Thursday, July 22, 2010

Detective Chang Apana

It is not well known that Detective Chang Apana, who lived in Hawaii, was the prototype for the fictional detective Charlie Chan, created by author Earl Derr Biggers. In 1982 I proved that this was true in a paper that I wrote for a class at the University of Hawaii. I later used that paper in 1990, as the seed for a masters’ thesis, called “Modern History of Hawaii”.

On August 22, 1982, Susan Yim, of the Honolulu Star Bulletin, wrote a full page and a half article about my Charlie Chan project: The article was called “In Search Of Charlie Chan”. The article was laid out in art deco style: It was visually stunning, and beautifully written.

I’m now completing a book that I wrote called “Charlie Chan’s Hawaii”, which will detail the life of Chang Apana, along with other information pertaining specifically to Charlie Chan and Hawaii. Included with the book will be a CD that contains recorded interviews that I made in 1982 with Chang Apana’s number one first cousin Walter Wan Chang, and Apana’s daughters, Rose Chang Murakami, Cecilia Landgraf, and Annie Robertina Apana. These recordings are very rare because Walter Wan Chang, and Chang Apana’s daughters are now deceased.

There a a number of items of items that appear in the Charlie Chan novels that can be linked directly, or indirectly with Chang Apana. In “The Black Camel” (1929), it is mentioned that Chan’s oldest daughter is named Rose. Chang Apana’s youngest daughter was named Rose. In the “House Without A Key” (1925), the captain of detectives is named Hallet. From 1923 to 1927, a man named Kellett was the Captain of Detectives of the Honolulu Police Department. In “The Black Camel” Charlie Chan laments “…there has been upheaval in local police department…”, as a result Chan gets promoted to the rank of inspector. On February 20, 1928, Chang Apana is promoted to Detective First Grade, after a major police scandal. Before becoming a policeman, Chan worked for a wealthy white family, the Jordans. The same can be said of Apana who worked for the Wilder family as a hostler. Both Chan and Apana were excellent cooks. Apana was chef in charge of a big luau that was given for the Prince of Wales when he visited Honolulu. Chan lived on Punchbowl hill, while in 1908, Apana lived on Punchbowl near Hotel Street. Chan worked very slowly and meticulously on cases…”I have never been demon for speed…” (“The Black Camel”). The same can be said of Apana. In their respective modus operandi on cases, both Chan and Apana worked alone. Chan spent most of his time running down gamblers; that was also Apana’s major job. In “The Black Camel”, it is mentioned that Chan has 27 years of service on the job; Apana by the time of the writing of “The Black Camel”, would have served approximately the same length of time.

Chan’s method of inquiry on a case was to investigate the human heart. Apana, too, was a keen student of the human heart and character. Neither Chan nor Apana drank alcoholic beverages. Both Chan and Apana resisted many and all attempts of bribery; as Chan says “All those years on the force, beset with temptations, but always honest, always irreproachable,” (“Keeper Of The Keys”).

In two Chan novels there appears an Inspector Duff: For many years Apana worked under a Chief of Detectives named McDuffie. In “The Keeper Of The Keys”, there is a Chinese servant named Ah Sing, who spoke in a high shrill voice and used broken English. Interestingly, Apana’s given first name was “Ah Ping”, and he too spoke broken English in a high shrill voice. In appearance, Chan was fat, but Apana was slim. The device of polarity is often used by authors to disguise the original that a character is based on (see above, Rose being Chan’s oldest daughter and in actuality Rose was Apana’s youngest daughter)

It is easy to see from the items mentioned above that the similarities between Chan and Apana are more than just cursory.

