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.
Interview by J. Ward Russell
November 16, 1984
WR: Today is the 15th of November, 1984. It is a beautiful Hawaiian morning at the Outrigger Canoe Club. I am Ward Russell, past president of the Club and currently a member of the Historical Committee which has as an ongoing project the objective of conducting oral interviews with the Club’s most prominent and famous “old-timers.”
Today it is my distinct pleasure and privilege to interview Waldo Bowman. I particularly wanted to interview Waldo because he is one of my oldest and dearest friends and has known me almost ever since I was born. As a matter of fact his sisters used to baby-sit me when I was a youngster. I don’t know if you realize it, Waldo, but you had a profound effect on my life when in 1940 you introduced me to weight lifting and in one year’s time turned me from a 135 lb. weakling into a 155 lb. weakling. (Laughter)
Waldo, tell me, where and when were you born?
WB: I was born in Hilo on the 5th of June 1914.
WR: What were your parents doing in Hilo at that time?
WB: At that time my father was head of the Board of Health in Hilo.
WR: What was his name?
WB: Donald Scott Bowman, Sr.
WR: Donald Scott Bowman – and your mother?
WB: Elizabeth Yates. She was a Yates from Kona.
WR: Any relation to Julian Yates?
WB: My mother was Julian Yates’ sister.
WR: When did your father and mother first meet, and how did they come to settle in Hilo?
WB: Well, this is a long story, but I’ll try to make it short. My father was in the Spanish American War and he fought in the Philippines. When he came through here on his way to the Philippines he had an uncle who was a doctor who founded Leahi Hospital.
WR: Leahi Hospital?
WB: So Dad stopped. . . I forget the uncle’s name, Jim, or whatever it was – so Dad stopped and saw Uncle Jim on his way to the Philippines. On his way back from the Philippines he stopped in again to see Uncle Jim, and Uncle Jim said, ‘Don, do you have a job?” Dad said, “No, I’m going back to the Mainland, but I’ll find a job.” So the doctor said, “If you get back on the Mainland and you can’t find a job, come back here and I’ll find one for you.” So Dad went back to the Mainland, ran out of jobs and came to Hawaii.
WR: When was that?
WB: 1899. So Uncle Jim got Dad a job in Hilo working in a drug store as a pharmacist. I don’t know how my Dad got to be a pharmacist but anyway, that got him to Hilo, and then he got from the pharmacy to the Board of Health.
WR: Waldo, I know that you are one of twelve, and I was taught to remember them by Cline Mann who had difficulty remembering them when he was a youngster, so he listed them alphabetically. I am going to try to do so also – correct me if I am wrong, I may make some mistakes. They are: Clifford, Donald, Jan, Kent, Moffett, Pierre, Waldo and Wright – those are the boys – and the girls: Donna, Lani, Maile and Nina.
WR: OK. Now, which one were you?
WB: Did you come up with twelve?
WR: Let’s see – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Yes, er. . . you are No. 7?
WB: No, wait, wait. No, no, no. I am number nine, Donna was number eight.
WR: Now, weren’t there two. . . Your father had two marriages?
WR: Four. OK, now, what about giving me a little background on each one of your brothers and sisters?
WB: Well. My Father first married a full blooded Hawaiian girl. Mary Pa was her name, and by her he had seven children. Then she died and he married my mother, Elizabeth Yates, who was half Hawaiian and had five children, one of whom died in infancy. Then my mother died, and he married Neltje Meyer, a haole from the Mainland. They were divorced, and then he married another haole from the Mainland, Helen Baker. He was married to her when he died.
WR: I think it would be interesting – can you list them chronologically and tell us a little about each.
WB: Clifford was the oldest… Let’s get into schools, now. Some people classify the Bowmans into two groups – the Kamehameha Bowmans and the Punahou Bowmans.
WR: I know you’re Punahou.
WB: So, Clifford, Donald, Maile, Nina, Wright, Pierre and Moffett all went to Kam Schools. Back in those days Kam School only went to the tenth grade. So subsequently, after Kam School, Donny, Maile, Nina and Pierre went to Punahou. They went to both schools – Kamehameha and Punahou as sophomores. My brother Kent went to both schools, and he also went to Iolani, but he didn’t graduate from any of them.
WR: And today he is Vice President of Davies Marine!
WB: He’s President! The oldest one, Clifford, had a very interesting career. When he graduated from Kam School, that’s the ninth grade, there was a Russian baron, Eugene Fersen, who was lecturing in Honolulu at the time. Some deep subjects, I don’t know, psychology or something like that. Anyway, he met Clifford and took a shine to this handsome young Hawaiian boy, so he took Clifford as his private secretary – took him travelling with him all around the world – for years.
WR: Is that right?
WB: Clifford, finally came back to Hilo, settled down, and went to work for the Board of Health, the job my Father had had before. After the Board of Health, Clifford went to work with what is now Aloha Airlines. He was Vice President of Aloha Airlines when he died in 1968.
Then, brother Don. After he graduated from Punahou (in 1924) he went back to Lynn, Massachusetts, to the General Electric School and became an electrical engineer. Then Donny came back to the Islands and worked for many years for Kohala Plantation. Then after the War he set up Bowman Electric Shop in Honolulu and then went to work for the Federal Government – the Army Corps of Engineers. Brother Don died here a few years ago.
Next would be Maile. Maile O’Donnell. (After graduating from Punahou in 1924) She graduated from the old Normal School – back in the days when we had a Normal School for preparing teachers – and started teaching school at Waialua Plantation where she met and married this young guy who was working in the office at the plantation, Ray O’Donnell. Maile taught for many years and Ray O’Donnell became the office manager for Waialua Plantation. He died a few years ago. Maile still lives out at Waialua.
Then, sister Nina. After she graduated from the University of Hawaii (in 1928), she became a school teacher. She started teaching at Washington Intermediate School, and then went to Roosevelt High School where she was for many, many years and she knows a lot of people from the school there.
OK, next was. . .
WR: Wait a minute now, Nina married that famous. . .
WB: Nina married Bill Wise, famous football player and coach.
WR: One of my close friends.
WB: A real great guy. Bill died here a few years ago. Then Nina married Bill Read from the Mainland who was in the heavy equipment business. They were divorced here a few years ago. Then we come to Wright. My brother, Wright, had gone to General Electric School with brother Don, and Wright became a pattern maker. Wright went to for the old Honolulu Iron Works as a pattern maker. During World War II he was with the Navy at Pearl Harbor as a pattern maker. After the War he went into his own business of building Hawaiian koa furniture. Wright is very famous now for his ability to make invisible repairs to antique calabashes and priceless art objects like that.
WR: He also built canoes.
