This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights to 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 Sue Avina
March 12, 1998
The Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee is pleased to receive a tape from Pat Barker (PKB), a former member who has tape recorded her recollections of life at the Club during her active years. She was interviewed by Sue Avina (cousin to Alice Flanders Guild) at the Senior Center of Santa Clara, California on the date above.
PBK Aloha. My name is Pat Barker and for those of you that have been in and around the Islands as long as I have, which was from 1927, when I was born until 1956, when I left the Islands. So I think l know a little bit about Hawaii as it was at that time, which to me was just paradise. When somebody says good ole days are now, I say no they aren’t, they were then. My dad worked at the Honolulu Iron Works at the time. His name was Ned Barker and some of you might know of him. He worked the Iron Works for about forty years and retired.
As I was growing up I went to Punahou School, Hanahauoli School before hand. When the war came on in 1941, my sister and I left the Islands for awhile, as many of the people did, and then we came back. Growing up, I met a colossal lot of wonderful people. I also joined the Outrigger Canoe Club when I was a young teenager. As such, I certainly met an awful lot of great people through that Club and enjoyed the Club through the years when I was living there. This is the old Club. This was the old one, not the new one. We were right there on Kalakaua Avenue, next to the Moana and Royal Hawaiian Hotels.
Surfing at that time was one of the big things there plus the outrigger canoeing. As I grew to about six years old, I decided that surfing was what I wanted to do too. I had done outrigger canoeing which I continued to do. I played volleyball which I continued to do, but surfing took up most of my life in those days that I was a member.
I was six years old when David Kahanamoku, one of Duke’s brothers, taught me how to surf. Those were the days when the pier went out from the Moana Hotel to about one-quarter mile from the beach. At night they used to have the Hawaiian Beach Boys put on (impromptu) shows. It was great. It was all free. One would just go and listen to the music and the waves would be coming in and it was just beautiful.
During the years I was a member of the Club, I paddled outrigger canoe. Johnny Hollinger was my coach and steersman in my junior and senior member years. He was a wonderful person and I always thought that he should have received more recognition when he died or after he died than he did.
When “Hawaii Calls” a weekly Hawaiian radio program, was performed at the Moana Hotel Banyan Court. Every Saturday afternoon, a bunch of us and Beach Boys, myself included would go to listen to Webley Edwards and Al Kealoha Perry and his group. Oh, we had a great time. During the time that I was on the beach and a member of the Club, I was the only woman “beachboy” or “beachgirl” on the Outrigger Beach Services. So I got to know all of the Beach Boys. “Molokai” (Alfred Horner) who came from the island of Molokai. “Steamboat” (Samuel Mokuahi Sr.), Harold “Harry or Robles” Robello, “Turkey” (Alan) Love, “Curly” (Harry Cornwell). Oh, l could go on and on. I knew them all obviously working with them closely. I would take canoes out with them (as second captain) and also I would, more than anything else, teach swimming to celebrities who used to come to the Islands in those days who stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
I would take out people like “Red” Skelton, Betty Hutton, Humphrey Bogart, who enjoyed going out. I would teach swimming to mostly the kids and older people. My surfing got better and better and I started surfing over at Makaha. Sunset Beach didn’t interest me and the waves difficult to make (surf safely). I went to waves as high as twenty feet and that’s about all I wanted.
Many years after I left the Islands I was told by friends of mine that one of them who had written a book, 0. B. “Pat” Patterson, about surfing in Hawaii, Surfriding – Its Thrills and Techniques. I was mentioned in it as one of the top women surfers in Hawaii at that time, which was nice.
I pretty much spent two years, although I was working at Pearl Harbor as a secretary, I worked for Bill Prange Sr., who not only got me the job, but was an OCC member. Every time the surf was up, all of us knew what was going to happen. “Sorry, I’m sick today!”. (laugh) That went on from Lewers & Cooke to whatever company someone was working for. When the surfs up, forget going to work. Lord, that was fun.
The Hau Terrace was a fun place. We all gathered there after or in between surfing or volleyball and have drinks or lunch. We would meet our friends and it was a great place to be. The dining room was also fantastic. They had a Filipino cook, I don’t remember his name, but he used to do the most wonderful things with mahi mahi. Boy, it was good. I would go for dinner and meet my friends.
There was a little alcove outside of the dining area (just off the Sun Deck), four or five chairs and a table, a gathering place for my friends to watch the surf and people doing their thing on the beach. We’d get all my buddies, Johnny Hollinger, “Steamboat” (Mokuahi) would come up there and a whole bunch of Hawaiian fellows would be up there. We’d spend a whole Saturday just drinking and talking over old times and just have a great time. That took up pretty much of my time for two or three years, during the time I was working on the beach. The Beach Boys felt that I should get into something else. Although I was enjoying myself I should get off the beach. They were right. It was a good time, but it was time to move on.
