Category Archives: John Lind Collection

Documents, photos, and notes in the collection of my dad, John M. Lind, who turned 95 on Dec. 7, 2008.

The old papers, cards, and letters keep turning up

I assumed that the boxes of old papers I found and sorted or stored after my father died back in 2010 were the end of his “stuff”. No such luck. Now that I’m going through the things my sister left behind, I’ve turned up more of my dad’s old, yellowed papers. Yet more letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, Christmas cards, birthday cards, and more, most dating back from around 1930 through the 1950s.

Here are a couple of items of interest.

So you think traffic and the high rate of traffic fatalities in Honolulul is a new issue? Think again.

Here’s a newspaper clipping, undated, although it appears to date from the years of WWII. It features a photo of my dad and other members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce painting what is described as a “death flagpole.”

“In cooperation with the city-county Traffic Safety Commission, the safety committee of the Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce is planning to erect on Richards and King Sts. a flagpole that will fly a black “death” flag whenever a traffic fatality occurs, as means of promoting traffic safety and keeping down Honolulu’s high rate of traffic deaths.”

During WWII

And here’s another history lesson. Did you know Hawaii once had a poll tax? I didn’t.

It was apparently a $5 tax, paid annually.


If you’re wondering what that $5 would be worth in today’s dollars, here’s the answer: $81.92, according to one online


And there’s a small historical side note to the poll tax receipt. It shows my parents were then living at 1018 Kealaolu. They rented there for a few years before buying a house another block down the same street.

You probably don’t recognize the address, but some 70 years later it was owned by Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and was the scene of the now-famous mailbox theft.

It is a small world!

In search of Betty Peabody

Is it okay to read a parent’s intimate correspondence that they never shared while alive?

It’s suddenly a question I must ask. I still haven’t managed to finally finish sorting through and disposing of the papers that followed my parents to the ends of their very long lives. Endless photos, letters, Christmas cards, handwritten notes, newspaper clips, obits of friends…the variety is endless. I’ve managed to cull the “What in the world should I do with this?” category to just a few boxes that are safely in storage while I wait for the psychological energy to return to the task.

But now there’s a new task at hand…another round of sorting, this time going through my sister’s stuff, since it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to do it herself, given her current health challenges.

Today I opened a box in her bedroom, and recognized an old wooden box that had belonged to our father. I lifted the lid, and found a stack of handwritten letters from an old girlfriend of his. The first letter I picked up was penned in 1933, and scolded him for taking so long to reply to an earlier missive. I don’t know how many letters there are. The stack is maybe four inches high. My sister must have taken them from his room after my dad died, but never mentioned them to me.

An old flameThe letters are from Betty Peabody, a Michigan woman my dad met, probably just after graduating from high school. My sister recalls my mother saying “that woman’s picture” hung on the wall in my parents’ bedroom for several years, even after they were married. I’ve found several snapshots that I believe are of Peabody, only one with my dad’s handwritten note identifying her.

He sometimes talked about hitchhiking across the country to see the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago, and then spend time at the Peabody family’s farm in Birmingham, Michigan. But he never spoke to me directly about Peabody or their relationship.

From the bits and pieces, I think Peabody had spent time–a summer, perhaps?–with a relative in Long Beach, California. They met and, I now know, corresponded for years afterwards. She graduated from high school in 1933, and later earned a degree in Home Economics from Michigan State University. A copy of her graduation program was among his papers when he died, along with photos indicating he had attended the graduation ceremony.

Peabody has always been a special and mysterious figure in my dad’s life. Mysterious to my sister and I, that is.

Now I’ll retrieve the box and the letters. I intend to read to through them, although it makes me feel like I’m violating their privacy by digging into things my dad never talked about. And the other hand, he kept these letters for nearly nearly 80 years, and I want to know why. Perhaps it’s because they might tell me something more about my dad as a person, not as a father figure, but just as a guy just starting what turned out to be a long, long life.

And if I do read them, then what? Perhaps I’ll return them to her surviving family members. I’ve already searched online and found an obituary that identifies her relatives. Perhaps that’s the best I can do, and just let them decide whether the letters are worth saving.

