Several readers commented on the visit of Jackie, Caroline and John Jr. Kennedy in 1966, which I wrote about two weeks ago.
Dan Kosora said it “brought this wonderful memory back that I would like to share with you.”
“In the summer of 1966, I worked on the island of Hawaii in a federally funded program to take groups of children ages 9-12 on five-day camping trips to Hapuna Beach Park in Waikoloa.
“One group had about 30 children from Keaukaha, a Hawaiian Homes community in Hilo,” Kosora says.
“After spending five days at Hapuna, I called a friend who was the comptroller at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and asked if I could bring a bus load of 30 kids to visit the hotel, pool and grounds.
“He said bring them over, so we stopped at the hotel on our back home to Hilo.
“We were greeted by the security guard who led us to the swimming pool area. In the pool were only two children, a girl about 8 years old and a little boy about 5. In a lounge chair close by sat a lady reading a book. Also standing nearby was a man who must have been a security agent.
“One of the kids I brought called out to the boy, ‘Hey, come swim here and see how deep this place.’”
“The little boy swam over and got out of pool. One of the Keaukaha boys noticed this little boy’s hair was kind of long, so he asked him, ‘Hey, what you … boy or girl?’”
“‘Hey, you can dive and see how deep this place.’”
“So the little long-haired boy held his nose and jumped into the pool and raised his hand!
“When he got out of the pool, the boy from Keaukaha put his arms around him and said, ‘Hey, you OK.’”
“That’s when I realized that a very special moment just took place. If only I would have had a camera to capture the kids shaking hands with John-John Kennedy and rubbing his long hair.
“Both children, John-John and Caroline, mixed and shook hands with the Keaukaha boys along with the security agent. Jackie, well, she just sat demurely watching the kids enjoy themselves!
“The Keaukaha kids did not realize who they were meeting! Not until we were back in the bus, and I told them. They did comment, ‘Hey, lucky kids. They have big house and swimming pool,’” as if they lived at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.”
Ronald Amemiya said his wife, Caroline, was the daughter of the late Hon Chew Hee.
“Jackie Kennedy came to the home of Hon Chew in Kaneohe to learn calligraphy and painting from him,” Amemiya says. “Every time she came, the Secret Service would sweep the neighborhood. It was no secret that Jackie was here, learning from her mentor.
“She wrote several endearing letters to Hon Chew which Caroline has. In one of the letters, Jackie wrote, ‘You are the greatest teacher that ever existed.’ Another quote: ‘I think of you all the time.’
“And Caroline still has the rocking chair which Jackie used to rock in.”
Jeanne Davis said, “Jackie, Caroline and John-John spent the summer of ’66 in the isles. Our family lived one block back into Kahala from Jackie’s beach house.
“A Secret Service man was posted 24 hours a day at the Kahala Avenue entrance to the beach access that skirted the side of her rented house.
“That made a big impact on our lives, blocking our kids’ access to the beach. But it was very exciting to have such important visitors in our neighborhood.”
Carla E. Connell said what she remembered “most and dearest about that time and that visit” was how Hawaii treated visiting celebrities.
“Local residents welcomed them and then left them alone to enjoy their time, stepping in to help when needed and then stepping back again. Just welcoming and quiet good manners on both sides. I felt proud of us then.”
Jackie, Caroline and John Jr. were here exactly three years after JFK was last in Hawaii. President Kennedy was on a tour of Western states and, at the last minute, decided to come to Hawaii for the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Hawaii had only 20 hours to prepare, but huge crowds, estimated at 200,000, lined his 15-mile motorcade route on June 9, 1963. The president rode in an open-air Lincoln Continental from Pearl Harbor, where he stayed, down Dillingham, Beretania, Kapahulu and Kalakaua to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It took him over an hour.
He spoke to the nation’s mayors about civil rights being a “national challenge,” saying that “the time for token moves and talk is past if we’re going to meet this problem and master it.”
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.