I had met a person while working on the beach who came to the Islands for many years and I had taught his kids swimming. His home was in Beverly Hills. He liked me so much he wanted me to be the kid’s governess. That was in 1954 and in 1956 I went to work for him. So that is pretty much my background at the Club. As far as the Club is concerned, I miss it terribly. I’ve been to the new one and I don’t like it at all. It’s just not the same, as most things are when change comes about. I don’t know if Bob Guild or Tommy Arnott or many of the other people I knew are still there. Anyway, it was a wonderful part of my life.
AS: I would have imagined being the only woman. You really had to be professional at what you were doing in order for the guys not to give you a bad time.
PBK: Yeah, they gave me a bit of a bad time, once in awhile. I had known them for so many years while I was a junior member of the Club, that they were a little hesitant about it. I must mentioned. the man who headed the Outrigger Beach Services was “Sally” (Louis Salisbury) Hale and he was a little hesitant, but then he found out I certainly knew what I was doing. I blended right in. A lot of people loved it. Lots of the tourist thought it was great that I was involved with the Beach Services.
Through a friend of mine named Johnny Gomes (Doris Duke’s overseer), l was introduced to Betty Hutton. Many of the older people would know who Betty Hutton was as a film star. Betty didn’t want any part of a man taking her out on a surfboard. When your doing a double deal (tandem) like that your partner is up front and you’re in the back. One is practically sitting on the rump of the front person. She didn’t care for that. Johnny said that “Pat would take her out”. So I took her out and it worked fine.
SA: Did you remember the Outrigger during the war?
PBK: Yes, only about the middle of the forty’s when I came home from school each year from Southern California. The war broke out on December 7th. In January of ’42, we left for the mainland and I went to school in California. We didn’t know if the Japanese were coming back again to invade the Islands.
SA: Did you notice the barbed wire along the beach?
PBK: No, l wasn’t there, but I knew about it. The barbed wire wasn’t on the beach when I got back to the Islands.
SA: So you were there at the very best of times.
PBK: I was, I was. From looking at pictures and talking to friends that lived there. Oh, by the way, Pam Anderson is a dear friend of mine. Her Mother and Dad, Peggy and R. Alex Anderson, who composed Hawaiian music like Mele Kalikmaka and many others, were great people. Pam and I went to Punahou together and she surfed and was mentioned as one of the top gal surfers also. Dad Center….Dad was Pam’s uncle and Peggy Anderson’s brother. Dad had a lot to do with the kids in the Club, coaching canoeing, swimming and so forth.
SA: You kind of gave back that same thing later on.
PBK: Yeah, teaching at Santa Clara for the Parks and Recreation. Aquatics has always been my life anyway. During the time that I was working for Santa Clara Parks and Recreation, I started my own masters swim club. It was called the “Primo Masters” and I not only competed, but was the coach. We were a young team (oldest was 60!). We were hot for seven years!! I competed up to five years ago.
SA: How many years?
PBK: Twenty-four. I was teaching swimming and managing pools.
SA: You didn’t get far from it.
PBK: No, not really.
SA: Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed.
PBK: I loved it. I have to kind of think a little bit. I’m sure I have left out some names that I wished I hadn’t. Bill Capp is another one that was a friend of mine. We played volleyball together. Volleyball was big thing by the way. We’d have tournaments. I mean us older folks and I’m talking older folks.
Now, I was only about nineteen or something. Dad Center, Bill Capp, Tommy Arnott and several others. Also, “Brother” Chase played with us. We’d get up a six-man team. It was a lot of fun. We were playing just for fun anyway. We’d buy a drink or dinner.
SA: When we talked earlier, you mentioned something about the involvement with your (living) area, Bob Hope would come entertain some of the troops.
PBK: Yeah, that was out at Portlock Road. My mother and dad bought a home out there and the war was just winding down, I guess around ’43 or ’44. The war ended in ’45. It was about that time. In fact in our area, Henry Kaiser had not bought yet at that time. It was all open land. The Army had a training area behind Portlock Road (actually it was a Marine Amphib Training Group). Bob Hope, Frances Langford and Bob’s group would entertain them and l had a chance to to get back there by wandering in the back and for free watch them. It was wonderful. It was great.
SA: Thank you for sharing with us and we’ll send this off and let the archivist at the Outrigger Canoe Club savor this.
PBK: Oh, I would love to hear from anybody that remembers me at all. Just send a note to let me know you’re still around.
SA: Maybe we can start something off. Thank you.