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
January 29, 1993
JWR: This is January 29, 1993, I am Ward Russell (JWR) a member of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. Today, I am in the Board Room of the Outrigger Canoe Club together with Wilfred Paul who I am interviewing for the Oral History program of the Outrigger Canoe Club. Wilfred, where were you born?
WP: Where was I born?
JWR: Where and when.
WP: 1911 – I won’t tell you what month because you’d want to give me a big party or something.
JWR: Alright. [Laugh]
WP: I’ll be 82 this year, though.
JWR: What month?
WP: What month? That gives me away. Late in November.
JWR: November. Where were you born?
JWR: You were born here.
WP: Kaimuki, lived in Kaimuki at the time.
JWR: Tell be about your parents.
WP: Well, my dad was in the Navy when he met my mother here. He was in the Great White Fleet going around the world, and my mother and her family lived here, she was born in the Marquesas – at Nuku Hiva, and my grandfather was an old sea captain. He used to trade between the South Pacific smaller islands. He imbibed too much, I think [Laugh] and wrecked a couple of boats so they moved here and they lived down in Kakaako which was quite a town in those days. They were going on board this battleship, and my dad was at the gang plank, he was a chief petty officer, I guess, at that time. His duty was to take people around and he met my mother and, Boom! like that – at first sight they fell in love, I guess.
JWR: What year was that?
WP: 1905 – no, no, 1903, I guess it was.
JWR: You are a real kamaaina.
WP: Oh, yes.
JWR: Tell me about your education.
WP: Well, I started at Liliuokalani in Kaimuki, and then my dad was called back in the Navy in 1917 and we moved to Pearl Harbor and I went to a makeshift school there for about a year and a half. I didn’t learn a damned thing. I used to catch the bus and go to Pawaa junction – catch the train in Iwilei and catch a streetcar and go up to Kaimuki. That took me about an hour-and-a-half, one way, [Laugh] and I wasn’t a very good student anyway. So after a year-and-a-half, they sent me back to St. Louis. I was supposed to go in the third grade, but they put me back in second grade. I was there for about a year and then they took me out and I went to Central Grammar.
JWR: Oh, Central Grammar.
WP: Yeah. Then from Central Grammar, I wasn’t doing too well so they sent me to the Valley School up in Nuuanu, I don’t know if you remember the Valley School.
JWR: Yes, I remember that.
WP: And then the school folded up in – I don’t know in 1926 – I was in 7th grade then, and most all the kids were going to Punahou. My mother taught swimming for the YWCA at the Castle pool there – George Castle’s pool, and Mrs. Castle offered me a scholarship at Punahou my freshman year. My mother didn’t want me to go and meet girls, I guess, so they sent me back to St. Louis, which I hated. Oh, I hated that damned school! I was there four years then I left there my junior year and I went to Punahou. So in transferring from St. Louis to Punahou I lost another year. That was how I got into Punahou with a scholarship – I could have had one since my freshman year.
JWR: What was your reaction when you first entered Punahou?
WP: I was shy and scared and didn’t know how to act because I’d had four years with nothing but boys around me in school. Of course, I knew most of the kids from playing with them – we lived in Manoa Valley, across from the University of Hawaii, so I knew most of the kids of my age. Even then I was kind of hilahila about it.
JWR: [Laughter] I know you were at Punahou, was it just two years?
WP: Junior and senior years, yes.
JWR: I know you were quite active up there in sports.
JWR: What sports did you engage in at Punahou?
WP: Three sports: football, track and swimming. I went out for baseball but Dad Center got after me and said, “You can’t go out for baseball, you’ve got to go on the swimming team.” So that’s why I made three letters in sports, one in each. That’s the story of my life there. [Laughter]
JWR: When did you join the Outrigger Canoe Club?
WP: I joined the Outrigger in 1921. I used to use the Club a lot, my mother was a member prior to going to the Uluniu Club, and she used to go out surfing and there was a platform out from where the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is, a hotel called the Seaside Hotel. Right opposite that was a pier going out about 200 yards off-shore, so she’d take me out on her surfboard and leave me on this platform, then she’d go surfing and then come back and pick me up. [Laughter]
JWR: That was the old Moana pier?
WP: No, no, no. This was…..
JWR: By the Seaside?
WP: Right opposite where the Royal Hawaiian is they had four railroad tracks – in the ground and they had a platform there.
JWR: Oh, really?
WP: Do you remember that?