The hidden history of the Molokai Hoe (Molokai-Oahu canoe race)

The annual Molokai to Oahu canoe race, now known as the Molokai Hoe, takes place today. The race has come a long way from its beginnings back in 1952.

Only a handful of teams competed in that first race, including the Waikiki Surf Club, shown here.


What follows is a repeat of an entry first posted back in November 2009.

In 2002, my father was asked for his recollections of the founding of the Molokai to Oahu canoe race on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

It became an opportunity for him to record some memories of that period in the history of Hawaii’s competitive surfing and canoeing.

I’ve found several drafts of his short history, each containing different details, names of people and descriptions of events.

The race was started as part of Aloha Week by the Junior Chamber of Commerce “Oldtimers”, a group of men active in the Jaycees who had aged out of the organization.

He recalls Harry Nardmark, the group’s first president, and several others, who threw themselves into organizing of a range of events, along with the members of the Waikiki Surf Club, which had a committee for surfing and canoeing which was headed by Wally Froiseth, assisted by George Downing.

“Toots” Minville had been talking about the potential for a Molokai-Oahu race for years, based on his experience of conditions in the channel.

His idea was picked up by the “Oldtimers”.

Toots was called in and he went to work in an effort to get organized clubs with outrigger canoes to participate. Outrigger and Hui Nalu were the only organized clubs at the time, other than the newly organized Waikiki Surt Club. Wally Froseth, the head of the canoe committee of the surf club, relished the idea of the event and was the first to volunteer and entry. Henrietta Newman, a resident of Molokai, also was interesting in competing but did not have a canoe to paddle–Toots went to work and obtained the use of an outrigger owned by Doris Duke Cromwell that was loaned for the event.

And so it went.

Canoe owners were reluctant to allow their boats into the race, fearing damage from the often treacherous conditions of the Molokai Channel.

The Outrigger Canoe Club declined to loan its equipment to others for the race, but George “Dad” Center, a prominent Outrigger member, personally offered his 40 foot Koa racing canoe, the “Malia”, to the Waikiki Surf Club.

There’s a funny story unrelated to the Molokai-Oahu race.

When my dad arrived in Honolulu in 1939, he needed a place to store the two surfboards he had brought with him from California.

He quickly found out that the only place on the beach was the Outrigger, but its facilities were available to members only. Membership at the time was $10, so he applied for membership and two lockers for his boards, a solid board shaped by Hoppy Swartz of Venice, California, and a 17′ hollow paddle board.

When I took the boards into the Outrigger Club area, a little dark skinned Hawaiian boy greeted me with, “Hey, haole, where you goin with the ‘Pineapple barge’?”

This little guy was Blue Makua, my first introduction to Waikiki. Blue must have been around 12 years old at the time (maybe younger).

Of course, Blue Makua went on to become one of the best known of the Waikiki beachboys.

In any case, it all makes for interesting reading.

A September 1953 editorial clipped from the Star-Bulletin or Advertiser lauded my father’s role in promoting surfing and canoe racing in the post-WWII years, among other things as a leader in organizing the Hawaii Surfing Association before the outbreak of WWII, and after the war being among the founders of the Waikiki Surf Club and the Hawaiian Canoe Racing and Surfing Association.

The editorial quoted from the 1953 season canoe program:

Lind’s indefatigable perseverance, organizing ability and great interest in preserving the art of canoe paddling has, with the help of many devoted members of the association, made possible the carrying on of the 1952 ad 1953 races.

He has been gone nearly six years,but he left his mark, didn’t he!

Throwback Thursday: Long gone Honolulu eateries

My father, John M. Lind, arrived in Honolulu on May 1, 1939, to take a job as a restaurant supply salesman for the small Honolulu office of Dohrmann Hotel Supply Company. He was 25 years old. He had first landed a delivery job with Dohrmann in Long Beach, California, worked his way up into sales, then lobbied company officials in San Francisco for the chance to move to the islands if any positions happened to open up. The job opened and he got it. He arrived by ship in a new car loaded with a wooden trunk of clothes and two surfboards.

