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 J. Ward Russell
This is Tuesday morning, August thirty-first, 1993. I am Ward Russell (JWR) a member of the Historical Committee, which has for some time been conducting oral interviews with the Club’s most prominent members. Today it is my pleasure to interview Robert A. Anderson, Jr. (RAA), a long time member and former Club President.
JWR: Good morning, Bob. All set to go?
RAA: All set to go.
JWR: First, let’s talk a little about your background, where you were born, your education, and so on.
RAA: I was the only member of the family, including mother and dad, who was born outside of the Territory of Hawaii. I was born in Chicago, April 22, 1921; and that was the result of dad coming out of the War and taking an engineering job with Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. He was a fighter pilot in Europe, was shot down and escaped, and so forth. He married mother as she was about to go to England on a singing career with Madame Melba, who she had studied with in Australia for three or four years. They decided to get married, and that shelved the singing career. They were in the East for several years and I was born in Chicago, and lived there for a year. They moved back to Honolulu after that, and subsequently there were two brothers, Leith and Allen, and my sister, Pam. They were all born here, as were mother and dad.
Just a quick family background, my great-grandfather Alexander Young came from Scotland in 1860, he was an engineer by training. He had a large family of eleven! Three were born on the Mainland and the rest were born in the Islands. He settled in Hilo and was an inventor and manufacturer of some of the early sugar mill machinery. Susan Al ice Young, my grandmother, was born in Hilo in 1867. She married Robert Willis Anderson, one of Hawaii’s first dentists.
At retirement, Alexander Young came to Honolulu, and with several other investors founded the Honolulu Ironworks. Then he built, on his own, the Alexander Young Hotel, the downtown block at King and Bishop – started in 1898 and finished in 1903.
My mother’s family was the Center family – my maternal grandfather was the plantation manager for Sprecklesville Plantation on Maui For many years. He was hired to build and manage Waianae Plantation on Oahu, when the plantation came into being; and did such an excellent job there that the Cookes hired him to go to Molokai to establish a sugar plantation on the west-end land where the pineapple acreage was until recently. Libby, I think has gone out of business. The Cookes planted sugar there, but it didn’t last because of the water problem. So he went back to Sprecklesville, and later passed away on Maui. Mother, Margaret, had three sisters, Helen, Nadine and Jean, two brothers “Dad” (George) and Ted (Edmond). Dad got his nickname “Dad” because when his father passed away on Maui, there was a necessity for someone to provide income for the family. Since he was the eldest, he went to work for Theo. H. Davies & Co. in Honolulu to support the family, hence the nickname “Dad”. “Dad” Center’s name was George David Center. As a matter of fact he was instrumental in getting his brother Ted appointed to the Naval Academy, and contributed to his support.
Dad Center was prominent in our family’s background as it relates to his membership with the Club from the earliest days. Each one of the boys, three of us, was given a Junior Membership by him when we each became 12 years of age. For me that was 1933. The dues were something like $2.00 a month – very small. We used to go to the Club in those early days with Dad and Aunt Nadine Bodge, who was a member, and several other friends. I remember the Club at that time was vastly different from the one we knew later for many years. You came off Kalakaua Avenue and there was parking for 15 cars or so up against a wooden frame building. Everybody had a key to go through the front entrance. I remember we junior members were a group that was pretty much not seen and not heard. We kept boards at various places, but it was pretty much an older, regular members’ club.
As l recall, there was an enclosure where members could bring food from home and set up on tables there. There was a gas stove, this was in a screened enclosed building out near the beach under a hau tree not far from the little stream which went into the ocean be tween the Club grounds and the Moana Hotel. I remember that the big staple there was rice with stew, and I remember we’d come down and Dad Center would get a board and teach us how to swim. We’d hold on to the board and do kick exercises.
