Some insight into what Guam was like when the first Rotary Club was formed may be obtained from the following address made by President C. C. Butler at the meeting held December 5, 1939 as taken from the January 1940 issue of the Guam Recorder:
“If you desire to be one of the outstanding business men, be optimistic. Have faith and confidence in the administration of the Naval Government of Guam. It is amazing what it has done here in the past 40 years. Knowing what it has done gives me confidence.
“As I look back of the 29 years I have been in Guam, I can see wonderful changes, esecially in the business field. I remember when I first came here, there were very few Chamorro people in business. A German, by the name of Costenoble, had a chain of stores – eight, I believe in all – and, there were a few Japanese people with stores. Today, most all of the business houses are conducted by citizens of Guam. Education brought this about. In the old days, Spanish coppers and Mexican dollars were in circulation. The exchange value on the coppers were 4 for one American penny, and the Mexican dollar 50 cents. One seldom sees these coppers and ‘Mex’ dollars now. And at that time one could exchange a plug of old Navy chewing tobacco for twice its value in merchandise. That was in the bartering days. The old coins have gradually disappeared and the Navy tobacco is slowly disappearing from the stores.
“During those days, Army Transports brought out commercial cargo every month, free of charge, and the shipments came in a very good condition, with the exception of an occasional barrel of beer being lost. But at that it was very convenient for the few merchants to receive shipments, and they could depend on it monthly.
“There were no automobiles or trucks. Bull carts and one or two dray wagons were the only means of transportation from Piti to Agana, and bull carts, as you all know, are slow. But of course ther was not much cargo brought in at that time. It would look odd, indeed, to see bull carts hauling freight now.
“The old Customs house, built in 1911, housed both Government and commercial freight. The present Customs house, when built, was believed to be amply large enough to stow all shipments for many years to come. But it was not long before this Customs house became too small for commercial goods. Sooner or later an addition will have to be added to this one.
“As I look at business today, I recall all these facts of the past. But I can see prosperous years ahead. In fact, I have seen nothing but prosperous years since I have been in Guam. It can be nothing else — barring wars and catastrophies. Why? Because, besides the government’s close cooperation with business ment, health conditions have improved, so much so that epidemis of dysentery, measles, typhoid fever and the like, that formally (sic) killed people off by the hundreds, are almost a thing of the past. And this is all to the credit of the Naval Government. The population of Guam has been on the increase, year by year. The population has more that doubled during the past 20 years.
“An increase in population encourages the opening of new business enterprises. In ten years from now, I believe we are going to see unbelievable business improvement. Memories recall many commercial v entures some of which are, The Bank of Guam; Pedro’s Ice and Cold Storage Plant; Bordallo’s Cold Storage Plant; Torres’ Soap Factory; Photo Shops; Restaurants; Refreshment places; Barber Shops; Bakeries; Taxi Cabs; Bus Lines; a Saw Mill; the Globe Wireless, the Weaving Industry, the Tile Factory, up-to-date dry goods and grocery stores, (such as Flores Trading Co., Calvo’s stores and Atkins Kroll & Co.); Pan American Airways and naturally last but not least my bottling plant.
“And there are other enterprises which are bound to grow up here in time to come. Let me mention a few. There is the dairy business, a laundry and dry cleaning establishment, an electric light plant, a hotel, a brewery, a steamship company, a telephone co., a life insurance co., a dentist and perhaps an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. There are but a few, but, I believe there are openings for these few at this time. We have the Bank of Guam ready to finance anyone with a good proposition, and the people of Guam should be the ones to start these enterprises before outsiders discover their possibilities.
“As the population increases, people will find ways and means of earning a living. That is but natural. Believe in your government and don’t worry over hard times. As new business firms are established there is opened up new classification for membership, and naturally, the Rotary Club will benefit. And the island will benefit the merchants and all concerned.
“I believe it is up to the Rotarians to promote new enterprises — there being no Chamber of Commerce here to do it. As a business and professional men we must feel it our duty to work for the community interests, and a new line of business is of interest to this community.”