Sunday, April 26, 2015         

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One of the greatest marketing and promotions people in radio in the United States is a local boy who was born in Waikiki four years before the Pearl Harbor attack.

I remember living in St. Louis Heights in 1986 when the old Kaiser Hospital was demolished with dynamite. I had a good view of it and took a photo of the white cloud of dust that was expelled into the air.

Every now and then, I pause to share comments from readers and cover short topics that come across my desk. Jeff Cook, in response to last week's April Fools column, told me his grandparents had their own April 1st story, but it wasn't a joke.

Readers often ask me where I get my ideas for articles. Sometimes it's accidental. I frequently am looking through old microfilm of the daily papers for something and find something else on a nearby page. That's what happened while I was searching for information on Sears Pearlridge.

Yesterday was Kuhio Day, and I thought I'd write about the "Citizen Prince" in my column this week. A hundred years ago he was the bright, shining light of Hawaii, a man everyone looked up to, a leader of the Hawaiian people.

I wrote about the Natatorium last month and several readers shared their stories with me about it. Molokai resident John Weiser told me he had a lot of job opportunities after getting his MBA from Stanford in the mid-1950s.

I had the opportunity to sit down with five people who are retiring soon from Sears at Pearlridge Center after working there for 40 years. We may have lost the Ala Moana Center store, but Pearlridge, Kaneohe, Hilo and Kahului are still open.

Did Native Hawaiians eat sandwiches when Capt. James Cook arrived in 1778? Surely not. Did the islands look like some sort of submarine sandwich to the Brits? I couldn't see how, so I decided to sink my teeth into the subject.

Which organization was founded by an orphan who grew up feeling she was stupid and ugly? The answer is Winners' Camp Foundation at the Hawaii Leadership Academy. It provides weeklong programs for Hawaii teens at its facilities atop Kame­hame Ridge in Hawaii Kai.

My column last week on watermen "Dad" Center and Alexander Hume Ford prompted Donna L. Ching to write to me. "I am working on a documentary film focusing on the swimming and ocean sports history of the Natatorium."

A hundred years ago in Hawaii, it seemed that everyone had a nickname. Two examples were George David Center, whom everyone called "Dad," and Alexander Hume Ford, known as "Pop."

‘5000 miles off Broadway." That's how artistic director John Rampage described the third-oldest live theater company in the United States. Yes, we are way, way off Broadway but, in some ways, closer than you might think.

This is my 200th column for the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser, so this week I thought I'd share some of the stories readers have told me or answer some of their recent questions.

How do you welcome a new radio personality who's moved from New York to Hawaii? Today it might be an ad campaign on radio and TV. But in 1959 the United States' youngest program director had a different idea: Keep him awake for eight days in a department store window.

The top female golfer of the 1930s, Codie Austin-Cooke, began playing golf at the age of 5 … barefooted. With the help of the Oahu Country Club pro, Alex Bell, she blossomed into the top female golfer in the islands by the age of 14.

It may surprise you to learn that the first place karate was demonstrated outside of Japan was Hawaii. The Nuu­anu YMCA, specifically. Seven hundred people attended the demonstration on July 8, 1927 after the initial introduction in March. It's an interesting story.

With the new year just beginning, I thought since this is a look-back type of column, that I'd look back at 2014 and some of my favorite stories in Rearview Mirror last year.

A fascinating fact about the Iolani Palace fence was uncovered during renovations in 1983. When ironworkers took apart the ornamental fence surrounding the palace grounds to clean and paint it, they were surprised to discover there wasn't a single weld in it.

A year ago, I wrote about how a local boy saved first lady Bess Truman from falling into the Hudson River while boarding the USS Missouri. This week, I have another story of Harry and Bess Truman, who spent a month vacationing on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay in 1953.

This week, I thought I'd do something a little different. I get so many questions from readers about the column, I thought I'd write about what goes on behind the scenes at Rearview Mirror.

I've written about Dec. 7, 1941, a "day that will live in infamy," many times. Usually, it's from a military (and man's) point of views. This time, I thought I'd write about a local woman who took it as her duty to find a role for herself leading up to the war.

Jozef De Veuster was a strapping young lad who was stocky and muscle-bound, Dr. Kalani Brady says, and his parents hoped he would take over the family corn business. But that was not his calling.

I've written quite a bit about Henry Walker Jr. and Sr. in the last year or two. I recently came by another story I thought my readers would enjoy, this one with Third Fleet Commander Adm. William "Bull" Halsey.

Manolo Morales at KHON-2 News called me this week to talk about Shirokiya. They're interested in moving to the new Ewa wing of Ala Moana Center in the near future.

Two of my readers, Jerry and Mary Bacon, offered me a number of old newspapers they had saved for many years. One was the final edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day.

Last month I wrote about Francis H. I'i Brown, Hawaii's greatest golfer. Teddi Hussey wrote in to say she was related to Francis' longtime girlfriend, Winona Nancy Love, who was a well-regarded hula dancer.

Last month I wrote about Donald Graham, who developed Ala Moana Center. Bob Hampton, who owned the Territorial Tavern downtown, wrote to say he once worked for Graham.

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.

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