Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Freeth, Ford and London

Geoff Cater of Surfresearch.com has detailed the relationships between George Freeth, Alexander Hume Ford and Jack London. Geoff brings up a number of little-known details, plus the idea that George Freeth may have been the first surfer on the USA East Coast. For more, please read on...

Geoff's original April 2017 posting is located at: http://www.surfresearch.com.au/sFreeth_George.html

George Freeth
IntroductionThis paper was prepared in April 2017 following comments and feedback resulting from posting a 1907 photograph of a Californian surfer by L.M. Robin on the Surf Blurb in March.

I am indebted to 
Joel T. Smith for his three articles Re-Inventing the Sport, Part 1: Jack London, Part 2: Alexander Hume Ford and Part 3: George Freeth, published in The Surfer's Journal, Volume 12, Numbers 1- 3, 2003. Many thanks to Jeremy Lemarie, Joel T. Smith, Gary Lynch, John Mazza, and Cary Weiss.
Warning: Contains adult themes.

George Freeth, Alexander Hume Ford and Jack London, Waikiki, 1907.

While Jack and Charmian London and Alexander Hume Ford were touring Oahu by automobile in 1907, two surfing photographs appeared in the Honolulu press, along with an article headed Freeth Will Ride Atlantic Rollers!
Ford and the London's had 
recently met George Freeth, who was currently the surfing instructor at Waikiki's Seaside Hotel, when they began surfboard riding, identifying him as as one of the local experts.
Published on June 23, 
the photographs had been commissioned by Ford at end of May.and the copy was, undoubtedly, his work.In addition to reporting Freeth's intention to surf on America's east coast, Ford revealed how Freeth had already done so.
Although this is the only known report of Freeth surfing the east coast before 1907, 
the article's exorbitant detail has led some to question Ford's tale in its entirety.However, as Freeth was in Philadelphia in 1904 it is possible that he did ride a surfboard at Atlantic City and, given that city's life-saving brigades were firmly established by the time, that his efforts would likely have made the life-savers mad.

George D. Freeth was born on Ohau in 1883, his father, part-Irish and variously named Captain or Governor George D. Freeth, traversed the Pacific principally engaged in exploiting guano deposits.
part-Hawaiian mother, Elizabeth K. Freethdescended from a long established local family,.The family was familiar with Hawaiian society; in  February, 1892.they attended her Majesty Queen 
Liliuokalani's fancy dress Children's Ball at the Royal Palace.
, aged 9, was a very proud soldier-like Zouave in a red jacket and yellow trousers and his brothers, Willie and Charley, dressed as the two Princes in the Tower.

George Freeth, Waikiki, 
May, 1907.
The family was also involved in Captain Freeth's Pacific enterprises.In May, 1894, Captain Jameson, the British brig L'Avenier, reported the death of Hans Holstein, a German,who was employed on Laysan Island by Captain Freath.(sic)

A newspaper account of the circumstances included a sketch of a house which is usually occupied by Captain Freeth and his family when they are on the island.Then, as now, it must have been a rare for a young boy to have his own Treasure Island.

The family connection with Philadelphia dates from 1897; at the beginning of October George's older brother, Charles, left Honolulu aboard the Miowera for Philadelphia where he has received an appointment In the Charles Hillman Ship Building Company, and by July 1900 Charlie had secured an enviable position in Cramp's ship yard.

In Honolulu
, two months after his parents separation in February, 1900, aged 17, George appeared at the second annual gymnasium exhibition of the Young Men's Christian Association; a junior competitor was Ernest Kopke who would later vie with Freeth for swimming honours.A student of the lolani College, George was listed as one of the sub-editors.of first edition of the Ioiani College Magazinepublished in August 1900, and in November he played as goal-keeper for the College's:(Association) Football team; a journalist noting that Freeth is improving but does not appear to know the game.At the end of the month he played as a forward for the Iolani's, Ah Hun replacing him in goal.
The next year, Freeth was listed as an oarsman in the Freshman barge competing for the Mrytles, one of Honolulu's premier boat clubs, at Regatta Day on the harbourBy Independence Day, 1903, George was on the mainland's East Coast.

George Freeth, Waikiki, 
In Chester, Pennsylvania, George Freeth, a Honolulu boy, the son of Mrs. E. K. Freeth of Emma street, and a lineman of one or the telephone companies,  won the prize for fancy and high diving, and also swam 100 yards in one minute and six seconds, beating all competitors.
No doubt visiting with his older brother in Philadelphia, 
it is during his time that it is possible that George Freeth was chastised for riding a surfboard, even if only a small prone-board, at Atlantic City.