JWR: No, I don’t.
WP: They took that down very early, twenties, I guess. I went out surfing once with my mother and I was so damned scared, so that is why she left me on the pier, on a leash, so I wouldn’t – couldn’t get too close to the edge, you know… Then she left and went to the Uluniu Club, so I joined the Outrigger in 1921.
JWR: She was a member of the Outrigger?
WP: She was a member of the Outrigger then she joined the Uluniu.
JWR: Was that about the time the women’s ….
WP: …… Auxuliary…..
JWR: …..formed the Uluniu Club?
WP: Yes. I don’t know what year that was, though.
JWR: She must have been one of the original members.
WP: I think she was, yeah.
JWR: At that time you joined the Outrigger.
WP: That’s when I joined the Outrigger.
JWR: Let’s see, you would have been ten years old.
WP: Yeah, just ten.
JWR: And you had started to surf?
WP: Oh, yeah. I surfed and swam, and funny part of it was I was four years old I guess when my mother taught me how to swim, and we moved to Pearl Harbor and I wouldn’t go swimming because it was deep. [Laughter] My mother shoved me off a pier and I was surprised that I could swim in deep water. [Laughter] At the Outrigger, believe it or not, I played… I was on the track team – the Outrigger had a track team in those days.
JWR: Oh, yes, I remember that.
WP: Track, and I was on the swimming team, then on the volleyball team…
JWR: Can you remember any of the names of the kids that you ran track with or played volleyball with?
WP: Gee. No.
JWR: It was a long time ago.
WP: Too long ago, yeah. I forget – they were a lot older than me – that was the only thing. I was the youngest on the track team. I was only 14 -15 – something then. I wasn’t very good. I used to stay too long in the same place. [Laughter]
JWR: We have some pictures in our archives of the track squads – a football team, too, as I remember.
WP: I am not sure about that. The rowing clubs did, but I am not sure about the Outrigger. They had a pretty good track team for a couple of years. They had Mortimer Lidgate, “Jinkie” (Douglas) Crozier…..
JWR: Oh, yeah, Mort Lidgate was…..
WP: Percy Deverell, “Pump” (Theodore) Searle (he threw the hammer), and I think you mentioned that you interviewed…..
JWR: Oh, Harold Harvey.
WP: Yes, Harold Harvey was on the track team.
JWR: Yes, that’s right. What event did you…..
WP: I ran the quarter-mile – tried to run the quarter-mile. I think I was just on the relay team, then. Then we had all our races out at Palama. That was before… oh, the University had a track team also. I don’t know how well we did. I don’t think we won many events.
JWR: That’s interesting. You are the first person I have interviewed who has mentioned any participation in athletics, other than swimming or volleyball, or surfing. The track team is something that hardly anybody referred to.
WP: I’ll be darned. We had water polo and surfboard water polo, too. I think we won the championship couple of years in water polo. The surfboard polo was only one year, I think. That was for the entertainment of the tourists. We just used to play against the Hui Nalu Club with the Kahanamokus and all that bunch.
JWR: Where did you conduct these events? Right on the beach in front of the Club?
WP: Yes, swimming we used to swim at the Punahou pool and then one year we raced down at the Harbor, and the rest of the time right in front of the Outrigger – all the long distance swims and things like that.
JWR: What year did you graduate from Punahou?
WP: Not with honors though!
JWR: You were still a member of the Outrigger at that time.
JWR: Then you went on to college.
WP: I left and went to the University of Oregon in September 1931.
JWR: Well, now, how long did you stay a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club?
WP: I rejoined in 1960.
JWR: When did you leave the Outrigger?
WP: In 1931.
JWR: What were the circumstances of your leaving the Club?
WP: [Laugh] Well, we had a little party one night a celebration at the Moana for winning the surfboard polo championship, and a bunch of us were bending silverware and everything else which was a disgrace…..
WP: Well, it was common, ordinary silver – eating utensils – and the manager of the Moana Hotel didn’t take to that too well, and I think (Roy) Banks was the President of the Outrigger at that time and he got all of us together and only two of us, Mickey Carmichael and myself, were the only ones who confessed that we did it. The rest wouldn’t confess. They wanted us to name the rest at the table with us, and we wouldn’t give the names, so they suspended us for two months. I said, “You can’t suspend me – I quit!” And then when I came back from Oregon Dad Center tried to get me to rejoin the Outrigger, but by then “Dudie” Miller was the head of Hui Nalu. He was a good friend of the family so he said, “Come and row, and paddle for us.” So I said OK.