During the period when I was at Punahou, I used to go quite frequently to the Club, and we’d go out with Dad in a canoe and catch waves, The big thing we enjoyed the most was going with him m in his outboard motor canoe called the Miss Veedol – Veedol, like Pennzoil of today. The canoe had an Evinrude motor, and he’d go out and catch mahimahi and ono. He was known as an outstanding fisherman with an outrigger canoe. That was a joy. This was during the period when the old Moana pier was out there, and the Moana bath house was right in the vicinity where the tourists all lie out in the sun now at the Moana.
There were a number of famous old beachboys there including the Kahanamoku brothers. David Kahanamoku use to give Henry Damon and me surfing lessons when we were beginners. We’d go out a long the side of the pier which was pretty much where the inside of Canoes is and he would give us lessons. We had a great time in that early period.
JWR: Tell me where were you living at that time? The reason I ask the question – it relates to something you were talking about earlier regarding the boards you used to keep there, and some of your friends from school who kept their boards there also.
RAA: We lived way up near the top of Pacific Heights for a good many years. As a matter of fact, my two brothers were born in that house.
JWR: Pacific Heights?
RAA: On Pacific Heights – there were probably two dozen families living up there at that time, and we were just below Francis Brown near the top. It was a big place, we had chickens and goats and all kinds of animals. Dad bought the place in the mid-Twenties, and we were there until about ’34- ’35 when we went to Kalakaua Avenue; mother’s mother’s home which when she passed away was left to Dad Center – where the Center apartments are today. There were several Castle family homes next to us, including the big classic multi-story one which is the present site of the Elks Club. We were there for about five or six years until World War I came on. I was back at Cornell in 1941 when December 7 arrived; and soon after, all women and children who could, got out of Hawaii. Mother moved to Palo Alto and my brothers and s ister went to school there. I was at Cornell, came out and signed up for the Air Force pilot training program in San Francisco. That was in 1942. After the War, dad bought the home on Makalei Place, where he presently lives.
When we were growing up, my mother was always after us to use the Club because Dad Center was paying the monthly dues for our Junior Memberships. As I mentioned earlier, Dad gave each one of us a membership. Somehow during the war, the office at the old Club site, lost the records for some of the junior members. Shortly after I came back, on December 3, 1945, we had dinner with Dad at the club. I remember it was a Friday night. Gay Harris was the manager and he came by the table and said, “welcome back, boys, the canoes are all ready.” About a week or ten days later, I came down to get a locker and they had no record of me in the office. So I saw Dad and he said, “Well, I’ll take care of that.” He discussed it with Doc Blom who was ‘Mr. Admissions’. Doc said, “I know the boys”, so he just went in and told the office to send me a bill; so I started my membership, on the record again from 1945, although it went back to 1933.
JWR: Question – you were living at the old Center home?
RAA: 2987 Kalakaua.
JWR: Right, now you moved in there in?
RAA: We probably moved there in 1934-1935. Shortly after December 7, mother and my brothers and sister moved to California. My dad, R. Alex, lived in the house until the end of the War. Dad Center eventually sold the property – there’s a long story in that, and it ended up developed into the apartment complex it is today.
JWR: You were living at the Center home? You visited the Club then?
RAA: We came down to the Club frequently. Mother used to get after us, as I said. We had sixxteen surfboards stacked along the side of the house, so we did almost all our surfing at Castle’s .
JWR: Sixteen surfboards!
RAA: We had many of our classmates at Punahou and others. They were not members of the Club, and they would come down to our place and on weekends we had a club of our own in the surf in front of our place there. Mother would serve hamburgers and all that sort of thing, and we were in the ocean in front of the present Club at “Old Man’s” there all day long.
JWR: You mentioned earlier about Dad Center building you a canoe.
RAA: Well, he suddenly called us one day, and said he was bringing a canoe down, and he brought us the most beautiful koa canoe with iako and ama that actually were tailor-made to his specifications. It should have been in the Bishop Museum. We succeeded in standing it on its nose out there, in big surf, where the wreck is where the freighter came in and ran aground years and years ago. We had a whole club there, we had sixteen surfboards, we had a canoe, and all our friends came down to our place – so we went to the Club infrequently, but we did come down and enjoy it quite a bit with Dad Center.