Celebrated novelist, 
Jack London , first arrived in Hawaii in 1904 for and at the end of June, like all visitors of renown, was given his first experience with a surf-ride at Waikiki by local expert canoe-surfers, Jack Atkinson and Col. McFarlaneBy October of that year, George Freeth was back in Honolulu, named as a member of the Healani Boat Club's swimming team to challenge the Myrtles.
In Hawaii during this period, team loyalty appears to be extremely flexible, with members often moving between clubs.
After leaving college, George Freeth excelled in athletics and water-sports.
In April 1905 he completed an 80-foot dive into Pearl Harbor, 
the distance was so great and the lights so tantalizing that water had to be thrown on the surface to stir it so that Freeth could see it distinctly before making the leap.
George Freeth, who will make the 80-foot leapApril 1905

Apart from regularly appearing in swimming and diving competitions, Freeth was 
appointed the swimming instructor at the Healani Boat Club and competed for them in boat races.
In November, 1906, he was chosen as captain of the newly formed Hawaiian Swimming Club.
On land, in October 1905 he made a home run for the Diamond Heads to beat the Makikis in baseball; he played quarterback for Maile in gridiron, and starred as a forward when the same team played Association football (Socker).
His surfing skills were first recognised in the local press on October 2, 1906, with a report that many witnessed George Freeth performing in the surf, at the Moana, on Sunday.However, while Freeth is listed in the swimming team of the Diamond Head Athletic Club for the second Waikiki Regatta, scheduled for the end of 1906, his name is noticeably absent from the entries for Surf-riding on Boards

Organised by 
Jack Atkinson, many expert board riders had entered; including  Harry Steiner, Curtis Hustace, Dan Keawemahi, Duke Kahanamoku, William Dole, Keanu, Dudy Miller, Atherton Gilman, Lane Webster, and James McCandless.
A lack of swell saw the Regatta postponed from New Year's Day until March 17, 1907, where the skills of Harry Steiner and James McCandless were praised.
the three judges, E. P. Law, C. W. Macfarlane, and Olaf Sorenson, awarded top points to Harold Hustace, who stood on the board, head up and head down and as an extra turned a somersault or two.Three years earlier, in the spring of 1904, Harold and his brother Curtis Hustace were praised for using their surfboards to rescue a sailor at Waikiki; his face almost black from asphyxiation, the sailor was revived by being rolled over a barrel.About a  month later, Alexander Hume  Ford arrived from San Francisco aboard the Alameda on April 26 and booked intothe Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honoluluthe Royal Hawaiian at Waikiki not opening until 1927.
Outrigger Surfboard Riders, June 1908.
Possibly Atherton Gilman, Lane Webster, Harold and Curtis Hustace.
Ford was a widely travelled professional journalist who had published articles based on his travels to China, Japan and Paris and, like Jack London, had previously visited Oahu.
It appears he had planned an short stay in the Hawaiian Islands before sailing for Australia, and Ford may, or may not, have been aware of the impending visit by a party of Congressmen from Washington.

Assuming he spent much of the first week in making himself familiar with the local dignities, politicians and press, Ford was probably pleased to read on May 2 that the Jack London and his second wife, Charrmian London, had left Oakland, California, two weeks ago.Jack's organisation and planning for their voyage across the Pacific aboard his 45-foot yacht, the Snarkhad already provided considerable copy for many newspapers.

It is also likely that Ford first became 
aware of George Freeth from an article published the following day in Honolulu's Evening Bulletin
Freeth had prosed that he and (Dude) "Dudy" Miller travel to Southern California, with a surfing canoe and surf boards, to give exhibitions of their skill.As this would be one of the best advertisements which Hawaii could possibly haveideally the Hawaiian Promotion Committee could help them with the cost of passage and the transportation of their canoe and boards.Ford and Freeth may have met during that week, but their paths undoubtedly crossed after the arrival of the Congressional party aboard the US Army transport Bufordlate on May 7.
Most of the visitors stayed at the Royal Hawaiian or the Young Hotel in Honolulu, but one Congressmen, W. P. Hepburn, was booked into the Moana Hotel at Waikiki.At the suggestion of Secretary Jack Atkinson, the Promotion Committee quickly arranged that morning for two or three canoes at Waikiki, in the charge of expert swimmers, kept at the disposal of the visitors.Initially requesting two days to recuperate from the voyage, the visiting Congressmen all expressed great eagerness to visit Waikiki beach and after lunch Sam Parker and Jack Atkinson took a regular band-wagon of committeemen to the beach by the street-cars and automobiles.
The Congressmen congregated at the Moana and three and four surfing canoes were kept filled, including some of the lady visitors, all the afternoon.