JWR: You rejoined the Outrigger at that point?
WP: No, I was going to, but I was still kind of huhu about the Club suspending me.
JWR: So you joined Hui Nalu instead.
WP: I didn’t join and pay dues or anything, I was just a member I guess, and Fred Steere was with the Hui Nalu – Fred Steere and myself.
JWR: I remember – that was about ’33 …..
JWR: …..because we all went over to Kona to the first canoe races. I remember going over on the Humuula. I went over with the Hui Nalu gang. You and Fred Steere and “Squeeze” (John) Kamana and a whole bunch of them. Tell me about it. You raced against Outrigger.
WP: We raced against Outrigger and we beat the Outrigger boat. Milolii was the team that won the championship that day.
JWR: The had paddled all the way from Milolii up to Kona.
WP: Yeah. They were fishermen and they came in this canoe that must have weighed about twice the weight of the canoes we raced in. They were powerful guys. They had one stroke which was fast, because they used to chase a school of fish, you know. So we couldn’t catch them. But, we did win the two-man, “Inay” (Kenneth) Makinney and myself, but we were disqualified because we headed to the wrong finish line. We moved over a lane, we were quite a bit ahead, but they still disqualified us.
JWR: What I remember most about that time was that you were quite active in rowing.
WP: Yep. I rowed for Myrtle Boat Club from kid crew to senior crew. We used to go to Hilo every year.
JWR: I can remember when you and “Yabo” (Herbert) Taylor …..
WP: Oh, yeah, he was the coxwain. Yabo was a wonderful coxswain, and I remember when I was stroking the junior crew, and it was funny because Yabo says, “Now, the only crew we have to beat is Hilo. If we beat Hilo we win the race.” And we were all lined up and took off, and coming back we didn’t hear the Hilo band playing the Hilo March, so I had hunch we were ahead so I upped the stroke a bit and we came in ahead of Hilo, but the Navy was about four lanes below us and the beat us by about a length. [Laugh] Joe Silva was stroke for the …..
JWR: Oh, yes, he was a perennial stroke….
WP: Yeah, but we beat Hilo, but Navy beat us so we took second.
JWR: When you were young you used to engage in fantastic wrestling matches.
WP: Oh, yeah. You mean Yabo and I?
WP: Oh, yes. We were just fooling around.
JWR: He was about five feet…..
WP: 5’4’’ or 5’5”, something like that. I was about 190 at the time, I was still in high school. I used to fool with him, and I used to fake all these things and he’d throw me down, kick me in the okole and everything else. We used to have a lot of fun. A lot of people thought we were real serious about it, you know.
JWR: I was coxing, too, you remember?
WP: That’s right you did.
JWR: Those were fun years.
WP: But everybody got mad at me for picking on this small guy. [Laugh]
JWR: But he was tough.
WP: He was a strong guy and nobody fooled around with him, you know, he was…..
JWR: You rejoined the Outrigger in…..
WP: I was out working for Del Monte, out in the pineapple fields and Dad Center came out with some friends of his and I took them into the fields and showed them the pineapples and gave them some pineapples, and he says, “By the way, why don’t you join the Outrigger again.” And I said “Yeah, but the initiation is pretty high.” “Oh, no we’ll skip that because you were a member way back.” I said, “OK, I’ll rejoin.” So I rejoined in January, 1960.
JWR: So what it amounts to, you were a member from 1921 to 1931, ten years. Then from 1960 to 1993. You’ve been a member for 43 years.
WP: I guess so, I’ve have been a member for over 70 years if I’d stayed.
JWR: Yeah. [Laughter]… During the war years, where were you?
WP: I was on Molokai at the time. I was in charge of the Standard Oil plant on Molokai.
JWR: Oh, that’s right.
WP: We lived there ten years. I started training the Molokai crews for the Molokai canoe race – the first one, you know, but just then I got transferred to Wahiawa, so I didn’t get in that race, otherwise I would have won… When they left Molokai, instead of going straight to Oahu, I spoke to some of the fishermen up there and they said ‘you go north and you get this current and then you can take off’, which they did and they won that year. There were only two clubs, maybe three clubs I think and one other club, I can’t remember.
JWR: Waikiki Surf.
WP: Waikiki Surf, I guess. But Molokai won – again they were all these big husky Hawaiians that did a lot of fishing and ….