JWR: At that time Dad Center was the Club Captain?
RAA: He was. It seemed all the Club’s water activities pretty well revolved around him. I know that during that time he was doing a lot of coaching of Duke (Kahanamoku) and Pua Kealoha and all those fellows who were famous swimmers locally and nationally, and who went to the Olympics with Duke.
JWR: This is a period l would like to talk to you a little more about because it is the formative years of your life. What kind of activities did you participate in at Punahou?
RAA: At Punahou I was active in track and did some swimming, mostly track I ran a lot all year long, and I became very much involved during track season with all events: pole vault, high jump, long jump and hurdles, particularly during my last high school years. After Punahou I went on to the prep. school in the East, the Choate School in Connecticut, and later to Cornell.
I was co-captain of track at Choate.
JWR: The Choate School?
RAA: The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut.
JWR: Oh, yes.
RAA: Where Jack Kennedy went, a few years before I got there. I was there for three years, and then went to Cornell University and then when the War came along l joined the Air Force and was a fighter pilot overseas and flew 57 missions in the European theatre.
JWR: Whereabouts were you stationed overseas?
RAA: We were in England briefly and supported the invasion, and then we were at the…about the equivalent of the farthest penetration of the Battle of the Bulge for about three or four months…Florennes, Belgium.
JWR: It’s interesting because your father was an aviator.
RAA: Yes. I was almost shot down on Christmas Day 1944, in an area which I figured was about five or ten miles from the prison hospital where he was taken prisoner – when he was shot down. I was lucky to get the plane back on the ground, and I thought maybe history was repeating itself.
RAA: I was lucky.
JWR: After the War was over and you returned home what activities did you participate in at the Club?
RAA: I was very active in surfing, both canoes and boards, and I played a lot of volleyball in the early days there. As time went on, much later on, we got into a lot of activities with the Pan Am pilots. I knew a lot of them and we played a lot of volleyball with our own OCC members. We also did a lot of surfing. We made boards at home. I remember one particular period there when we were all active making boards. George Downing became the first one to really make professional boards. We all got the fever of making boards both solid and hollow – a combination of redwood and balsa. I remember one particular occasion when Bill Morris and my brother and several others were surfing and it was a big day – any big day Duke would be out there – and he was out with his big 14-foot monster hollow board. We had a fellow at the Club who you probably remember, John “Mongoose” Crites, and John was a great guy, he was a neat kid, he was the second hot dogger in Waikiki – Tommy Zahn was the first. Zahn was a lifeguard from Long Beach, California, and he came over and he alienated the local guys because he had a shorter board and he’d just cut in and power all around the place. He had more challenges to go to the beach for a fight than anybody. Then he won the distance paddle on New Year’s Day, as you remember early on, to the Diamond Head buoy; and that was before George Downing finally caught up with him. After that, there was a big rivalry, and George took over and was the perennial champ. But Mongoose was out there that day with a board that he built that had a stiletto-like nose that looked like one of those aircraft – supersonic aircraft. Duke watched this, and we were all surfing, and finally Mongoose came in and docked his board up against the lockers. Duke came in, put his board away, didn’t say a word, went into the shop and got a saw. He came back and Morris, my brother and I were just speechless watching. He got this thing over his knee and cut off the first foot of Mongoose’s board. [Laughter)
JWR: You’re kidding!
RAA: Need less to say no one, no one, in the Club said anything. Mongoose didn’t say anything. The big man had spoken! [Laugh] And it was never discussed. It was discussed behind everybody’s back.
JWR: That’s a story about Duke that has never been told.
RAA: It’s never been told. He did it so beautifully, you know. Duke was a man of few words at times; and he didn’t say a word. He figured this is as far as this goes!
JWR: Nobody questioned him.
