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Thursday, October 23, 2014         

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Russia has been in the news this year, with the invasion of the Crimea and eastern parts of Ukraine. Russia seems very far away to most of us in Hawaii, but we have a few connections you might not be aware of.

Last month I wrote about Aina Haina and the Ranch House. Several of my readers had stories of their own to tell me. Liane K.L. Lum said that as a little girl growing up in Aina Haina, "one of my absolute favorite places was M's Ranch House.

Last week, I wrote about the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. The founders of the hotel were Shigeo and Akino Shigenaga. They have an interesting story that I thought I'd focus on this week.

The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel is celebrating two anniversaries this year. The first is the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1954 by Shigeo and Akino Shigenaga.

In the last month I've written about Aina Haina, the shopping center and the Ranch House. This week I thought I'd write about what was, at one time, called the Village Green.

Last month, I wrote about the Ranch House in Aina Haina. Before Henry Kaiser developed Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina was the last outpost of the city of Honolulu, said Jim Napier, who grew up in the area and later managed the shopping center.

If I told you that you could own a beautifully landscaped 3,000-square-foot home on Kipapa Way or Hamakua Street with three bedrooms, three baths, a two-car garage and a huge deck for under $200,000, you'd be pounding on my door for more information.

This week's column is about the 1964 Honolulu City and County General Plan. Sounds like a real snoozer, doesn't it? But wait. There are some amazing -- some might even say bizarre -- things in that plan.

Possibly the most iconic restaurant in East Honolulu from the 1950s to 1987 was the Ranch House in Aina Haina.

Hawaii's first truly great golfer was Francis Hyde I'i Brown. During the 1920s and 1930s, he was to golf what Duke Kahanamoku was to swimming and surfing.

Whenever there's a TV news story on real estate, the go-to person in Hawaii for the major stations seems to be Stephany Sofos. On more than one occasion, the two of us have been interviewed at the same time, and that is how we met and became friends.

Last week I wrote about the private aviation terminals in Hawaii and the people who use them. Tom Anusewicz, who's worked in aviation for more than 45 years, had some interesting stories to tell me.

Most of us have flown in and out of Honolulu Airport many times. But we probably didn't see Frank Sinatra, Harrison Ford, Greg Norman, the Rolling Stones, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter or Prince Philip passing through because they came in the back door.

Many organizations in Hawaii have shifted their missions dramatically since they were founded. The YMCA, for instance, thought Hawaii was too hot for serious exercise until its third decade.

Judge Ed Kubo spoke to my Rotary club recently, and one of his comments stuck with me. He said, referring to a criticism of the Veterans Treatment Court, that it was better to save some people than none at all.

I attended the unveiling of Hilton Hawaiian Village's renovated rainbow murals last week. After 45 years in Hawaii's sun and salt air, the original murals -- two identical ones on each side of the building -- were showing their age.

It occurred to me recently that Hawaii has special connections with many countries around the world that go beyond our residents' places of origin. Yes, many of us trace our roots to Polynesia, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal and other nations, but I was thinking of something greater than that.

The first Hawaii-born athlete to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles was nicknamed "Rusty." He was one of the finest all-around Hawaii athletes in the early part of the 1920s. He was Neal Shaw Blaisdell.

A few weeks ago in my column, John Veltri asked about the history of the Diamond Head Tennis Center at 3809 Paki Ave. Veltri said he heard that it was the site of the horse stables for the Honolulu trolley system.

About 6,000 babies a year come into the world at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. Since 1890, when it opened, it's estimated that more than 400,000 babies have been born there.

I had lunch with Ron "Whodaguy" Jacobs recently. Jacobs was a disc jockey for several radio stations in the 1950s and later program director at a few more. He and Casey Kasem created the "American Top 40" radio show.

I receive a lot of email from readers each week. Some add their story to something I've written, and some suggest possible future topics.

Many of us here in Hawaii fondly remember Yum Yum Tree. It began as a coffee shop with yummy pies at Kahala Mall where Chili's is now. For me it was a great place to take a date after a movie when I was going to the University of Hawaii.

Most companies are too busy telling you what's on special this week to tell you about their history. I think that's a big mistake. The companies that do a good job of sharing their stories connect better to their customers, I believe, and hold onto them.

I find myself driving down Judd Street in Nuuanu at least once or twice a week. Recently it occurred to me that the street has a lot of history my readers might enjoy knowing.