JWR: What I’d like to do is talk a little about your impressions of the Club in the years that you were a member from 1921 to 1931.
JWR: I was reminiscing with Nip Akona recently. He talked a great deal about you and the formation of the beach services. Do you remember….?
WP: Yeah. Bill Mullahey was the one I think, and Sam Akeo – beach – boy – they formed the beach services. I didn’t get into that. My mother was afraid I’d be a beach bum. But the old Club was great – a fellow named Sasaki, he wasn’t exactly the manager, his word was, er…..
JWR: He was an institution.
WP: Yeah, he was there and there was a guy named Murray, he was in charge of the kitchen over there – those two guys, if we did anything wrong, boy, we got kicked in the okole and everything else. We obeyed, and when they spoke we stopped doing what we did. I remember, double deckers were 10 cents and Pop Ford, he always liked to be massaged and when we got through the massage, he would buy us a double decker or candy cones. Ice Cream cones for 5 cents – and those were good days. The Outrigger was … then they had a little volleyball court there and every day they played volleyball – businessmen would come out and play – a six-man team. It was a lot of fun. It was a great Club.
* * * * * * * * *
JWR: This is where we left off at our last interview. We had covered some of your activities at the Club during the period, you will remember, from 1921 to 1931 when you went off to college. In general, what was you impression of the Club during that period?
WP: It was a good club, and us young kids were always worshipping the older guys, you know. The big guys, we used to call them, and we were always hoping that some day we would be the big guys and could participate in some of the events like volleyball and surfing. It was a great club and we enjoyed it very much.
JWR: Do you remember some of the big guys?
WP: Oh yes, Bob Mott Smith and then “Yabo” (Herbert) Taylor was one of the bigger guys – not in stature, but he was one of the ‘big guys’, and of course – Geez, off hand I don’t …..
JWR: You mentioned Alexander Hume Ford – do you remember him?
WP: Oh, yeah, very well.
JWR: Tell us about him.
WP: He was quite a character. He always liked young kids, and he always wanted to be massaged. He had back trouble or something. After we gave him a rub down he would lie down on the bench or in the locker room and buy us an ice cream cone or a double decker, or something. When he traveled he always sent the young kids little souvenirs and things like that… I had one with these Chinese sawing wood and he said it was a surfboard – this was when he was in Hong Kong.
WP: He was quite a character. Another time he came back from Australia with a boomerang for me. He had a Model-T and the gas tank was under the front seat and he had the boomerang there. I don’t know but some big guy got in and sat on it and broke the boomerang in half, and he was mad as the dickens. [Laugh] But he was a nice guy, I liked him – very jovial. He took a great pride in the Club and did everything he could to keep the kids interested in different activities, you know.
JWR: Was George Center active at that time?
WP: Yeah. He was the swimming coach, and he was kind of the unknown ruler of the Club at that time. When “Dad” spoke, everybody listened to him and he was always helping the kids out. He was a heck of a good coach. He taught me a lot.
JWR: Did he coach you at Punahou?
WP: Yeah, my senior year.
JWR: He was your coach, and “Dope” (Harold) Yap took over after that.
WP: After that, yeah.
JWR: When I first went to Punahou he was my coach, too.
WP: Is that right?
JWR: He kicked me off the team because I … when the guys were swimming in the lanes, I used to dive and see how close I could get to them. He didn’t like that [Laugh] … but he asked me back. Are there any management people that you can remember during that period?
WP: Well there was a Quinn, from a fertilizer company. R.C. Quinn – what was his name?
JWR: Oh, er, not Quinn. R. Q. Smith.
WP: Smith. Yeah, yeah. He was very active in teaching us kids how to play volleyball and things like that.
JWR: You know nobody’s ever mentioned R. Q. Smith as teaching. He was President; he was President twice.
WP: He was good at volleyball, and he was always showing us kids how to play and we’d play one round against him, and we could never beat him. Remember “Chippy” (Ernest Tucker) Chase?
JWR: Oh, Yeah.
WP: Those two guys were good single volleyball players, you know. You couldn’t wear them out, they’d just keep getting the ball back. No jumping and slamming in those days, you know.
JWR: How about beachboys? Do you remember any particular beachboys?
WP: Yeah. There was Pua Kealoha and Peter Makea, Hiram Anahu, and of course, Sam Kahanamoku was also a beach boy. I don’t think Sargent was. Then there was “Chick” (William) Daniels, “Panama Dave” (Charles Baptiste). There was one guy we called “Cocky” or something – dislocated jaw.