RAA: Everybody was building boards, and he didn’t want others to get the idea that this was what we were going to have out there. It was fun. I was involved with a lot of surfing activities, and paddling in the program. I was Club Captain in the Fifties somewhere. It would show up in the Club’s records as to what year, because the significance of the fact was that I decided, the year I was Club Captain, to change the course of the Fourth of July races . Several years earlier I had paddled on the Fourth of July and was frustrated by the inequity of the triangular course we used to have. Do you remember? We went off the beach out to some staggered flags and then came back in to the staggered flags near shore. The first one was down in front of the far wing of the Moana Hotel, and then they turned and came across in an Ewa direction. You had to turn on those flags and come parallel to the beach to the finish line in front of the Royal. There were so many gymnastics in getting that thing set up. Cline (Mann) would get out with his transit, and “Toots” (Albert E.) Minvielle, who was an engineer, was out in the canoe with all the flags and everything with his team, and by a combination of arm waving and so forth they would establish that that’s where Cline wanted the flag anchored, dropped. Well overnight before the races, you’d get First Break surf and those anchors were moving all around! It was always one of these frustrations. The crew which came in way over toward the Diamond Head side of the lanes and made that turn had the whole 100 yards plus, to paddle 90° to the surf. They were bouncing around and if it was a First Break kind of day they almost always swamped by the time they got as far as the Club let alone get to the finish line. So I decided that the fair course was the one we are doing today. I talked to Cline and he said, “Sure, that makes sense, let’s do it.” I talked to George Downing and Wally Froiseth down at the Surf Club. In those days there were three clubs, tbere was the Outrigger, Hui Nalu and the Surf Club. We also talked to John D. (Kaupiko, Sr.). They all said, ‘Let’s try it ‘ and after they did it the first time, well , that was it. It’s never b e e n changed. I consider that was a worthwhile contri bution that I made – we tried for a solution, and it worked.
During that period there was a lot of activity on the beach. There were people in the early stages flexing their muscles in deciding that, in addition to the Outrigger Beach Services there was money to be made there by other groups. Barry Napoleon was the first one to try. He set up his operation down where Queen’s Surf is. He would unload his boards from his truc k and set them up on the beach. This was causing a lot of consternation principally among the hotels; and the Outrigger was concerned, too. The 19 28-29 Beach Agreement governed the high water property boundary mark and what property owners were entitled to occupy on the beach. Napoleon and others who followed him were encroaching by setting their boards up above the high water line. It was determined they were on private property. So, the Waikiki Beach Safety Committee was established, and I represented the Outrigger at those meetings for four or five years. We met once a month over in the big room near the ocean at the Moana Hotel. The committee consisted of the clubs ( three clubs’ representatives), all of the hotels, the County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Harbor Commission and the military (Fort De Russy) people. There were some hot and heavy periods there, and I was proud of the fact that being perhaps a leveller head, I made some impassioned statements and pleas from time to time to get things back to ground zero, because it really got to the point where there was much animosity. It got pretty explosive at times.
JWR: That was Waikiki Shores.
RAA: Waikiki Shores, yes. For some time he operated out of the front of that area. Anybody trying to set up a beach services on a free lance basis without an owner-contract came to all kinds of grief. They were challenged right and left. You see, there was a big problem with the requirement for public liability and that’s what the Harbor Commission was concerned about – Parks and Recreation and the Harbor Board, and, also the property owners. So that problem had to be dealt with. I, at the time, was with Amfac in the Insurance Division, and I wrote the first public liability policy on catamarans when Woody Brown, Albert Kumalai and Rudy Choy built the Manu Kai and put it into passenger service.
JWR: Oh, yeah.
