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
September 25, 1985
JWR: Today is Thursday, September 25, 1985. It is a beautiful, picture perfect morning at the Outrigger Canoe Club. I am Ward Russell (WR), past President of the Club and currently a member of its Historical Committee. This morning I have the distinct pleasure and privilege of interviewing Robert Fischer (RF), a long time member of the Outrigger Canoe Club and an old and very dear friend of mine. Bob and I have known each other ever since we grew up together in Hilo some sixty years ago. We also worked together at the Hawaiian Telephone Company for many years. Bob, to get things started, when and where were you born?
RF: I was born in Warren, Ohio, January 11, 1911.
WR: 1911, that would make you 74 years old.
RF: Yes. Seventy-five in January.
WR: Seventy-five in January, You’ve seen a lot of Hawaii, haven’t you. Incidentally, when did you first come to Hawaii?
WR: What brought you to Hawaii?
RF: My parents came over as missionaries.
WR: What kind of missionaries?
RF: They were with the Pentecostal Church at that time, and they spent several years working primarily with Filipinos on the plantations, and some of the Orientals also. They developed quite a following, nothing highly technical. But it was efficient and as a result several of their people went out and established other churches in Hawaii and also in the Philippines and in California.
WR: When you say they worked on the plantations, which plantations and which island?
RF: It was on Hawaii; at Papaiko Peepeekeo, and Honomu plantations in that area.
WR: And you were headquartered in Hilo.
WR: That’s when we first met.
RF: That’s correct.
WR: Well, then, if you came in 1920 you were about nine years old.
RF: Nine years old. I was nine years old aboard ship about two days out of Hilo.
WR: And then you had most of your education in Hilo?
RF: Yes, I’d say so.
WR: And you went to Hilo High School?
RF: Hilo High School. I graduated from Hilo High School, and I did not go to college. I worked part time as a stevedore in Hilo, which was a good job for a person in school because you could work several hours at night, go to school the next day, schedules like that. I got to be a pretty husky guy packing those 100 pound sugar bags around.
WR: As I remember, you were quite an athlete when I was growing up in Hilo. What sports particularly did you engage in?
RF: Well, my principal sport probably was track and field. I also rowed.
WR: I remember that . . .
RF: . . .Then, I had a bad sprain of an ankle, two cars came together and got me in between them so it ruined my track for a time. Also, I couldn’t do any rowing for a time, so I worked with Tom Forbes.
WR: Torn Forbes. He was . . .
RF: He was coaching and I was running the Hooheno, which was the power boat . . .
WR: Incidentally, just a comment about Tom Forbes which might be of interest for the record. Tommy Connor, one of the current stalwarts in the canoe paddling program here at the Club is his grandson. His mother was Tom Forbes’ daughter, Gerry (Geraldine). By the way, were you in the orchestra with Gerry?
RF: No, I was doing other things. (Laugh)
WR: Harold and Lloyd Sexton, Homer Ross and Gerry, as I remember were in that orchestra.
RF: Yes. I used to relieve Lloyd at the piano, and play the few songs I knew while he took a break.
WR: I remember that.
RF: Yeah. I was also a member of our high school octet which competed successfully in inter-island contests.
WR: Canoe racing was not much of a sport then, was it?
RF: No, it was not at all.
WR: How did you . . . I know you moved to Maui – when did you leave Hilo to go to Maui and what were the circumstances?
RF: I’d have to double check the date, but I left Hilo about 1931, I believe it was, and the reason I went to Maui was that I had been invited by Douglas Guild to visit the new inter-island radio station which the Mutual Telephone Company was building at Waikii on Hawaii to establish inter-island radio-telephone service. At Waikii I met Bill Harrington, Mutual’s Chief Radio Engineer, who was in charge of the installation and asked him if there was anything I could do to help. He put me to work on the antenna systems. Evidently he was impressed with my work because about three days later – after I had returned to Hilo – I got a call from Doug Guild saying that W.I. – that’s what Bill Harrington was called – wanted to talk to me. To make a long story short, W.I. offered me a job as a radio apprentice at the radio telephone station at Ulupalakua, Maui and I accepted. Incidentally, most of those new apprentices ware Punahou kids.