JWR: Oh, yeah.
WP: He sure could play the ukulele, and “Squeeze” (John) Kamana, he was around the beach for a while.
JWR: Squeeze was quite a paddler. Didn’t he paddle for Hui Nalu?
WP: He paddled – hell of a good ukulele player.
JWR: Oh yeah, yeah.
WP: He was a husky guy. You didn’t fool around with him. He as a real kind guy, you know.
JWR: You mentioned swimming against the Kahanamokus.
WP: Well, just Sargent.
JWR: Just Sargent.
WP: Just Sargent, the others were older than us – too fast for us. Sargent was only a couple of years older than me. We used to participate, but I could never beat the guy. [Laugh]
JWR: Who else did you swim against, do you remember?
WP: Oh, I guess, there was a Tom Sharp, and “Buddy” (Edward) Crabbe.
WP: Buddy was a good swimmer, too, but not as good as Buster. He would have been a better swimmer if he had trained more, but I think his father ruined him. His father kept after him all the time, ‘do this’ or ‘do that’, ’do what Buster is doing’. But Buddy was not that type of a guy.
JWR: I remember hearing that Buddy had potential of being even greater than Buster.
WP: Yes, if he’d worked on it. He was a heck of a good short distance swimmer. But he lost interest because his father was pushing him too hard.
JWR: I guess he wanted him to be like Buster.
WP: Yeah. I remember at any meet his father had a stop watch on him and would walk along the pool as he was swimming, ‘come on’, go faster’.
JWR: What events did you swim in at Punahou?
WP: 100 Freestyle, and 50 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke and the relay team.
JWR: Getting back to college, you rowed for Oregon?
WP: No Oregon didn’t have any rowing teams. Washington had rowing teams. I played football on the freshman team which won the Northwest Championship. We had a heck of a good team. Later two guys moved to Minnesota and became All Americans – a guard and a fullback. Then I swam. I was captain of the swimming team at Oregon.
JWR: You say you were captain.
JWR: Of the swimming team at Oregon?
WP: I turned out for track, but they said, ‘no you are on the swimming team’ … and that came a long about the same time as baseball. I thought I’d like to try baseball, but they said, ‘no you are on the swimming team’.
JWR: Well, let’s see. Oh, we didn’t talk about surfing. It says something here about surfing with Duke (Kahanamoku) and something about an airplane?
WP: Yes. There was a fellow, his name ws Lieutenant Alkire, and he was stunting and showing off in an old de Haviland, letting his wings touch the water by the old Moana pier and things like that…
WP: ….. he banked and his wing caught a wave, a small wave, and it flipped him over. He wasn’t hurt, but Duke… I can see Duke now, he grabbed his surfboard and he was out there like that and pulled the guy in, got him on his board. The guy wasn’t hurt, a little cut on his head, but the first thing he said, “Anybody got a cigarette?” And that’s when I thought, Good God, that cigarette must really mean something. I was only about eleven or twelve at the time. Duke went out – they had fiber on the plane, not metal on the plane or anything else….
WP: ….. fabric, yes, and the next thing there was nothing left but the skeleton of the plane, people went out and cut souvenirs.
JWR: A de Haviland?
WP: A de Haviland, yeah.
JWR: What was the guy’s name.
JWR: How do you spell it, Alkire?
WP: I don’t know how you spell it –A-l-k-i-e-r, or something like that – but he was noted for stunting at low altitudes, you know. In those days I guess they didn’t have any regulations.
JWR: CAA, or whatever it is.
JWR: Do you recall any other experienced that you had?
WP: Yeah. Well, there used to be a stream that came down before they put in the (Ala Wai) canal, it came right by the Outrigger, – between the Outrigger and the Moana Hotel, and there was a big pond there. It was warm water. We used to like to swim there because it was nice and warm. It was stagnant and dirty. If you came down in a new bathing suit – in those days you had to wear a bathing suit, no trunks – you would swing into the pond, and the next thing you knew – no bathing suit … The pond would fill up after a heavy rain and break through the sand bar into the ocean.
JWR: Whereabouts would the pond be now in relation to the old Club?
WP: Well as you came into the entrance it was right by Kalakaua Avenue. The stream went under a bridge under Kalakaua Avenue – well, not a bridge, but a kind of conduit.
JWR: Would that be where the old parking lot was?
