Thursday, April 03, 2008

1930s Waikiki Beach Boys


Every once in a while, I am surprised by a goodie. Sometimes it's in my research when something obviously significant is first learned. Other times, it might be when I connect two previously unconnected dots to gain further insight into the progression of surfing. Often times, the goodie comes in the form of an email message from someone I've never communicated with before, but which leads to a wealth of information.

A recent goodie came in email form from Karen Cotter, with the assistance of her sister Emily Fradkin. The two sisters had an aunt named Emily Campbell Kauha Davis (1896-1987). A school teacher at 20, Emily sailed away to Honolulu at age 22 to the horror of her parents. She settled in with delight, taught school, and soon after met and married Waikiki beach boy and later captain of the Waikiki lifeguards, John Kauha. After over a decade together, Emily lost John Kauha to cancer in 1939.

"Anyway," wrote Karen Cotter, "from amongst my aunt's books I acquired two old poetry books by Don Blanding, published in 1923 and 1925 respectively, and in the back of one, written in pencil, is a list of "Beach Boys of Waikiki" in my aunt's hand which I thought you might find of interest..."

The listing -- by no means complete, but still the largest list of 1930s Waikiki Beach Boys I have seen anywhere -- is as follows, in the order it was written:

Pua Kealoha
Davd Kahanamoku
Louis Kahanamoku
Sergent Kahanamoku
William Kahanamoku (whom Emily referred elsewhere as "Billy")
Sam Kahanamoku
John Napahu
John D. Kaupiko (who was married to Emily's best friend, Helen)
John Kauha
Hiram Anahu
William Keawemaha (nicknamed "Tough Bill")
"Steamboat" Keawemaha
Paul Tsang
John Liu
Chick Daniel
Jeremiah Lima
Joseph Guerrero
Tony Guererrero
George Harris
Abe Umiamaka
Louis Rutherford
Enay MacKinney

"For many years," Emily's niece Karen wrote, "my aunt wrote a newsy column in the Honolulu Advertiser in the '30s and '40s called 'Beachwalk Girl.' She often sent my mother columns which she thought my mother would enjoy - not all the columns for sure as I believe they were a daily item - perhaps only weekly, but we have a fat scrapbook full of the daily happenings in the neighborhood. My aunt lived on Seaside Avenue and Kuhio so was in the middle of the action! 

"... perhaps the list will be of some use in your ongoing research." Thank you, Karen and Emily.

1 comment:

  1. Comment from DeSoto Brown:

    “Enay” is the correct spelling of this name; it’s not “Ei nei”, as you thought (very reasonably.) It was pronounced just like it’s spelled: ee-nay. His wife was named “Lovey”.

    My mother (age 87) doesn’t think Enay ever was a beachboy, but she wants to check.

    I suspect that Tony Guerrero was the owner of the Tropics restaurants, one of which was in Waikiki. It was open by 1940 and closed around 1963. It was located on the corner of Kalakaua Ave. and Seaside Ave., so it was just about a block from where Emily Kauha Davis lived.


Mahalo for your comment!