WB: That’s right. He is famous as a canoe builder. Wright taught shop at Kam School for many years, but now he is retired and is strictly fooling around with canoes and the rest of it. Next, brother Pierre. After graduating from Punahou in 1929, he went to Oregon State University where he was a well-known football player. He came back to the Islands and went to work for Kohala Plantation. He was in personnel management – and worked for the plantation for forty years. Now he is retired and lives in Kohala.
WR: I want to add one thing about Pierre. He was a very famous football player at the University of Oregon.
WB: Oregon State.
WR: Oregon State, excuse me. He was one of the eleven famous “Iron Men” who in 1933 held national champion USC to a scoreless tie. The eleven men played the entire game without a substitution. Due to that and his athletic prowess at Punahou, he has been inducted into Punahou’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
WB: Yes. Isn’t that great?
WR: I was very happy about that, I happened to be on the committee and . . .
WB: I know, I know. I appreciate your help.
WR: You are welcome. OK, after Pierre?
WB: Then comes Moffett. Moffett, after Kam School, went into the police force, that was back in 1932 when they were reorganizing the police department. Remember, they took it out of politics and brought in Chief Gabrielson. A lot of young guys like Moffett went into the police force. He stayed on the police force until . . . some time during the war when he went to work for the Army Engineers out where they were building Bellows Field. Then, after the war he got a job with the State as a Fish & Game Warden. For many years he was Fish & Game Warden on the Windward side. Moffett died here a few years ago. . . Then after Moffett comes Donna. Donna married Mark Normal Olds who was a lawyer and subsequently a judge on the Island of Hawaii.
WR: My classmate.
WB: Donna was your classmate?
WR: Yes. She was a little older . . .
WR: She always reminds me of the fact that she baby-sat me when I was a youngster and changed my diapers. (Laugh)
WB: Donna married Norman Olds and they are now divorced. She had three sons, two of whom are regular Army officers now. Her son, William, is stationed over in Egypt, and her son, Bowman Olds, is a lieutenant colonel with the 101st Airborne. Her youngest son, Mark, works for the Hawaiian Electric Company. Then, after Donna comes Waldo.
WR: Let’s skip him for now. OK?
WB: And, then comes Lani. Lani married Hart Wood – Hart Wood, Jr. – they were married for a few years then divorced. Then Lani married Ernest Holmes. He was a regular Army officer who is now a retired brigadier general. They were stationed all over the world and now live up in Kula on Maui. Then comes brother Kent. He’s the one who went to Kam, Iolani and Punahou and didn’t graduate…
WR: Senator K’au Manua!
WB: K’au Manua! Kent finally finished high school in California. The War came along and Kent was hot to go in the service. He tried to enlist in the Marines and they wouldn’t have him – Kent has asthma – then he tried the Army and his body was warm so the Army took him. But before he got to boot camp they found he had asthma and gave him a medical discharge. So Kent went into the Merchant Marine. He went to the Merchant Marine Academy – the 90-day wonder thing during the War, and became an officer in the Merchant Marine where he served during the War. He was on ships that were hit by Kamikazes twice. He saw more action that I did when I was in the Army. Anyway, after the War Kent came back here and went into the shipping business with Matson, and now he is the President of Davies Marine.
My brother Jan – my brother Jan we call the haole brother, because he has no Hawaiian. His Mother was my Father’s third wife, Neltje Meyer, from California. Jan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley as a metallurgical engineer. He was commissioned in the Army reserve and served in the Korean War. After the Korean War he went back to California and got a job with Kaiser – Kaiser Industries – as a metallurgical engineer and worked his way up in Kaiser – he was the chief of research and development in Kaiser Industries, and now is retired from Kaiser. He has his own business back on the Mainland. . . So, that’s it!
WR: Run out of brothers and sisters! OK, now about you . . . You grew up in Hilo?
WB: Well, I didn’t grow very far. I was born in Hilo. I was born in 1914 and we moved to Honolulu in 1919 when I was about five years old. In Honolulu my folks bought a place up in Manoa Valley. I went to Punahou School, and then to the University of Hawaii. Before World War II I had several jobs – I couldn’t hold on to any of them (Laughter). I had studied engineering at the University Hawaii and just before the War I was working as a surveyor for the Navy out at Pearl Harbor. Fortunately I had a reserve commission which I had received at the University of Hawaii ROTC, so I volunteered for active duty in 1941 before the War started, as a result I went on active duty at Hickam Field on the first of October, 1941. I was married, and Yvonne and I had quarters on the post. We were living there on December 7, 1941, when the Jap attack took place. Oh, that was really spooky.
We had a little duplex, a one-story duplex at Hickam Field right on Pearl Harbor – an unobstructed view of Pearl Harbor. And on this December morning – it was a Sunday morning – we had been on a sabotage alert so I had my helmet, you know, the old soup plate helmet and my gas mask and my .45 waiting to be alerted and called out. We were lying in bed talking about what we were going to do this Sunday morning – I said, “Let’s go body surfing out at Makapuu,” and that sounded like a good idea. As were talking – Whamo! A big explosion and then a bigger one. I said to Yvonne, “That Navy is dredging out at Pearl Harbor and wouldn’t you know they’d wait until Sunday morning to do their blasting.” And – Bang! again, and down came the light fixture in the bedroom – came crashing to the floor. We were in the back bedroom away from Pearl Harbor. Yvonne jumps out of bed, runs down the hallway to the front bedroom, grabs a handful of venetian blinds, looks out the window and screams. I went down there and looked out and there’s a roar of a plane just skimming over the roof. I look up and it keels over and I see the red meatball under the wing. Right away I knew what it was. Then all hell broke loose, with bombs and machine guns, and oh, Jesus. . . So, I knew what I had to do so I left. In the duplex next door was a Lieutenant, his wife and baby. We went over there and got together and they were going in to town. So I said, “Yvonne, you go into town and go to my sister Lani’s.” I started getting dressed so fast as I could and the phone rang, “Get your tail down here right away.” “I’m coming, I’m coming.” So I went down there. I was with the Post engineer and we were in charge of the operation of the utility systems on the Base – maintenance and repair and the operation of the whole thing, and we also had the Fire Department. I got down there and the bombs were falling all over Hickam Field. One of the first sticks of bombs that the Japs dropped landed right on the 18” water main that supplied the entire Base at Hickam Field – hit it right on the ‘T’. They hit also right on front of the Fire Department, and it wiped out our Fire Department completely. The buildings were on fire and the Honolulu Fire Department came in to help. Those Honolulu Fire Department men did a terrific job. Well, anyway, we had to get water as the water supply was out. I was a lieutenant, and the captain and I took a detail of workers and went down to where the bomb had hit the 18” main. Then we went back to the main valve to cut down on the pressure. There was a sump where the bomb crater was and the water was bubbling up into a geyser. We got the Honolulu Fire Department with their wagon train around this thing and dropped a hard suction into this well and used that to pump water all over the Base to put out the fires. After the work detail got things going the captain and I decided to leave them to go back to the shop. We got about two blocks away when, Boom! some more bombs hit and wiped out. . . and killed the men that we had just left there.
