Tag Archives: Waikiki

Remembering the old Queen’s Surf

View from Queen's SurfWhether you’re old enough to remember the old Queen’s Surf, or too young but curious about the former landmark, here’s a bit of history.

I posted some of this earlier, but this week I found the missing first page of a 1947 letter from my father to the president of the International Geneva Association in praise of the newly renovated Queen’s Surf. The letter was accompanied by a set of excellent photographs.

Click on this photo, and you’ll first get to read the letter, and then view the series of photos.

According to my dad’s account:

Queen’s Surf was built during the years 1914 and 1915, by Mr. & Mrs. W.K. Seering of the International Harvester Co., Illinois. In the year 1936 it was purchased from Mr. & Mrs. Seering by Mr. C.R. Holmes for his Honolulu residence. Mr. Holmes also owned the beautiful Coconut Island, which is located in the Kaneohe are on the windward side of the island of Oahu, in the Hawaiian Island Group. In 1945 the residence was purchased by a group known as the Capitol Properties, Limited. It was remodeled and made into an outstanding commercial location as pictured in the attached photographs. It is regarded as the most luxuriest commercial location in the islands. During the war period the residence was used as a rest home for young flyers. C.R. Holmes donated the premises for this use during the war period. Many of the flyers enjoyed the luxuries that were extended there. In the year 1944, during the war conference held in Hawaii by Admiral Nimitz, General Douglas McArthur and staffs; all of their time was spent in the residence now known as the Queen’s Surf.

I remember one or two long nights at the Queen’s Surf in late 1969 or early 1970 with Meda and my late uncle, Jimmy Yonge. At that time, he was chief purser on one of Matson’s white liners that cruised through Honolulu to the South Pacific. When stopping through Honolulu, we would get together for a few drinks. Well, perhaps more than a few, but this was, after all, before MADD. Suffice it to say that Queen’s Surf was one of the centers of night life in Waikiki during the period.

But it came to a sad end when it was condemned and torn down by the city in about 1971 to open up that part of the beach to the public, or so they said.

I ran across this comment left on Yelp with another version of its demise. I can’t vouch for the accuracy, but it sure sounds like the way business was done.

The long and the short of it…

One of the most prominent and successful restaurateurs here was Spence Weaver. With his brother Cliff, they created 50 plus restaurants and bars thru Hawaii and Tahiti.
Among all the rest, they owned Queen’s Surf, the Papeete lounge and the Barefoot bar. kama’aina remembers it as the showroom in which the irrepressible Sterling Mossman held court.

One evening, Fasi met up with Spence at some restaurant and told him basically, ok, yer gonna donate to my campaign. Spence, being just as strong willed, and being his own person, never enjoying having someone else tell HIM what do do with HIS money, replied, uh… I don’t think so!

No, really. ya gotta!

No, Frank, I will not.

This began a personal mutual dislike, personal vendettas, etc…

Frank Fasi, much to the chagrin and general heartbreak and extreme disappointment of the general populace, (and regular visitors around the world) thru condemnation, and eminent domain, had the whole establishment there, torn down, (for the greater good; needed a beach park there. Regardless of the fact the surrounding areas were beach parks… made no difference.

Fasi attempted to make Spence an offer he couldn’t refuse. Spence did refuse. Result, a fabulous landmark status bar restaurant and showroom of the old Polynesian motif… is gone forever. Spanks alot, Frank.

Another Waikiki street brawl getting lots of views on YouTube

I’ve commented here several times over the past several years about the underreporting of street fights and brawls around the island.

This week, a sharp-eyed Waikiki resident forwarded the link to this YouTube video showing a street fight in the heart of Waikiki that took place a couple of months ago.

[The video has been removed (in December 2012) following a warning from Google that all ads will be suspended if this video, which shows a street fightin Waikiki, is not removed.]

We’re talking the center of our visitor industry. Does anyone else find this disturbing?

Here’s what I wrote a year and a half ago (I point out the date so that I’m not accused of raising this only as a last-minute campaign issue:

The pattern seem clear. For whatever reason, this disturbing series of fights involving large groups is being largely ignored. Follow-up reporting to make sense of it is almost nonexistent, as is reporting to hold public officials responsible for responding. Shouldn’t there be some public discussion of how to best respond to this obvious increase in gang related violence, including the appearance of home invasion robberies, drive by shootings, brawls in public places, etc? I would like to hear more than a sound bite from HPD, the city council, and the mayor. What’s going on and what are you doing about it?

Type “brawl” in the Google search bar on the top right of this page and you’ll get a list of earlier entries involving underreported and unanalyzed gang fights.

That video had been viewed about 14,000 times as of this morning, as have several of the others that turned up when I searched YouTube using the words “Waikiki” and “fight”.

I’m hearing candidates talking a lot about management experience and public safety. I haven’t heard much, now or over the past several years, addressing this emergence of new and serious types of community violence, from gang fights to recreational violence to home invasions.

I would welcome somthing substantive on this important issue.

Behind the scenes at the Makaha International Surfing Championships in 1958

The temperature in Honolulu rose to 86 degrees on August 19, 1958, but it probably seemed hotter as members of the International Surfing Championship Committee began arriving at the old Pearl City police station for their first planning meeting looking ahead to the next annual event at Makaha, considered the premier and most prestigious surfing contest in the world at the time.