I will be posting items from time-to-time, about Chang Apana and Charlie Chan here. It is my hope that this blog will be an open forum to discuss things of interest concerning Detective Chang Apana and Charlie Chan.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview With Number One Cousin - Walter Wan Chang

On April 15, 1982, at 3:15 in the afternoon, I recorded an interview with Walter Wan Chang, who was Chang Apana's Number One favorite cousin. As a young boy, and man, Walter had a very, very close personal relationship with Apana.  According to Rose Chang Murakami, Walter had a special place in Chang Apana's heart.  Rose told me to get in touch with him, as Walter knew details about Apana's life that was unobtainable elsewhere.  The interview was conducted in the China Emporium. It used to be located at 1029 Manunakea St., in downtown Chinatown, Honolulu. Walter was the proprietor of that establishment, as he had purchased it previously from his older brother.  The China Emporium was a place that felt to me, to be out of this time, and space.  When I walked into the shop, my space-time displacement had  shifted eerily, and I was back in the 1940s,  which by-the-way, is my favorite time period.  It was dark inside with a rather low ceiling, and the air was permeated with the redolence of incense and teak.  Along the walls were figurines and statuettes of Kwan Yin, Buddha, and the Eight Chinese Immortals.  Display cases were full of decorative plates, especially those with a rose pattern.  What was of particular interest to me were the large ornamental vases that were placed like ever vigilant Chinese sentinels, on the floor along the walls.  To say that the Chinese Emporium was thickly atmospheric of things and places long gone by would be an understatement.  It was the classic curiosity shop.  And, there was Walter, sitting behind a large desk in the middle right of the store, against the wall.  He was dressed in a dark gray suit, and looked like a distinguished apparition from the past.  What struck me though, was his frailty.  I thought to myself, "Oh man, this interview is not going to last too long."  He appeared to be ill, and I later learned that he was suffering with an advanced case of emphysema.  But as Walter began to speak, an enigmatic transformation manifested itself.  His voice got stronger and stronger, and at times, it seemed as though Chang Apana himself were speaking to me in a ghostly first person.  A glimpse was allowed "Behind That Curtain" of time; almost fifty years had elapsed since Walter last spoke to Apana.  Walter was also known as the "Mayor" of Chinatown.  I want to thank the family of the late Walter Chang for providing me with this very rare photo of him.  Walter was a very private person, and only a few photos of him are known to be in existence.  There will be more photos of him in my forthcoming book.  I'm in regular contact with Walter's immediate family, and they have given their blessings to my book.  The narrator of the book, will be Walter himself, in his own words, that I extracted from my extensive interview with him.  Walter Chang passed away on November 13, 1984 at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He was buried at the Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery, Kaneohe, Hawaii.
The former site of the China Emporium As It Appeared On November 6, 2010 (INSIDE)

The former site of the China Emporium As It Appeared On November 6, 2010 (OUTSIDE)

Below you will find a very short, transcribed, excerpt from that interview. The actual interview was about 45 minutes long, and most of it will be included on a CD, that will packaged with my forthcoming book, "Charlie Chan's Hawaii". To just read the interview is not enough, you need to hear the wonderful tone and inflection of W. Chang's voice. It is a voice from out of time, from the shadowed mist of the past, and is completely charming, and wonderful to hear. Click on the eSnips link at the bottom of this post to hear an MP3 of this excerpt.


"His father, and my grandfather, are brothers. So we are close; are first cousins. OK. So you ask me now. He's a man very strict. He likes us. He likes his own relative. You can't beat him. Before, when we was sick, or hurt, he always, everything, prepared, his house; everytime, luncheon, everything. You know. And when we grow little bigger, he don't want us to do anything that violates the law. He no like that. He don't like us gamble. He don't like, like that. You got into trouble, some other time, maybe you get traffic, or other kind, you know; he help. You go up to him, he help, he help before those days. Sure you know what I mean, you see?"  Click on the video widget below to hear an excerpt of the interview with Walter Wan Chang.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Charlie Chan's Hawaii, wherever you may be.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview With Rose Chang Murakami - Chang Apana's Youngest Daughter

 Rose Chang Murakami (on the left), with her sister Annie Apana (on the right).  They are wearing their usher uniforms from the Queen Theater where they used to work.