WR: Oh, my.
WB: And then, on the way back to the shop we saw a bunch of enlisted men reeling around, they didn’t know what to do, so we stopped the car at the intersection at Hickam, and told the men to take cover. After they took cover – my personal car, I was driving – we started down the road. We were less than 100 yards away when a stick of bombs hit right were we had been standing on the intersection. I looked in my rear view mirror and I saw these orange balls of fire and the parked cars jumping off the road. I ducked, I thought the shells were coming through the back window, charged down to the shops, screeched the brakes, ran in. . . Well, anyway, we went through the whole thing and it was a mess. Only my laundryman knows how scared I was.
So that was the start of the War. I stayed here the first part of the War and then I went out to the invasion of Okinawa. I was in the Okinawan campaign. Then we went with the Army of Occupation in Korea. My points came up and I left Korea Thanksgiving, 1945, arriving home December 3, 1945.
I had four months terminal leave. I didn’t have any job to go back to because I quit my job – resigned from my job – to go into the Army so I just sat and cooled it for a couple of months, relaxed. I’d lost 20 lbs. in the Army so I stayed home eating to get my weight back. And then I got a job as a civil engineer for the City and County of Honolulu. They had me working on the big Bingham sewer project which had been stopped during the War, I was the resident engineer for the City and County on that sewer job. Then the Army Corps of Engineers was reorganizing after the War and a lot of officers that I had served with, engineering officers, were going to work as civilians and they got me to come – so I got a job as a civil engineer with the Federal Government. I worked at that job for twenty-five years until I retired in 1970.
WR: Fourteen years since you retired?
WB: Fourteen years, I have been doing nothing, and I love it.
WR: (Laughter) I am enjoying my retirement, too. When you were at Punahou did you engage in athletics to any degree?
WB: Well, I graduated from Punahou when I was fifteen.
WR: Fifteen! Really!
WB: I can tell how big I was because I got my auto license when I was 15. I was 5’11” and weighed 142 pounds.
WR: A string bean!
WB: So, I wasn’t cut out for football. I had been swimming, but I had ear trouble and had to quit swimming in my sophomore year at Punahou so I didn’t do a damned thing in athletics. Then, when I got to the University of Hawaii I was involved in surfing – surfing every day and playing volleyball, but I did play volleyball for the University of Hawaii for three years. I played on the Varsity team for three years and chased girls the rest of the time.
WR: The surfing and volleyball originated at the Outrigger Canoe Club?
WR: When did you first join the Club?
WB: I joined the Club in the summer of 1930. I’ve been a Club member 54 years. I’d just graduated from Punahou and Euclid Watts and Barton Eveleth – “Pukie” Watts and Barton Eveleth – they were buddies and one day Bart said, “Why don’t we go to the beach?” and I said, “Where are we going to change?” He said, “Well, my Mother belongs to the Uluniu Club” – next to the old Outrigger Club. So we came down to the Uluniu and changed into our bathing suits. We three kids didn’t know what to do, so we went out and sat on the beach and looked around. We saw these kids that we knew coming out of the Outrigger Club with surfboards and going surfing – the Burkland boys and “Weasel” Barrere and those guys. We got talking to them and they said, “Oh, we’re member of the Outrigger Club” and then before I knew it, old “Pop” Ford, who had known me since I was a little kid, said “Waldo, you’d better join this Club.” I said, “Oh, Geez, Pop, I don’t know. I don’t have much money.” It cost me $6 to join or some such ridiculously small amount. He said, “Come here.” He got an application, signed it and sponsored me. Alexander Hume Ford sponsored my membership in the Club! (Laughter) . . . and so I joined. That was back in 1930.
But, I was out of the Club for five years from 1958 to 1963 because I was living on the other side. I was living on Kaneohe Bay Drive and I belonged to the Kaneohe Yacht Club. My kids were in the activities over there, so for five years I was out, but then this new Club was built, I rejoined the Club.
WR: What year was that?
WB: ’63. Right after this Club was built they were giving old members a chance to get in for fifty bucks, you know.
WR: Yes, that was 1963-64. They were conducting a concerted drive to get some of the old-timers.
WB: They must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel because they got me.\
WR: Tell me about Ford. What are your recollections about him?
WB: Oh gosh! Pop Ford – he was really a Pop to us little kids. He lived in those days in what is known as the Castle home. The Castle family had this big home in Manoa – b-i-g three-story mansion on the side of the hill – Upper Manoa Road, up above Ferdinand, uh, – and anyway. . .
WR: Right near Waioli?
WB: Before you get to Waioli, on the side of the hill. So, Pop had founded the Pan Pacific Union and they used that as their headquarters. Well, anyway, when I was a little kid, I was pre-Boy Scout age, maybe eight or ten years old and Pop used to round us all up, get the Burkland boys and the Lowreys and the Schencks, and us and he had a big old touring car and he’d take us out for a picnic or something. I can remember one day he took us out to Hanauma Bay. Now, in those days there was no paved road between Kaimuki and Hanauma Bay after you left Waialae Avenue – you know where old Kaimuki Theater was?
WB: OK, from there it was a dirt road, and the dirt road went down to the Kuapa Pond. Kuapa Pond, which is now that whole Hawaii Kai area, and there were just mud flats here. To get across the mud flats they had boards laid across the mud, and when it was dry enough Pop drove this old flivver on these boards to get across the mud flats and then to the foot of Koko Crater – the road didn’t go to the top. At the base of the hill where Portlock Road is we had to leave the car and hike up to the top to get to Hanauma Bay.
WR: My goodness. When you consider what has happened to that area now. . .
WB: O-oh. . .
WR: . . . its interesting.
WB: So Pop had known me several years when I came to the Club. He just dragged me in here!
WR: What year did you say you joined the Club?
WR: 1930, so you were just, er…
WB: I had just turned 16 – my birthday was in June. I had just turned 16, right after graduation.
WR: Had you been surfing prior to that?
WB: No, I hadn’t been surfing. I didn’t know a damned thing about surfing.
WR: Who taught you to surf? How did you get into surfing?
WB: Well, OK now so I got enthused about this. I didn’t have any surfboard, and I didn’t have any money and when I got home I was talking to my brother, Moffett. He said, “I have a friend who has a board that he keeps down at Waikiki Tavern” – the old Waikiki Tavern . . .
WR: I remember it well.