The boys were also out riding surf-boards so that all hands were treated to an exhibition of sport to which canoe surf-riding is second only.The journalist observed that the grave and reverend legislators of the Nation and the Territory became boys again- you can't help it when the surf is like that of yesterday.
At Waikiki the next day, May 10, a number stayed most of the morning to try the surf riding.
It was probably during this week, sometime between May 8-12, that Ford had his introduction to surfing andGeorge Freeth was photographed at Waikiki.
Three photographs were published before the end of the year in Ernest F. Acheson's Congressional Party in Hawaii
 Souvenir, May, 1907.
Champion Surfboard RiderFreeth is shown wave riding while standing and prone, and alongside his board on the Waikiki shore line.
This board's template is distinctive in tapering from a wide rounded nose, similar to some prone boards of the era.
Freeth used almost identical design when he first travelled to California, as shown in a photograph taken at Rendondo Beach, circa 1910.
The West coast board is poor condition with 
several cross-battens affixed to repair substantial vertical cracks in the nose of the board.
To compare and contrast contemporary surfboard templates, see Board Portraits.

    Waikiki, 1907.               Rendondo Beach, 1910.

On May 13, some of the Congressional party left 
Honolulu to visit Kauai, accompanied by George Freeth and A.H. Ford, who were probably by now well acquainted; their names appear together in the (non-alphabetical) passenger list, and they may have shared a cabin aboard the steamer Claudine.Apparently, Freeth was accompanying the congressmen as a life-guard to assist the visitors in water-sports, and he and Ford continued to travel with the statesman on their tours of the large island of Hawaii, and then Maui.

The Snark was off Waikiki by 
the morning of May 20 and anchored in Pearl Lochs, west of Honolulu, by the afternoon.
This was a disappointment for many locals who had hoped the famous author would have a far more public presence by mooring at the Honolulu docks.Beginning on the morning of March 21, Charmian London's Diary, published in 1917, records that Jack had already planned to moor the Snark in Pearl Lochs, with use of an cottage adjoining the home of Albert Waterhouse.The London's spent their first days ashore recovering from the voyage, organising repairs to the Snark, and reading a range of Hawaiian related literature.
The Snark moored in Pearl Lochs with Jack London ashore, 1907.
Ford, and presumably Freeth, did not return to Oahu until the 25th, arriving on the steamer Kirau from Hilo and way ports.
On May 27, Jack and Charmian travelled to the city by rail, lunched at the Young Hotel's roof-top cafe and, after obtaining two little bay mares from Mr. Roswell, rode back to Pearl Lochs.
Incidentally, Charmian
 rode astride her Australian saddle, assured in the knowledge that this style had been readily adopted by local female equestrians, which scandalised civilised ladies, who only rode sidesaddle.
The London's attended, along with three thousand other guests, a Royal engagement for the departing Congressional party at the home of Princess Kalanianaole at Waikiki on the evening of May 29, and the next morning the couple retuned to Waikiki on horse-back.
That evening they dined at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu where 
Alexander Hume Ford introduced himself and, after being invited to join their table, dominated the conversation for the next two hours.
Probably invigorated by his most recent exploits with George Freeth, he talked at length of his most recent enthusiasm, 
reviving the old Hawaiian sport of surf-boarding.Ford's vision of himself as the saviour of the ancient art is now embedded in surfing history.
In fact, interest in surfing in canoes and on boards at Waikiki had been steadily growing since 
the formation of the Hui Pakaka Nalu in 1897.
Crewed by native owners, managed by W. W. Dimond, 
a fleet of eight canoes offered the pleasure of canoe surfing to all. for $1.00 an hour.
By the turn of the century
 illustrations and photographs of surfing were regularly used to promote Hawaii tourism and appeared in books and newspapers around the world.The first modern surfing competition at Waikiki was held in March 1905, Bonine filmed surfing for the Edison Company in 1906, and just weeks before Ford arrived,Harold Hustace, from a field of at least ten skilled competitors, won the surfboard riding event.at the second Waikiki Regatta.Hustace, like virtually in all the accounts of surfboard riders since the mid-1890s, rode standing.