RAA: They started operating from the beach in front of the Outrigger there, and everybody thought it was great and all that. Then all of a sudden, everybody started to challenge them. The Club and the hotels had liability insurance and said, “We’ve got liability insurance, why doesn’t the catamaran have liability insurance, particularly if we put our guests on your catamarans?”. So they rustled around; they couldn’t get it placed. I happened to be talking to Rudy one day, I said maybe I could help them,. So, after much effort, we got it placed through Lloyds of London. Lloyds had never heard of a catamaran let alone Waikiki Beach. It took about three months to do it, and it cost them $10,000 a year, but we did it. It was a lot to pay in those days!
JWR: I remember one of the things that occurred about that time, it was the famous boardwalk.
JWR: And, I remember we had a meeting with the hotels and they finally agreed to remove it. Do you remember the details about that?
RAA: Yes, and I remember that it was an eyesore and very inappropriate to Waikiki Beach and provisions of the ’28-’29 Agreement covering the establishment of the mean high water mark for each property on the beach. At the old Cl ub, you remember, we had our sand area that had the umbrellas and beach chairs and the ropes around it for privacy.
RAA: We had determined that we had the right to do that, in relation to the mean high-water mark. It was the same thing with the Royal next door. Later the Moana did the same thing. But the boardwalk, suddenly put up by the Sheraton to connect the hotels insulated everyone’s sensitivities.
JWR: This was in the Fifties.
RAA: This was in the Fifties. Also during that period the Junior members started to get some amenities and some organization. You remember at the old Club we had the Junior Member locker-room section; and we had some great Junior members. Many of them later served on the Board through the years. But, there was one period of unrest where, for reasons I can’t accurately recall, they wrecked the Juniors’ locker-room! They destroyed it! You remember in those days we had big thick glass building blocks for light. They were about four inches thick and maybe eight inches square. Those blocks made up the wall of the Junior locker-room. They smashed those blocks! They trashed the locker rooms and the whole works. So we shut the whole thing down, and the Board determined at that time we should have a disciplinary committee. Nei; Ifversen and I became the Disciplinary Committee – the reason being that we had a very good relationship with those guys. We knew them all. We were not heavy handed. We were fair yet we were firm. So over a period of time, we established a great rapport with those fellows and got them to clean up the place. Finally, after a period, the damage was repaired and the Board got back to letting them have their rights and privileges again, because we guaranteed that we could exercise control there through the friendship and respect we had established. Our approach to the thing was that we worked with the ring leaders. Those were the fellows that the other guys in the peer relationship looked up to, and we figured that we could talk them into taking some part of the responsibility, by giving them the feeling that they were the guys who would be the leaders of the Club in later years, and here was an opportunity for them to lead within their own group. Then we could get them to co-operate and the other fellows would fall in line. This is exactly what happened, and we were very pleased the way it worked out. We did that for, oh, maybe three years, I guess and it all kind of came to the point where it ran out of its usefulness. They matured.
About that time, we went through all of the lengthy planning studies for the fact that we would soon have to get out of that location in Waikiki. I think we had three major studies done, and one full membership presentation over in the Kaiulani meeting room, you remember? We were going to put a bowling alley in the new site; we were going to put in a billiard room; we were going to put up a high rise with apartments and guest rooms, and so forth on top of this monolith we were going to construct. It finally all came down to the plan which we have today at Diamond Head here. Through that period there was a lot of tension, I think it contributed to the unrest that the junior kids were under.
JWR: I remember you were very active in that particular period because you were on a number of committees.
RAA: Yeah, right. 1 was running in all directions.
JWR: Yes, you were.
RAA: It was a lot of fun and I am proud of the fact that it was successful. Sometimes there were frustrations. I had a great relationship with the hotels. particularly with Roland Reeve who was the key man for all of Sheraton; the Kaiulani, Moana and Royal. On the beach I knew George Downing and Wally Froiseth very, very well, also “Blackout” (Whaley) and those other influential beach guys. I remember meetings of the Beach Safety Committee when we
had a lot of rancor. Guys walked out and were ready to fight.I’d get together with them, and we’d talk. We’d do a little spade work outside and talk to Barry, and talk with those guys and they’d all come back in there at the next meeting. I got them to write up an agenda. They’d go in to meetings and start talking off the cuff, you know. I said, “You can’t do that, you’ve got to run this thing like an organized meeting and you’ve got to have a chairman,” which I became. You have to have a public agenda so people will know what’s going on, and what’s coming up, so they can prepare for it.