WP: Yeah. Exactly, just between the Moana and the Club. It was on the Club premises if I am not mistaken. There was no parking lot then. There was ample parking on the street in those days, not many people had cars anyway. But, I can always remember we would go in that water because it was nice and warm. [Laughter] Dirty, it came from Manoa stream and Palolo stream.
JWR: What was the Club like at that time?
WP: Well, they had one building, where we had the concessions, in back of the kitchen, and then they had the locker rooms for the kids. The seniors had another locker room upstairs, it was larger and then on the top they had a big place where you could dry your bathing suits, clothes lines and everything else. Then in the front they had those great pavilions where we used to have dancing parties. That’s when they moved up later next to Kalakaua, you remember?
JWR: Oh, yeah.
WP: Under the pavilions they kept the canoes and in back of that they had lockers for surfing. And one thing happened, they had a fellow by the name of Delesque, he worked for one of the banks, I don’t know…..
JWR: John Delesque.
WP: Yes. I don’t know what his first name was, but he embezzled some money.
JWR: Oh, oh.
WP: I don’t know how much, but he had it in a gallon coffee can and he had it buried under the stairs going up to the men’s locker room.
JWR: You’re kidding!
WP: I don’t know how much money was there, maybe a couple of thousand dollars, and they caught up with him and the kids said, ‘Gee we used to walk up and down here, we never knew it was right there’, you know.
JWR: For goodness sake. What was the name again?
WP: His last name was Delesque, or …..
WP: Delesque, I think. He served time for that.
JWR: Did he serve time?
WP: Oh, yeah.
JWR: That must have been quite an episode!
WP: Oh, yeah. I am pretty sure Delesque was his name – it sounded like that, anyway. I remember we were all around there when the police came and everything. They dug up this can and here was all this money. A lot of it was silver money but there was a lot of paper money, too. The old fashioned big paper money.
JWR: Was Charlie Amalu quite a character in those days? You remember Charlie?
WP: He wasn’t with Outrigger, he was Hui Nalu. He was a good singer and he had his own troop.
JWR: You know there was a period there – between 1938 when you came back and rejoined in 1960 – of course you were on different islands working – but did you spend much time at the Outrigger during that particular period?
WP: Well we came down on vacation. Wilford Godbold always got me a guest card, and then on Molokai I met Walter Macfarlane and he tried to get me back into the Club. That was in the early part of the War, I guess. I still wouldn’t rejoin the Club. I didn’t think I should because I was living on Molokai and didn’t know when I would be back on Oahu.
JWR: Well, let’s see, you were in the Club in the sixties, and it wouldn’t be long before they moved to the present location.
JWR: Do you remember any controversy among the members?
WP: Yes, a lot of the members didn’t want to move, they said we have a perfect spot for surfing, it’s right out here and all that, but I thought it was a good idea to get away from all the tourist crowd because the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana people were kind of pushing in and there was no place to park. We did have a parking lot next to the Moana Hotel but that wasn’t only for the members.
JWR: Before that there was one across the street.
JWR: I can remember that anybody and everybody could walk off the beach into the Club, too.
WP: Yeah. That’s right, there was no security.
JWR: Did you attend any of the meetings we had when we made presentations to the membership about the status of the move?
WP: Yes, I attended a couple of them. I voted for it.
JWR: You voted for it, yeah?
WP: I don’t know if my vote meant much but… you were President then?
JWR: Yeah. Controversial times.
WP: The same thing happened to my Dad when the Elks Club was in town and they wanted to move out by the Castle home. ‘Oh, we’ve got to go way out in the sticks, way out in the country’ and everything else. It was the best move they ever made.
JWR: Well, you know, nobody’s ever mentioned that.
WP: Is that right? I don’t know what year that was – it was in the mid-twenties, I guess, when they bought the Castle home.
JWR: I can remember that. It would have to … have been … in the thirties, I think. Because I came down from Hilo and I’d still go swimming there.
WP: No, it was before that, Ward, because my brother was still at the University in 1923, and I remember going out with him one time into the Castle home and they were taking down those great big mirrors they had. They were renovating it for the Elks Club – maybe they didn’t move in until the thirties…..
JWR: I think you are right. Now the new Club – you enjoy the new Club?
WP: Oh very much so, I don’t get as much use of it as I would like to. At my age I get to be a home-body. I’d rather stay home and fool around in the yard. We come down here for dinner and lunch now and then. If we have out of town guests we always bring them here to dinner. I think it is the best place in town for entertaining people.