These photos from his collection apparently show off several restaurants and bars in and near Waikiki, and those that are dated were taken sometime between the time he arrived and the early 1950s. They are commercial quality photos taken to show off the company’s work planning and equipping restaurants and bars.

For example, the first photo is captioned “Kau Kau Korner Renovation,” for those who remember this landmark Honolulu eatery that opened on the corner of Kalakaua and Kapiolani in 1935. The next two pictures focus on details appearing in that first photo.

In any case, click on any photo to see a larger version.













Click on thumbnail to see larger image.

Scans and comments by Ian Lind

106-year old letter is quite a treasure

On this date 106 years ago, the man who would become my paternal grandfather sat in his room on Geary Street in San Francisco and penned a letter to the woman he intended to marry.

1910 letterI found a copy of the century-old handwritten letter in the bottom of a box while sorting through my dad’s assorted photos and papers after he was moved to the nursing home at the end of 2008.

William G. “Willie” Lind and Jane Galt “Jeanie” Montgomery were born in Scotland, later worked in England, and then migrated to the U.S.

Willie arrived in the U.S. first, later asking Jeanie to marry and join him in America.

Click on the letter and you can read the original copy. But I also did a quick transcript of the letter in which Willie gives Jeanie instructions on how to get from New York, where her ship would land, to San Francisco on trains connecting through Chicago.

There are a couple of things to note. The letter was largely devoid of periods to separate sentences, although a few do appear. I’ve added some in where it seemed appropriate. And there were a few words that I couldn’t make out, marked with a (?).

1101 Geary Street
San Francisco
June 7, 1910

My Darling Jeanie,

I feel as if I must write a few lines to night. I am up in my room and I have just been looking at, and admiring your picture, and I just wish you were here with me.

I am looking forward with great pleasure for the time when we shall be together. Dear Jeanie, I hope you will not be disappointed in me. Of course I have changed a little since that night I met you 10 years ago.

But I expect you will have changed a little also. But I can assure you Darling that I will try my very utmost to make you feel happy and comfortable when we get settled down together.

I do hope you will like San Francisco and that the climate will agree with you. I am just longing for the time when we shall be together.

Dear I am not going to settle on a house till you get here, and you can have a chance to look around and see the City and then we will settle down in a place that will be suitable to us both. Now Dear just a few lines about the trains.

Their are a great number of trains leaves the Grand Central Station in New York for Chicago every day via the Lake Shore and Mic. Central these trains will land you at La. Salle Street Station in Chicago and from that station in Chicago you can get the train for San Francisco on the Rock Island Route in connection with the Denver and Rio Grand (D.R.G.) and the Southern Pacific (So. Pac) the scenery on the above route is grand.

There are also a great number of trains leave the Pennsylvania Station in New York for Chicago. They would land you at the Union Passenger Station on Chicago and leave from that station in Chicago. You can get the train for San Francisco by the Burlington Route in connection with the Denver and Rio Grand and the Southern Pacific.

Jeanie be sure you buy a first class railway ticket and a first class pullman berth ticket right through from New York to San Francisco, and make sure that you get into the through car from New York to Chicago and then the through car from Chicago to San Francisco. I have sent on a few maps that will (?) you a little on the route, of course you will likely meet some people that are coming through and you could buy your ticket on the route they are coming with. A little about your baggage Jeanie after the Customs people have passed it at New York you will see plenty of express baggage couriers at the ship when you land I think you will have to give your baggage to one of them and he gives you a check for each piece and he takes it to the station wherever you are going to get your train, then after you have bought your ticket for San Francisco you go to the baggage room at the station and produce the checks you got from the express man and the party in the baggage room finds your trunks and then he checks them and punches your railway ticket. Be sure and have them checked right through from New York to 16th Street Station Oakland or San Francisco then you will not require to think any more about them. Just keep ahold of the checks you get from the man that checks your baggage at the railway station till you see me and I will get your baggage for you. Now Jeanie I think I will conclude hoping this will find you well and happy with fond love and very best of wishes and lots of (?). Ever yours, affectionately, Willie.

My dad, John Montgomery Lind, was born three years later, in December 1913.

Back in 2009, my sister told the story of how Willie and Jeanie came to meet, all lodged in our family history. You can read the tale here.