In 1958 the skies of Hawaii were lit up on several occasions by nuclear tests at Johnston Island, 700 miles away. The first explosion, on Aug. 1, 1958, was clearly visible around 1 a.m. in the territory of Hawaii.

An Iolani Palace outside Hawaii? I was looking through old photos of Iolani Palace in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser archives a few years ago, and one stunned me — it showed snow falling around the palace.

Central Pacific Bank celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. It was founded by returning World War II nisei veterans, meeting over plate lunches at Ala Moana Beach Park. It's an interesting story.

A few months ago I wrote about how several Hawaii hotels came to have their names. This month I thought I'd explore how several restaurants in town came to have their monikers.

Richard Kelley, chairman emeritus of Outrigger Enterprises, had an interesting experience recently. He and his wife, Linda, were visiting The Baldpate Inn, a lodge in the mountains of Colo­rado.

One could write a book about Chinatown. Estimates are that 30,000 to 50,000 Chinese came to Hawaii from the early 1850s until about 1890. Most came to work on plantations, but many left those jobs to open shops. By 1880, 60 percent of stores in Honolulu were Chinese-owned.

Last week, I wrote about the Palolo Golf Course, at the request of one of my readers. This week, I've gotten a few more requests. Tanya Harrison is looking for people with knowledge of the opening of the Neal Blaisdell Center in 1964.

One advantage I have as a columnist for the paper is the interaction I have with my readers.


Last week's column on the Kuhio Grill, or KG as some of us called it, in Moiliili generated more than 50 comments and emails. This was my 150th column since I began about three years ago, and the number of comments may have been a record. I thought I'd share some of them.

Gwen Taketa emailed me recently and suggested I write a column on the old Kuhio Grill in Moiliili. Artists like Satoru Abe, Tadashi Sato, Bumpei Akaji, Tetsuo Ochikubo and others used to trade artwork for food when they were poor, she said, and later as they got more successful they continued to drink and eat there.

Shirley Temple died this week. She was 85. My readers probably know she came to Hawaii several times and fell in love with the islands. But they may not know she met her future husband and fell in love here as well.

One of my favorite places in Kailua for many years was Gee…a Deli. They had great sandwiches, and the owner, Doug Izak, was very friendly and inviting. I loved his onion rolls, made especially for him. Any sandwich on them was heavenly.

You probably have heard of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, high in the mountains of Peru. But did you know that a local boy discovered it? His name was Hiram Bingham III. His grandfather was a missionary who founded both Kawaiaha'o Church and Punahou School.

Every week it seems my readers send me interesting memories that my column has brought to mind. On Sept. 6 I wrote about Elaine Frisbie's Puka Puka Otea show at the old Queen's Surf in Waikiki. Moke Strassberg wrote and told me he used to work there.

John Clark spoke to my Downtown Exchange Club recently about the warning markers that Japanese fishermen placed around Oahu in the 1930s where others had been killed while fishing. It's an interesting story and the subject of his seventh book, "Guardian of the Sea: Jizo in Hawaii."

Many local companies and organizations are celebrating important anniversaries in 2014. Here are some of them.

With the first family wrapping up their vacation in Kailua this week, I thought I'd write about President Barack Obama growing up in Hono­lulu.

One of my favorite characters on Oahu is a man named Alan Lloyd. Lloyd, 84, is a former Hawaiian Electric Co. employee and an expert on the Battle of Midway. He lectures all over the world about it. He was also, most likely, the youngest employee in Hawaiian Airlines' history.

When I interviewed Lex Brodie about 10 years ago, he told me that when he was a Boy Scout on Oahu around 1930, his troop hiked from the end of the paved road at Kahala to Hanauma Bay.

Last week I wrote about Adm. Chester Nimitz and Henry Alexander Walker Sr., who was president of Amfac, at one time Hawaii's largest company. Nimitz and others called him Sandy, from his middle name.

Every week, people ask me where I get the stories for my column and books. Sometimes it comes from questions people ask me, and I start digging, or, in the case of this week's column, they share a great story with me.

One of my readers asked me recently if I had any information on Thanksgiving in Hawaii. Christians here celebrated Thanksgiving on various days going back 200 years. In 1849, Kamehameha III proclaimed Dec. 31 to be a day of Thanksgiving, feasting and prayer.

Some of our streets have interesting stories behind their names. The newspaper does regular features on the subject, and my friend Rich Budnick even wrote two books about it: "Hawaiian Street Names" and "Maui Street Names."

