Rearview Mirror Wheelbarrow full of gold marked origin of Bankoh By Bob Sigall March 16, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! COURTESY BANK OF HAWAII / CIRCA 1977It was rare to catch Bank of Hawaii President Wilson P. Cannon Jr. at work in a coat and tie. Cannon helped launch Aloha Friday in 1966. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Bank of Hawaii could be the largest company in Hawaii founded by a competitor’s disgruntled customers. The Bank of Bishop & Co., predecessor of First Hawaiian Bank, denied sugar producer Castle & Cooke a loan and bounced a $40 check of theirs in 1889, says former CEO Henry Clark. On Dec. 17, 1897, with their company’s financial situation improved, Charles M. Cooke, his five sons, Peter Cushman Jones, Joseph Ballard Atherton and several others showed up at Bishop & Co. with a wheelbarrow and withdrew all of their funds in gold. The group loaded the gold coins and paraded up and down the streets of downtown Honolulu, none of which were paved back then, finally stopping two blocks away, at Fort and Merchant, which became the site of the first Bank of Hawaii. The event was a publicity stunt, but there is no photograph recording it. Newspapers did not hire photographers until about 1900, but why were none present? And why did Bankoh not have an artist re-create the event after the fact? It’s odd. It’s also interesting that Castle & Cooke denies responsibility for founding Bankoh. It was their check that was bounced, their loan that was denied. It was their president, past president and board of directors that withdrew their funds from the Bank of Bishop and Co. And it was Castle & Cooke that opened the first checking account at Bank of Hawaii. Why not claim responsibility for founding the new bank? In a further touch of irony, the building chosen for the bank’s third location, on the Ewa-mauka corner of King and Bishop streets, was formerly the estate of First Hawaiian Bank founder Charles Reed Bishop and Bernice Pauahi, called "Haleakala." Peter Cushman Jones was the bank’s first president. Joseph Ballard Atherton was vice president, Edwin Jones was cashier and Clarence Hyde Cooke was secretary and receiving teller. Most of the bank’s officers were in their early 20s, and the new bank soon became known as "The Kindergarten Bank." Bank of Hawaii added branches around the islands, and in 1934 had the distinction of being the first in Hawaii to be robbed. The Paia, Maui, branch was held up by two brothers from Lahaina, David and George Wong. Both were captured a few hours later with the $979 they had stolen. The next bank robbery in the islands didn’t occur for another 20 years. Maui-born Wilson P. Cannon Jr. served as Bank of Hawaii president from 1974 to 1980 and was one of the most beloved in the community. Cannon wore aloha shirts daily when other bankers wore coats and ties. He also spent much of his time outside the bank, serving on various nonprofit committees. Anna Derby Blackwell, a granddaughter of Charles M. Cooke, fondly remembers calling him one day. "I was writing a story for the Honolulu Beacon and phoned him. ‘Willy,’ I said, and then sang, ‘There’s a longing in my heart for the dear old Valley Isle.’ "‘What’s the next line? I can’t remember!’" "‘And the spirit in my heart will never die,’ he sang back, and we finished the song together. ‘Thank you very much,’ I said. ‘You’re welcome!’ he replied, and we hung up." "Later, the day the story appeared, we met at a cocktail party. Cannon said there had been a banker from New York in his office at the time, and he was kind of surprised when I started singing into the phone!" Bank of Hawaii ran one of the longest and most memorable ad campaigns in Hawaii history, featuring Ben and Gloria Tamashiro as Harry and Myra. They made more than 50 commercials over five years. "Ben came in to read for a commercial in 1985," said former Bankoh advertising director Janice Flick. "The woman he was supposed to read with didn’t show up. Ben said his wife, Gloria, was outside in the car, and they had practiced together. We brought her in just so we could see Ben read his part." Added Starr Siegel President David Koch, "The chemistry between them was so superb, they were both hired. They were so honest, so down to earth. "The bank had 10 to 15 different messages to deliver, from their investment services to their debit card, and Harry and Myra worked for all of them." ——— Bob Sigall, author of the “Companies We Keep” books, looks through his collection of old photos to tell stories each Friday of Hawaii people, places and companies. Email him at Sigall@Yahoo.com. Previous Story Steeped in history, the Moana exudes elegance in Waikiki Next Story For decades, Liberty House served as isle retail's 'fat cats'