Members of the committee represented the event’s co-sponsors, the Waikiki Surf Club and the Waianae Lions Club. The groups had worked together on the annual event for five years. In 1958, the committee’s chair was Waianae Lion’s president, William Jackman, who had come to Hawaii twenty years earlier and was stationed at Wheeler Army Airfield. He later became a senior civil service employee at Hickam Air Force Base.

Fireworks started as soon as Jackman called the meeting to order and announced the Lions had a proposal. He passed a copy of a written statement to Waikiki Surf Club president John Lind, then asked another Lion, David Klausmeyer, to read the prepared statement.

Klausmeyer announce the Lions had voted to withdraw as co-sponsors and instead take over and put on the event on their own.

The statement began by pleading inexperience and their own failure to follow rules established by the Internaional Association of Lions Clubs, which were described as “strongly opposed to any Lions Club co-sponsoring any project with another organization.”

But the Lions’ statement also cited “other pressures beyond our control,” which were not specified. One clue might be the reference to an interest in “fair unbiased competition”, possibly alluding to criticism already being heard from Austalian and California surfers who went home saying the local judges were biased in favor of Hawaiian surfers.

The Lions offered to turn the event back over to the surf club if, in the future, the Lions were unable to continue.

The Lions did not disclose that, prior to this meeting, they had already applied on their own for a permit from the city to use the Makaha Beach area for the event.

Lind, speaking on behalf of the Waikiki Surf Club, said he was shocked by the proposal and had no choice but to flatly reject it and, instead, accept the Lions’ decision to withdraw as co-sponsor, minutes of the meeting show.

After a brief private meeting, the WSC members announced their official decision to reject the proposal and instead “carry on the project alone.”

During an open discussion that followed, Klausmeyer claimed the idea of the Makaha championships had originated with the Lions Club. This was quickly challenged by WSC members, who said the idea was originally floated by Lind, who raised it during an invited presentation to the Waianae Lions about the organization of the Waikiki Surf Club.

Following the meeting, the WSC executive committee immediately moved to register the Makaha event name, negotiate the beach permit with the city, and assigning responsibilities for everything from security to food to judging, pushing ahead without their former co-sponsor.

On September 20, 1958, Lind wrote Jackman to confirm that the Lions were now out of the picture and to “arrange an early impeccable settlement with the Waianae Lions Club in connection with all the property relating to the project which we at present jointly own.”

Operating on a tight timeline, Lind said the program had been set for the weekends of November 22-23 and November 29-30.

Jackman responded with a request for a joint audit of the finances by the treasurers of the groups, and the audit was quickly set in motion.

What is most striking, from today’s perspective, is how little equipment and money was held after putting on the event for five years. There was $494.54 in the bank as of October 12, 1958, along with three umbrellas for judges, 20 event vests, 18 judges shirts and hats, and 13 souvenir shirts. Total current value of these items was estimated at $72.76.

The accounting also notes that Chinn Ho has not followed through with a donation promised in 1957, and had advised he would not contribute more than $250.

Ho had been a backer of the Makaha Championships from the beginning, apparently believing that the public attention and news coverage would increase the worth of his land holdings in the area.

The partnership between the two organizations officially came to an end on October 22, 1958, when a check for $247.27 was sent to the Lions Club from the championships account and another $82.12 from the Waikiki Surf Club “in full settlement of International Surfing Championships funds and property.”

Documents of these events can be viewed in pdf format.

-Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii

Footnote: After writing this brief account of the 1958 incident, I decided to see whether my father, John Lind, had any recollection of the events. He’s in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s, and his memory, while fading, can be unpredictable.

I don’t like to put him on the spot by directly asking whether he remembers something particular. In this case, I told him that I had been reading about the time in 1958 when the Lions Club attempted to take control of the Makaha event.

He immediately looked at me and said sharply: “Where did you read that?”

A short pause, then he continued: “I know it happened, but where was it published?”

Then he shook his head. “These are things no one talked about.”

He seemed to vaguely recall Jackman, but had a clearer recollection of Doak Klausmeyer. He said Klausmeyer, who appears as “David Klausmeyer” in the minutes of the meeting, lived in a house right next to the beach at Makaha. I’m assuming that Doak and David were the same person, although that could be wrong.

He relaxed after a minute or two, sinking into his pillow, and reflected: “I wonder what people will say about me when I’m gone?”

I left that question unanswered.

But it seems to me that “things no one talked about” are histories that need to be written.

Kamehameha Day on Waikiki Beach, June 11, 1944

Crowd on the beachHawaii was still under martial law in 1944 when my father and other members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce staged a Kamehameha Day celebration on Waikiki Beach. Thousands of servicemen and some local residents jammed the beach for the event, which included canoe and surfboard paddling competitions, although it looks like the beauty contest drew the most attention.

Pearl Lane Stone won the contest and was named “Miss Waikiki” before the appreciative crowd.

Click here or on the photo to see all 18 photographs, all cleared for publication at the time by Army censors.