JWR: Sort of a pre-meeting.
RAA: Yeah, right. So, whenever they got this agenda beforehand, these fellows knew what they were going to discuss, they had some ideas, some orderly ideas, we got them all in order rather than everybody just yelling in there. Each guy raised his hand and was recognized and it went very well.
JWR: What was your attitude in respect to coming down here as opposed to staying there, considering all the problems that existed at the old location?
RAA: Well, you remember we had a very heated General Meeting during and after the Board Meeting annually. This was during the period when you were very active. Marty Anderson was very active, Fuller (Sam), Godbold (Wilford), all of these fellows. There was great opposition to that move at that time. The lease was referred to as getting ‘an anchor to windward’, you remember? When we got the 99-year lease, everybody considered, not everybody, but there was a large group that considered this was a waste of money. There was no way that the Outrigger Canoe Club could be the Outrigger Canoe Club unless it was in the center of Waikiki Beach. At that time, having lived at the Center home and near the site there, and having grown up in that surf outside, knowing what that location felt like, and seeing the advantage of being on the park, I thought there were things we could do and enjoy there and in the park. I didn’t know if we could team up in any way with the tennis courts across the way, but at least they were there if anybody wanted to get involved and use them. So there were a lot of things that were pluses. Frankly, being involved in real estate, I sold Osano the Judd property . . . I knew what was going to happen to our old site.
JWR: You did!
RAA: Yes. I sold the Judd property for $2,465,000. They were difficult negotiations; because all of a sudden one night it was announced in the headlines of the STar Bulletin that Roy Kelley was making an offer and was going to expand his holdings. So I called Dick Holzman in the morning and said ‘you send a wire, I am sending a wire (I was at Hawaiian Trust at the time) to Osano and tell him I’ll meet him in Tokyo or he can come here, but he should get on this right now to protect his interests, because he owned the Moana, the Kaiulani and the Surfrider. So he came to town in about three days, and in a period of one whole day of negotiations up in the penthouse in the Surfrider, we ironed this thing out, and I was able to sell it to him. The Building Code required that he have parking within 300 feet. Well there was no parking that we could put in there, but the code provided that he could use the parking building across the way, the Kaiulani parking garage. I showed him that he qualified for parking in acquiring the Judd property, by his ownership of the Kaiulani, which he already owned.
JWR: That was between the Moana and our Club.
RAA: Yes. That is where the Society of Seven now entertains.
JWR: Yes our old parking lot.
JWR: You’r e the one who was responsible for us losing our parking lot! [ Laugh}
RAA: Well, Rob Judd said, “We have to sell it” and I said, “Are you reasonable?” because they were talking $85. a foot. I said it was not worth it , and so he said, “Well, bring us an offer” so I went down and I had this meeting with them and I said, “If I can take an offer to the owners at $65. a foot, I believe that I can get it accepted.” Osano had the last word. And he offered sixty bucks a foot, but it was all cash and they couldn’t turn it down. It was going to be sold at some point anyway. We were wrestling around with Queen’s Hospital on the question of the lease, you know, and all that kind of thing, so the questionability of our staying where we were was very definitely a factor. We were making all these plans for the new lease site and so when we added it all up, to answer your question – at the time it was emotional; it was definitely a nostalgic thing of great dimensions, particularly for those of us who had grown up at the old Club. When you go there at age ten and get a membership at 12, and you go on through the years, and have a great feeling for that place, and then after the War having lived there – mean we were there everyday – as a matter of fact my business probably suffered from it , but Amfac was great. I was keeping a hand in public involvement!