On April 14, 1982, I interviewed Rose Chang Murakami, Detective Chang Apana's youngest daughter at the Maple Garden Restaurant located on Isenberg street in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Rose was a very articulate women who had graduated from the Sacred Hearts Academy in Kaimuki, Hawaii.  Unfortunately though, Rose passed away on January 2, 2000 and is interred in the Diamond Head Memorial Park in Honolulu.  The actual interview, which will be included on a CD with my book, is about forty-five minutes long, but I present a very short excerpt here for your enjoyment.  Please click on the eSnips link at the bottom of this post to listen to the audio.

Excerpt From Transcribed Interview:

Rose:  "He was very fair.  He never did use his whip on us, because one word he said was the whip."

Interviewer:  "The word was the whip."

Rose:  "Yeah, his word was the whip, but he was a very pleasant fellow.  I um ... really.  I was closer to my father, than my mother, and my mother knows it.  She knew that I was much closer.  Although I loved her as a mother; you know, but, ah, my dad was more ... so I used to help him, and I used to read.  Read to him, you know whatever I can.  From the newspaper, I always used to skip the big words."

Interviewer:  "Sure."

Rose:  "And repeat the small ones you know, then sort of explain to him, because I couldn't read it I thought I'd explain what it was about."

Click on the video widget below to hear an excerpt of the interview with Rose Chang Murakami.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Charlie Chan's Hawaii, wherever you may be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Interview With Cecilia Landgraf And Annie Apana, Two Of Apana's Daughters

On April 14, 1982, I interviewed two of Chang Apana's daughters, Cecilia Landgraf, and Annie Apana, at the family residence in Kaimuki. They were two, very lovely ladies, and I had a pleasant afternoon speaking with them. Fortunately, the interview was recorded. The complete interview lasted for about an hour, and most of it will be included on a CD, in my forthcoming book, "Charlie Chan's Hawaii". In the excerpt that I'm including here, they speak about their father's retirement pension. As a gesture of appreciation for all Apana had done for the community, a troika of three prominent businessmen - Dillingham, Atkinson, and Midkiff - made up the monetary difference between Apana's active and retired duty pay. It is ironic that Apana made more money during his retirement, than during those those days when he was risking life and limb in the police service. Cecilia Landgraf passed away on December 16, 1992: Her cremated remains were scattered off of Mount Kaala, on the island of Oahu. Annie Apana died on April 25, 1995. Click on the eSnips LINK on the bottom of this post to hear the actual audio clip of this portion of the interview.


"This is another thing I wanna tell you. When my father worked for the police department. I guess Annie folks know this. Well, he, he, knew all the big, big shots, and he must have done something for them that, what you call ... they returned back ... well, it was Walter Dillingham, Atkinson, with the big deal ... Atkinson, and what was the other fellow's name at Hawaiian ... huh?"


"Midkiff, yeah."


"Yeah ... right, you are because I know it. These three big, big, fellows, they were involved, in other things, with Dillingham and Atkinson. Well when my father retired, to thank my father for what he had done for them, not taking money, or other things ... He was just helping them in things. I don't know what, but they ... my father had his pension. Now, he had his pension. They gave the rest, to what he retired with, to improve what he had."

"Oh really, they made up the difference, yeah?"

"Yeah, they made up the difference. For instance, if he had ... well I didn't know how much my father had in pension."

"I think about, one hundred twenty - three dollars, it was."

"Well, if he had that for instance, his salary was ... we don't even know his salary ... was ... well that ... They put in, besides his pension, they put in the rest, and he had his full ... like he was working. He had it until he died. Yeah, until papa died, and they stopped it. But he had his full regular salary. These three, Dillingham, Atkinson, and Midkiff."


"They put in beside his pension, they put in the rest, like he retired with his full salary. That I know."

"That's incredible!"