WR: That’s right. I was one of them.
RF: You were one of them. (Laughter). They offered you a job, was this on Hawaii or was it on Maui?
WR: It was on Oahu. I went to work at the Puu Manawahua station up in the mountains of the Waianae range.
RF: Manawahua, that’s right.
WR: You were already at Ulupalakua when I took Bob Singlehurst’s place at Manawahua.
RF: That’s right. I stayed on Maui until I moved to Honolulu to work on the new trans-Pacific radio telephone system that was installed in 1936. I stayed in the radio telephone department until just before World War II when I was promoted to a supervisory position in the Plant department.
WR: Bob, to capsulize your telephone business career, you were one of the pioneers who worked on the first inter-island and trans-Pacific radio telephone circuits installed in the islands. You also – as I remember – worked on the early experimental circuits to the Philippines . . .
RF: And Japan.
WR: After that you went into Plant – you were wire chief, weren’t you?
RF: Yes, under Mr. Reymie.
WR: That’s right. Bill Raymie, wasn’t it? Then, as I remember, you joined the Commercial department and ultimately took over the directory operations for the company.
RF: Yes, I took over the directory operations when Tommy Gibson, who had it for 25 years, retired.
WR: Well, you ran the directory for the Telephone Company for many, many years until it was taken over by General Telephone, at which time you joined them.
RF: Yes, I transferred with them – they offered me a good deal and the Telephone Company was supportive of it because they wanted to keep someone in the directory business who understood Hawaiian’s telephone operations.
WR: Can you tell me how long your service was in the telephone business from the time you joined the Telephone Company until the time you retired?
RF: It was 44 or 45 years.
WR: Forty-five years. Well you know, you and I had about the same length of service. We had many good times together.
RF: Yes, we sure did.
WR: What year did you retire from the phone company – from the directory company?
RF: It was in January, 1973.
WR: Now, let’s get back to the Outrigger Canoe Club. When did you first join the Club?
RF: I joined the Outrigger Canoe Club a few days after I got to Honolulu from Maui. I was interested in water sports and I had friends at the old beach services.
WR: That would have been about 1934 or 1935?
RF: 1934 or 1935, yes.
WR: Well in that case you have been a member for over 50 years.
RF: Yes, I think it was either the end of 1934 or beginning of 1935, close to 50 years. It didn’t cost much to get in and stay in in those days!
WR: Do you remember what you paid to join the Club?
RF: $5 initiation, and I believe dues were $5.00 a month – $5-$10, something in that area.
WR: $5.00 initiation fee, and $5.00 a month! You say you were interested in sports – what sports in particular?
RF: Well, I liked all water sports. Surfing was something that I had seen but not tried. I had seen the revival of canoe racing at Kealakekua in Kona in the early 1930’s.
WR: It was 1933.
RF: That’s right.
WR: I remember your being there. We were both there.
RF: Yeah. In fact, when I was in Kona for the races that year I slept up on the upper deck of the old Kona Inn. I slept up on the upper deck to get above the mosquitos, as I remember.
WR: . . .and the noise. [Laugh]
RF: . . . that’s right. One thing that was interesting when you think about it – nowadays you have to lock everything up and worry about where your things are; there people stayed in your room, used your room, fishing reels and all kinds of private equipment and so forth were there, and nothing was ever stolen.
That revival really got me interested in canoe racing which ultimately led to my appointment as Club Captain at the Outrigger.
WR: You paddled yourself, didn’t you?
RF: I paddled in the first race that I ran.
WR: The first race that you ran?
