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.

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.

Rabbit Kekai, 1920-2016

In honor of the passing of surfing legend Rabbit Kekai, here are a few photos of him in his prime. The photos were among my father’s collection from the early years of the Waikiki Surf Club. Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.

[That obnoxious auto correct did damage to the title in the original version of this post. I had corrected the same error in the body, and then it repeated in the title. Aargh!]

December 25, 1948. My dad, Waikiki Surf Club President John Lind congratulates Rabbit Kekai, winner of the first Diamond Head Paddleboard Race.


Winners of the 1st Annual Diamond Head 6-mile Race, Christmas Day, 1948. Winners of the first 10 places. L-R: Rabbit Kekai (#1), George Downing (#2), Robert Krewson (#3), Herbert Bessa (#4), Edward Whaley (#5), Wally Froiseth (#6), Dorian Paskowitz (#7), Frank Freitas (#8), Blue Makua (#9), Russ Takaki (#10)..

Christmas Day 1945

More from the early years of the Waikiki Surf Club, probably around 1949=50. Rabbit is on the far right. Next to Rabbit is Rudy Choy, catamaran designer and major supporter of the Waikiki Surf Club in its early years. Second from the left is Ed Whaley, and then David Kapahulehua. It looks to me like this was a team of paddlers from a canoe competition in Waikiki. There was no date on this photo, showing the winners of an unknown competition.


There’s also a sign-up sheet from the WSC’s Christmas Dance, also held in December 1948. Rabbit was #92 on the “Kane” list. There are a few others who signed with their nicknames–Longy, Juja, Brother, and Twinkle, but unlike Rabbit, their identities are probably lost forever.

“Ask me anything,” he said with a sigh.

Friday will be the 5th anniversary of my dad’s death.

Looking back, there are a couple of moments over the course of his nearly two years in the nursing home suffering from dementia, and going through the drawn out process of dying, that are now colored with regret, at least in my mind.

The first arose during one of my afternoon visits to his bedside on the fourth floor in the nursing home on Beretania and Artesian Street where he spent his final two years. This would have been in the final months of his life, as he was spending more time asleep and less time awake and functioning. I had to work to keep him connected with the moment.

I was also spending a lot of time sorting through the stacks of loose papers and boxes of photos retrieved from his small room at the home in Kahala where my parents lived together for nearly 70 years. My practice was to take a couple of pictures, or an old letter or clipping, when I visited, and ask him about it, trying to stimulate parts of his brain that could still yield important bits and pieces of his long life. Almost until the end, his memory of distant events and people remained incredibly sharp even while the present was lost in a swirl of confusion and short-term memory loss.

[text]On this afternoon, I asked him about several photos dating from his 1933 adventure hitchhiking across the country with a good friend to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, then on to visit other friends–especially a girlfriend, I believe–in Michigan.

On this afternoon, I raised the head of his bed so that he was almost in a sitting position. After placing his glasses on, somewhat awkwardly, I passed him photos, slowly, one at a time. He held up each of them, feeling the texture of the paper, looking to see if there were notes on the back, holding them up close to examine details, turning to them catch the afternoon light at different angles. After fixing the moment in his mind, he started talking. Slowly, in a soft, gravely voice, he told of getting lucky, catching a couple of long rides, then spending a day waiting beside a highway before getting their next lift. As he spoke, I had the impression that there might have been several different sets of memories that were mixed in his mind. But I wasn’t seeking historical accuracy. I was just using the pictures as a way to connect with that bit of himself and whatever history that was still intact. As he shared recollections, I tried to probe with simple questions. How did that feel? Were you worried? How long did it take? We parried back and forth in slow motion.

At some point, though, he surprised me. He had stopped, relaxed back onto his pillow, his hand, still holding one of the photos, dropped to his side on the bed. His eyes closed briefly, then looked ahead, not really looking at me.

“Ask me anything,” he said in that same tired voice. “Ask me anything. I’ll tell you.”

And I froze.

One one level, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

But we were never an “ask me anything” family. Far from it.

For us, it was more “ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.”

There were, I came to realize over the years, huge black holes in our family’s life, dead areas that we learned to walk past, to talk around, or to just pretend weren’t there. Some were obvious things that we somehow normalized but never spoke of, others hidden but simmering sources of emotion, anger, that only welled up years later when my parents were in their waning years.

As a kid, I didn’t recognize or pay attention to such gaps in the family matrix, or about fuzzy areas in their relationship that should have been warning signs.

My awareness came later, as an adult. And, at that point, I had adopted a working rule. These were their choices, affecting most directly their lives. Don’t judge, because you are not responsible for their lives and their choices, I told myself repeatedly over the years. Don’t take sides, don’t be drawn in, maintain a safe distance.

So when my dad extended the invitation to ask about anything I wanted to know, I immediately thought of a long list of questions. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to start asking. I don’t know if I was protecting him, protecting my mother, or protecting myself. Probably some combination of all those.

And so I didn’t respond. I just let the silence flow over and around us. He slowly closed his eyes, and faded into sleep.