Aware that the London's had 
taken a cottage at the Seaside at Waikiki, Ford arranged to visit and show us how to use a board.He provided a suitably large board and after one day of instruction, both Jack and Charmian successfully rode prone on several waves.
Jack's enthusiasm,however, resulted in a severe case of sunburn and by June 4 he was confined to bed where he immediately began, with
 Charmian taking dictation, his landmark article, A Royal Sport.Published under the title Riding the South Sea Surf, this first printing was prefaced by a quotation by Mark Twain, that concluded none but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.
Fifty years laterLondon writes in glowing terms of the local natives' skill and style on the large waves breaking on the outer reefs of Waikiki.

Charmian and Jack London, Honolulu1907.
Integrating science and art, his analysis of wave motion theory, well known in scientific circles by 1867has been replicated, usually as chapter one, in numerous surfing books and is the foundation of modern surf forecasting services.
explanation of the basic dynamics of surfboard riding could be based on some of his research, or was perhaps collated from discussions around the beach, where it was understood that the wave lifts and pushes the board and rider slides down the glossy surface, yet never falling lower.The subject has only been reprised very occasionally, and usually with little further rigorous inspection.
Jack London relates how, with Ford's assistance, 
he learns to catch small waves on an inside reef close to the beach 
at Waikiki, and ride prone using his legs to steer.
Impressed, and envious, of the local experts who ride standing on the larger waves breaking on the outer reefs, the following day he and Ford venture out to a larger break, accompanied by George Freeth.

Whereas London accredits Ford with mastering surfboard riding in a matter of weeks and without the benefits of instruction, Ford later wrote that he learned from the small boys of Waikiki and that it took four hours a day to the sport for nearly three months.
Jack successfully rides prone on some larger waves, but now suffering from severe sunburn, the article concludes with him dictating from his bed and resolving to ride standing, like Ford and Freeth, before leaving Hawaii
While Jack London was dictating from his bed, it was announced that George Freeth was available for swimming and surfing lessons at the Seaside Hotel every day between 8:30 am.and 6 pm.Meanwhile, Ford had a long letter published in the local press calling for the produce and delights of Hawaii to be vigorously promoted to the world; the strength of his commitment to the Hawaiian cause demonstrated by undertaking baptism-by-surfboard:

Forgive me if I presume to write these lines as though I was an Hawaiian, but it is to me as though I am a kamaaina,
for I have learned to ride your native surf board, and in the memory of that victory and the toils and pains I accomplished it,
I may be fairly inscribed as one who has suffered sufficiently on your Islands to love them and sympathize with them.

Most of the Congressional party embarked for home aboard the transport Sherman on June 1 and the next day, a Honolulu reporter detailed some of the works in the Snark's library; which include the seventeen volumes London hawritten himself.
Not recorded, but most probably aboard were copies of Mark Twain's Roughing It! (1872), 
a recent book on oceanography, and Charles Warren Stoddard's South Seas Idylls (1873).

Following the piece about Jack London was reference to another well known magazine writer in Honolulu just at present, 
preparing articles for Outing magazine on surfing; this was undoubtedly Alexander Hume Ford, and the implication that he was "working" for Outing Magazine carried considerable weight, having just serialised London's latest novelWhite Fang.
In addition, to illustrate his work 
Ford had a series of photographs taken of George Freeth on a surfboard, the photographer suggested byTim DeLaVega (2011to be Edward P. Urwin.
Freeth's second appearance surfing for the camera, these can only be shot in the days following Ford's return to Honolulu from Hilo.on May 25, the first two weeks earlier for the visiting Congressmen.  

