evidently, papa charlie deserves a blog of his own, so two editions this time…
31st of July 2017, interview with Papa Charlie
This blog is dedicated to Charlie Frisbee, a conspicuous inhabitant of Pukapuka. I went over to his house that seems to be built out of sheet metal and drift wood. The interior shows details of days gone by.
With eighty six years of age, Papa Charlie bears the title of ‘Wola’, or island elder. He is the son of ‘Cowboy Charlie’, the author of novels that became world famous, like: “Island of Desire” and “Amaru”. His sister Johnnie Frisbee wrote a bestseller called “Miss Ulysses”. The stories are all inspired by the life on Pukapuka island.
Charlie himself started an international career in horse racing. After his five year apprenticeship in New Zealand, he started riding horses in races and steeple chases. “Yeah, I rode those Gigi’s all right”, “mind you, the FOUR legged ones, not the TWO legged”, he said laughingly. As a jockey he could only weigh seven stone (98 pound), while his average weight was ten stone. That meant that he had to lose 42 pounds before a race. He recalls the hardship of his diets in addition to the treatment in the ‘crystal house’ with sweat chambers. “The islanders were popular jockeys”, “I could ride a donkey, and people would still bet on me”. “Haha!”
“Papa Charlie, how do you stay so good humored and healthy”, I asked the old geezer. “Well, I eat a lot of fresh fish, drink plenty of tea and I spend most of my days walking the roads on the island”, he said. I stand witness, because it took me the whole day to finally catch him at home.
Charlie Frisbee’s father was skipper on the “Tiare Taporo”, one of the last sailing cargo vessels that sailed trade trough the Cook Islands and Tahiti. He came to the Pacific from the American mainland in the early 1900’s, fell in love with an island girl on Pukapuka where he started a family and a local grocery store. He had two sons and three daughters. The oldest being Johnnie, and the youngest being Gna, who married a BAT man, because he used to jump from one palm tree to another. “Mind you, in Rarotonga we used to eat bats from the kapok trees”, “tastes better than pork!”.
With his positive attitude and healthy lifestyle, papa Charlie can be an example for many of us.