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.

“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.



Another history mystery: Who are these men?

Here’s a question for the history buffs among you: Who are these men and why are they posing in front of this Hawaiian Airlines plane in October 1951? To be precise, the photo is marked October 25, 1951.

A Google search for “Hawaiian Airlines” on that date didn’t turn up anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some historical data to be found online somewhere.

The negative was damaged, apparently partially melted at some point, but the image is still relatively clear.

Any ideas?

And, as usual, click on the photo to see a larger version.

October 25, 1951

More of Hawaii around 1949: Enchanted Lake area of Kailua

More from the stack of negatives which recently turned up in the last of my dad’s papers, most featuring Hawaiian Airlines planes over various parts of the islands.

In this shot, the HAL DC3 is flying over what appears to be the area that later became Joe Pao’s Enchanted Lake subdivision.

I’m not familiar enough with this part of Kailua to recognize all the landmarks.

And the area, of course, has been completely transformed by development during the period from 1960 to the present.

c. 1949

Also see:

Waimanalo about 1949: Another view

Waimanalo: Another look back at Hawaii around 1949

Windward Oahu–Another look back to Hawaii around 1949

Wailuku, Maui, viewed from somewhere above Kahului