This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual. A full transcript of the video may be found below.
An Interview by Barbara Del Piano
March 2, 2018
BDP: This is Friday, March 2, 2018. I’m Barbara Del Piano (BDP), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club Historical Committee. One of our projects is to take oral histories of long time members who have made significant contributions to our Club. We’re here in the Board Room and today, it is my pleasure to interview Marjorie Howe (MH). Good morning, Marjorie.
MH: Good morning, Barbara.
BDP: Thank you for being here.
MH: I’m happy to be here.
BDP: Before we get into your service to the Club, I’d like to get some background. Margie, where were your born?
MH: I was born in Northern California in a town named Woodland, which is near Sacramento and the University of California at Davis and about eighty-five miles east of San Francisco. It’s really Northern California. We don’t talk about Southern California too much.
BDP: Do you wish they would make it two states?
BDP: I think it sounds like a good idea.
MH: There’s a man that has also contributed to this decision about changing the state, and he wants to change it to six states.
MH: He wrote it all out. I don’t remember all the details of it, but it was all very detailed about how he wanted to do it. It’s not going to happen, I’m sure.
BDP: Interesting, though. How did you happen to come to Hawaii?
MH: When I graduated from college, San Jose State, as a teacher, I wanted to come over here because I didn’t really think of it, but my father asked me what I wanted to do, and I had some friends at San Jose State that said they were going to come over for the summer. I thought, “That sounds like a lot of fun, so I’ll just go.” Hadn’t even thought of Hawaii. When I got here, of course I fell in love with Hawaii. We all spent most of our time in Waikiki down with the beach boys and all of the people that we knew, and a lot of them, we were pretty much concentrated around the old Outrigger Canoe Club at that time, which I didn’t go into or anything, but I met a lot of people there.
From then, I just loved it so much that I said, “I’ve got to come back.” I did spend six weeks here, though, at that time. About a year or two later, I saved enough money, I came over, and the main reason I came over is because I wanted to learn to surf. Bobby Cruson, who was a beach boy, and some other ones who were down there, I met them and they’re the ones that really got me to fall in love with Hawaii. That was really one of the big reasons.
BDP: What year was that?
BDP: 1955. I see. You enjoyed surfing, obviously, but when did you join the Outrigger?
MH: I didn’t join it for quite a while. I didn’t join it until 1969. Between 1962 or 1963 I left to go back to California for a while, and then I came back in 1969.
BDP: I see.
MH: That’s when I joined.
BDP: The Club had already moved-
MH: Yes. It was already here.
BDP: To a different location.
BDP: Do you remember any of the other beach boys you got to know?
MH: I knew Robert Kekai and Blackout Whaley, and Robello. What was his-
MH: Harry. Golly, I can’t remember everybody, but those were the ones. Bobby mainly because he’s the one that took me out surfing for the first time, you know, the tandem. All the beach boys loved to see the girls and they flirted with them, you might say. Anyway, that’s how I met Bobby and got into surfing more.
BDP: I see. When you did join, did you keep surfing?
MH: Oh, yeah. I did for a while. Not for a long time because I think I quit surfing in about the early 1980s.
BDP: Did you compete in any surfing competitions?
MH: When I belonged to the Club, I did some of the contests that we had here. Before I was a member, way back in the late ’50s, I was in a contest, Makaha Championships, and entered I think two or three of those and got in the finals, but never got a place. It was fun because I was surfing with Ethel Kukea, Betty Heldrick, and Vicky Heldrick, and Mosel Angel, and Kehau Kea. I knew them. The only time I ever saw them was when I was in those championships, actually, because most of the time, they surfed out there in the Makaha area, and after I came over here and learned to surf in Waikiki, I learned to surf here but I wanted to go other places. I met, through Bobby Cruson, I met a guy named Pat Kearn. He was a mainland surfer, big wave surfer, and he was down there at the beach and I was talking to him. He said, “You said you wanted to go some place else to surf besides here?” I said, “The reason is because it’s always so crowded.”
He said, “I’ll take you to a place where there’s no crowds, but you have to buy me some gas.” He took me to Ala Moana to surf, and we went out there and there wasn’t one person out there the first time we went out. Then occasionally, he took me down there and then met some other surfers there. Never saw any girls out there, but I saw all these guys that were here surfing at Ala Moana, but I surfed all around Waikiki. Then when we started going out to the country is when I met Tracy’s father. He was in the service. When we went out, we were friends with Peter Cole, Fred Van Dyke, Mosel and Jose Angel, and Ricky Grigg was a really close friend of ours. We all would go to the country. We would go because it was winter. It was the winter surf.
I just got involved with that. I surfed at the different places around. I surfed at Haleiwa, Laniakea, Sunset Beach, Velzyland. I’ve forgotten what else, but we … Pupukea. All these different spots. As I said, I didn’t realize it at first, but I was probably one of the only girls at that time. Now they surf out there all the time, but in those days, there weren’t many girls. As I said, it was really fun, because all the surfers would watch out for me. They’d show me the lineups different places. Buffalo Keaulana and Henry Priest, and all of those old time surfers, and the Aikau brothers. It was a wonderful time. There were so many little stories about them, but it would really get a little bit too involved. I don’t know.