As a matter of fact, as a fighter pilot, I was one of the eight guys who founded the Hawaii Air National Guard fighter Squadron at Bellows Field. We later moved to Hickam, and that took a lot of time, so between all these things I was doing a job at Amfac and doing fine, but you had to be on roller skates, when you were going full blast.
JWR: The Outrigger Canoe club interfered with…..[Laugh]
RAA: So when you made the move, to me it was familiar ground. I was all in favor, when I saw what the plan was. I liked the fact that the two architects groups that were involved in it came up with this open style of a club facility that took into consideration the needs of the member groups that we had and the activities that we had. I think one of the good things, as l look back on it, is that it has been most beneficial to the Club’s stated objectives, since the Club was founded for the perpetuation of water sports and activities. You start with the young people.
Remember when we obtained our computer and made a study, we found that our membership average age was something like 56, or something like that, so the emphasis until that time was not perpetuating the younger group. l think when we came here we got the junior membership really rolling with all of the activities that were initiated. The strength of the juniors now is great! Before, they were a wild bunch that you didn’t feel you could give much authority to and you couldn’t count on them. Now, I think that they are very much more mature. They get a lot more out of their club and their life, as a result of the organization that we have set up here.
JWR: At the old Club because of the uncertainty of the move, because of the exposure to the beach elements, parents were not particularly active.
RAA: Very much so, yeah. And, if you recall, we were right on the car line and the kids, whether they had transportation or not, could get on a bus and get down there; and as you say, there were lots of parents who didn’t consider this was a wholesome environment. They were down there all day, and what did they do? They were exposed to all of this, and all the beach boys were on the beach and in the Hau Terrace.
JWR: The exodus that occurred when we moved down here, we lost almost 300 members, do you remember that?
RAA: Yeah, right.
JWR: Now the Club is stronger than ever, with a young people’s environment, young people’s programs. Great activities and entertainment.
RAA: I th ink we’ve balanced it out a lot better.
JWR: When we moved down to this location, which committees did you serve on?
RAA: I served on every committee except Admissions and Historical. I was Vice President twice, Building and Grounds, Operations, President in ’77. I was first elected to the Board the year before we moved up here, so I was one year down there and one year up here after we moved. And, I was re-elected – I was on the Board 12 years – I was elected six times and President in ’77. I was away for one period and came back, then was on for a considerable period of maybe four years. Then I was away on the Mainland quite a bit, over a period of about eight years – after a couple of required sit-outs, I was nominated again. I topped the poll and got back on the Board.
JWR: What were the highlights of your presidency? Any particular problems or events that occurred – do you remember?
RAA: Gosh, I can’t think of anything except the enormously significant and important problem of [Laugh] …. George Brangier! He was a traditionalist and was critical of innovations, particularly of the new planters that were put on the grounds shortly after we built the new club – he was always talking about them disrespect fully. He referred to them as giant urinals. [Laughter] Quieting George Brangier on occasion was often a problem during that period because he was a stickler for perfection. Much of the beautiful plantinq we have today we can thank George for. I think the year I was President…it’s hard to recall now – I do remember we had a couple of crises that warranted our holding our Board meeting at the Kapahulu library, but I can’t for the life of me think of what it was all about. I think we I d have to go back to the minutes to find out.
JWR: Were you on the Board when we had that run in with the Harbor Board because of the moorings regarding excluding private boats other than Club members from anchoring?
RAA: Oh, yeah. Right. Very much so. We’d go ’round and around with them.
JWR: You can’t refuse anchorage to outsiders, and you have to permit them in return for permitting them to anchor, we were permitted to use it for our own anchorage, too.
RAA: Yeah something like that. In addition we had a big controversy in the past about the use of the sand – taking the sand off the beach and putting it in our sunning area, you know, where our beach umbrellas are. They finally shut us down because the adjacent neighbors in the Colony Surf took pictures and reported it. There was a big blurb and shots in the Advertiser showing the Outrigger hauling the sand off the beach. It was completely out of context, because all the sand that we brought in was walked back out in the course of a year, so it never went anywhere. If we had taken it off the beach and put it in trucks and built houses with it, that would have been a genuine complaint. All we were doing was putting back the sand that had been walked down to the beach. We brought it back up again.