RF: Yeah. Because canoeing had died down before and during the War (WW II) John D. Kaupiko and I discussed the possibility of organizing a race between Outrigger and Hui Nalu where he was major domo. And we agreed to do that, and Bill Mullahey helped out in getting some of the planning going, and since I was Club Captain I had to kind of carry it through. We had six crews – three girls and three men, different age groups – and that was what we started out with, 72 paddlers in the whole regatta.
WR: Seventy-two, and you were one of the organizers and ran the regatta.
RF: Ran the regatta and coached the girls too.
WR: Coached the girls too, and paddled your first race!
RF: Yeah. First race. We won that.
WR: What crew were you paddling with, do you remember?
RF: Senior girls.
WR: You paddled the senior girls, steering?
RF: Since it was a surf race we used male steersmen. I had already handled boats safely, and I paddled against Blue Makua who was with Hui Nalu. He and his girls and me and our girls, and we overwhelmed them! He’s always been a little huhu about it because he was a bigger and much more powerful guy.
WR: Yes, I remember him. He’s still active.
RF: Yeah, he’s still active.
WR: What year was this Bob, do you remember?
RF: 1943, and that race was dedicated to Walter Macfarlane who died in Mexico shortly before the regatta went on.
WR: Well, let’s go back. In 1934 or 1935 you joined the Club, and 1935 to 1943 is a good eight years’ span there. That particular time included the War years – what did you do during that period at the Club?
RF: Until the War broke out we spent most of our time surfing and playing volleyball. When the War started we still were going out surfing some, but they had that barbed wire fence all the way along the beach so it was hard to get in and out of the water. We prevailed on the military to put a gate in the fence that we could lock.
WR: There was a gate in the barbed wire?
RF: A barbed wire gate and we could get in and out through that. That was after the first few days of confusion.
WR: Well, I’m sure you didn’t tell the enemy about that!
RF: We didn’t tell anybody about it and we went on and continued surfing, but mainly we played volleyball. Volleyball was quite active. We continued surfing as best we could but there was not too much water activity. However, after things began to ease we got permission each year to put on the Walter Macfarlane Regatta.
WR: You said the first regatta was in 1943 – dedicated to Walter Mac. As I recall it was held on the Fourth of July, and ever since then it’s been on the same date, So, in fact, you were one of the instigators – one of those really responsible for reviving canoe racing.
RF: That’s right.
WR: That’s most interesting. I didn’t realize you were one of those – you and Bill Mullahey, and who else? You said John D. . . .
RF: John D. Kaupiko got the Hui Nalu together and I got the Outrigger to sponsor it, and Bill with his administrative abilities and so forth, he got in on it – he was on the Board.
WR: Then you can consider yourself the father of the Walter Macfarlane canoe race.
RF: Actually, I was the father of present day racing because we finally got it going through that meeting.
WR: That’s interesting.
WR: Well, following that regatta was that about the time you began thinking about the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association?
RF: At the time we had no association. Shortly afterwards it was Bill Capp who really was responsible for organizing the Association. He was very active in surfing and canoeing, and suggested we try to set up some kind of association to coordinate the things that were going on so we set up the Hawaiian Canoe Racing and Surfing Association which ultimately became the HCRA.
WR: When was this?
RF: As I recall this was in the late 1940’s. HCRA was not formally incorporated until 1963 although it functioned unofficially for many years prior to that.
WR: It started with only five clubs. I know that Bill Capp was one of those who was particularly instrumental in establishing the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association. Incidentally your name appears as auditor on the original Articles of Incorporation in 1963.
RF: Bill really pulled the guys together: he had the secretary, and office, and typist (at his FAA office) and he was able to get all the materials organized and disseminated. He was really the spark-plug of getting all that put together and written up, and then it just grew from then on.
WR: Before we go further with the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association, I’d like to go back to your experiences with the Outrigger Canoe Club. I know that you were Club Captain for many years, were you not?
RF: I think it was three or four years, I am not sure now. I was Captain for a number of years and then Bill Capp came in as Club Captain.