Friday, July 16, 2010

The Honolulu Police Museum

I visited the Honolulu Police Department's Museum recently, that is located at 801 S. Beretania St., in downtown Honolulu.  It was not my first visit though.  The last time I went there was in 1982 during the time I was doing my original Detective Chang Apana research.  The museum looks just about the same as I remembered it back then, but I must say that it is Honolulu's best kept secret.  It is full of very interesting exhibits, and it should be on everybody's must see list.  I mean this for both locals, and tourists.  My main purpose for visiting it was to check out the Chang Apana display.  Officer Glen Luecke was the curator of the museum.  He is very personable, and gave me a guided tour. Officer Luecke answered many of my questions with grace and poise.  I did notice a discrepancy in the Apana exhibit.  There is an open magazine in the display case that has a mislabeled picture.  The picture is supposed to be of Detective Apana, but it is instead, a picture of Sam Apana, who was the late detective's son.  I brought this to Officer Luecke's attention, and he appeared to be incredulous at first, but I think I finally convinced him that the labeling of the picture was in error.  It is a very good Chang Apana exhibit though, they even have one of Apana's homemade whips, and a cool blue bust of Apana that was sculptured by Joseph Aargon.  What really touched me was a wall exhibit featuring the photos of the Honolulu Police Department's officers who were slain in the line of duty.  I looked for the pictures of  officers Abraham E. Mahiko, and Andrew R. Morales who were massacred in Kakaako on December 16, 1963.  It was a very touching, and reverential moment for me, to see what they finally looked like.  See my blog post of July 14, 2010 in which I refer to them, by clicking on this link: Detective Joe Lum - Redux  I felt disappointed that the pictures of the slain officers were in such an out-of-the-way part of the museum.  My feeling was that since these men paid with their lives, they should be displayed in a prominent place in the museum.  I brought this up to Officer Luecke, and he said that he was thinking of doing just that.  The museum, among other things, contains one of the Hawaiian canoes that Detective Joe Lum carved many years ago.  When I interviewed Joe Lum in 1982, he showed me some canoes that he was working on at the time.  He certainly was a master craftsman.  The museum is only open by appointment.
Detective Chang Apana Exhibit (photo 1)

 Detective Chang Apan Exhibit (photo 2) 

 Detective Joe Lum's Canoe

 Photograph Of Detective Joe Lum

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Interview With Retired Detective Joe Lum

On April 21, 1982, I interviewed retired Detective Joe Lum, at his beautiful home located in the hills above Kaimuki, on the island of Oahu. He was a terrific interview! Besides being well spoken, he was a very, very, warm person. Detective Lum was born in Kohala, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, and joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1936. He had some wonderful things to say about Chang Apana, and they are included in the interview posted below.

I must mention this though: My interview with Detective Lum lasted for two hours, and all of it was captured on audio tape. (I have since digitized it) He was one of the lead investigators on the case of the two murdered Honolulu police officers, Abraham E. Mahiko and Andrew R. Morales, who were massacred in Kakaako, on December 16, 1963. This was a very tragic case, and Detective Lum spoke at length about it and presented meticulous details about the subsequent investigation and apprehension of the culprits who committed these heinous crimes. This case bothered him, and I knew that he felt compelled to speak out about it. During that part of the interview, I shut up and let him speak freely. Even though I recorded all of this over 27 years ago, my recent revisiting of the audio tape has haunted me, and some how, I know that I must eventually share the complete interview with some one.  As of now I don't know who, but this information can not be lost, as it's an important historical document. The deaths of those two police officers, marked a dark day for the Honolulu Police Department. Retired Detective Joe Lum passed away on May 13, 1984.  Below is a fragment of the interview with Detective Joe Lum.

Detective Lum:
"See...Chang Apana...Ah, I knew Chang when I was going to, going to school in fact. But, ah, you see he was, ah, ah...he brought in... stakeout. What I mean, he'd go out on a job, and stakeout on a job. And, ah...change clothes, and change appearance and all of that stuff there. And lot of, lot of the, the information that he got, was through contact. Talking to people, going amongst people and mingling with them. The ways of living, you know, the environment then, entirely different from today.