WB: And, he said, “I can use it any time, do you want to use it? Go ahead and use it.” So he took me down there and showed me where the board was. So I’d go down to the Tavern to get the board, and I learned to surf in front of the old Waikiki Tavern. It was shallow water about waist deep and I got this solid redwood plank that was about nine feet long, I’d wade out in the water and I’d push the board and scoot in on my tummy until I got the feel of the thing, you know, and then the time came when I was brave enough to venture out in the bigger surf, and I well remember the first real wave I ever caught by myself. I had this heavy solid board. It was a rental board. I’d borrowed it from somebody and it had pearl-dived so many times its nose was all bashed in. I was inside surfing, you know… about the third break right outside the shore, small waves, but too deep to stand. I was right alongside of the old Moana pier and I paddled, paddled this thing and the wave caught me (Laugh) and I scooted in. I didn’t dare stand up, but that was the thrill of my life. I’d finally caught a wave! So I just took it from there, I bought the board I had borrowed, renovated it, took it to the Club and got a locker, and progressed from that board to another. After a while I started making surfboards.
WR: Tell me about your experience of making surfboards.
WB: Well, those were solid redwood boards we got in those days. The routine was you’d go down to the old Lewers & Cooke lumber yard. They brought lumber in just for this purpose. The boards were three inches thick, two feet wide and twelve feet long, and they were all stacked up together. You’d go down there – the object was to find the lightest one. You’d take your buddy with you and heft each one. You’d go through the whole stack a couple of times ‘til you’d find the one you thought was the lightest. Then, you’d get that board and right then and there you’d mark out the outline of the board and designate the taper that you’d want to have them put on the bottom by the planing machine – like one inch thick at the nose, taper back three feet. OK, then from two inches thick at the stern taper it forward four feet. OK, so they put this rough board through the machine – they planed it, the top smooth. . .
WR: Right there at the mill?
WB: Right there at the mill. They cut it out on the band saw to your shape and then tapered it to the bow and to the stern. OK. Then you take that board home, turn it upside down on a couple of saw horses and you start off with a draw knife to round off the bottom – you rough-shaped it with a draw knife and then you use a plane for the final shaping. After that you sand and you sand, and you sand, and then you varnish. In those days we didn’t have this fancy new thing called urethane so we used to use Valspar varnish. You thinned the first coat and then if you wanted a mirror-like finish you’d put as many as 12 coats of varnish, sanding between each coat with wet sandpaper across the grain until you had a beautiful board. That’s the way you did it.
WR: Did you progress into the hollow boards?
WB: Yes, I had several redwood boards, then in 1934 Tom Blake brought the first hollow boards. . .
WR: Tom Blake?
WB: Tom Blake, he’s the guy who invented the hollow boards, the long cigar shaped hollow board.
WR: Yeah. I had one.
WB: So he brought this hollow board to the beach at Waikiki. Tom was a friend of mine and I surfed with him a lot. He respected my surfing ability to he asked me to try his board. I tried his board and I liked it. He had several hollow boards that I tried and I liked his boards, but they were too light and the edges were too square, and the design was not quite what I wanted. So I decided to make one of my own. I designed my own hollow board, to the same length, 13 feet and the same width. . .
WR: 13 feet long?
WB: 13 feet long. I made mine of spruce, beautiful clear Sitka spruce, and when my board was finished it weighed 68 pounds.
WR: That was light. . .
WB: In those days it was light. Now, Duke’s 16-foot board – you remember Duke’s big redwood. . .
WB: He’d hollowed it out in the middle. That board weighed 126 lbs. I weighed that board, I know it.
WR: 126 lbs!
WB: 126 lbs – so 68 was light. Duke used my board a couple of times and he complained about the lightness of the board. Anyway, I rode that board from then on until I quit surfing. You know, back in my waning years I finally got around to the new fangled fiberglass foam boards.
WR: Did you surf with balsa and then the foam boards?
WB: I never did go through the balsa stage, I went from redwood to hollow.
WR: Hollow, then to foam.
WB: Yes. The foam I rode them a short time – I was nearly sixty years old when I was riding the foam boards.
WR: You mean you surfed until you were sixty?
WR: But you’ve been weight lifting, for how long?
WB: Since 1937.
WB: You know I kept up weight lifting even during the War. During the Okinawa campaign I found some train wheels. The Okinawans raised sugar cane. They had these tiny trains they took into the cane fields, and the wheels were fixed to the axle. During the attack we blew up a lot of these things and afterwards these train wheels were lying around, so I got two train wheels – a small set and a big set and I used to work out behind the tent during the war. The guys thought I was some kind of nut. (Laughter).
Oh, I’ve got to tell you a good story about that. Before we went to Okinawa, before we got into the invasion, when we were getting ready, a friend of mine was a Special Service officer. He had charge of all the recreation equipment, and he was programmed for years, because we didn’t know how long the war was going to last, and he had all this athletic equipment. I gave him my 220 lb. barbell set to keep until I could send for it. Well, the barbell set never caught with me until I got to Korea. I was in Korea in the Army of Occupation before I saw the barbell set. But – now this is the great stuff – I had an 80 lb. dumbbell set that I wanted to get to Okinawa, but I couldn’t take it with me when we went out for the invasion.
WR: You mean, the Army wouldn’t let you take your private things along on an invasion?
WB: I had a good friend, Ed Jensen, who was a commander in the Navy. He was in charge of the Port of Honolulu, so I said, “Ed, I have to go to this damned War thing, you know, but after I get organized will you send me my dumbbells.” So I got an Army dispatch case, a heavy canvas dispatch case they carry maps and things in. I took this dumbbell set apart and inside the case I put the plates. . .
WR: You’re kidding.
WB: I put the plates, and the short bars in the case. I got everything in this case, you put the flap over it and buckle it up, and you couldn’t tell what was in it, but the damned thing weighed 80 pounds. (Laughter) I’d been in Okinawa quite a while, the War was kind of letting up in its final stages and one day I get a radio call from this ship out in Buckner Bay in Okinawa from the ship’s captain. (Laughter) He said, “I’ve got something for you, you’ve got to come and get it.” So I go down to Buckner Bay. God, there are a hundred ships out there, but I finally find the right ship. I get into one of these little landing craft and get them to take me out to the ship. I get to the ship, it’s a merchant freighter, and I go aboard. I meet the captain and he takes me up to his officer’s quarters – topside – and he said, “Commander Jensen gave me something for you, I don’t know what it is, I don’t ask any questions.” He goes up to this huge safe, spins the dial, opens the safe. (Laughter) He takes this thing out of the safe and says, “I don’t want to know what it is – you can take it.” I says, “Thanks, Captain.”
WR: He probably thought it was a machine gun!
WB: It was my dumbbell set. Well, that’s not the end of the story. I got the stuff all set in Okinawa, so then I am going to Korea – the Army of Occupation – so, OK, so the war’s over and I’m getting my stuff ready to go to Korea. I got this 80 lb. dumbbell set – well, I’m going to take it, see. I got this bedding roll – army bedding roll there’s a canvas covered mattress in it so I spread out my bed roll and laid the plates on the bottom. Then I put my gun and a lot of other stuff in there and rolled the whole thing up. The damned thing weighed 150 lbs – this bedding roll. I get another guy to help me put it in a jeep and we went down to the LST that was going to take us to Korea. We get to the LST – Oh, I’m the ranking officer on the ship so. . .