WR: One of the things I do remember is that you were the perennial starter for the canoe races for years.
RF: As the sport grew we had to have some officials. I couldn’t paddle and coach and do everything else so I became the official starter. At the time we didn’t have walkie-talkies and the other fancy radio communication facilities we have now. I had a big bull horn on the beach and a simple amplifying system. I talked into that, looked out across the lanes and tried to get the canoes lined up. I’d call them back and forth to get them even. It was a real challenge.
WR: How many years did you serve as starter for the canoe races?
RF: I think it was around 16 or 17.
WR: Really. You were always there.
RF: Always there. You could always hear me with that big bull horn. (Laughter)
WR: As I recall, in addition to being the starter you were the arbitrator of disputes and almost everything else.
RF: I was the arbitrator of disputes, race director, starter – you name it – for a long time. Somewhere along the line Chris Faria, who was interested in water sports, got involved, and later became our race director.
WR: I know that during the course of your association with HCRA you were very much involved in establishing standards in canoe racing, particularly in the design of the canoes. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
RF: Well, the Canoe Association began to grow, more clubs joined with different types of canoes. Some canoes were longer and some were shorter than others. Some weighed more, some less. It was soon obvious that the longer and lighter canoes had a great advantage. It finally boiled down after long discussions and measurements to getting a canoe that conformed in general shape to the Malia owned by the Waikiki Surf Club. The Malia was one of three boats ‘Dad’ Center had obtained from Kona and brought to Honolulu. The other two were the Kakina and the Leilani.
WR: Oh, wait a minute, let’s talk about about that. Dad brought the Kakina and the Leilani and the Malia from Kona?
RF: They came from Kona, I don’t have all the details in my mind right now, but they were made by a Japanese carpenter who worked for Amfac in Kona. He shaped the logs. I think Frank Henriques was involved in it, too. I believe he was the person from whom the logs were obtained. Anyway Dad was responsible for purchasing the canoes.
WR: Well, now, the Leilani and the Kakina ultimately ended up in the possession of the Outrigger Canoe Club, but the Malia was acquired by Waikiki Surf, is that right?
RF: Yes. I don’t remember the details, but I think Dad sold the Malia to them under very generous terms and conditions as he was interested in having them acquire a good canoe and become a strong contender.
WR: And, all three canoes are still going strong.
RF: All three are still going strong. John Lind also came into the picture for Waikiki Surf and helped a great deal to strengthen Waikiki Surf Club’s paddling and surfing activities.
WR: Let’s go back, you mentioned that the Malia was used as the standard?
RF: It was picked as kind of a standard at the time because it was a good boat, probably the best of the three.
WR: What standards, do you remember, were amongst those originally established?
RF: One of the main standards was to be “Hawaiian” in design. No “V” at the bow or stern. More like a typical Hawaiian surfing or fishing canoe – like the Malia. Slight variations were permitted in length and breadth but weight could not be less than 400 pounds. These were the first specifications for the koa canoes. When the fiberglass canoes entered the picture it was funny. A big argument developed as to which was the faster – a 400 pound koa or a 400 pound fiberglass canoe! Really, it was humorous for anybody with any engineering at all. We brought in engineers and people who knew things to try and brief these people that a fiberglass canoe of 400 pounds is the same as a koa of 400 pounds- that it didn’t make any difference about the materiel it is made out of as long as it is smooth and is the same shape. We wasted a lot of meeting time . . .
WR: You mean which was heavier a 400 pound fiberglass or a 400 pound koa canoe!
RF: (Laughter] Anyway, these original standards were subsequently refined, approved, adapted, and observed by HCRA until the Tahitian canoes entered the picture.
WR: What happened then?
