Every now and then I like to put together a collection of short pieces about various topics. Sometimes they’re “leftovahs” from past articles. I think of them as “bits and pieces,” but there must be a better term for this “pupu platter” of stuffs. Here are some “Rearview Glances.”
Last week I wrote about the well-respected con man, Sammy Amalu. His grandfather was a highly esteemed lighthouse keeper. Samuel Apollo Amalu (1868-1951) retired in 1939 as the Barbers Point lighthouse keeper. Before that he had served on Kauai.
Laine Matsuo Skiendiel told me that there’s a small museum dedicated to U.S. lighthouse history on Staten Island, N.Y., and Amalu is mentioned in it.
The 1946 tsunami badly damaged Hilo and, to a lesser extent, hit all the islands, with the McCully bridge even feeling the effect!
That’s pretty far inland, about three-fourths of a mile. It wasn’t a wave so much as the Ala Wai Canal water dropped and rose 2 to 3 feet. Four piers holding up the bridge were damaged, and many boats were “thrown against the makai wall and then dropped back.”
It took six weeks to repair and reopen the bridge.
From 1921 to 1949, a statute called the Desha Bathing Suit Law required Honolulu bathers’ swimsuits to be covered from shoulders to knees with an outer garment when walking to and from the beach.
Oahu Sheriff Charles Rose said there was to be no more basking on the sands in bathing suits only. Bathers over 14 had to “keep themselves covered either with clothes or water.”
A legislator, the Rev. Stephen Desha, believed bodies were indecent and that it was immoral to display them (in only a bathing suit)!
It was rarely enforced, but you could receive a 10-cent fine. Locals joked about it. One asked, should Hawaiian boys who dive for coins have to leap in the water with overcoats, raincoats or robes on?
The law was finally repealed in 1949.
In 1900 a Hawaii law said that “all public amusements, sports, shows and games on Sunday are hereby forbidden.” The Hawaii Attorney General said events on Sunday must “cease, or be not at all amusing, and free of charge.”
Sundays in 1900, apparently, were for solemn religious events only.
A 1925 Honolulu Star- Bulletin article asked for reader input on a University of Hawaii mascot and nickname. Some suggestions: Mongoose, Mynahs, Warriors, Tigers, Chiefs, Giants, Wolves, Bears, “but none of them were suitable,” the article said.
The first nickname — “Deans” — developed “on its own accord,” it said. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe it came into common use, and not from UH or a specific person’s suggestion.
A dean is a person who directs 10 men. Since a football team has 11 players, that makes some sense.
All the fire hydrants on Oahu are marked. On one side is the number it was given when it was installed. On the other is information on where its shutoff valve is.
Hydrants Nos. 1 and 2 are on Nuuanu Avenue near Nimitz Highway and Merchant Street makai of Murphy’s Bar & Grill. They were placed there around 1851.
Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., the father of modern baseball, was appointed chief engineer of the newly established Fire Department of the City of Honolulu that same year.
Ted Ralston wrote about Saloon Pilot crackers. “Saloon is a mis-translation from salon, the place where food is prepared onboard ships.
“Hardtack was the biscuit made in the salon for the hands on deck and the pilot in the wheelhouse. Thus, Salon Pilot became the descriptor of a hardtack cracker made for crew consumption, and that migrated into Saloon Pilot,” Ralston said.
Journalist Don Chapman has a new book, “The Goodfather: The Life of Larry Mehau.”
Chapman believes Mehau was incorrectly called “the Godfather of organized crime” in Hawaii. I’ll write more about this in the next month or so.
One interesting thing I learned about Mehau from Chapman’s book: Mehau was a sumo champion. As an amateur, he led a team to Japan and beat its top yokozuna in 1961.
Mehau was the champion in Hawaii, but at 250 pounds would be small by today’s professional sumo standards.
I wrote about vehicular tunnels last month. Ron Neff told me he came across a reference to a tunnel under Punchbowl. I looked into it further and found it was indeed proposed.
One H-1 route considered was mauka of the current freeway. Part of it would run through a 4,000-foot tunnel under Punchbowl from Kuakini Street to Wilder Avenue.
Proponents stated in 1951 that the tunnel could be used as a nuclear fallout shelter in an emergency.
Another proposed tunnel would go under Honolulu Harbor from Kakaako to Sand Island! Planners deemed both tunnels to be unfeasible.
Using the name J. Akuhead Pupule, radio personality Hal Lewis had his own short-lived recording label, Aku Records, “Territorial Airwaves” host Harry B. Soria Jr. told me.
“It had a green label, with a cartoon of Hal Lewis with an exaggerated nose. He persuaded Alfred Apaka to record on his label, with Aku backing him on violin. Aku also recorded himself singing and playing violin on ‘My Little Buckaroo,’ among other tunes.”
In 1930 we had a column in the Star-Bulletin called “Poultry. Chicken gossip and pigeon news.” It was written by H.L. Chung and had useful tips for those raising fowl.
Promoter Tom Moffatt gave me a spreadsheet of all the concerts he hosted in Hawaii several years ago. The number topped 625!
A little-remembered part of Hawaii’s history is the Japanese Hotel Association. In 1935 there were 13 members, such as the Honolulu Hotel, Kobayashi Hotel and Nakamura Hotel.
Most were in the Aala Park area (Beretania, Aala, River and North King streets). The hotels were a familiar place for visitors from Japan to stay, and organized trips to Japan for locals as well.
The Kobayashi Hotel, opened in 1892 and now called Kobayashi Travel, is still in business. Polynesian Hospitality, a motorcoach company, is part of its business.
Do any readers know more about the Japanese Hotel Association?
The koa tables from Pat’s at Punaluu now belong to Big Kahuna’s Pizza in the Airport Trade Center. ThreeBest Rated.com says Big Kahuna’s, Piology Pizzeria and California Pizza Kitchen are the best pizzas in Hawaii for 2019.
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Bob Sigall, author of the five “The Companies We Keep” books, at Sigall@Yahoo.com.