Ford was also reported as saying 
he was going to advocate is the introduction of surfing at Atlantic City, and had a picture of himself ... to show how easy it is.
However, the reporter noted that although the camera tells no lie, it failed to show the half-drowned Freeth under the board holding it steady while the bold and skilful rider balanced in a pose long enough for the photo to be taken.
hree weeks later, two of the photographs appeared in the Honolulu press, along with Ford's first article about surf riding.By June 11, Jack London had recovered enough to visit the Ewa plantation with his wife and Ford and then all three embarked on an extended tour of Oahu by automobile with a round of social events, including Jack's attendance at a boxing match.
From his arrival, Ford was aware of George Freeth's desire to relocate to California to pursue his career as swimmer, diver, surf-board rider, lifeguard, and as an instructor in all; and his
 first surfing article, apparently, served to advance Freeth's career.
Titled Freeth Will Ride Atlantic Rollers!it appeared in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser on June 23, with two photographs shot at the end of May, and was reprinted five days later by the Hawaiian Gazette.
Ford claimed that George Freeth was the only man Iiving who has ever surfed on the Atlantic coast and was now planning a return visit.
As discussed above, it is possible that George Freeth did ride a board at Atlantic City around 1904, and if so, it was then highly probable that he would have mentioned it to Ford, who had only recently announced his intention
 to advocate the introduction of surfing at Atlantic City.
However, in his re-telling of Freeth's adventures, Ford concocted a series of events that, especially for any local readers with some surfing experience, appears almost fanciful
; or, perhaps, even comic, in a misguided attempt  to emulate the style of his hero, MarkTwain.The story goes that George stowed away on a steamer to Atlantic City, shaped a surfboard from a woodpile when the cook wasn't lookingtaunted the local life-saversin a row-boats he rode standing on his head, zigzagged between the pier legs, and, for his efforts was apprehended by the police. But now, George Freeth had the support of some of the biggest athletic clubs of New Yorkthe Hawaii Promotion Committee, Jack London and Alexander Hume Ford, who has made George the central figure in the articles he has written for Outing magazine on "Surfing, the King of Sports."

Ford also stated that he had 
sent this photograph of George surfing, along with his article, tOuting. .
Copyrighted by Alexander H. Ford it had been pronounced the very best photograph ever taken of a surfer in actionFord having stood up to his neck among the breakers for days in order that he might be able to get a series of such photographs.
This was most probably one of photographs, pribably by Edward P. Urwin, that Ford arranged to be taken of George Freeth at Waikiki sometime after May 25, around the time of his first meeting with the London's in Honolulu, and before the event was noted in the local press on June 2.
George Freeth, Spinning in on a swift one, Waikiki, May, 1907

As surfing photographs had been in circulation since Dr. Henry Bolton first snapped surf riders on Niihau in 1890, not to mention the Waikiki footage filmed for the Edison Company by Bonine in 1906-7, the very best photograph ever taken of a surfer was a bold claim.
The projected article and the photograph of Freeth never appeared in Outing, although it did appear, along with some of George taken earlier, in Ford's A Boy's Paradise in the Pacificpublished (with different captions) in the, somewhat less prestigious, children's magazine St. Nicholas in August 1908.The second photograph appearing with the article, titled Surf rider balancing on the crest of a breaker, invites speculation that it is possibly the one Ford commissioned of himself to show how easy it is.
Certainly, given his involvement with the Congressional party, by the beginning of June 1907 Ford could only have been riding a surfboard for less than a monthperhaps giving some credence to the reporter's assertion that it failed to show the half-drowned Freeth under the board holding it steady.
However, a far more likely candidate is Keeping just behind the breakerpublished the next year in St. Nicholas.
While the rider appears to be probably standing on a board, he cannot be said to be riding a wave.

Pacific Commercial Advertiser, June 23 1907.

St. Nicholas Magazine, 1908.
On June 30 it was reported  that that the London's were back at Waikiki.where Mr. London has become quite an expert on the surf board. However, while it was said that they will remain there for the remainder of their stay in Honolulu, the next day they departed for the leper colony on Molokai, returning to the grounds of the Seaside Hotel on the July 7.