JWR: It was one of the smartest moves I think we could have made.
WP: I think so, too.
JWR: Did you ever surf out in front of this Club here?
WP: Oh, yes, we used to surf out in Castle’s surf – they call it … well, they call it Castle’s surf right in front.
WP: Beyond that it was called Zero break, where they had those big waves 10 feet – 12 feet at the most. That was like every so many years. It wasn’t a yearly thing. It was good surf because it was deep and it was a safe place to surf. I can remember one time out there with Sam Kahanamoku – he had one of those long cigar – shaped boards, and was way out where he could catch the swell. John D. Kaupiko and myself were closer to the shoreline because we had to catch a wave just as it started to break. We could see this fin going between us….
JWR: You’re kidding.
WP: ….. a shark ….. You know, I don’t know how big it was or anything else but we yelled at Sam, “Mano”! He saw it and, boy, all three of us took off and came in. The thing went out and we watched it. It went out towards…..
JWR: Were there any more shark episodes at that time?
WP: Yeah, I was at Queen’s surf one time when a couple of sharks came close. Small sand sharks, I think, and another time – they used to have these swims from Kuhio to the Outrigger Club, rough water swimming, and I got kind of separated. I wasn’t fast enough to be up with the guys ahead. I was behind, and I was swimming along and I looked down. It was a beautiful day and I was going over a sand bar and I saw this brown shadow, I stopped and it stopped and I thought oh boy, a big shark. Nobody was within 15 or 20 yards of me, and I moved my hand and I could see it moving. It turned out to be my shadow [Laugh], for 30 seconds I was ready to yell, “Help, help, shark!”
JWR: Scared the hell out of you.
WP: It sure did. [Laughter]
JWR: Any other surfing episodes that you can remember?
WP: No, but getting back to Inay (Kenneth) Makinney, I think he was one of the best surfers that used to surf off Waikiki.
JWR: That’s interesting. You are going to his funeral today?
WP: Yeah. He was diving champion for several years, you know. He was a heck of a good diver. He wasn’t a fast swimmer but he was a hell of a good diver; but surfing I don’t think anyone could touch him.
JWR: That’s interesting. Did he dive for Punahou?
WP: He was a graduate of St. Louis. He and I played volleyball together for Outrigger, two-man team, intramural thing, and we won that event. He was fast on his feet, and in those days we didn’t call it spiking – I mean slamming – nobody could jump up high and slam it the way they do now.
JWR: None of them were tall enough.
JWR: It’s a different game, it’s gotten to be a …..
WP: Oh yeah.
JWR: ….. a real professional game now.
WP: Because you could put the ball this way, and you’ve got to go this way now. The rules have changed and everything else, you know.
JWR: What other experiences did you have that you think might be interesting?
WP: Off hand I can’t think of anything. The only thing I can say and it was not a very good experience, I was out there when Albert Burkland was killed. He was, I guess, the first guy who was ever killed in the surf.
JWR: Tell me about that.
WP: Well, we were all together and the rule in those days was that if somebody was in your way you let them stay there, I mean you always surfed in one place, nobody was here and here and here or here. You were always kind of lined up. Albert caught a wave and I caught the one next to it. I could see him standing up and sliding. It wasn’t a big wave, it was a five-foot wave or something like that. There was a fellow named Chase – Jeff Choise – paddling out and Albert was headed right for him, so this fellow leaned back on his board to stop and get out of the way. The front of the guy’s board caught him right in the stomach and severed his intestines. A couple of us went over, I think it was Bill Linbord and I went over to see if he was all right. He was a little winded but he said, “I’m O.K.”. He started to paddle out and he said, “I think I should go ashore” and we said, “Well take you in.” “Oh, no I’m all right, I’ll go.” We continue surfing and when we got back we found out he had been take to the Queen’s Hospital. He died that night, his intestines were ruptured, they were cut.
JWR: Oh, my.
WP: It must have hit his backbone or something.
JWR: I guess he was one of the first…..
WP: He was the first that I know of. There have been others since, I guess.
JWR: He was Reynolds’ brother. Was he older than Reynolds?
WP: He was older, yes. He was the oldest brother. There was Reynolds and then Dick. It was a very sad case … I broke my nose surfing.
JWR: (Laugh) Oh, you didn’t tell me about that! What happened!