"He was a good undercover man, you think, master of disguise, maybe?"

Detective Lum:
"Well, ah, I couldn't comment too much on that there because, might say that, ah...we kinda...knew Chang Apana. The guys on the street see. Chang Apana was one of them, and he worked mostly the Chinatown area. Chinatown area, and amongst the Hawaiians. See? He was able to communicate with the Hawaiians in, ah, Hawaiian language, and Chinese, and he had his contact. His mode of investigation, was... goes back to the beginning of time. You go to him, you go to him; you go to them, and they hand the information, then you work your case. Whereas today, why, you gotta be scientific you know. this here, and that there...different laws, that will tell you, you can do this, and tell you, you can do that. Ah, well it's kinda, kinda rough."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Detective Joe Lum - Redux

HPD Officers Slain In The Line Of Duty, Abraham E. Mahiko (left) and Andrew R. Morales (right).
As fate would have it, within hours of my posting of the Detective Joe Lum interview, I received an email from one of the daughters of the slain Honolulu police officers (Abraham E. Mahiko and Andrew R. Morales) .  She was doing a Google search on her father's name, this is something that she does from time-to-time, and bingo, my blog post about her father popped up.  Even after all those years, she still had unanswered questions about her father's untimely death while serving in the line of dutyHer mother was pregnant with her when her father was slain, and because of this, throughout the years, his death has haunted her.  She requested a copy of the complete interview.  I was reluctant to give it to her, as it was very, very graphic in its detail.  I told her about my concerns, but she insisted, despite my apprehensions and misgivings, that she needed to have a copy.  Well, I know that I am an old fool, but I wept when I was editing the interview.  I wept for the slain officers and their families.  I just finished the final digitizing of it and I uploaded a copy of the interview to her, so that she could listen to it before anybody else.  The recording has important life lessons for all of us.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Detective Joe Lum's Canoe

Detective Joe Lum was an expert model canoe maker.  The photo above was graciously sent to me by his niece Ariana Lum.  It is not well known that Detective Lum had a twin brother named Nicholas, who was born 15 minutes after Joe.  Nicholas was Ariana's father.  Mahalo for the photo Ariana.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Charlie Chan's Hawaii, wherever you may be.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Honolulu Police Department's Dectectives (1911)

This picture of the Honolulu Police Department's detectives was taken on August 6, 1911.  It is a very rare photograph.  I discovered this photo in 1982 when I was doing my original research on Chang Apana.  No one knew about this picture until I found it.  The photo of Chang Apana that is featured on the first post in this blog, was also discovered by me. In 1982, with the help of several retired policemen, I was able to identify some of those pictured above.  They are as follows:

Front row, 2nd from left:  John Kellett
Front row, Extreme Right:  Chang Apana
Second Row, Extreme Left:  Juan Oxiles, who incidentally was the departments fingerprint expert.
Second Row, 3rd from Left:  Joseph Moon
Second Row, 4th from left:  Kam Kwai

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Is The Home Of Chang Apana

Detective Chang Apana is now asleep in the Lin Yee Chung (Manoa Chinese) Cemetery, located deep in Manoa Valley. Chinese people prefer to be buried with their feet facing the sea; as a result, the vast majority of the graves there face in that direction. The hill to the West is known as the "Dragon Mountain", the hill to the East, as the "Lion Mountain". The space between the dragon and lion is considered to be a safe, and peaceful spot by the Chinese. Consequently, the Lin Yee Chung Cemetery is thought to be a very desirable burial place.

