My March article on Pat’s at Punaluu has spawned a few spinoffs. One was last week, about David of Punaluu, who lived a traditional Hawaiian life from the 1930s to the 1960s on a 3-acre site there.
Another was about Masu’s Massive Plate lunch. Paul Masuoka got his start working at Pat’s at Punaluu when he was fresh out of Kapiolani Community College.
Recently, John Corboy wrote to me about an inshore spring in Laie, past Punaluu, called “Beauty Hole.”
“I recall back in the 1940s there was a huge hole in the ground, over 50 feet across,” Corboy said. “It was a beautiful aqua-marine swimming hole where fresh water was bubbling up. Do any of your readers remember this very popular place?”
I went out to Laie to investigate the “Beauty Hole” and met with local residents Kekela Miller and Anna and Norman Thompson.
Miller had a 1927 Laie map with “Beauty Hole” right there on it. I was surprised to find it used that name.
The pool was first noted by the workers who built Kamehameha Highway through the area around 1900. It was right next to the highway and about 100 feet from the ocean.
All the kids in Laie learned to swim there, Miller said. It was the only swimming pool in the community until Brigham Young University- Hawaii (then called the Church College of Hawaii) opened in 1955.
It was fairly circular, maybe 75 feet to 100 feet across. Rocks ran around its perimeter.
According to one rumor, beautiful mermaids inhabited the area long ago, giving it its name. Another legend said the Hawaii shark god Kamohoalii (Pele’s brother) lived at its bottom. Hawaiian royalty bathed in the pool in ancient times.
Many thought it was bottomless, but later it was estimated to be about 60 feet deep. An underground river from the mountains or a channel to the ocean, or both, mixed fresh and salt water and caused the pool to rise and fall with the tides.
Miller said she grew up there in the 1940s. “You could lie on the highway for an hour and no car would come by,” she said.
Tour cars would occasionally stop and visitors would toss coins in the pool. Different size coins fell into the depths differently.
Miller’s uncle was nicknamed “Five Cents” because of his skill in catching the coins. He’d dive down and wait for the coins to come to him.
Miller said she’d rinse off the mud in the swimming hole after working in the family taro field. “There were always lots of kids swimming in it.”
A home next to the swimming hole was swept into it and disappeared in the April 1, 1946, tsunami, Miller recalls. Fortunately, it was vacant at the time.
Zion Securities Corp. owned the property and felt the pool was dangerous and a liability. It was filled in in 1969, taking three months and 9,000 cubic yards of coral to complete.
Workers found two submerged cars and a cave at the bottom, along with an underground river. Five homes now occupy the site, directly across Kamehameha Highway from Foodland.
I went to the University of Hawaii in the 1970s and always thought College Hill was the area where the UH president lived. Mimi Dizan emailed me recently to let me know I was a little off base.
The College Hill tract was created in 1899 by the Trustees of Oahu College (later Punahou School) — not UH. The house lots were sold to finance scholarships, repairs and construction of a new library and gymnasium for the school.
The 1901 extension of the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company’s trolley car line to Manoa made it easier for Honolulu residents to live there and travel to work in town. Lower Manoa thus became Hawaii’s first “streetcar subdivision.”
This was a good 10 years before UH moved to its Manoa campus. It took up temporary residence in 1907 on the corner of Beretania and Victoria streets, across from Thomas Square while the Manoa campus was built.
The house that became the UH president’s abode in 1960 originally belonged to Frank and Eleanore Atherton. It sits on a 2.4-acre site.
Many of the College Hill homes are historic. One, for instance was immortalized by Don Blanding — Hawaii’s poet laureate — in “Leaves from a Grass House.”
On June 15, Malama Manoa will sponsor a historic homes walking tour in the College Hill area. This tour will include entrance into historic homes along a 2-mile route of 60 homes built in the 1920s and 1930s.
For further information, contact Linda Legrande at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcia Kemble asked about the status of the old Queen Theater on Waialae in Kaimuki.
“I’m sorry to say I’m not aware of any progress on the theater,” historian Lowell Angell told me. “The efforts of our nonprofit organization, Friends of Queen Theater, have basically come to a standstill.
“We did succeed in raising public awareness and an appreciation of the potential of the theater, both as a performance venue and to the community.
“We also had several professional experts provide an assessment of its condition and the work needed to repair it. It basically needs all new electrical, plumbing and air conditioning systems.
“The theater’s owner, Narciso Yu, evidently hasn’t chosen to pursue any rehabilitation efforts nor to communicate with our group in spite of our offer to assist.
“Unfortunately, the building continues to be a major eyesore in the community. Hopefully, the owner will decide to finally do something with it.”
The Queen Theater was built for movies and stage shows. It had a full, but very small stage, and live shows were presented in the 1930s by traveling troupes, such as the famed Fanchon and Marco, who also performed at the downtown King Theater owned by the same operators.
“There were a couple of dressing rooms under the stage,” Angell said. “The theater was built by Franklin Theatrical Enterprises which later became Royal Theatres.
“They also built and ran the King Theater downtown, the Palace in Makiki, Waialae Drive In in Kahala, Royal Sunset Drive In in Waipahu and the Royal Theater in Waikiki.”
The Queen opened June 29, 1936, with the film “Loves of a Dictator,” plus a stage production by the Hollywood Players, entitled “The Milky Way.”
Every woman who attended received a statuette bust of Queen Lili‘uokalani as a souvenir.
“The theater showed Hollywood and foreign films until the early 1970s when it was sold and the new owner started showing adult films, until shut down by the city,” Angell recalls.
“There were a couple live shows in there later, including ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ but then nothing after that. For many years, the theater auditorium was leased to a plumbing company for storage.”
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Bob Sigall, author of the five “The Companies We Keep” books at Sigall@Yahoo.com.