RF: They really upset the apple cart. They are great canoe people. They use mainly mango trees, and they can cut down a tree end put a canoe together pretty rapidly. Their canoes are designed to race primarily in calm water and thus were narrower, longer and lighter than our Hawaiian canoes. They entered their first Molokai-Oahu canoe race with a specially built canoe which did not meet our specifications and won handily. As a result we disqualified such entries in subequent years and required them to use canoes which met HCRA specifications. I went to Tahiti and tried to work it out with them one year and I saw what they were doing and how they were racing. It was a revelation, they were running into each other and running right across the course.
WR: Oh, I remember that in some of those races in Papeete – unabridged mayhem!
RF: Yeah. Unabridged mayhem, that’s right! Well, the problem became complicated because Moku O Hawaii, the canoe association on the island of Hawaii . . .
WR: Excuse me for interrupting, but weren’t you one of the persons who originally helped in the establishment of that association?
RF: I helped, yes. I was working with the Kahanamokus (Louis and Mary Jane). Mary Jane was quite active in it because of her ability to type and put things together. Anyway, they formed an effective and active association. The problem was they had the Tahitians make two koa canoes out of one log for them. Unfortunately the canoes did not meet HCRA specifications.
WR: Didn’t conform to HCRA’s standards.
RF: That’s right. So then there was a big hassle over that with Oahu clubs which followed HCRA specifications refusing to participate in Moku O Hawaii events which had less stringent rules which allowed the Tahitian canoes to race. The end result was that HCRA became an umbrella organization with all the various canoe racing associations on each island retaining their autonomy as individual members of HCRA. They were free to conduct races on their home islands under their own rules but must conform to HCRA rules and specifications on all HCRA sanctioned events such as the annual Molokai-Oahu race. In my opinion, I feel further
improvements can and should be made with all the ability and knowledge we have now.
WR: One of the highlights of the establishment of the HCRA umbrella organization was getting the other Oahu association, Hui Wa’a, to join. How did that happen?
RF: As you may remember, John Kapua originally left HCRA some years ago and in association with Stu Kalama of Kailua, formed the Hui Wa’a – the other canoe association on Oahu with some 16 clubs. They, with the help of Peter Apo who was their president at the time, saw the wisdom of all clubs being under an umbrella organization and so, about two years ago, they joined HCRA.
WR: Bob, this has been most interesting. Particularly the part you played in establishing the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association. Looking back on your career let me see if I can enumerate this correctly: You have been a paddling coach, a swimming coach, a race official . . .
WR: An organizer of canoe clubs.
RF: I’ve helped, yes.
WR: An organizer of races, a starter, Club Captain. I’ve heard that you have been a delegate from the Outrigger Canoe Club to countless community associations; you’ve lobbied before the Legislature . . .
RF: . . . Which I am doing right now.
WR: You are? What project are you working on now?
RF: I am trying to salvage Ke’ehi Beach – Ke’ehi Park. You know where Ke’ehi is?
WR: Yes. By the airport.
RF: We are trying to salvage that and make it into a marina, something like Long Beach has . . .
WR: Oh, I see. Could it be used for canoe racing activities?
RF: Yes, boats and other . . . a marina – marine activities, and have it wide enough so we could put 14 or 15 lanes in there without having to run heats. It’s been very encouraging thus far.
WR: Is the Legislature sympathetic to the idea?
RF: Yes, I think so. I am working with some legislators trying to get the Harbors Division, Land and Natural Resources, and the Airport authorities to approve the concept.
WR: Why do you have to get the approval of the Airport Division?
RF: Well, it’s right adjacent to the airport and anything they fly over they have to approve.
WR: Does the project include any facilities for the canoe clubs?
RF: Right now it does because Ke’ehi Beach Park as it is consists of 13½ acres as part of the plan that the Kalihi-Palama Association has approved; and it does provide for halau for canoe clubs.
WR: You are the Club’s representative to the Kalihi-Palama Association Council?
RF: Yes. We are working on the overall program that encompasses the entire Ke’ehi Lagoon area.
WR: That’s great.