WP: We used to make our own surfboards. We used to go down and pick up these 12’ x 4’’ thick – 12 feet long redwood planks, you know, from Lewers & Cooke, lift them up and take the lightest one. We’d take them home and we’d shape surfboards from them. Then we’d… well, we’d take the planks, mine was ten to eleven feet or something like that, weighed about 80 lbs. and then we’d varnish it and when we got to the beach we’d rub sand on it to roughen it. But I was so anxious to try my board I didn’t roughen it. I was sliding left on that they called Blowhole surf and I slipped and fell, my nose hit right on the edge of the board and my face got all swollen. When I came in my mother was hysterical. [Laugh] Then I broke it twice playing football and it was all kapakahi. [Laughter]
JWR: That’s why you are so good looking.
WP: It improved my looks 100%. [Laughter]
JWR: Anything else?
WP: Another thing we used to do, Ernest Steiner – he was a judge …..
WP: . . . he had his own canoe and they had a home, you know, where the Waikiki Tavern used to be. He lived there and he had this canoe and he’d catch a wave and he hated it if anybody was surfing near him. We used to try to surf above and in back of him and grab at his paddle. [Laugh] Oh, he’d get mad and Dad Center said, “You watch out, if you go to court he’d put you in jail.”
JWR: Old Judge Steiner. He had that house right on the beach…..
WP: Right on the beach, yes.
JWR: …..and some of the kids used to keep their surfboards underneath it.
WP: Yeah. He was a hell of a nice guy though.
JWR: Any other things you can remember?
WP: Not really – except one of the beachboys whenever they … some of the beachboys down in front of the Royal Hawaiian, Hui Nalu was in the Moana Hotel, and they wanted somebody on the telephone, they had signals to call. One I remember was for Sargent (Kahanamoku); they’d go like this because of his nose. And then “Tar Ball”, he was hunchbacked – you remember Tar Ball (Bill) Kahanamoku – he broke his back I think when he was stevedoring or something, so when they’d call him, everybody would bend down. It wasn’t a very nice thing to do, but he knew who they wanted.
JWR: Where was this, down at the beach?
WP: Right on the beach. When someone was out on a wave, they’d make these motions – everybody had their own signs so they knew who they were calling. And, another time, another funny thing happened, they were surveying the beach for… I guess they were going to put these groins in to save the sand and everything else. They left all their equipment… surveyors left their equipment at Hui Nalu’s place, and the beachboys got a hold of it one day – one Saturday afternoon, or something like that – and they took it out and they were busy moving the people away from the beach saying they were going to put a road through, right in front of the Royal Hawaiian. [Laughter] They were always pulling some silly stuff like that. [Laughter]
JWR: That’s funny!
WP: Scared the hell out of everybody!
JWR: Some of those beachboys could really pull that off.
JWR: They took all the instruments…..
WP: “Tough Bill” (George Keaweamahi) was another one of the beachboys.
JWR: Oh, yeah.
WP: I forget his last name. It was a long Hawaiian name, but he was always one of them. Those beachboys, they were fun guys in those days. Once in a while… I remember one time we used to have gangs you know, the Kalihi gang, the Palama gang and everything else and apparently Tough Bill got in a fight with them down on Bethel Street or some place and the gangs came out to look for him. He took off. They came in about three cars, these big Hawaiians, the Palama and Kalihi gangs and they were after him – he wasn’t going to stick around and have these guys beat him up. All of a sudden he saw them on the beach going in by the Moana and he just took off. I couldn’t figure out why, but I found out later.
JWR: There were great rivalries in those days. I know that you must be leaving.
WP: Well, I could meet another time if you are short – if you need some more information.
JWR: Well, if you can think of anything don’t hesitate to call because I am always willing to sit down with you and reminisce.
WP: I’ll try to think of some of the names of some of the older members of the Club – oh, the Moorhead brothers, I don’t know if you remember them; Tom and Walter and Jack Moorhead. They played for the town team.
WP: Mott Smith. They are all gone now.
JWR: Yes, most of them are. I think we’ve done a pretty good job. If you think of anything – you might just jot things down.
WP: I’ll do that, yes.
JWR: We can always get together and add to this. I appreciate this very much, thank you for coming.
WP: You are very welcome. Sorry I have to rush off this way, but I’ll do that, I’ll try to remember some of the old names.
JWR: OK. Thank you very much.
WP: I wish my mother was alive, she’d remember all the beachboys… I’ve got to get going.
JWR: Thank you again.