JWR: The sand that was on the beach was that which originally came from our property itself!
RAA: Right. There was no sand beach here. When I was a kid, we used to come down underneath the old Castle home where Dad Center, Dudie Miller and others used to store canoes – pull them up on a hoist underneath the floor which was the lower floor of the old Castle home, which is the location today of the Elks Club. It was all a rocky coast, all the way around – there was no sand beach whatsoever. They had a small pier, a little pier that came out to the right there, and when we didn’t take our swimming lessons down at Waikiki, Dad Center would bring a board up, or come to our house to take a board, and he’d get a group together who would come to swimming classes. We would come down, walk underneath the Castle home and then go out on this pier, and put the board in. But the whole shoreline where we now have a sand beach, was just a wall — it was a rock wall and very uneven on top. The waves just splashed up against it, there was no sand whatsoever. We took the wall down and dredged the area in front of the Club for swimming. When we excavated the garage area we found beautiful white sand which we stockpiled on the property.
We then put the dredge in the basement and used the stockpiled sand to create the beach. It is the sand, our sand, which we put back in our sunning area.
JWR: That’s the sand that washed away. . .
RAA: Right. That’s what the Advertiser, the Harbor Commission and all these do-gooders were complaining about. No, it’s been an interesting evolution but I think everything’s stabilized now. Of course it’s costly now because we have to get a little bobcat and truck it in along the side of our property to replace it.
JWR: I want to go back a little bit – to your recollections of the beach boys you were speaking about. Do you have any particular experiences in surfing. canoeing, with. . .
RAA: The most memorable experiences in surfing would have to be Panama Dave (Charles Baptiste) standing on his head coming in alongside of the old Moana pier there, with the people up above shooting pictures of him.
RAA: . . . and then there were people like “Ox” (William Keaulani) who was bigger than Akebono (sumo wrestler, Chad Rowan), at least he looked to us as big as Akebono, standing on a surfboard and that was the incongruity – how can a board hold a man that big. Then later there was “Steamboat” ( Bill Keawemahi) who was a grand mountain on his own, and then Earl King, you know Earl it just wasn’t equal. We were on the short end. So we raised the annual dues to whatever it is now. $120. a year was the raise in dues then. Some said there was going to be a fall out. I said, “Fine” if there is a fall-out we have a waiting list and most people are willing to pay $5,000. to get in….
RAA: Is it $15,000. now? I t was $5,000. then.
RAA: I’ve lost track, so now you’ve got people on the waiting list who can’t wait to get in to the greatest club of its kind in the world. All that initiation fee money goes into the Building Fund, and is separate from dues income for operations. So that was a fear that was unfounded. I was very strong on the fact that I thought we had a lot of waste-wood there – people who were not using the Club, and they didn’t care about the $60. – let’s find out about the ones who really do. And I think we did.
JWR: Are there any other things, anecdotes, or experiences you might have had?
RAA: You know, when you sit down to one of these things a lot rolls out, but when you get finished and shut off the machine you think of a whole lot of things.
JWR: Well, we can always have a re-run, you know.
RAA: Yeah, yeah.
JWR: I am serious, if there is anything you would like to add, jot it down, and we can always get together and have an addendum.
RAA: I think that this pretty well covers everything that I can recall. It was great fun.
JWR: When I began conducting interviews, I was told, “Don’t keep the interviewee involved more than hour” – it’s nearly an hour [Laugh]
RAA: OK, Ward, thank you! I hope this goes to some constructive purpose for those interested down the line.
JWR: As I say, if there are any other things you want to add to this, just let me know and we can sit down again. This has been fun. Thank you very much.
RAA: Thank you, Ward. It was a great pleasure!