RF: We’re particularly interested in getting the 13½ acres approved as a canoe center. It would have buildings to house canoes and administration functions and facilities that could be used for meetings, etc.
WR: That sounds like it would be tremendous. . .
RF: It’s been a real drag. Representative Whitney Andersen, who is a brother of City Director Andy Anderson, has been very helpful.
WR: Oh . . . that helps. (Laugh)
RF: Peter Apo, who is a former Hui Wa’a president, is also giving us a hand.
WR: Isn’t he a member of the Legislature now?
RF: That’s right, and he is friendly with some of the Legislators including Representative Peters, the Speaker of the House, who appears to be sympathetic to the idea. Anyway, we are working hard on the project and hope it will eventually be approved.
WR: Well, Bob, with all of your past experience, with all the knowledge you have, and with all of the contacts you have made, I’m sure you’ll succeed.
RF: Well, I’m still breathing!
WR: Bob, the reason I made a brief recap of your activities a moment ago is that I wanted to lead into all the reasons that the Outrigger Canoe Club honored you with the presentation of the Winged “O” two years ago.
RF: The Winged “O” yes.
WR: Was that a surprise?
RF: It certainly was.
WR: Tell me about it.
RF: Well, I was sitting there with other guests at the party and we were talking. I really was not paying any attention at all to what the MC was saying when this one gal who was sitting next to me yelled, “Bob, it’s you”. (Laughter) I thought she was kidding. The next thing I knew they were trying to get me to the mike, and I was . . .
WR: You were in a daze . . . I was there, and you certainly were stunned. (Laughter) Bob, it was certainly well deserved. I was so happy that you received it. I was advised ahead of time and was just watching you . . . and when you received that award it was just wonderful, everybody felt that way.
RF: Well, it was appreciated.
WR: I am sure it was . . . you were tongue-tied. (Laugh) Your acceptance speech – it was brief, but quite moving. It was perfect.
Well, Bob, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this interview this morning. Are there any particular anecdotes that you would like to insert into the record that might be of interest to the Club and people who read these histories in future years?
RF: Well, the growth of the Outrigger has seen a lot of trial and tribulation. I think we have been very fortunate in the type of people we have had leading our Club. As far as that is concerned . . . I am sure you remember the number of meetings we had when we were trying to decide where we were going to go. Your four years of the presidency were critical and decisive years.
WR: Yeah . . . a lot of gray hairs!
RF: That was an interesting program which you and the Club’s leaders developed, it built the Club into a bigger and better organization. We had good engineers, good construction people, and good planners who, I think, did an outstanding job, One of those was Cline Mann. He followed you as President, didn’t he?
RF: Cline followed you, and again we had a dedicated member who became President and carried on with the same objectives. All-in-all, I feel we have done very well in our selection of people to run the Club. There are two matters remaining which I strongly feel require continued attention and they are the possibility of acquiring our site from the Elks Club, and also obtaining an off-site facility to meet the needs of our membership.
WR: You think we should think of an off-site facility?
RF: I do. I think it would satisfy a group of our members who want something different. We talked about Makaha at one time – I think it is going to go – in my opinion – will become a desirable beach area.
WR: We could set up a spot, a sort of satellite organization.
RF: That’s what I have in mind.
WR: . . . because that area is beautiful . . .
RF: It can provide all sorts of facilities – you can go horseback riding – golfing – all the things you don’t have at Diamond Head.
WR: Let me just ask you this, as you were so much in the thick of things at that time. Do you think it was a good move, to move from where we formerly were at Waikiki down to the Diamond Head area?
RF: I am more agreeable now than I was then. (Laugh)
WR: I know there were a lot of people at that time who were against the idea . . . but if we had stayed we would have been in a concrete jungle.
RF: Well, that was the thing. I felt we couldn’t grow – except up – and who wanted the Club way up in the air. No, I feel it was very wise, and I think the next wise thing is to work something out with the Elks Club to our benefit and theirs to acquire our land in fee.
