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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

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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.

Retail guru Glenn Kaya brought GEM to Hawaii in 1958. A lot of people think it was local, but it started in Denver in 1957, Kaya said. GEM stood for Government Employees Mutual, and you had to be a member to come into the store.

Could Oprah Winfrey have inspired the creation of a local nonprofit? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

Which famous musical group got its start at Punahou School? This threesome launched an interest in folk music and paved the way for such artists as Peter, Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan.

What are high school students capable of? We tend not to take them seriously, but in 1943, students at McKinley High School showed us what they could do with the right motivation. They raised enough money during World War II to buy a new B-24 Liberator bomber for the military.

More than 250,000 people in Hawaii access the World Wide Web though Oceanic Cable's high-speed internet service. Since 2010 the company has been moving away from its service Road Runner. Before it does so completely, I thought I'd explore its history.

Ruth Midler named her baby, born on Dec. 1, 1945, after one of her favorite actresses, Bette Davis. "My mother was a seamstress," Bette Midler recalls.

Locals who regularly go to Las Vegas are familiar with the California Hotel. But most of us don't know that the founder of the hotel, Sam Boyd, once worked in Hono­lulu and Hilo.

In the early 1950s a concerned group of Hawaii businessmen saw a need. A growing number of minorities were seeking to buy homes and start new businesses.

Which theaters did Joel C. Cohen consolidate into the chain that entertains Hawaii today? When I asked executives at Consolidated, they didn't know.

Royal Hawaiian hotel bandleader Harry Owens had a daughter born on Oct. 19, 1934. Her name was Leilani. He was inspired to write "Sweet Leilani" for her as a lullaby.

When sugar was transforming Hawaii 120 years ago, the plantation leaders had a problem. Their workers were from many different countries, spoke different languages and had unusual names.

KSSK's "Perry & Price Show" has been the top-ranked morning drive radio show in Honolulu for nearly three decades. It was launched 29 years ago last week, the same day that Kilauea began erupting on Hawaii island -- Aug. 9, 1983.

Hal Lewis, better known as J. Akuhead Pupule, was the top deejay in the islands from 1947 until his death 29 years ago on July 21, 1983.

The story of Kuakini Health System begins with the California Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, when thousands of Chinese came to the United States for the gold rush or to work on the railroad.

It was love at first sight for 22-year-old Shirley Temple, who met Hawaiian Pineapple Co. executive Charles Black at a party in Hono­lulu in 1950. The party was at the Diamond Head home of Hono­lulu neurologist Dr. Ralph Cloward.

Daniel Inouye has represented Hawaii in Congress since statehood. He talked about his first week in Washington in a speech to the Hono­lulu Rotary Club at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in August 2009.

What's in a name? Everything, apparently, when it comes to Spam. What we call Spam began in 1936 with a generic name: Spiced Ham. Competitors were quick to copy and outsell it.

Did an Amelia Earhart plane crash on Ford Island in 1937 contribute to her death four months later?

In the 1920s and 1930s, where did Oahu's wealthy go for a retreat? The answer may surprise you. They went to Pearl City. At the time, Pearl City referred to the peninsula that extended into Middle Loch. The district didn't extend beyond Kamehameha Avenue until after World War II.

Last week, we looked at the Hawaiian Room at the Lexington Hotel in New York City, which opened 75 years ago this week in 1937.

Beginning in the 1920s, a wave of fascination with Hawaii and Polynesia swept the United States. From the mid-1930s until the 1960s, Hawaiian- and Polynesian-themed showrooms, restaurants, bars and hotels sprang up around the country. Nearly every large city had one.

One hundred years ago, women playing golf was frowned upon. While others discouraged them, the Oahu Country Club embraced female golfers, at least by standards of the early 1900s.

A lot of people drive by the Oahu Country Club off Pali Highway and have no idea it has been the premier supporter of women's golf in Hawaii.


This week's column concerns me a little because it's about science.

Which local song has had more impact around the world than any other? It's on Hawaii's only double-platinum album. It's been used in more than 80 movies and TV shows. Its YouTube video has been viewed 70 million times. Which song is it?

If you're looking for interesting stories of Hawaii companies outside of Hono­lulu, Hilo is a good place to start.

After dinner, many of us turn on the television. Cable TV today carries more than 200 channels, but when I was young, in the 1950s, there were just four channels and all were in black and white.



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