While relaxing on Molokai, Charmian London's Diary records 
that some one recalled a story of Charles Warren Stoddard's, where the author and Joe talked about the old times, walking arm in arm, and arms about shoulders, in Sweet Lahaina.
The story of Joe of Lahaina appeared in Stoddard's South Sea Idyls, however, the London's may have had the English edition, titled Summer Cruising in the South Seas (1874)
Illustrated by Wallis Mackay, it was the first book depicting surfboard riders on the cover; as in many of her surfing illustrations, naked females.At one time Mark Twain's secretary, Stoddard visited the Hawaiian Islands four times between 1864 and 1867, and although only acquainted through correspondencehe and Jack have called each other Dad and Son for years; their recent correspondence including a  letter by Stoddard introducing Jack to Queen Liliuokalani.
Over a century later, it is impossible to know to what extent contemporary readers were aware of the book's homo-eroticism, including Jack and Charmian London, whose marriage had included open sexual experimentation.
Joe of Lahaina has a figure so fresh and joyous that I began to realize how the old Greeks could worship mere physical beauty.
Between house-keeping, and his regular visits to church, Stoddard takes time to counsel Joe on becoming a true and unterrified American.
Drewey Wayne Gunn (2016) notes one story where his companion, Kana-ana, again and again would come with a delicious banana to the bed where I was lying, and insist upon my gorging myself.
However, he does not comment on the, now, double entendre of cruising in the English edition's title, or on Stoddard's surfing companion on Maui, Kahele, who was the gayest of the gay, and the most lawless of the unlawful. 
A week after Ford had intimated that George Freeth intended to demonstrate surfing on the Atlantic coast, the press reported on July 3 that George, now designated probably the most expert surf board rider in the world, had sailed aboard the Alamedato give swimming and surf riding exhibitions on the Pacific coast.
Whereas Freeth had indicated 
earlier that he and "Dudy" Miller would travel to Southern California, with a surfing canoe and surf boards, he was instead, equipped with a supply of surf boards and accompanied by Kenneth Winter.
It is unclear if Ford's profile, published ten days earlier, or Freeth's association with Jack London, in any way assisted in obtaining financial support from the Promotion Committee, or anyone else, for Freeth and Winter's passage, and the transportation of their boards, to California.

After less than a month in 
California, Kenneth Winter returned  on August 8, and by mid-1908 he was elected the first captain of the Outrigger Canoe Club.
He later shared 
a controversial victory with Sam Wight at that year's Waikiki Regatta; riding long, heavy boards, they won easily; defeating the 1907 champion, Harold Hustace, who turned in vain on his diminutive board.
As a result of the victory, the journalist predicted that the fashion in boards will now turn to something long, thick and narrow.

George Freeth
Honolulu, July 1907.

On his departure, Freeth was said to have
 probably done more to revive the wonderful art of the ancient Hawaiians here at home than any other one person, the title aspired by A.H. Ford.
While Freeth
 was undoubtedly an outstanding athlete, swimmer, diver and surfer, there may have been some long-term locals who quietly questioned George's recent promotion as the most skilled board rider at Waikiki.
The London's visit to Molokai was followed by visits to some of the other islands by inter-island steamer, the Snark still undergoing repairs, but they returned to Waikiki in late July, and were invited to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Frederic J. Church and their guests, Mr and Mrs. Nicholas Longworth 
Mrs. Nicholson was better known as 
Alice Roosevelt, daughter of the serving President, Theodore Roosevelt,
Her husband was a Republican party leader, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and fourteen years her senior.

Staying for a month in the largest of the cottages at the Seaside, at the start of August the Longwoth's went canoe-surfing with Jack Atkinson, with crowds of spectators on the beach watching the canoe riding the crest of the waves.
This was not a new experience;
 during their first visit with the Taft party in mid-July 1905 they, along with then Secretary Taft, had riddenin outrigger canoes, courtesy of Jack Atkinson.During the Pacific voyage in 1905, Miss Roosevelt was, obviously, not short of attention.
Although Washington gossip had Longworth as her accepted suitor, Miss Roosevelt did not let that matter interfere with her enjoymentthe Hawaiian  press also noting Rhode Island's Stuyvesant Fish Jr. and Roger K. Wetmore , also visiting aboard S.S. Manchuriaalongwith locals Jack Atkinson and Walter Dillingham, as particular admirers of Miss Alice Roosevelt. 

Alice Roosevelt, c1904.

After canoe surfing at Waikiki, Aitkinson
 had mailed a fine collection of pictures of Miss Alice Roosevelt to the President, and in Honolulu there were high.expectations that they would appear in Collier's, Harper's, Leslie's and a number of newspapers all over the country.
However, despite his best  efforts to promote surfing at Waikiki, it appears none were ever published

Alice recalled Mr.Taft pleading with photographers not to take photographs of me in my bathing suit.
It was considered just a little indelicate, the idea that they might be taken and published.
And a bathing suit was a silk or mohair dress, not at all short, high-necked and with sleeves, and, of course, long black stockings! 
At the end of July 1905, the Chicago Tribune attempted to avoid offending the President by publishing a modest illustration, from a photograph, revealing the young lady's back and, despite Alice's recollection that she was wearing sleeves, one naked arm.It is impossible to identify anybody in one photograph from the Taft party's visit in 1905, a panorama of Diamond Head with several canoes sporting in small waves, held in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution.

Alice Roosevelt Enjoying the Surf in 
Hawaii on Her Way to the Orient.
(From a photograph)
Miss Roosevelt wielding a paddle while surf riding.
She is at the end of the canoe, on the right.Chicago TribuneJuly 30, 1905.

