Jan 3, 2006

Branding Time

For serious watch collectors and cognoscenti, watches are more than fashion pieces, and a particular timepiece’s brand identity lies in its movement as much as its fashion appeal. One only need click on one of the tens of dozens of watch chat groups on the Internet to learn this truth. Where else would you find a opinion like this: “In seven jewel watches where the balance is fully jeweled, but the train pivots aren’t, it’s difficult to predict which pivots and holes will wear out first.

Sometimes it’s the center wheel pivots, sometimes it’s third wheel pivots, sometimes it’s the fourth wheel pivots and sometimes it’s the escape wheel pivots.” The true watch enthusiast/collector is a rare breed: and he is not responsible for the watch industry’s growth to more than 1.5 billion units annually.

Does it matter that Swatch owns Omega? Does it matter that Ford owns Jaguar? The watch-making and automotive industries have more in common than you may realize. And it often comes down to branding – of the mass marketing kind. Continue reading »

Dec 3, 2005

Look How Far We’ve Come

Update:  I  wrote this when Barack Obama wasn’t even a Senator, when “only” 2500 of our men and women had been killed in Iraq.  Never mind Afghanistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and on and on. Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme.


Sixteen years ago, editor Anne Harpham sent reporter Vickie Ong to interview me about my 11 year old son being stuck in Saudi Arabia because Iraq had invaded Kuwait. He was visiting his father who was working at ARAMCO in Dhahran, and initially, they were oblivious about Kuwait. I was terrified. CNN was just ten years old and was still a legitimate 24 hour news network. I knew plenty about the invasion of Kuwait, and the U.S. drumbeats for war in the Gulf. My son and his father knew nothing.

When he arrived in Saudi Arabia, “the Saudis” had taken Ian’s passport (for safe keeping?) as they had taken his father’s, and when Iraq invaded Kuwait they weren’t giving them back. Because his Dad was a physician, they would not be among the first to leave the country. Continue reading »

Oct 3, 2005


What Would Duke Do?

As the conversation heated up once again as to whether or not Hawaii’s public schools should endorse surfing as an official sport, the board members of the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (ODKF) found ourselves asking “What would Duke Do?”

For years and years, surf clubs have existed at Hawaii’s public schools and they participate in National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) competitions – but because it is not a school-sanctioned sport, they are not allowed to use their school names in competition.

How can it be that surfing is a school-sanctioned sport in California – but not in Hawaii, where the sport was born?  The BOE and DOE contend that legitimizing surfing as a sport would be a huge liability and control issue for the schools.  Although through membership, every student who competes in its meets is covered, the NSSA says that it hasn’t had an insurance claim in its 25 years of existence. Continue reading »

Aug 3, 2002

On the introduction of a stamp honoring Duke Paoa Kahanamoku

As featured American Philatelist Magazine

On the introduction of a stamp honoring Duke Paoa Kahanamoku
By Gloria Garvey

“I let a lot of them careen by, wondering in my own heart if I was passing them up because of their unholy height, or whether I was really waiting for the big, right one.  A man begins to doubt himself at a time like that.  Then I was suddenly wheeling and turning to catch the towering blue ridge bearing toward me…strangely, it was though the wave had selected me rather than I had chosen it…There was no backing out on this one; the two of us had something to settle between us.”  Duke Kahanamoku, the greatest surfer the world has ever known, on the occasion of his biggest ride — a one-and-one eighth quarters mile ride in the surf on waves more than thirty feet high.

On August 24th, the 112th anniversary of his birth, Hawai’i’s greatest athlete and hero will get a stamp in his honor, joining poets Langston Hughes and Ogden Nash, songwriter Irving Berlin, magician Harry Houdini, artist Andy Warhol and the heroes of September 11th –among others – to be so honored in 2002.  In the press release for its 2002 stamp program, the U.S. Post Office notes:  “Stamps and the U.S. Mail have always played an important role in facilitating communication and business transactions that help bind our nation together.  The 2002 commemorative stamp program will carry on this tradition…recognizing many of the people, places, and things that have had the greatest influence on American culture.”

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku deserves this honor.  He was a six-time Olympic medallist (three gold, two silver and one bronze), a breaker of world records (in his first race, he broke the 100 yard freestyle record by four and 3/5 seconds – swimming against the tide), a surfer of unparalleled strength and beauty, an actor in eighteen movies (including Mr. Roberts and Lord Jim), the first person to be inducted in both the Swimming and Surfing Halls of Fame and an ambassador of grace, goodwill and humility for his home.

On the occasion of his 75th birthday, The Honolulu Advertiser wrote in a special editorial: “Few areas in the world have been as blessed as Hawaii with a man like Duke Kahanamouku … a symbol of vigorous achievement and friendly goodwill.  Today, at 75, Duke Kahanamoku has been our best-known citizen for so long that the only real question for history is how big his legend will become.  Some of the things bearing his name include a fountain, a beach, a swimming pool at the University of Hawaii, an annual regatta, a restaurant and nightspot, a line of sportswear, a music and recording corporation, a new line of tennis shoes, ukuleles, skateboards and surfboards, a surfing club and an international surfing championship…In a varying way, each of these attests to the esteem in which this man is held not only throughout our nation, but throughout the world.”

And now there will be a stamp bearing his likeness.  The portrait on the first class stamp is a painting by Michael J. Deas based on a 1918 photograph from the collection of Bishop Museum in Honolulu.   Confident and calm, his arms crossed in front of him, Duke stands larger than life (as indeed he was) with Diamond Head and two surfers catching a wave in the background.

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born on August 24, 1890, a subject of Hawaiian Monarch King Kalakaua.  He was not even three years old when the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by the United States Minister, the naval representatives of the United States and a Committee of Safety that represented the American and European sugar planters, descendants of missionaries and financiers.  In his lifetime, Hawai’i had a provisional government, became a republic, then a territory of the United States and finally, when he was 69 years old, the fiftieth state.

