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stoddard : surfriding on maui, 1874 

Charles Stoddard  : Surfriding on Maui, c1866.

Charles Warren Stoddard:
Summer Cruising in the South Seas, 1874.
Chatto and Windus, London. 1874.
Stoddard, Charles Warren:
Summer Cruising in the South Seas.
Gay Sunshine Press Inc.
PO Box 40397 San Francisco CA 94140. 1987.

Charles Stoddard (1843-1909)  visited Hawaii between 1864 and 1867.
In 1869, he had his first Polynesian story published in The Overland Monthly, which lead to a collection published in America as South Sea Idyls (1873) and in  the England as Summer Cruising in the South Seas (1874).

One story, Kahele, reports surf-riding at the valley of Mahe (The Valley of Solitude) on the island of Maui in the 1860s.

Stoddard's work is a mixture of fact and fiction.
In this case, his reports of surf-riding as a community activity and surf-riding dynamics are, no doubt, based on personal observation.
However, the role of his companion as an expert surf-rider may be a exaggeration.

Twenty five illustrations by Wallis Mackay were prepared for the English edition only, none appeared in the US editions until the Gay Sunshine Press edition in 1987.
It includes one surf-riding illustration (page 94), originally  the frontispiece of 1874 English edition.

In the late 20th century, Stoddard's work was noted for its homoerotic themes, some elements of which are in evidence in this extract.

These themes are fully discussed in Roger Austin's introduction to the 1987 edition.

For other works by Stoddard,  see:

1984 Stoddard, Charles Warren : Canoe Surfing.
1901 Charles Stoddard : A Trip to Hawaii.

 Also see:
Fred Van Dyke : The Peril of the Surf.
In the late 1960s, Hawaiian surfer Fred van Dyke was derided for the use of  the term latent homosexuals in an article on big wave surfing for Life magazine.
R.C. Pennie : Why Gays Don't Surf- or do they?
Article by a graduate student of the Department of Sociology, University of California, published in Tracks, Number 124, January 1981.

Page 92

I began to think there were nothing but women and children in the solitary valley, but Kahele had kept an eye on the reef, and, with an air of superior intelligence, he assured me that there were many men living about there, and they, with most of the women and children, were then out in the surf, fishing.

''To the beach, by all means!'' cried I; and to the beach we hastened, where, indeed, we found heaps of cast-off raiment, and a hundred footprints in the sand.
What would Mr. Robinson Crusoe have said to that, I wonder!
Across the level water, heads, hands, and shoulders, and sometimes halfbodies, were floating about, like the amphibia.
We were at once greeted with a shout of welcome, which came faintly to ...

Page 93

... us above the roar of the surf, as it broke heavily on the reef, a half-mile out from shore.
It was drawing toward the hour when the fishers came to land, and we had not long to wait before, one after another, they came out of the sea like so many mermen and mermaids.
They were refreshingly innocent of etiquette -at least, of our translation of it; and, with a freedom that was amusing as well as a little embarrassing, I was deliberately fingered, fondled, and fussed with by nearly every dusky soul in turn.
''At last;'' thought I, ''fate has led me beyond the pale of civilization; for this begins to look like the genuine article.''

With uncommon slowness, the mermaids donned more or less of their apparel, a few preferring to carry their robes over their arms; for the air was delicious, and ropes of seaweed are accounted full dress in that delectable latitude.
Down on the sand the mermen heaped their scaly spoils- fish of all shapes and sizes, fish of every color; some of them throwing somersaults in the sand, like young athletes; some of them making wry faces, in their last agony; some of them lying still and clammy, with big, round eyes like smoked-pearl vest-buttons set in the middle of their cheeks; all of them smelling fish-like, and none of them looking very tempting.
Small boys laid hold on small fry, bit their heads off, and held the silver-coated morsels between their teeth, like animated sticks of candy.
There was a Fridayish and Lent-like atmosphere hovering over the spot, and I turned away to watch some youths who were riding surf-boards not far distant - agile, narrow-hipped youths, with tremendous bi-ceps and proud, impudent heads set on broad shoulders, like young gods.
These were the flower and chivalry of the Meha blood, and they swam like young porpoises, every one of them.

There was a break in the reef before us; the sea knew it, and seemed to take special delight in rushing upon the shore as though it were about to devour sand, savages, and every- thing.
Kahele and I watched the surf-swimmers for some ...

Page 94
Wallis Mackay's surfing illustration, titled:
Kahele and I watched the surf-swimmers for some time, charmed with the spectacle.

