait on my table.” I said: “Gees, how come the member is still here?” So he was suspended immediately, pending investigation. He was not allowed on the premises.
Well it was interesting because he was a very important person, I guess, and he demanded to have his attorney at the hearings: I said: “Fine, you can demand it, but he’s not going to be there.” Then, he wanted to have the employee’s record, so he could review it. I said: “Fine, you can’t have it. This is a private Club.” He ended up with a year’s suspension. He was lucky just to have a year. He’s still a member to this date.
Then there was another case where there was sexual harassment. A real attractive waitress had resigned. In her letter it revealed the reason for her resignation was that these “people” were too friendly at the table and she had to wait on them. She would walk up and they’d put their arms around her and joke back and forth. She didn’t like that at all. I said “(Whistle), That’s dangerous for the Club.” The “people” were put on suspension while they were investigated. The one thing I remembered about it was that the “people” said; ‘You’re supposed to represent the members, you know, as president.” I said: “No, no, no, I represent the Club and you represent yourselves.” We got that resolved and fortunately she didn’t file any claim.
Those were interesting events. I really enjoyed the challenge, rather than a routine of passing the buck down the line.
PAD: Did you have any policy problems outside of what you just mentioned?
Problems with the Board?
JTG: There was a lot of controversy as to whether to send a kid’s volleyball team back east. I don’t think they had ever played, as a team in a tournament in the Islands, because they were so young there was no league. What I wanted to do was to say: “That’s fine. These kids are great, but we should really put the money into establishing a league for them to play in. Set it up and then they can play.” Well, that alienated one of the Club’s members whose son was playing on the team. He hasn’t spoken to me since. It was a difference in philosophy, looking at it from a different standpoint. It’s OK.
PAD: The Club was in good financial shape?
JTG: We’ve always lost money on the food end of it. I don’t think we had to raise dues during my tenure.
PAD: You had a one-year term as President?
PAD: I was just thinking, beside the spalling and design of the physical plant, were there any renovations at the time?
JTG: There were a lot of studies for renovations. Changing concrete surfaces, etc. One almost turned out to be a disaster. I hate to be negative, but they had a redesign of the snack bar area and they were going to extend the roof towards the ocean for another twenty feet or so. The drawings were made from the ocean view and it appeared fine. However, if you sat down and realized how big the columns were, you’d say: “What the hell is this?” It is blocking a significant part of the ocean view.
The change had been tentatively approved by the Board. So I had the shop build two columns out of plywood and set them up in place. The Board had a tour through there from the backside and “boom.” They did not like it. I said: “What is different now than when they designed the building originally?” The difference was that the coconut trees were now 60-feet in the air. If they were lower, they would be blocking out a lot of the façade of the volleyball courts, which seemed to be the real problem. So that was a negative accomplishment by not spending money in the wrong place. As you can see I was a little controversial.
PAD: That’s all right. It sometimes pays to be that way. Were there any notable athletic victories or achievements during your term, as president?
JTG: Oh yes, there were a lot of them, but not because of me. The Club, I think, had a little break-through with the other clubs. I remember walking down the beach. It was the Macfarlane Races, and I was shaking hands with the other canoe club presidents, they said that they had not had anybody do that before and all of a sudden they became friendly. We got to know them a little bit better.
PAD: I think we have been aloof in the past. It’s always been “beat the haoles” in the past and we conducted ourselves accordingly.
JTG: It’s the same thing in football. That’s part of life.
PAD: I want you to mention a little about your portrait in the boardroom.
PTG: Well, that’s sort of interesting. I scheduled a climb to Kilamanjaro for two reasons. One, I like to climb and second, was my son, Jim, had been dating this local girl for about four years and I wanted him to get engaged. So he went along with me, with his date, and we climbed Kilamanjaro. When we came down, somebody took my picture with my Australian hat and the growth of the beard. When it came time, the front office asked me for a picture for the Boardroom and I brought it in and the secretaries were in a state of shock. “Gosh, Mr. Goss, You’re not going to use this, are you?” I said: “Sure, that’s me.” So they put it down there and it’s a little different from the other portraits.
PAD: I think it reflects your personality. What the heck, that’s called “shock.” (Laughter)
JTG: With regards to Kilamanjaro, when we got up to eighteen thousand feet, Jim finally proposed to Laurie Lee. I talked to him later on and he said: “It was a beautiful moonlight night and I had this ring made out of elephant hair.” Later on he said: “Gee, that was a pretty good idea, because I could claim I was out of oxygen at 18,000 feet and I didn’t know what I was doing. (Laughter)
Just to recount an earlier comment, my brother (Howard “Howdy” Goss) was the president in 1968-69. He was a good athlete and a very outstanding president at the age of 47, at the same time being president of the Chamber of Commerce.
PAD: It’s kind of interesting to note that you and “Howdy” are the only brothers to have been presidents of the Club. We have a father and son with Robert “Rab” Guild (1973-74 & 1985-86) and Walter Guild (1994-95). Then we have Walter Macfarlane’s (1937-43) with niece and grandnephew in Mary Philpotts McGrath (1998-99) and Walter Guild (1994-95), respectively.
Well, have you got anything more to contribute? It’s been a lot of fun and I mean it.
JTG: Well, it’s brought back a few memories.
PAD: Just remember, you have an open door, if you wish at anytime to do an addendum. Thank you, very much.