Canoes in the Surf, Waikiki, July 1905.
Alice in Asia: The 1905 Taft Mission to AsiaFreer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Galleries Smithsonian Institution

Jack Atkinson was also a guest the 
Church's dinner, at the Turkish room of the Seaside in early August 1907, for the Longworth's and London's; the later now guests of Mr. and Mrs. Lorrin A.Thurston until the sailing of the Snark for the south.
It is highly probable that the evening's conversation included a mutual appreciation of the joys of surf-riding.
As Jack London was a renowned Socialist, politics was very likely avoidedas was the President's recent public questioning of the author's account of a fight between a bulldog and a wolf.

On August 8, 1907, the Hawaii Promotion Committee was delighted to learn that Jack London's article on surf bathing in Hawaii would probably appear in the October number of the The Woman's Home Companion, a national magazine with a circulation in excess of half a million.Three days later, Alexander Hume Ford's extended account of the Hawaiian tour of the Congressional partappeared in The World Today.Repairs were completed and the Snark provisioned before Jack, Charmian, and their new crew, sailed for Maui on August 15.

George Freeth was now in California, the Snark was sailing around the Hawaiian Islands, and 
in mid-August, Ford also left Honolulu and was now cruising around the Fiji Islands.
There he surfed with the natives on Taveuni Island, although they merely hold a small board in their hands, and have never heard of anyone standing on the board.
Travelling by inter-island steamers, Ford continued on to New Zealand.and was in Australia by the end of October, 1907.
As such, it was  probably several weeks before he became aware of a glowing assessment of his achievements at Waikiki in The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of August 26; in three months Ford had become a proficient surfer, to a very considerable extent, and had imparted his enthusiasm to the community.
Just as importantly, he had formulated instruction in it: teaching others how to teach the acquisition of the art.
This success was even more impressive in light of the reporter's assertion that 
two or three years ago the feat of standing upon the surf board survived only in the power of two or three in the whole community.

After visiting several of the Hawaiian islands, the Snark sailed from Hilo for the Marquesas Islands on  October 7 and on the same day, 
under the heading Jack London Tells Of Surfingthe Hawaiian Star heralded the publication, along with some excerpts, of his eagerly anticipated surfing article that featured Freeth and Ford.
The question posed by the Hawaiian StarDid he stick to his intention to ride a surf board standing before he left in the Snark?, remains unanswered.
Initially appearing in The Woman's Home Companion under the title Riding the South Sea Surfthe following year it was reprinted in England by Pall Mall as The Joys of the Surf-Riderwith an illustration by P.F.S. Spenceand thereafter extracts appeared in newspapers around the world. 
In 1911, it was appeared as Chapter 7 in a collection of London's writings from the Pacific, The Cruise of the Snark, under the heading A Royal Sport, by which it is now commonly known.

P.F.S. Spence:
A young god bronzed with sunburn.
Nakuina, Emma Metcalf:

Hawaii, Its People
and Their Legends.

 Hawaiian Promotion Committee,
Honolulu, H.T., 1904.

Reprinted with Jack London's
The Joys of the Surf-Rider
Pall MallNovember, 1908.

London, Jack:
The Cruise of the Snark.

Macmillan and Company, New York, 1911

No stranger to controversy, Jack London stories continued to appear in the Hawaiian press.
Not for the first time, Jack's seamanship was questioned; one of the crew on the trip from Honolulu to Hilo complaining that everyone acted as captain, occasionally the cookbut most of the time it was Mrs. London in bloomers.

And from Hilo came news that Jack's cheques to some local merchants were being returned from his Oakland bank, endorsed not sufficient funds.
While it was generally assumed that the bad checks were a simple mistake in his calculations, there was some sympathy for the Hilo men with the missing coin.
Bank of Hawaii Ltd., Honolulu,13 August 1907 
E.O. Hall and Sons, $9.96, endorsed Jack London 
E.O. Hall and Sons was a large retail store on Fort and King Streets, Honolulu.

In the summer of 1907, in less than tree months, the combined talents of Freeth, Ford and Jack London left an indelible mark on surfing history.