WR: Well, I do know that our Board has been working with the Elks Club to the ultimate resolution of that particular situation.
Bob, I am going to try something here. We are in the Board Room of the Outrigger Canoe Club and on the wall there are pictures of all of the past Presidents of the Club, take a look, are there any of them who you knew particularly well that you might like to comment on any experiences you had with them that might be of interest?
RF: One of the things that stays with me were the war years, a period when we didn’t have the gas to go very far so we were confined to the Outrigger area and activities. It was during this period that Les Hicks, when he was President, had us young people up to his place for get-togethers. I was about the oldest of the group. He would have us up to his place occasionally and we’d all pool our resources to buy beer and whatever hard liquor we could occasionally get. He was a great person.
WR: He was also the man who was responsible for establishing the Building Fund, without which this Club would not have been made possible.
RF: That’s right, and when I was on the Board . . .
WR: That’s something we didn’t touch upon. When were you on the Board of the Club?
RF: Long ago. Bill. Capp and I were on about the same time, to begin with. I didn’t continue – though I was urged to – I didn’t feel I needed to be on the Board. Some people like to be on the Board, but to me . . .
WR: You wanted to be where the action was?
RF: Yes. I could get more done, and have more fun, and accomplish more outside of the red tape. As I was saying, Les Hicks really impressed me with his ability and strong leadership. Sam Fuller was another President who was quiet, cigar smoking, quite stable. He was a good President and a good friend. Wilford Godbold, of course, served years as President and also as counsel to the Club for a long time.
WR: He’s the man who fashioned the lease that we negotiated with the Elks Club and yet another person who made our present Club possible.
RF: That’s right, he did, and he did an outstanding job….How about Lorrin Thurston?
WR: Lorrin Thurston? Lorrin passed away, you know, just a few years ago. He contributed a lot to the Club.
RF: Yes. I know he did, but I just wanted to observe that he was one of those I knew well and admired greatly. I remember him particularly when he spoke up at the annual meeting in opposition to having to move away from Waikiki. He loved the old Club and did a lot for it. How long was Cline President?
WR: One year. He declined a second term.
RF: He certainly deserved to be President. I thought it was fitting recognition of a guy who had worked hard.
WR: Yes, indeed. Cline was in on the planning stages of our new Club, was on a number of committees, the most important of which was the Planning Committee. I appointed him as Chairman of the Planning Committee in the final two years of the negotiations of our planning period and he went on from Chairman of the Planning Committee to Chairman of the new Building Committee – the committee which was responsible really for the negotiations with the architects, the contractors, the committee that worked with the architects on a daily basis practically during the entire construction of this Club. Cline did a magnificent job. Absolutely fantastic.
RF: That’s his line, isn’t it?
WR: Yes. Bob, I am going to wind this up. I think we have covered lot of territory.
RF: There’s one man that – I can’t think of his name – I think he should be recognized for the fact that he fought for our swimming hole in the reef out here.
WR: Who’s that?
RF: Keith Wallace.
WR: Oh yes, absolutely! He was on the Planning Committee. He was Chairman of the Beach Development Committee. He was tenacious. I am sorry we forgot to mention him – he was one of the group who served on the Building Committee with Cline, and I was ex-officio member of that committee. Keith – his nickname was “Laddie”, was a Scotsman – he was a wonderful person. I am glad you thought of him.
RF: Well, sometimes things come back to you when you think a while. Your activities now, you are not too active with the Club any more, but your initial effort that four years of your presidency was a very critical period and we could have landed up in Waikiki if we didn’t get control.
WR: Hold it, Bob. A lot of that was covered in the interview they did of me, so let’s not go into that at this time — this is your interview — but I do appreciate your kind words.
RF: But that was really critical – that was a critical time. Beyond that you had a bunch of fine guys.
WR: Well, Bob, I really was fortunate. I had a good Board to work with.
RF: That’s true.
WR: Bob, I think we’ve about covered it…You are looking at your notes there, is there anything . . .