Wallis McKay : Surf-swimmers,circa 1874.
Lueras (1984), page 36.
Highly detailed image denoting riding positions, stance, duck-diving, waves in sets,
off-shore winds and significant wave height.

Page 95

... time, charmed with the spectacle.
Such buoyancy of material matter I had never dreamed of.
Kahele, though much in the flesh, could not long resist the temptation to exhibit his prowess, and having been offered a surf-board that would have made a good lid to his coffin, and was itself as light as cork and as smooth as glass, suddenly threw off his last claim to respectability, seized his sea-sled, and dived with it under the first roller which was then about to break above his head, not three feet from him.
Beyond it, a second roller reared its awful front, but he swam under that with ease; at the sound of his "open sesame;'' its emerald gates parted and closed after him.
He seemed some triton playing with the elements, and dreadfully "at home" in that very wet place.
The third and mightiest of the waves was gathering its strength for a charge upon the shore.
Having reached its outer ripple, again Kahele dived and reappeared on the other side of the watery hill, balanced for a moment in the glassy hollow, turned suddenly, and, mounting the towering monster, he lay at full length upon his fragile raft, using his arms as a bird its pinions-in fact, soaring for a moment with the wave under him.
As it rose, he climbed to the top of it, and there, in the midst of foam seething like champagne, on the crest of a rushing sea-avalanche about to crumble and dissolve beneath him, his surf-board hidden in spume, on the very top bubble of all, Kahele danced like a shadow.
He leaped to his feet and swam in the air, another Mercury, tiptoeing a heaven-kissing hill, buoyant as vapor, and with a suggestion of invisible wings about him - Kahele transformed for a moment, and for a moment only; the next second my daring sea-skater leaped ashore, with a howling breaker swashing at his heels.
It was something glorious and almost incredible; but I saw it with my own eyes, and I wanted to double his salary on the spot.

1. Early use of the term gay.
On page 5 of the introductory notes to Kahele in the Gay Sunshine Press edition, Winston Leyland notes:
"Who was the gayest of the gay, and the most lawless of the un-lawful?
My boy, Kahele, in whom I had placed my trust."
So says Stoddard of the adolescent boy from Lahaina with whom he traveled in Maui in the 1860s.

I also suggest that Stodard's title may have been an early use of the term cruising, later adopted in gay terminology.

2. Biography
"In the fall of 1864, Stoddard, in poor health, traveled for the first time to the Hawaiian islands.
Returning to San Francisco he continued to write and in 1867 saw his poems published in a volume edited by Bret Harte.
That same year he is said to have converted to Catholicism.
He also corresponded with Walt Whitman between 1867 and 1870.
In September 1869, Stoddard's story 'South Sea Idyl' was published in San Francisco in The Overland Monthly, edited by Bret Harte (reprinted in the present volume as 'Chumming with a Savage: Kana-ana').
In 1873 this story, along with others, was reprinted in the United States in a volume titled South-Sea Idyls (English edition: Summer Cruising in the South Seas.)
That same year Stoddard went to Europe as a traveling correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, serving for a short time in London as secretary to Mark Twain, whom he had known in California.

Stoddard lived in England and Italy for three years, toured Egypt and Palestine in 1876-77, then returned to San Francisco.
After two years he moved to Hawaii, living there from 1881 to 1884." -pages 9-10
Charles Warren Stoddard :  Summer Cruising in the South Seas, 1874.
Chatto and Windus, London. 1874.
Cover illustration, probably by Wallis McKay.

First book with a surf-riding illustration on the cover.
Lueras (1984) Page 50.

Stoddard, Charles Warren: Summer Cruising in the South Seas.
Gay Sunshine Press Inc.
PO Box 40397 San Francisco CA 94140. 1987.

The Gay Sunshine Press edition is a selection of stories
from South Sea Idyls (1892 edition) and The Island of Tranquill Delights (1904).

Title: A South-Sea Idyl [Volume 3, Issue 3, Sept 1869; pp. 257-264]
Author: Stoddard, Charles Warren
Stoddard, Charles Warren: South-Sea Idyls.
James R. Osgood and Company
Late Ticknor and Fields, and Fields Osgood, and Co., Boston. 1873, pages 261 to 264.

Making of America Books.
For Menu 'Hawaii', see;type=simple;rgn=subject;q1=Hawaii

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Geoff Cater (1997-2019) : Charles Stoddard : Surf-riding on Maui, c1866.