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.

Throwback Thursday: Long Beach Earthquake damage, March 1933

This was Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, after the earthquake that hit the city late in the afternoon of March 10, 1933.

The photo, apparently obtained by my father at the time of the quake, is one of several snapshots showing damaged buildings and displaced residents that were among my sister’s personal papers. There were brief captions on the back, some in my dad’s handwriting, others typed and glued on.

Although my father was born in Berkeley, his family moved to Long Beach when he was very young, and he grew up in that coastal city.

He graduated from Wilson High School. I think that was in 1932.

Other photos show damaged businesses, and an area in Bixby Park where the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter with kitchens and tents.

Click on the photo to see the rest of the earthquake pictures.

March 1933 quake

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!