Two weeks ago this column looked at Japanese teahouses. At one time we had more than 30 of them on Oahu, many in the Nuuanu area. One of the most famous was Mochizuki Tea House in Liliha, on Kunawai Lane below Judd Street.

Tommy James and the Shondells, one of the top U.S. rock bands of the late 1960s, were performing in Hawaii in August 1969. It was the week that their hit "Crystal Blue Persuasion" reached the top of the charts.

The most popular and successful restaurant chain in the islands from 1939 through the 1970s was Spencecliff, which owned more than 50 family eateries.

Readers give me suggestions for articles every week. Recently, Alice Tucker, a friend in my Hono­lulu Rotary Club, suggested I write a column on unusual first names.

I get a lot of email and letters about the subjects I cover in my column, and in 2 1/2 years I've never written about them. This week I thought I'd share some of these letters with you.

Have you ever noticed that many of those with Japa­nese ancestry in Hawaii trace their roots to Kyu­shu and southern Hon­shu?

Last month I wrote about how several Hawaii hotels came to have their names. This month I thought I'd explore how several restaurants in town came to have their names. There's often an interesting back story to company names.

The Honolulu Shriners Hospital for Children is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month. You've driven past it a thousand times on Punahou Street if you live on Oahu, but you might not know its interesting history.

Last week I wrote about Puka Puka Otea, the Polynesian show at the Queen's Surf restaurant in the 1960s. It was on Waikiki Beach next to the Aquarium. There were so many interesting stories to write about it, that I broke the story into two parts. Here's part two.

In the 1960s, one of the most popular Polynesian shows in Hawaii went by the odd name of "Puka Puka Otea" at the famous Queen's Surf in Waikiki, next to the Natatorium. Elaine Frisbie, the daughter of renowned South Seas traveler and author Robert Dean Frisbie, was the producer of the show.

My friend, Mel Kaneshige, retired last month. He was a senior vice president at Outrigger Enterprises and was the point person for working to amend the city's zoning code to make it more attractive for hotel owners to upgrade properties and build new ones while preserving the best of Waikiki.

I have to warn my readers that my column is a little on the racy side this week. Parental discretion is advised. "Hundreds of arrests. No convictions." It would make a good title for a book, I think, but the author has already written one.

If you're married, you probably fretted about your wedding. How many people could you afford to invite? Who would make the cut and who wouldn't? Where would it be held?

Last week I wrote about Nuuanu Shopping Plaza, specifically about how it was once the home of Hawaii's first Chinese millionaire, Chun Afong, and his 16 children, and later Chun Hoon and his 15 children.

Walgreens has opened at the Nuuanu Shopping Plaza, completing the latest transformation of a historic property. Many people my age remember the Chun-Hoon Supermarket, which occupied much of the site from 1935 until 1983.

I'm an optimist. So when I hear stories of painful things that happen to people, I look for the silver lining. What is the gift that is wrapped in that tragedy?

Many companies fumble the ball in passing from one generation to the next. One local company that transitioned well from the founder to his sons and now grandsons is C.S. Wo.

Last month, I talked to Sam Cooke about the Honolulu Museum of Art, founded by his great-grandparents. His ancestors founded Castle & Cooke, Royal School, Bank of Hawaii, Molokai Ranch, Grove Farm, Wilcox Hospital, and several other companies and nonprofits.

With the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation considering putting its train through Kakaako, Mother Waldron Park has been mentioned in the news several times recently. But who was the park's namesake, Margaret Waldron? The answer to that lies in Kakaako.

When I was going to the University of Hawaii in 1974, my roommate, Randy Hiraki, and I often went downtown to Territorial Tavern on Bishop and Nimitz. There I saw the funniest comedy group I had ever seen. Here's the story on how they came together.

If you were lucky enough to live on Oahu in the mid-1970s, you probably remember the Territorial Tavern on the corner of Bishop Street and Ala Moana Boulevard. There was a renaissance taking place with Hawaiian music in the 1970s, and the Territorial Tavern was ground zero.

Have you ever done something that takes on a life of its own? That's what happened to Charles M. Cooke and his wife, Anna Rice Cooke. Both were children of missionaries. In 1882 they built a home on Beretania Street and Ward Avenue, across from Thomas Square.

I spoke to the Wahiawa Historical Society last month in a beautiful room at the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens. Its members inspired me to write about the interesting facts about their community.

This year the Hawaii State Library on King and Punchbowl streets celebrates its centennial. However, the library's history dates back 34 years earlier to 1879, to the Honolulu Workingmen's Library Association.