WR: No wonder.
WB: I get them to open the bow doors and a couple of these sailors carry the bedroll just inside the bow doors of the LST. So far, so good, I am doing fine. We get to Korea, and we get to Inchon. Now Inchon is where they have the 23-foot tide, you know. When we got to Inchon it was low tide. So I get a boat to take me ashore. I pay one of these guys to get me ashore. We picked this little boat, open the bow doors, and they put this 150 lb. bedding roll in this little boat. As I said it was low tide and there is a ramp – these wooden ramps go down into the harbor and at high tide are very short. But at low tide the damned thing is about 200 feet long. I get there late in the afternoon and all of the swabbies who have been on shore are coming down the ramp and it is jammed. They let me off at the foot of the ramp and I got this damned bedroll with nobody to help me, so I stand it up and rock it and finally get it up on my shoulder. Then I start up that ramp. My knees are buckling, I get spots before my eyes, I’m bumping into sailors, and I damned near land in the drink. I finally make it up to the top and collapse. The guys were waiting for me with a jeep! (Gales of laughter!)
WR: That’s incredible – that’s incredible! Well, let’s get back to the Outrigger Canoe Club. Who were some of your buddies at the Club in the days when you were active?
WB: Oh, Lex Brodie, Wilbur Craw and Roy Craw, Mickie Carmichael, Raynolds and Dick Burkland, Dick Bechert, er, George and Charlie Bates, “Hot Dog” Hartman, Frank Bechert, all of the Dolans, Louis, Bobby, Johnny and Philly – they were all there. Oh gosh, I could go on . . .
WR: What athletic activities other than surfing did you engage in as far as the Club was concerned?
WB: Well, I played on the Outrigger Canoe Club volleyball team for five years. After I played for the University I played for the Outrigger.
WR: What league was that?
WB: They called it the Senior League, we played at the old Central YMCA, and we played club teams like the Aloha Amateurs and the firemen, and er . . . Those were the depression days at the Outrigger, you know. We didn’t have any money and sometimes we had to chip in to buy a volleyball. In those days we had an all haole team, and the crowd at volleyball games hated haoles. We had a few haoles that they especially hated, and the No. 1 hate was Tom Singlehurst.
WR: Tom, really?
WB: Thomas G. Singlehurst, “Old Duck Neck”. Now, Old Duck Neck, he was a fierce competitor and a pretty good hitter – good slammer, you’d know – and he’d go up and slam the ball and he’d say, “Hey, take that that you guys” and the crows would boo. It got so that every time he played as soon as he ran into the gym they started booing, and booed until we left. (Laugh) Actually, we weren’t a very good team, we lost as many as we won.
WR: Who were the members of your team?
WB: Well, there’s my old buddy, Iole Kraft. Iole Kraft, do you remember him?
WB: He was a hell of a hitter.
WR: Earl (Iole) Kraft. Yes, I remember him well, and he and I became very close friends. I met him when he was working on Maui.
WB: Yes. Iole was a big hitter and besides Singlehurst we had “Brains” Janda. Remember him? J-a-n-d-a. He was a beachboy, haole beachboy, and then we had Fred Logan, Lloyd Chiswick – we finally got a Hawaiian, Jennings Parker.
WR: Who were the principal beachboys during the period when you were active in the Club?
WB: Oh, I can remember them so well, you know there are a lot of beachboys that everybody hears about – you know – everybody remembers Chick and Panama.
WR: Oh, yes.
WB: . . . and “Sally” Hale, of course people remember “Sally” (Louis) Hale, and all of the Kahanamokus, but there were other beachboys like “Typhoon” Spencer. Do you remember Typhoon Spencer?
WB: Typhoon Spencer was a part-Hawaiian guy who lived on the Mainland for many years, and he came back here in the early 30’s and went to the beach patrol. That was Typhoon Spencer – and then there was Frank Telles, Curley Cornwall, Laughing John, Pua Kealoha, and of course, Harry Robello, Turkey and Steamboat. I am talking about the guys by the Outrigger, and then down Hui Nalu side – John D. Kaupiko, Joe Guerrero, Joe Akana and Charlie Amalu… I used to go over and play volleyball at Hui Nalu. They had a volleyball court which was set up next to the Moana Hotel, just near to Joe Fatt’s lunch stand that was right there on the beach.
WR: Was that the headquarters of Hui Nalu?
WB: Hui Nalu bathhouse was . . . the so-called Hui Nalu clubhouse was the Moana Hotel bathhouse. They didn’t have a club house of their own, per se. That’s where they hung out, that’s where they kept their stuff. And I used to go over there and play volleyball with them. They had a fish net strung between a couple of ironwood trees, and if you contributed 10 cents towards the ball you could go over there and play. (Laugh) They had a guy named Brede Karratti who had been a very good, top-notch, volleyball player and I liked to play against Brede because I learned a lot of volleyball from him. And then there was Steamboat’s Dad. You remember Steamboat’s Dad? And do you remember “Haile Salassie”, the beach boy?
WR: Oh, yes. I don’t think anyone has mentioned his name in any of the interviews so far.
WB: Haile Salassie was more Hawaiian, but he was sure black. He could play the ukulele. Remember, he could play “Nola” on the ukulele? In those days that was a big thing. There was no Ohta San in those days. Do you remember Frank Telles, the beach boy? Frank Telles, the tricks he used to do? You remember the trick?
WB: Oh, this is great. Old Panama Dave, you know what an operator he was? We’d set up some tourists. The tourists would be sitting under a beach umbrella in front of the Royal Hawaiian seawall and we’d get a conversation going with them. We’d get into athletics, you know, and then after we got the people all primed Panama would say, “You see this sidewalk up here above the seawall? And you see that steel picket fence with the spikes on top, and you notice that the sidewalk is about five feet higher than the sand down the other side? Well, we got a friend of ours who can run along the sidewalk by the seawall, dive over this picket fence, clear the sidewalk on the other side and land on his head in the sand. (Laughter). “Oh, impossible!” So Panama would make a bet. He’d set them up for about four or five scotch and sodas. I’d be in on it too. Six scotch and sodas – three for me and three for Panama. (Laughter) We’d get Frank Telles to do it. Well Frank Telles – in the old days in high jumping you had to go over feet first – Frank did waterless high diving. In the old days he could dive over the bar higher than the guys could high jump, but it was illegal. Its legal now. So we’d get Frank on the sidewalk above the seawall, he’d run along the sidewalk, dive head first, clear this picket steel fence, clear the sidewalk down below, land on the sand head first and roll – and Panama and I would collect six scotches! (Laughter) Frank didn’t drink.