A very simple homemade tombstone marks Chang Apana's grave. On it is inscribed his name in both English and Chinese characters. Also in Chinese is written, "This is the home of Chang Apana"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Charlie Chan Radio Show

Click on the widget below to listen to a Charlie Chan radio Show.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Visit To The Graves Of Annie Chang Apana And Rose Chang Murakami

Diamond Head Memorial Park
Detective Chang Apana's wife, Annie Chang Apana, and his daughter Rose Chang Murakami, are both interred in the Diamond Head Memorial Park, located in Honolulu, Hawaii.  On November 22, 2009 I made a pilgrimage to their grave-sites and made a short video.  To view my visit, click on the video widget located below.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Detective Chang Apana And Chief Of Police Charles F. Weeber

This rare photo of Detective Chang Apana and Chief of Police Charles F. Weeber, was taken shortly before Apana was forced to resign in 1932, which was a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Charlie Chan's Secret │ Warner Oland

Watch "Charlie Chan's Secret" (1936), starring Warner Oland as Charlie Chan, by clicking on the video widget below.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

View From The Manoa Chinese Cemetery

This is the view of Waikiki, far in the distance, that you see from the Manoa Chinese Cemetery on Oahu where Chang Apana is buried.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Gothic Bus

Since I don't own a car, when I travel to do my Detective Chang Apana research, I use TheBus, as the Honolulu transit system is called.  I feel very lucky as Honolulu has the best bus service on Planet Earth.  I took the picture that you see above, because it reminds me so much of the inside of a Gothic Cathedral, so I call it "Gothic Bus".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Black Camel (1931)

It was in 1931, during the filming of "The Black Camel" in Honolulu, that Chang Apana posed with Warner Oland for this really cool photo. Ian Kagimoto, who is Chang Apana's grandson, is a custodian of Apana artifacts. He has in his possession a copy of the Apana-Oland photograph shown above, that contains this inscription on the bottom: "To my dear friend, Charlie Chang, 'the bravest of all' with best of luck from the new 'Charlie Chan,' Warner Oland".
The Apana-Oland photograph was provided to me by the thoughtful courtesy of Dr. Howard M. Berlin, author of the following books: "The Charlie Chan Film Encyclopedia", "Charlie Chan's Words and Wisdom", and "The Complete Mr. Moto Film Phile: A Casebook".

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oo Syak Gee Lu Society

The "Oo Syak Gee Lu Society", was founded in 1897, by people of the Oo Syak village who immigrated to Hawaii.  Detective Chang Apana's family came from that village.  Walter Wan Chang was a past president of this society from 1968 to 1969. 

What the Oo Syak banner conveys, as interpreted by Eunice Chang Lum Chun:

* Large tree at the top right: Oo Syak, the strongest of the three villages in Sam Heong.
* Bamboo at the top middle: Pang Larm Village.
* Tree at the top left: Que Tau Village.
* Characters at the left: The area of Oo Syak village is a beautiful place to live.
* Characters at the right: Honolulu, Hawaii
* Middle characters: Oo Syak Gee Lu
* Flowers at the sides: Are for the four seasons. Oo Syak and the other villages are strong to withstand the winters.
* Dragons at the bottom: Support Oo Syak.

The banner artist is Stephen Yee, a professional art designer who has devoted himself to Chinese traditional painting for more than 40 years. He is particularly good at paintings of landscapes, figures and flower-and-birds.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chang Apana - Heart Of A Lion

I just received in the mail a CD of a new radio play called, "Chang Apana: Heart Of A Lion", that was produced by the American Radio Theater.  It is an awesome production!  The radio play was written by Joy Jackson and produced by David Van Meeter.  The original music was composed by Kory Tideman.  This production was actually performed live on March 21, 2009, at Pioneer Hall, Seattle Washington.  I think that it's really amazing that so much "local color" was imbued into this radio play, even though it was created and produced on the mainland.  Joy Jackson has captured, magnificently, the essence of Detective Chang Apana.  By-the-way, Joy Jackson is the producer, and president of the American Radio Theater. Click on the video widget below to hear an excerpt from "Chang Apana: Heart Of A Lion".  Safe journeys to all the fans of Charlie Chan's Hawaii, wherever you may be.