I stayed for a few minutes, thinking of the opportunity lost, the things, the people, and situations I’ll never have a chance to ask about. And then I picked up my computer bag, slung it over my shoulder, and made my way past the men in the other three beds, towards the hallway, and on to the elevator and the parking lot downstairs.

I didn’t look back.

Photos of Duke Kahanamoku prompted by today’s Google Doodle

“Today’s Google Doodle honoree may be one of the coolest to date,” one online source said earlier today.

The Google Doodle referred to honors the legendary Duke Kahanamoku on what would have been his 125th birthday.

Google comments:

Today, on his 125th birthday, Matt Cruickshank recalls the legend of the “Ambassador of Aloha” with a Doodle of his iconic, 16-foot wooden surfboard and his warm, blithe smile. “Most importantly,” a reverent surfer remarks in a documentary about The Duke, “he was pure Hawaiian”.

Given the occasion, I collected a few of the photos of Duke that can be found strewn across the years of this site. Most of the photos came from my dad’s collection of surfing memorabilia.

The first photos are publicity shots for the Outrigger Canoe Club’s July 4, 1943 “Water Carnival”, an event later renamed the Walter J. MacFarlane Canoe Regatta. The event is still held every July 4 on Waikiki Beach. Standing, left to right, Duke Kahanamoku, beachboy Buddy Young, and Gene “Tarzan” Smith. I haven’t identified the women.


From the same collection:


Click on either photo to see others posted at the same time.

Then a photo from February 1949, in which Duke and other legendary figures honored another fallen beachboy, 54-year old Hiram Anahu. The photo is a gem.

In the lead, a group of legends in surfing, paddling, and ocean sports. Second from the left looks like it could be “Toots” Minville, founder of the Molokai-Oahu canoe race in 1952, or perhaps Hui Nalu’s John D. Kaupiko. I’m just comparing to available old photos and trying to make a “match”.

Joe Akana carries the urn in a folded American flag. In the background, 4th from left, legendary swimming and canoe coach George “Dad” Center. Then, of course, there’s Duke Kahanamoku. All barefooted, bare chested, and ready to go into the water, followed by women in long dresses and several other men, at least on in a suit and tie.

According to an article in Paradise of the Pacific Magazine at the time: “Anahu’s daughter, Mrs. Earl Fernandez, and her husband, were there. Members of the Waikiki Surf Club carried the lead canoe into the water. Music was by Splash Lyons’ group.”


Then a couple from 1959 during a visit to Hawaii by Miss and Mr. Australian Surf 1959, Jan Carmody and Colin McFarlane, who were friends of Duke.

When then-Advertiser sports writer, Red McQueen, heard that Duke had received a letter from the Australian pair about an island visit, accompanied by Australian model June Dally-Watkins, he typed out a newspaper column under the headline, “Paging John Lind.”

McQueen wrote:

Here’s the pitch: Duke’s Aussie friends thought it would be nice if a reception or some kind of exhibition, possibly for some charity, can be arranged during their stay.

Duke and yours truly readily agreed that your live-wire Waikiki Surf Club would be the logical organization to carry the ball.

And my dad, a co-founder and longtime president of the Waikiki Surf Club, was the guy who answered the call.

The next day, another McQueen column announced: “No sooner said than done.”

No sooner had The Advertiser hit the street yesterday with word that Miss and Mr. Australian Surf would pause here for four days on a world tour than the handsome WSC prexy had plans in motion to entertain the visitors and also show them in an exhibition….

Moving with the swiftness of a Makaha wave, Lind had a meeting with Duke Kahanaomku yesterday and if initial plans are carried out, the visitors from Down Under will have something to write home about.

And it seems that they did.

At the top, a photo of Kahanamoku with his Australian guests on the beach at Makapuu. The photo below was taken at a reception honoring the guests. Left to right, John Lind, Duke Kahanamoku, unknown woman, and George “Dad” Center.



Finally, I was there on Waikiki Beach on January 27, 1968, when thousands gathered to say farewell to Duke Kahanamoku in another traditional beachboy funeral.

This last photo shows a canoe of Waikiki Surf Club old timers leaving the beach to join the many other canoes offshore where Duke’s ashes were to be scattered. My dad is on the left, towards the front of the canoe, looking back towards the camera.


Click on the photo for more shots from the day of Duke’s funeral.

Throwback Thursday #2: Hawaiian Air float on Kapiolani in 1949

Two more in this series of photos that I recently found among my dad’s papers.

These feature a Hawaiian Airlines float in a parade along Kapiolani Boulevard in front of the McKinley High School field. In the top photo, notice Punchbowl before there were any high rise buildings, and the dense trees at the Ward Estate’s “Old Plantation,” where the Blaisdell Center now stands.

In the lower photo, you can see the landmark Makiki Christian Church in the background to the right of the photo, as well as the heights overlooking Honolulu.

I’m guessing the “20” on the floats refers to the 20th anniversary of Hawaiian’s first scheduled flights, which began in 1929.

As usual, just click on either photo to see a larger, more detailed version of the image.