Last week, I talked to Linda Coble about how her television news career began. This week, we'll look at her time at KGMB, where she worked with some of Hawaii's finest journalists.

About eight years ago I joined the Rotary Club of Honolulu, the largest and oldest in the state. I met many interesting people in the club, and one of them is Linda Coble.

Since I wrote my first "The Companies We Keep" book, many people have shared great stories with me about Hawaii people, places and companies. It's often a couple of stories a week, and led to my second, third and, next year, a fourth book.

Looking for art? Hono­lulu has several galleries and museums. There are many places to go. But you probably haven't thought of the Oahu Cemetery and Crematory in Nuuanu. You might be surprised to find that it has the finest and most abundant collection of 19th-century graveyard art in Hawaii.

Last week, La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls asked me to speak to their students about the Dillinghams.

The movie about the career of Jackie Robinson — "42" — is being released today. Robinson is well known for being the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.

In January 1900 a fire burned down much of Chinatown. Men, women and children fled. Some went to a camp at Queen and South streets in Kakaako, where an old kerosene warehouse once existed.

You might wonder whether nicknames or mascots are interchangeable terms. Usually they are. Mascots are often costumed characters or animals, while nicknames might not take a physical form.

When Barack Obama was a student at Punahou, Don Ho was performing in Waikiki. One of Ho's long-running jokes was that there should be a Hawaiian president. It was time. He volunteered himself for the job. "President Ho," he suggested. "I'd move the White House to Hawaii and call it the Ho House."

Last week I spoke to the Honolulu Quarterback Club. This is a group of Hawaii sports enthusiasts that meets every Monday for lunch at Maple Garden restaurant on Isenberg Street.

The Ilikai Hotel has had its share of drama recently. I'm not going to recount its current legal and financial issues, but rather look back to its opening 49 years ago last week, in 1964.

Byron's Drive-In on Paiea Street closed Thursday after 47 years in operation. It was an end of an era that began in 1955 and stretched to 17 restaurants.

New University of Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay has decided that, beginning in June, the men's athletic teams will be called Warriors. The women's teams will be Rainbow Wahine.

You've probably heard of Highway Inn, the Hawaiian food restaurant in Wai­pahu. But did you know the founder learned the restaurant business in Arkansas and California internment camps during World War II?

One of the most beautiful love songs ever written, "I'll Remember You," was penned by Kui Lee around 1964.

Longtime Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman died last week. He was 88. He was friends with and wrote about many celebrities, such as Bette Midler, Don Ho, Kui Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.

Bob Jones has come out with a book about his career in news, called simply "Reporter," about his adventures in Hono­lulu, Vietnam, Spain and other places.

One of Hawaii's greatest entrepreneurs died last week. Lex Brodie was 98. When I interviewed him for my first book in 2001, he said he was interested in writing his own book.

My editor and I were talking about the decision to close Macy's downtown on Fort and King streets. Several articles have looked at the site, which, for more than 100 years, was a Liberty House, or H. Hackfeld & Co. as it was called before that.

In my first column of the year, I thought I’d look at some of the companies and organizations that have significant anniversaries coming up this year.

Many teachers will tell you the key to educational success is parent involvement. Kids spend more time at home with their families than they do at school, and the encouragement and support parents give is often the deciding factor in whether that child does well in school.

Hostess Twinkies' bankruptcy in the news last week reminded me of a story Jon de Mello told me about Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, who loved Twinkies and struggled with overeating. Jon was his producer and lifelong friend.

Which hotel chain began with the founders renting out a single room in their house? The answer is Outrigger Hotels.

Today is the 71st anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a date that would live in infamy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told us, but there are some interesting, little-known aspects of the attack that most of us don’t know.

One particular Hawaii community has a special relationship with the USS Missouri. Do you know which one it is? Surprisingly, it's Kalaupapa. It began more than 100 years ago.

Hawaii tourists in the mid-1930s had a problem. They went to luau at night and took pictures of the singers and dancers, but the low light and poor cameras caused the pictures to come out too dark to see.

Who was the King of Pidgin? The first person to use pidgin in advertising seems to be Cho­taru Miya­moto, who founded Musa­shiya in 1896.

We've all seen the motion picture trailer at Consolidated Theatres. It shows canoe paddlers at dusk, a hula troupe walking with torches and then dancing. It's called "Hawaii," and it's been in use for 20 years. Here's the story behind it.


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