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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Tiki Archeology-The Trade Winds-Oxnard, Ca (Image Heavy)
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Tiki Archeology-The Trade Winds-Oxnard, Ca (Image Heavy)
20th Century Man
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 34
From: Thousand Oaks, CA
Posted: 10 days ago; 9:41 pm   Permalink

Here is an amazing Trade Winds Restaurant discovery I have to share with my fellow tiki archaeologists.

I was able to locate the gentleman who was the head Asian food chef at the Trade Winds Restaurant in Oxnard from 1968-1972. His name is Mr. See W. Lee, and he and his family still live in Oxnard. Remarkably, he had a small collection of items from the Trade Winds which he recently allowed me to purchase. The items depicted in the photos include:

- Two massive 9’ 9” long carved vertical wood beams which he said came from the large banquet room. One beam is carved with four fish and the other depicts a monkey
reaching to pick a coconut. These are thick and heavy beams and have been stored outdoors, face down, up on blocks on the paved side yard of his home for the past 30 years.
They are in reasonably nice condition considering they were stored outdoors. It would be interesting to determine if these would have been carved by Richard Ellis who carved
all the tikis for the Trade Winds restaurant.

Does anyone know of any interior decor pieces Richard Ellis might have worked on? I recall reading somewhere here on Tiki Central that there may have been an Oceanic Arts connection. Maybe Bob and Leroy collaborated with him on these?

Carving details...

- Local newspaper clipping from 1968 with a photo of some of the restaurant staff, including Mr. Lee. He is pictured second from the right,
though incorrectly identified in the newspaper as "Mar". Included is also an 8" x 10” b/w photo of Mr. Lee in the Trade Winds kitchen, taken the same year.

- Trade Winds embroidered staff uniform patch with back clasp pins. Over 3” diameter. Worn by Mr. Lee while employed at Trade Winds. Amazing!!

With his son, Dan, acting as translator, we had a nice conversation about his Trade Winds recollections. After Mr. Lee left the Trade Winds in 1972, he
opened his own Chinese food restaurant in Oxnard, the Fortune Inn, and ran it for over 33 years before retiring. During that period, Trade Winds developer
Martin V. “Bud” Smith would occasionally come in to dine. One day, during a visit, Martin Smith said that since the Trade Winds had been sold
to an investment group and the new owners wanted to tear the place down, Mr. Lee was welcome to come by the Trade Winds building and take whatever
items he wanted before demolition began. So, Mr. Lee went back, but found there wasn’t much left except the two large wood beams you see in the photos.
Remarkably, he kept these items all these years. Even his son didn't know what the wood carvings looked like!

And of course, I couldn't end this most-excellent adventure without getting a photo with Mr. Lee himself!

My plans are to thoroughly dry out the wood beams (after the recent rains), clean (gentle media blasting), lightly stain, and seal the beams to restore them to their former glory. Each of the items are unique finds, but combined with learning of Mr. Lee’s connection to the restaurant, and his long history in the local Oxnard community, it made for a MOST rewarding day!

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Bora Boris
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2599
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 7 days ago; 9:53 pm   Permalink

Great stuff!

Thanks 20th Century Man!

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20th Century Man
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 34
From: Thousand Oaks, CA
Posted: 5 days ago; 12:22 am   Permalink

Thanks, Boris.
I've continued my conversation with Mr. Lee through his son and I now have a clearer picture of his place in the history of the Trade Winds restaurant. Mr. Lee had been hired in 1968 by Hop Louie, who had taken over Trade Winds from Martin "Bud" Smith. In 1971, Mr. Lee, manager Mike Smalley (pictured with Mr. Lee in the staff photo above), and a third partner named "Dale" (last name not recalled) acquired the Trade Winds from Hop Louie. In 1972, Mr. Lee sold out his interest in the Trade Winds to the other two partners.

This would explain the TW newspaper ad here in this TC thread (see page 6) which shows "Mike and Dale's Tradewinds." Note also that the top TW ad displayed on the same page says: "Your host Mr. and Mrs. Mike Smalley." Mr. Lee took the proceeds from the sale of his share of the Trade Winds to start his own Chinese restaurant, The Fortune Inn, in Oxnard which he operated from 1972 until he retired and sold the restaurant in 2005.

I saw that Born Tiki (page 3 of this TC thread) said his grandfather, Kai Fee Chin, had been executive chef at the Trade Winds at one time, so I asked Mr. Lee if he had ever worked with Mr. Chin, but he replied he had not.

I hope that this background information from Mr. Lee fills in some of the Trade Winds history between 1968-1975 on the timeline created by Dustycajun (nice job, Dusty) on page 6 of this TC thread.

20th Century Man

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