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Riding the Hot Curl

Photo: Clarence Maki
Fran Heath
Hot curl boards, Makaha
Froiseth and Downing. Photo: Maki

In the years between the world wars, Hawaii discovered that its most valuable export was itself. During the Depression, Honolulu’s union-busting Big Five business cartel—in charge of sugar, shipping, banking, the utilities, politicians, and nearly everything in-between—closed rank and did a good job at protecting their island fiefdom from the era’s worst economic miseries, while movies, newsreels, magazines, newspapers, and radio flung Hawaiian images and songs across the Pacific to the mainl...

John Kelly set the brand new board on a pair of sawhorses, walked into the garage, and returned with a small ax. He stood for a moment looking down at the board’s stern, and with a determined overhead swing buried the ax blade three inches into the rail.