BDP: Do you know Eddie Aikau?
MH: A little bit. I knew his dad better. When I first went out there, they lived right across from Haleiwa. In those days when I was surfing out there, there was no beach. There was a beach, but there’s no park. There was no parking in there or anything, unless you knew where to come in because it was all brush and shrubs. There was a little road that went back in there. Then you’d find the beach. They had a lean to out there that the guys would build, and they’d party in there and have a great time. This was at Haleiwa. Those fellows were really good friends. They really were friends, and we all would get together on weekends. It was a great time.
BDP: I’m sure it was.
MH: One of the things that we used to do in those days, we wanted to hear what the surf report is out in the country. Most all of the surfers knew and my husband and I, we would call for the weekend because we wanted to go out surfing on the weekend. We would call the Navy Weather Report. They had some kind of report. I’ve forgotten what it was exactly called. We would go to the phone, call this special number, and they would give you a surf report. It would say something like, “The swell is six feet and intervals of eight seconds” or something like that.
You could tell if the surf was going to be big or not and they would give you whether it was rainy or rough waters and all that information. We would head out when we knew we wanted to go. We’d get over through the pineapple fields up at the top of the hill to look down on the North Shore and if you knew that it was a big surf, you could tell, because you could see all this white mist like a big cloud. It wasn’t cloudy. It was just big surf, and you knew that it was going to be big because you could see the whitewater, the lines, and everybody would really get excited about that.
BDP: Oh, I’m sure.
MH: It was fun.
BDP: You can put that in. Wonderful.
MH: I’m sorry. I thought maybe I should just try to keep it …
BDP: No, no. That was great. Just great.
MH: This is a wonderful Club. As I said, I’ll never forget it because this is home now. There are a lot of people that have left to go back to the mainland, and I still have lots of family there. Relatives and friends from school, from high school and elementary school. I’m still going back to visit. That’s nice. My second husband was a pilot with United Airlines. After he passed away, I still had flying privileges, which I have to this day. It’s really a blessing. It’s really great.
BDP: What privileges?
MH: Flying privileges with United Airlines. He was a pilot with United Airlines. He flew 747s.
BDP: Oh. How exciting.
MH: It was nice. We traveled quite a bit while I was married to him. It was a great time. Flying isn’t quite the same as it used to be.
BDP: I don’t think so.
MH: No. I’m still very blessed to have that privilege.
BDP: Yes. Did you do any paddling?
MH: I paddled with the Club. I paddled with the senior women in those days. It was the early 1970s. I think we started in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973. My crew was a great crew. Had Marilyn Haine, May Balding, Cindy Belle Ayau, who’s Bruce Ames’ sister, Aggie Quigg, and of course myself, and then of course, you know who was steering, Keanuenue Rochlen. I always sat in front of her. I was always fifth seat, because when I was learning, she would always say, “Marjorie, don’t do that.” She’d tell me what to do. It was really fun. We had a lot of fun together.
BDP: I’m sure. You weren’t married when you came here?
BDP: You did marry and you have one-
MH: I have a daughter.
BDP: A daughter.
BDP: Your daughter is?
MH: Tracy Phillips. My first husband was her father.
BDP: What does Tracy do, or what did she do in the way of sports?
MH: When she came here, when we became members, she was too young to be a member, but when she did become a member, even before that, she was surfing and she was playing volleyball. She was getting hold of Tommy Connor and Tommy Holmes, and they taught her how to steer a canoe. They were really the ones that started her to be ready to be able to paddle. She loved that. Then she surfed. She loved to surf. Bill Capp was like a grandfather to her. He’d take her out to the surf at Tonggs and also Charlie Amalu. They would wait for Tracy after school. She would go out surfing with them. They taught her all of the very, what would you say, etiquette of the rules, I guess you’d say, of surfing. She loved that.
BDP: Wonderful. Is she still a member?
MH: Oh, yeah. She’s still a member.
BDP: Getting back to you, did you belong to any committees?
MH: When I originally got here, I think maybe after the first year, I was a member of the Entertainment Committee. We were the first ones to start the Steak Fry, which was $2.50 for the steak on Saturday nights. Then I also was a member of the Admissions Committee, and then a sports one, they had the Golf Committee and the Surfing Committee and that sort of thing. I was a member of the committees.
BDP: Besides that, what other activities have you participated in at the Club?
MH: Outside of the Club?
BDP: No. In the Club. Aside from committees. Are you a cribbage player?
MH: Oh, yeah.
BDP: You started?
MH: Oh. You want to know about the cribbage and the things I’ve done on my own sort of.
MH: Back in 2006, Dickson … I’ve forgotten his last name now (Alvarado). He was the food and beverage man. He and I sort of got together about the Superbowl. The Superbowl party was something that grew from there. It got organized in 2008 and we had a trivia contest and we had the prizes for people that answered the questions. We had special cocktail drinks. We just had big crowds of 70, 75 people that would come to that.