Oh, Joe Miner. Did anyone talk about Joe Miner. Joe Miner was the beach attendant for the Outrigger Canoe Club and the Royal Hawaiian, and he had all of the beach umbrellas. Joe had a room in the basement of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where he kept all his gear, his umbrellas and chairs and stuff, and in there he had a pair of saw horses and a surfboard where he gave lomi lomis. He’d take these girls in there, lock the door, and give them lomi lomi. (Laughter)
WR: What a story.
WB: He’d say, I’ve got the key any time you want it. He was quite a character. Old Sam Poepoe was one of the guys around the Club – a past President of the Club.
WR: No, I don’t think . . . I don’t know if he was President. I know Tom Singlehurst was for many years the Treasurer of the Club.
WB: That I know. Sam Fuller was President of the Club. Sam Poepoe used to surf. We used to play volleyball, big games, six on a side. When I was a young guy we had all these old guys who played, Ernest Tucker Chase, “Admiral” Tulloch, Alfred Jungnickel, Ernest Stenberg, all these guys. And, old Ernest Chase, he always wanted to win, so we’d select winners for his team. There’d be two six-man teams – this was after work, all the businessmen came down – there’d be two six-man teams. OK, so Tucker Chase wants to organize a team to take them on. He’d recruit me and a couple of other young guys, all winners, and we’d have more damned fun. And then we had these intramural tournaments, six-man tournaments. I was usually captain of one team and Duke would be a captain of another. We’d draw lots to see who we’d get on our teams. I remember on one team I had Joe Farrington, Lorrin Thurston, and Ingram Stainback.
WR: Stainback? The governor…
WB: I had these three guys on my team. I’ll never forget that.
WR: Joe Farrington, himself?
WB: Well, he was a tremendous guy, that Joe Farrington. During the War he came to Okinawa during the campaign. He came to the camp to see us.
WR: What about the social activities of the Club?
WB: Well, I am glad you asked me that. (Laughter)
WR: I am talking about the ‘30s now, before we built the new “old Club.”
WB: Yes. The old Club I am talking about.
WB: Well, on the beach between the Royal and the Moana, right next to the Royal, we had a one-story canoe shed – corrugated iron shed – where we kept all the canoes and in the Ewa-makai corner was the Beach Patrol office where the beachboys worked out of. On the Diamond Head end there was a little lanai with chairs on it where the old ladies could sit and watch the people on the beach, and we had the famous big clock. Back of that there was the Hau Tree Terrace and there was a little sort of lanai up in the middle of the trees where we could look over the canoe shed, and then down below in back was the snack bar. May had her little snack bar in there, and there was a little Club kitchen, and there were benches and tables underneath there.
WR: You have an amazing memory.
WB: Back of that building was where we made the surfboards, there was a little shed back of that building; and then along the boundary, along the Moana side were all the surfboard lockers from the beach all the way up to the locker room. Now between the snack bar and the locker room we had three volleyball courts, one little court and two full size courts, and then came the locker rooms which was a two-story building that had previously been on the beach and had been moved back there. Underneath were the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Upstairs was the dance pavilion where we had the Club dances, and then between there and the road was a parking lot – which was a dirt parking lot. Now, that’s what we had for a Club. Now – talk about social life. In those days there was no bar in the Club.
WR: This was prohibited?
WB: Well, it started in – repeal came in, remember, Franklin Roosevelt started off with 3.2 beer.
WR: I sure do.
WB: And then hard liquor came – and the Club didn’t have any. In the old clubhouse before this one, there was no booze on the premises at all. Well this volleyball playing gang kinda liked to drink beer, you see.
WR: What? Volleyball players of the Outrigger Canoe Club really liked to drink beer? (Sarcasm)
WB: My gang, all the volleyball players – we had our own rules. On Saturdays – people worked until noon on Saturdays in those days – we came to the Club and you couldn’t drink water – no fair drinking water, and we’d get out and play volleyball all afternoon in that blazing sun on the hot sand without water. Finally, oh, about, five o’clock or so you’d hear somebody stick his head out of the locker room and yell, “Cocktail Hour”. So that was the signal! Everybody would quit playing volleyball, go in and take a shower and change, climb into cars and go down to the old Palm Tree Inn. You remember the Palm Tree Inn?
WR: Oh, my. I sure do.
WB: We had our own table there. There was this huge round table where we went.
WR: It used to be called the Poor Man’s Pacific Club.
WB: It became the Poor Man’s Pacific Club, later. This place had class. (Laugh) Beer was 10 cents a glass, and you could stack drinks. Well, after we got through playing volleyball we’d go down there and start tuning up on a few beers. We’d fill that table with beers and we’d sit around telling tall tales. This was Saturday night – then we’d adjourn to the Healani Boat Club downtown, the old Rathskeller. We’d all go down there – we’d go into the Rathskeller which was a beer joint and we’d spend the rest of the night there. That was a jumping place – do you remember that?
WR: I remember that.
WB: Oh, yes. That was the extent of the social life as far as we were concerned. Of course, the old ladies brought their picnic lunches down there and we’d cook a little hekka dinner in the Club kitchen that was out back.
WR: You were talking about that particular building and layout – how about the construction of the new “Old Club”, that would be about 1940, I think.
WB: Walter Marfarlane – you know – he was the driving force…
WR: What was your recollection of the construction of that building and the things that took place at that particular time?
WB: Well, I don’t really remember too much about the construction. But speaking of Walter Mac, now there was a tremendous guy. I knew Walter Mac for many, many years and he used to date my sister Nina before she got married. Bill Wise and Walter Macfarlane were rivals and Bill won. Well, I got to know Walter Mac quite well. When I think of Walter Mac, we were out sailing one day – in those days we had sailing canoes – you don’t see many around here nowadays, and so this one beautiful Sunday afternoon Dad Center and I and a couple of guys were sailing this canoe off Waikiki, we were about two miles out to sea . . . and we see this guy swimming. Jesus, it’s a long way from shore – and it was Walter Mac! “What the hell are you doing?” So we hauled him on board. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the ocean?” He said, “I was at a party on this yacht and I got tired of it and said, “What the hell, I’m going home!’” He had already been swimming for one mile. (Laughter) I’ll never forget that. It was nothing for him to swim in.
WR: The Club sure owes him a debt. He really kept the Club together in those days.
WB: Oh, yes.
WR: Tom Singlehurst, too.
WB: Tom Singlehurst.
WR: And Wilford Godbold. Wilford, he really worked hard for the Club. He was the one who got us that beautiful lease for this property. He did a magnificent job.
WB: He really worked hard. Getting back to Walter Mac, though. When I was a young guy my heroes were a bunch of young men-about-town, not too young men and that was Walter Mac’s gang, composed of Duke Kahanamoku, Kalakaua Kawananakoa, “Koke” and Bill Hollinger. Those were the big guys and they used to operate! They had all the women, and they did all the things that we young guys hoped that we could do. We learned a lot from then! (Laughter)
WR: Well, Walter Mac was a good coach and good teacher.