A full-blooded Hawaiian, Duke Paoa was the first surviving child of Duke Halapu and Julia Kahanamoku.  He was named by his father (who had been born in the household of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1869 when the Duke of Edinburgh, Alfred Ernest Albert, second son of Queen Victoria, was visiting Hawai’I).  The extraordinary dignity he showed throughout his life was apparent even at the age of eight, when Duke was chosen to be a Kahili (standard) bearer at the funeral of Hawai’i’s beloved Princess Victoria Kaiulani.

Growing up at Kalia Beach in Waikiki, Duke was more at home in the water than he was on land.  He and his five brothers helped to revive the ancient sport of surfing – they were self-taught — and he introduced it to the rest of the world.   Today Duke is known as the Father of International Surfing.

In 1911, he competed in his first swim meet in Honolulu Harbor, breaking the 100-yard freestyle world record by four and 3/5 seconds.  That year the AAU refused to recognize his “unbelievable times,” but at the next AAU Championships on the U.S. mainland Duke repeated his feat.  He went on to win his first Olympic gold in the 100-meter race at Stockholm in 1912.

In 1914, Duke showed up in Australia for a series of swimming exhibitions with Frank Beaurepiere (who was considered the world’s greatest long distance open-water swimmer), only to find that the course they were to swim had been enclosed by a net.    Although Beaurepiere protested because of the sharks, Duke persuaded him that they should swim along the unprotected shoreline for several miles, which they did – seeing many sharks along the way.

According to Hawai’i’ community leader Kenneth Brown “Duke was never afraid of anything in the sea…The ocean was such a familiar, friendly environment for him…He was no more afraid of what might happen to him at sea than you or I would be of getting hit by a car crossing the street.  The ocean was his home.”    This fearlessness held him in good stead when, in 1925, Duke rescued eight people in a furious ocean off California’s coast.

Duke had moved to Hollywood to pursue his acting career.  He spent his weekends on the beach, camping with actor friends and surfing at Corona del Mar.  One Sunday morning, he watched as the 40-foot fishing yacht Thelma was smashed by a giant wave that swept nearly every one on board over the side.  Hampered by heavy clothing, the fishermen struggled to stay afloat.  Duke undertook a rescue that the Newport Police Chief called “the most super-human rescue act and the finest display of surfboard riding that has ever been seen in the world.”  Although five fishermen lost their lives that day, twelve were saved – eight of them by Duke, who made three trips out to the terrible ocean, first saving three, then two and finally three men on his third trip. According to those who knew him, Duke was devastated that so many drowned that day.  When asked how he did it, biographers Sandra Hall and Greg Ambrose report in their book Memories of Duke that the Hawaiian hero “had very little to say.  ‘I do not know.  It was done.  That is the main thing.’”

Edmund Pestana, Captain with the Ocean Safety Division for the City & County of Honolulu is one of the many who petitioned Hawai’i’s state legislature to declare this August a special month honoring Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.  He says in his petition that “Duke Paoa Kahanamoku exemplified a virtuousness hard to find in high profile athletes today…There isn’t a passing month in which I do not see an organization paying tribute to him for some meaningful contribution he had made to humanity.  Duke inspires me to be a better person…”

Duke and other Hawaiian swimmer athletes were leaders in breaking the color barrier in American sport – preceding Jackie Robinson by thirty-three years.  When the 1916 Olympic Games were cancelled because of World War I, Duke toured the mainland, swimming to raise money for the Red Cross.  In 1920, at the of 30, he beat his own world records in the 100-meter freestyle, won a gold medal on the 800 freestyle relay team at the Antwerp Olympics and played on the water polo team.

Duke was always generous, sharing his love and knowledge of ocean and sport with everyone he met.  In 1924 Johnny Weismuller, who won the gold at Paris that year, said he couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for the tricks “Duke taught me when we were training together in California.”    Duke won the silver and his brother Sam won the bronze medal for the same 100 meter event.

Duke worked as a gas station operator and was sheriff for the City & County of Honolulu.  After Statehood was declared in 1959, he lived out his life as an Ambassador of Aloha for the place he loved so much.  He spoke Hawaiian whenever he could and his favorite food was Hawaiian as well.  Lauded by everyone who knew him, from actor Arthur Godfrey to Statesman Senator Daniel Inouye, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku left indelible footprints on the shores of his home, and throughout the world.    His friend the Reverend Abraham Akaka said that Duke “represented the spirit of God among us – of aloha, of justice, of concern for his fellow man.  He had a gentleness that could only come from great, inner strength, a charm that could come only from authentic modesty.”

In today’s troubled world, we all need to honor the spirit represented by this Hawaiian hero.  The stamp that is being issued by the U.S. Postal Service on August 24th commemorates a man who carried these words on his Shriner’s Aloha Temple card:

“In Hawaii we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with ‘Aloha,’ which means with love.  Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawaii renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship.  Try meeting or leaving people with Aloha.  You’ll be surprised by their reaction.  I believe it, and it is my creed.  Aloha to you.  Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.” *

* The same words are written on a plaque by the statue honoring him at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, which you can visit live at:  www.co.honolulu.hi.us

Sources for this article: 

Earl Maikahikinapamaikala Tenn, Representative of the Estate of Nadine Kahanamoku
Petition of Edmund Pestana for SR 108 /HCR 109 Hawaii State Legislature

Memories of Duke, Sandra Hall and Greg Ambrose
Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation

The Honolulu Advertiser


www.daily celebrations.com/061400.htm
Duke Kahanamoku biographers Joseph Brennan and Grady Timmons





Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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