RF: One of the things I didn’t mention – one of my real pleasures . . . I used to spend time with old-timers on the beach; I was interested in the past so I used to sit around with Jack Mackenzie, Judge Steiner and Atherton Gilman. You remember they used to come down there on Wednesdays and sit over in a corner – they called it “The Liar’s Club”.
WR: The Liar’s Club (Laugh)
RF: Yes. I once asked, “How do you get into this club?” Reply: “You can’t. You are not a good enough liar. You’d never be one of us.” They were always telling stories – stretching them out, but I learned a great deal about the beach activities around here from them; the hotels, and one thing and another. They really had a lot of background history. Were you able to get Atherton and some of them in this project?
RF: I always appreciated them. I felt kind of badly when it broke up . . . every time we talked some new thing would come out and unfortunately one of these tape recorders would have been wonderful if we’d had it then.
WR: Well, I don’t know if they taped Atherton Gilman, but I know they taped Jack Mackenzie and Judge Steiner. Speaking of that group, this leads me to a question, weren’t they some of the early members of the Kamaaina Hui and did you have anything to do with the establishing of the Kamaaina Hui?
RF: Quite a bit.
WR: Oh! We are always finding something new here.
RF: I don’t have it all clear in my mind – all of the background – but fundamentally there was a group of us interested in making progress in the Club. We felt one of the ways was to encourage good candidates to serve on committees and run for the Board of Directors. So we decided to organize a group to get together and work on it. We used to go to Bill Hollinger’s place. Bill was then with the Primo brewery and he always had bottles of beer that were shorts. You know, they couldn’t use them and they couldn’t dump them out and let them go to waste.
WR: You couldn’t let that beer go to waste. Of course not!
RF: They all went into a big tub probably about six feet long and three feet high, and Bill would bring home these shorts, put them on ice, and we’d get together. We’d play paiute on the floor in the middle of the house and, er, I was the President . . .
WR: You were the President?
WR: Were you the first President of the Kamaaina Hui?
RF: I think so, but I wouldn’t swear to it. But I can remember going through and trying to conduct a meeting while playing paiute on the floor . . .
WR: . . . and drinking beer! Who were the members of the Kamaaina Hui – was it restricted to members of the Outrigger Club?
RF: Yes. They were members of the Outrigger Club who were considered to be acceptable old timers – people who would fit in.
WR: Sort of a club within a club?
RF: A club within a club, and the objective was to try to get a couple new Board members in. One of those was Wilford (Godbold), Sam Fuller, and I think there was one other . . .
WR: They were people you felt would be beneficial to the . . .
RF: Yes, be beneficial to the Club, and add something to the Board which seemed to be a little staid . . .
WR: Just for the record – this is in the days of the old Club down at Waikiki Beach.
RF: Yes, at the old Club. One of our proteges was Clyde French. He was a good boy and he worked out well. He became President of the Kamaaina Hui and then moved to Kauai. We also voted a couple of people out because they didn’t fit in.
WR: I know I was very flattered and very honored when I was asked to join.
RF: We didn’t bounce you out either.
WR: No, you didn’t bounce me…. (Laughter)
RF: They did a lot of good. We worked along well. Unfortunately the Hui disbanded when we moved to the new Club.
WR: I’m glad you brought that up because the Kamaaina Hui has recently reactivated itself, and for the last three or four years has sponsored an annual get-together with the Hui Nalu and Waikiki clubs. That’s been a wonderful occasion. Bob, I think we’ve about . . .
RF: You know, I didn’t even get my breakfast as a result of getting up so early this morning for our interview.
WR: You mean I got you up so early. Tell you what, Bob, let’s call it pau for today, and I’ll treat you to lunch. If anything comes up and we want to get more in the record in the days ahead, we’ll have another get-together.
RF: Fair enough.
WR: Thank you very, very much.
RF: You are welcome. I’ve enjoyed it.