Alexander Hume Ford was the first to return to Hawaii, arriving 
from Australia.on March 3, 1908.
In Sydney he was aware that the local surf life-saving clubs were agitating for 
prime beach-front club-houses, which possibly prompted his enthusiasm for a similar development at Waikiki, the Outrigger Canoe Club.
Ford managed to get a few 
more of his articles accepted by magazine editors but after 1911, his work was in constant demand in Honolulu, required for the pages of his self-published Mid-Pacific Magazine.
George Freeth was rumoured to be returning to Hawaii in 1909, but arrived on September 28, 1910, and competed in water polo and swimming competitions.Although A.H. Ford made a case for keeping the highly skilled professional surfer-lifeguard at Waikiki, he soon returned to the beaches of California.
Jack and Charmian London did not return to Waikiki until 1915 when they were welcomed by Ford to the now world-renowned Outrigger Canoe Club.

Waikiki, 1915. Mr and Mrs. London (center), A.H. Ford (right).

Source Documents
1872 Mark Twain : Roughing It. 1874 Charles Warren Stoddard : Surfriding in Maui.
1907 Newspapers : Swimming and Surfing.
Ernest Francis Acheson : Congressional Party in Hawaii.
1907 Jack London : Riding the South Sea Surf.
1908 Jack London : Aloha Oe.
1908 Alexander Hume Ford : Riding Breakers.
1908 Alexander Hume Ford : A Boy's Paradise in the Pacific.
1908 Alexander Hume Ford : Beach Culture in Sydney, Australia.
1913 Martin Johnson : Through the South Seas with Jack London. 
1915 Carroll Van Court and M. C. Merritt : George Freeth.
Jack London My Hawaiian Aloha.
1917 Charmian London : Surfriding at Waikiki 1907-1917.

1921 Lyba and Nita Sheffield ::Swimming SimplifiedBoard Portraits.
InternetGeorge Freeth
Laysan Island 
Alexander Hume Ford
Jack London
Charrmian London
Cruise of the Snark
Outing MagazineThe Woman's Home Companion
St. Nicholas Magazine
Princess Kalanianaole
Queen Liliuokalani.Mark Twain
Charles Warren Stoddard
Wave motion theoryAlice Roosevelt
Alice in Asia: The 1905 Taft Mission to Asia
Theodore Roosevelt
Nicholas Longworth
William Howrad TaftOutrigger Canoe Club
Moana Hotel


A Distinctive Hawaiian Sport
George D. Freeth, Champion Surfboard Rider, on the Breakers
Acheson, Ernest Francis: Congressional Party in Hawaii, May, 1907.
Observer Job Rooms, Washington, Pa., 1907

Alexander H. Ford :
George Freeth, Spinning in on a Swift One, 1907.As accredited when published in
The Hawaiian Gazette, Honolulu, June 28, 1907, page 6.
The photograph accompanies an article by Ford extolling the surfing skills 
and, the occasionally questionable, exploits of George Freeth.
The photograph is captioned "Photo copyrighted by Alexander H. Ford," 
and the text reports Ford's difficulty in securing the shot.
However, in Surfing Hawaii (2011) page 48, Tim DeLaVega 
accredits the photograph to Edward P. Urwin in 1908.
It is also possible that the surfrider is not Freeth.
Later printed, without identifying Freeth i
Alexander Hume Ford: A Boy's Paradise in the Pacific
, 1908.

George Freeth

Rendondo Beach, California,

George Freeth and 1910-type gremmies.
Left to right:
George Mitchell, Tommy Witt, Freeth, Ray Kegeris, Garry Witt.[Hermosa]

Photograph: MR. Lemon, coutresy of Lou Martin

Stern and Cleary:
Surfing Guide to Southern California
, 1963, page17.

George Freeth
Honolulu, July 1907.

Photographs courtesy of Ray Kegeris.
Stern and Cleary:
Surfing Guide to Southern California
, 1963, page 17.

George Freeth,
California, circa 1914.


George Freeth riding forwards and backwards - Rendondo Beach, 1914.

George Freeth with reel, high diving 
and manning the surf-boat, 1915.

Carroll Van Court and M. C. Merritt: He Sure Can Swim.
 Outdoor World Publishing Company, New York.
Volume 53 Number 2, August, 1915 
Hathi Trust


George Freeth, world's champion surf board rider and celebrated life-saver, teacher of swimming, diving and life-saving.
Sheffield, Lyba M.and Nita Co.:
Swimming Simplified
Second Edition
The Hicks-Judd Company,
San Francisco, c1921.

George Freeth with his mile-a-minute 
life-saving apparatus.

Return to Surfer Bio Menu

Geoff Cater (2017) : Surfer : George Freeth.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mahalo for your comment!