Recently an old friend of mine, former three dot columnist Don Chapman, published a book called “Godfather”, a story of crime, politics, and some Hawaii history few people remember anymore. At it’s time, it was daily water cooler coffee counter conversation.
I have always believed Don Chapman was and is a heck of a writer and on a few occasions it was a lot of fun being his wingman. We spend many enjoyable hours at Hummers and Trappers.
I am not arguing to argue with Don’s facts, conclusions, I have my own.
I do want to tell my story about one of those involved, Charles Marsland,
I’d always like to talk about some of the people I’ve known or met in this life, and there have been many. Some stand out above others.
Lady Dallas, a well known Waikiki bartender and personality of the 70’s. When she found out I’d “steered” a pimp away from her daughter, she provided me with one of the more memorial nights of my life. And that was 5 or 6 years after the incident.
Geraldo, the Frenchman who, along with his wife of many many years ran an Italian restaurant in Kailua, and held some of the highest military medals and honors the French government could bestow on a member of the resistance, including the “Croix de guerre”. An honor so grave, that all men should stand when the recipient enters the room.
He had come to Hawaii during the 50’s when his daughter had gotten married here. He just stayed.
He had also become a United States citizen and had sponsored a man into the United States and brought him to Hawaii.
That man’s name I never knew. He owned a run-down second hand book store on South King Street.
The store was dark; shelves lined 2, 3 or 4 deep, very little lighting and lots of cats.
He was also an Auschwitz survivor, bore the number tattoo on his left forearm and was the 1st person Geraldo had freed when they had taken the camp.
One night the book store burned to the ground, very, very quickly. An old wooden building, full of old books and papers and who knows how bad or old the electrical wiring was; all in all a very bad accident. The resident never got out. I‘ve always felt better thinking it was an accident and not the end of a man who had seen too much pain for any lifetime.
But of all the people I have ever known, the finest was the City and County, Prosecutor Charles Marsland. I first met him when he was serving as a deputy corporation counsel, City Defense Attorney, and I was being sued for the 1st time as a police officer.
It was a narcotics bust that had resulted in one of the sellers getting froggy and getting his jaw broken. Honest, Sid only hit him once but since Sid had arms bigger than the average mans thighs, it only took one.
Chuck had been assigned as our City Defense Attorney and he and I hit it off right away.
He was always very polite, nicely dressed, and you could always see a twinkle in his eyes.
He drove his signature Lincoln convertible as long as I knew him.
He wore a short, well clipped mustache that when he was really concentrating he would brush up and down with the fore finger of his hand. You could always tell when he was really thinking, that mustache would be brushed up and down faster and faster.
I shared a couple of community college classes with his son, Charles III. “Chucker” was also a doorman at a local club, The Point After. A club attended by both cops and crooks.
Charles III shared his father’s conservative attitude, was very pro-police and not afraid to speak up.
I’m not really sure which of these traits was responsible, but one of them resulted in Chucker’s murder. He was found shot to death in 1975.
Charles Marsland was the 1st person “elected” as the City and County Prosecutor serving 2 terms in that position.
During those years, he took that office to a new level of competency and professionalism.
He would establish an investigative office and initiate cases outside or parallel with the police department.
Marsland will mostly be remembered for his crusade, vendetta, or investigations into Hawaii Organized Crime.
Objects of the investigations would claim harassment and vendetta.
The newspapers and TV reporters would use the words crusade and relentless investigations.
I guess it would depend on which end of the investigation you were on.
All of this has been written to death. All the pros, cons, love and hate that surrounded Charles Marsland and his tenure as Prosecutor has been written to death.
To me Chuck was a kind, gentle man who loved life and his son.
He was aggressive and tenacious warrior for law and justice. For Chuck, those 2 weren’t always the same, but they were the goals he reached for.
Charles Marsland passed away 2007.
He will be remembered.