WB: I tell you another guy I learned a lot from and that was Jack Makenzie. (Laughter)
WR: He was a terrific guy, too. Jack and the Hollingers. You mentioned Duke, what was your impression of Duke?
WB: Oh, I tell you, Duke and I were always very good friends. Duke liked me when I was a just a teenager because he liked the way I surfed. We used to surf together a lot. When I was 18 years old I was the only kid in the Club who could use any of Duke’s surfboards, any time.
WB: Yes. Any time – he had half a dozen boards, you know. But the thing I remember about Duke was his uncanny knowledge of the ocean at Waikiki. It was really good and I learned, after surfing with him a few years, I caught on. We’d be sitting out at Canoe surf or First Break, right in that area. We’d be sitting there waiting for a wave with a bunch of people and I’d keep my eye on Duke. The ocean could be absolutely calm and all of a sudden he’d head out to sea – I’d head out right behind him. We’d go out a couple of hundred feet and by the time we got there a huge set of waves were coming in. There was absolutely no indication, but he knew. I just followed him. We were the only two guys out there, we’d catch a wave and go right through. He knew the currents and the wind and the surf.
Well, let me tell you a story about Duke. The year was 1934 and we had the biggest surf I have ever seen before or since. So we went out to Castle, Castle surf, huge surf. Well we were out there, Duke was out there on his big board, I was out there on my 13-foor hollow board and I remember “Suck Wind” (Howard) Vierra was there and Jimmy Hurd . . .
WR: Jimmy . . .?
WB: Jimmy Hurd, you know the Hurd brothers . . .
WR: Oh, yes, Jimmy and Allen.
WB: Yes. Jimmy was there and Lex and a few other guys and it was . . . the waves were absolutely terrifying, and there was a lull and so we kind of moved in towards shore. Then Duke said, “Look at that, man!” We looked outside and this h-u-g-e set of waves was coming in and we started paddling out as fast as we could. I came to a wave almost ready to break, I paddled up the slope and just as I was about in the vertical position, that thing broke and knocked met tail over teakettle – took my board and everything. Everyone lost his board, Duke lost his board, the big board. Then the waves kept coming and we had to dive under and I was running out of breath. I’d dive under a wave and I’d come up, and the foam was so thick – the foam was about four inches thick, you know, and you had to stick your nose above the foam before you could breathe. I was just about ready to give up, when finally, the last wave passed. Then I started swimming in. I swam in and came across Duke’s board – my board, nowhere in sight. So I get on Duke’s board and I paddle out to give the board to Duke. Duke said, “I’ll take you in to get you’re your board, Waldo,” I said, “No, I’ll swim in.” So I started swimming in, and it was getting late in the afternoon, it was getting dark. So I swam in, and boy, it was a long swim, about a half mile swim to the old sea wall.
WR: You had to go round the reef outside?
WB: . . . and it’s dark and I’m by myself and those huge waves were knocking me all over the place. Sam Kahanamoku was with us that day, and “Bull” Haynes. Finally I get in to shore, and its night time, I get up on the sea wall. My board is nowhere to be seen, so I started running along the sea wall towards Diamond Head – where Queen’s Beach is now – and there were some houses over there, and I go along and I see my board. My board is about 100 feet off shore, semi-submerged in the shallow water. I climbed up on a telephone pole so I could see it. I went out there and I got my board. It came over the reef and a hole was stove in the bottom.
WR: A hollow board.
WB: So I drag it up on the beach and let the water out. OK, so I got this board – 68 lbs. is a lot of weight to carry all the way back to the Outrigger Club – I can’t paddle it back. So I go in the house and I call my sister. She comes down with a car and I put the board on the roof of the car, and I get back to the Club. I put the board in the locker and I walk into the Club. Well, at this time its about seven o’clock at night. I walk into the locker room . . .
WR: Everybody wondering where the hell you were . . .
WB: I walk into the locker room and the guys looked at me, they jump up and down and start screaming and start slapping me on the back and “Waldo’s here!” Duke and Sam and Bull Haynes and these guys. They’d been sitting around wondering where I was and saw my clothes in the locker, my board wasn’t there and it was dark, pitch black, they couldn’t go out to get me and they were sitting around trying to figure out what to do when I walked in the door.
WR: No Coast Guard or helicopter in those days!
WB: They looked like they saw a ghost when I walked in the door. I never had people so happy to see me in all my life. I’ll never forget that.
WR: You could tell the surfing stories forever. You have seen a lot of changes since the old Club and coming down here to the new Club. What do you think of the new Club?
WB: Well, I like it. You know you’ve got too many old-timers who long for the old days. I’d say the biggest shortcoming as far as this Club is concerned, the surf is no damned good around here except Castle or Public Baths breaks. That’s the bad part. Other than that, its all good. Its also away from the action. Where we were before we were right in the middle of Waikiki.
WR: But considering what’s happened in Waikiki, I think its probably a godsend we moved down here, because you’d be hemmed in by all those hotels.
WB: Now, it looks good, this location, this facility.
WR: How much do you use the Club now?
WB: Well, I live over in Volcano on Hawaii.
WR: Yes, but you didn’t move over there until . . . when did you move over?
WB: I’ve only been there about a year now.
WR: About a year. How often do you get to town?
WB: Oh, I get here about once a month.
WR: I know that before you moved over there you were here every morning to get a workout.
WB: Before we moved we lived at 1350 Ala Moana, and so I came here Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to work out, and we used the Club quite a lot. But now that I am a senior member the dues are not too bad, so I keep my membership while I am living on Hawaii.
WR: You enjoy the Volcano?
WR: Are you enjoying the Volcano?
WB: Oh, I love it there. My wife, Yvonne, is not too crazy about it because the social life is not terrific, you know. But if you want peace and quiet – you’ve got it, and its cool and just great.
WR: You keep yourself in beautiful shape, you look . . . don’t seem to have changed in the last 15 years.
WB: Well, you know when you get to be an old man you have to hang on to what years you have left. You’ve got to work for it.
WR: Well, this has been just fantastic. Is there anything else you can think of – anecdotes, or comments you’d like to make for the record?
WB: Oh, well, yeah. I have to say something about Dad Center.
WB: Dad Center was one of my dearest friends. Dad was older than me, but he was “our gang”. We used to go and drink beer, and then one year Dad coached the Outrigger Canoe Club volleyball team. That’s when the Rathskeller was in operation. We’d practice at night at the old Army-Navy YMCA downtown, and then we’d go to the Rathskeller after practice. Well, the practices got shorter and shorter (Laughter).
WR: And the Rathskeller got longer and longer? (More laughter).