BDP: It started when?
MH: It really got serious about starting the trivia contest and we also had a complimentary buffet from the Club. Now it’s like a big taco buffet with other things, but that was complimentary and it still is. What was the other part that you asked me?
BDP: Is it still going on?
MH: Oh, yeah. It’s still going. We had it this last Superbowl. We’ve been doing it ever since.
BDP: What about the cribbage contest?
MH: Oh, cribbage. That was another one that started … Gordon Smith, who used to be our comptroller, he liked to play cribbage. I played cribbage with him a couple of times. There were people that said, “I know how to play cribbage” just watching us play. I decided to find out who was interested in having a little contest or get together. We started, I think it was in the same year, about 2006. Then it grew and grew and grew. The first time we had a tournament, we had twelve people. Now we have forty. We play partners. We have a trophy that was made. The wood was donated by Karl Heyer IV with all his koa wood. We have it every year now.
BDP: Every year.
MH: Yeah. It’s a lot of fun.
BDP: How long has it been going on?
MH: When we started from that twelve, it was around 2006, so it’s been about twelve years.
BDP: Who are some of the recent winners?
MH: The very first one that’s on our trophy is Tim Guard and his grandson, Ian, who I think was eight years old when they won. The recent ones were last year, was Bill Swope and his partner, Dan Lee. There was Wendell Brooks and his son, Wendell III. Mark and Mike Buck, the brothers. I even won with my friend Faye Parker. We won one year.
BDP: How interesting. Are you still serving on committees?
MH: I’m on the Entertainment Committee again.
BDP: Oh, still?
MH: You know the little cards that they always send out at the beginning of the year that they want you to donate your time to one of the committees? I used to fill those out all the time. Nobody ever called me, and now, I gave up on that because actually, it was easy because I started going skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho every year. I was gone for two or three months every year, so I wasn’t around to really do too much as far as being on committees at that time. Now, they ask me to be on the committee. The reason they did, is basically, they wanted to know more about the cribbage tournament and the Superbowl party. They wanted to get their scheduling ready. It’s been really fun. We’ve had a lot of … I’ve only been to two meetings, but it’s been great.
BDP: That’s wonderful. I noticed too, that whenever anybody has a birthday or they’re sick or whatever, you always get everybody to sign a card.
MH: I’ve done that a few times, yeah. I know them well enough and people have asked you about them, and we talk about the ones that have had something we want to write a card, so we do.
BDP: That’s wonderful. Are you still into any sports?
MH: Not much. I’ve given up golf, tennis, surfing. I still swim, but I also walk a lot. I have a little area at home where I have weights and I do aerobics and things like that at home.
BDP: Do you get to the Club often these days?
MH: Oh, I probably am down here at least two or three times a week.
BDP: I see. Do you attend the major social functions?
MH: I used to do a lot of them, but not as much anymore. I used to go all of the luaus. I’ve gone to some lately, but not as much. I used to go to them every year. When they had their Christmas party, of course, but the New Year’s Eve party, I haven’t gone to that one for a long time. Luau, of course, I said. What else? They used to have a Halloween party and I used to get a kick out of dressing up a little bit.
BDP: Do you go to the Old Timers?
MH: Oh, gosh, yes. I love that.
BDP: Good. How has the Outrigger influenced your life?
MH: If I hadn’t been an Outrigger member, I don’t even think I’d be living here. I really don’t think so, because I’ve met so many friends that have become very close friends. My first friend was Kuulei Heyer, and she’s married to Karl Heyer III. His son is Karl, IV. They live on Maui, but they were here at that time. She was such a great friend. Faye Parker was another really close friend. From there, it just grew and grew. Gerri Pedesky, I knew her at San Jose State. Marilyn Haine, she and I were sorority sisters at San Jose State. We had a big contingency of Hawaiians in San Jose. A lot of football players and Mervin Lopes and some of the guys.
BDP: That’s fascinating. What do you think will happen to the Club when the lease expires in 2055?
MH: I hope nothing expires, but my hope is that we can make some arrangement, whether we buy the property from the Elks Club or not. I feel like it would be perfect if we would continue on. That’s my hope. I want it to be still a Club that started because of what Mr. Ford wanted, the Hawaiian history. Sometimes I feel like it’s getting a little bit lost. Without your articles, and people read those, they will really, Barbara, they will really feel it, the history of the Club. I just hope that continues and all the junior members that join, I want them to really know that the Club is important.
BDP: Do you have any other stories you can tell us?
MH: I got tons, but that’s too long. I’m surprised that you didn’t cut me off some place that I got too talkative.
BDP: No. It was very interesting.
MH: It’s been a pleasure to do it. I really enjoyed it.
BDP: If there’s nothing else, I guess we’ll bring this interview to a close. Thank you so much for being with us today, Margie. I’m sure your stories will be a great asset to our archives.
MH: I hope so. I really enjoyed it very much. Thank you for including me in this, Barbara.
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Admissions and Membership Committee
OCC Cribbage Tournament
2013 1st Place with Faye Parker