WB: Dad – in my younger days at the old, old Club – we’ go fishing with Dad Center. He had an outboard motor on an outrigger canoe, and Wilbur Craw and Lex Brodie were great fishermen. Dad taught them how to do all this stuff, and we’d come down here early in the morning and get all the gear and we’d go trolling and we’d get mostly kawelea. We’d go along the shore all the way down to Pearl Harbor and back and catch all this fish. Oh, we had a great time. And then, Dad and his girl friend at the time and my wife and I, we used to go for picnics out to Makaha, Maile beach and . . .
WR: . . . Dad was my swimming coach when I was on the swimming team at Punahou. He left in my junior year and “Dope” (Harold) Yap coached in my senior year, but Dad I had some wonderful times together. We used to go over to Francis Brown’s place.
WB: Oh, yes.
WR: You remember Dad’s old place here at Diamond Head?
WB: We used to go out there.
WR: Did you do much paddling?
WB: No, I only paddled for one year. I was for surfing and volleyball.
WR: Yes, surfing and volleyball. You know, paddling didn’t come back into the forefront until comparatively recently. As a matter of fact I remember it was July, 1933 – they re-established . . .
WB: Oh, I’ll never forget that. I was there.
WR: You were?
WB: Oh, boy!
WR: So was I. In 1933 they revived the outrigger canoe races, and the races were held that year at Napoopoo over in Kona and I remember the Outrigger senior crew . . .
WB: OK, Toots Minvielle was stroke, they had Clarence Ritchie, Wilbur Craw, Lex Brodie and “Small” (Ernest) Cook – and somebody else in the there. Did I miss anyone? Then the junior crew – the two Burklands, Herbert Jordan, Campbell Stevenson and Dick Bechert was steering. Anyway, we got over to Napoopoo. I was 19 years old. We had the Bowman family place up at Captain Cook. It was a big old house. All the Bowmans went over for the canoe races, so we went down to the beach and saw the races. Outrigger won – Dad Center was the coach. Dad had a little tent set up there on the beach. After the races he comes over with a gallon of okolehao slung over his elbow, you know, and a couple of glasses. I didn’t drink at the time, but there was a pretty good party going on, and then we took all these people up to our place in Captain Cook and God, we had a dozen people stay overnight at our place. Then they had a dance down at the Kona Inn. Do you remember that?
WR: Ah, I remember that because the Hualalai, I guess it was, was outside waiting for Steamboat and for Chick. Chick was dancing up a storm and they finally got a friend to drag him out so the ship could leave. I had stayed – I was just a kid at the time – and I was staying with the Childs right across the street from the Kona Inn. Anyway, I had no way to get back to Honolulu. They next day the Itasca . . .
WB: Oh, yeah.
WR: . . . the Outrigger canoes had come over on the Itasca, and Dad took pity on me and said, “Come aboard,” and that’s the way I got back to Honolulu.
WB: That dance at the Kona Inn after the races – you know my Father was a very handsome man and quite a guy with the ladies. Well, Dad – my Father – was at the dance. We’d spent quite a bit of time in Kona, we had a place over there, you know. Dad saw this elderly Hawaiian woman that he had known for years and years – a full blooded Hawaiian gal. My Dad was a courtly gentleman, so he has to go over and ask her for a dance. So he takes her on the dance floor and takes a few steps and she looks deep into his eyes and says, “Bowman, you still got that old electricity.” (Laughter)
WR: You spoke about the Bowman place at Captain Cook – as I remember it was adjacent to the Yates place.
WB: Right next door. It belonged to the Senior Yates – my Mother’s parents lived there.
WR: Well, how come your folks had that place there? Was it through your Mother?
WB: My Mother’s parents lived in that house and then my uncle, Julian, built a house right next door. Then when my grandparents died they left the house to my Mother.
WR: I see.
WB: Than when my Mother died she left the house to us.
WR: Is it still there?
WB: Still there.
WR: Everybody refers to it as the Bowman house.
WB: We had three and a half acres of property there. All the property has been subdivided into little house lots and now this big old place is stuck in the middle of all the new houses. Yes, I can still find it. The house is all redwood.
WR: You know Julian Yates was responsible for my Dad coming to Hawaii?
WR: My Dad was practicing law in Honolulu for Frank Thompson and he represented Parker Ranch so he went to up to Hilo a couple of times and won a few cases for Parker Ranch in Hilo. Got to meet Julian and A.W. Carter. So, finally one day they said, “Jim we need another lawyer in Hilo, you know we’ve got Carl Carlsmith and we need competition.” So they prevailed up on my Dad to give up his Honolulu practice.
WR: That was the start also of his political career. Mine too was helped by Julian Yates.
WB: I kind of forgot about your political career, you know.
WR: The Yates family were regular constituents.
WB: The Yates family alone was enough to elect you.
WR: When I first ran in 1948, Julian was in Kona. He sent word to Honolulu – to all the Yates ohana – the Yates, Kaauas, Bowmans, to give me a hand and they sure did!
WB: I remember voting for you. (Laughter)
WR: Thank you. The Yates family helped me during my entire political career. Oh, those were wonderful days.
WB: Speaking of working for the government. After people knew me as a surfer interested in big waves, I’d be working at the office and I’d get a phone call – this happened often – “Hey, first break, why aren’t you done here?” (Laugh) “I’m working.” Everybody felt that if big surf was up I was supposed to be there.
WR: You were supposed to be there! Well, Waldo, is there anything else you can think of?
WB: God, I think I’ve spoken too much already.
WR: Oh, no. Its been absolutely great. As far as I’m concerned, I think this has been one of the best interviews we’ve had yet. Your recollection of people, events and places . . . Well, let’s consider this the first step and if anything comes to your mind and you want to have another interview, just call me.
WB: If I can remember all that stuff, I don’t have Alzheimer’s yet. (Laughter)
WR: I sometimes think I am a candidate. Thank you very much.
WB: You’re welcome.
WR: It’s been a pleasure.
WR: Oh, we forgot to talk about your family. Tell me about your youngsters.
WB: Well, I have three children. Bonnie, the daughter, the oldest, and then there’s Bruce and then there’s Brent. Bonnie and Bruce graduated from the University of Hawaii – Bonnie in education and Bruce in travel industry management. The younger boy, Brent, graduated from the University of Denver. Bonnie lives in Portland, she’s married and teaches school, and our son Bruce also lives in Portland. He’s in the travel business in Portland, and our son Brent lives in Papaikou on the Island of Hawaii. He works for the Hilo Coast Processing Sugar Plantation.
WR: Any mo`opuna?
WB: Oh, my older son, Bruce has one son, Erik, who is fifteen.
WB: He lives in Chicago – Bruce and his wife are divorced, she lives in Chicago. Our son, Brent, over at Papaikou has three boys, they are about twelve, nine and six and their names are – the oldest boy is Kiawe, the next one is Keoni, and the youngest is Kawika.
WB: Three Hawaiian names, one is a blond, and the other two are redheads!
WR: Is that about it? Again, thank you very much.