Many important Hawaii companies are celebrating significant anniversaries this year.
Here are a few:
>> “Territorial Airwaves” celebrates its 40th anniversary. It is the longest- running radio show in the state and the longest- running Hawaiian radio show in the world.
The show is hosted by third-generation Hawaii radio personality Harry B. Soria Jr.
“Territorial Airwaves’” archives contain extensive audio excerpts, photos and displays devoted to the preservation and perpetuation of traditional Hawaiian music.
>> CHART (Comprehensive Health and Active Rehabilitation Training) passed the 40-year mark this year. CHART is a physical rehabilitation clinic specialized in returning injured individuals to work. It is on King Street next to Straub Medical Center. My “Pau Hana Pumpers” group has worked out there for the past 23 years.
>> The state Capitol opened on March 15, 1969. Before that the Legislature and governor convened in Iolani Palace.
The state Capitol has some interesting symbols. Its soaring columns look like palm trees. They rise out of a shallow pool like our islands rise out of the ocean. The open-air roof sweeps upward like the peak of a volcano.
Our capitol is the only one in the U.S. where legislators must walk through public rather than private spaces from their offices to hearing rooms and the House or Senate chamber, architect Frank Haines told me.
Tadashi Sato designed the circular mosaic in the rotunda. It’s named “Aquarius” and is made of 600,000 tiny Italian tiles. The green and blue squares represent the colors of Hawaii’s ocean and sky. Sato “signed” the piece with a single red tile.
>> The first Sunshine Music Festival in Diamond Head Crater was held on New Year’s Day 1969. Steve Miura said about 10,000 people attended this event, which featured music, food, arts and crafts.
According to promoter Tom Moffatt, “A local airline wound up flying in limes from all of the other islands. Volunteers spent hours squeezing them and concocting a special ‘Crater- Ade’ that consisted of freshly squeezed limes, honey and water. Unfortunately, every bee on the island found out about it.”
>> Joe Moore began working in local TV 50 years ago in July. After serving two tours in Vietnam, where he worked as a news and sportscaster at the American Forces Vietnam Network, he wrote a letter to Bob Sevey at KGMB applying for a job as a reporter.
“I remembered him from my days at Aiea High School in the early 1960s, and wanted to come back to Hawaii to work. He hired me as a combination news-sports reporter, which is what I did for the first two months at KGMB. Then I became the sports anchor, first on the 10 p.m. news in September, and both the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts a short time later.
“I remember my first assignment was covering a banana patch fire outside Kailua.” Moore was paid $7,800 a year, about $51,000 today.
“Bob Sevey was like a second father to me,” Moore said. “My dad was off on the mainland. As a young guy in the business, I looked up to him and turned to him for advice. He was definitely my No. 1 mentor.”
In 1978 Moore moved from No. 1-ranked KGMB to the No. 3 station, KHON, where he continued covering sports for two years before he was promoted to news anchor in 1980. I believe he’s the longest-serving television news anchor (at one station) in the country.
>> The 12th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Pageant was the first event to be held at the then brand-new $10 million Honolulu International Center Arena in March 1964. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Honda was crowned queen. The first runner-up and Miss Popularity was Carole Shimizu, who later became known as entertainer Carole Kai.
>> The Pagoda Hotel and Floating Restaurant on Rycroft Street opened for business in 1964.
>> Hawaii statehood became a reality on Aug. 21, 1959. Many thought we would be the 49th state — and Hawaii held a 49th State Fair for 10 years — but that honor went to Alaska. When it was announced five months earlier in March, there was a big five-hour celebration show at the Honolulu Stadium in Moiliili attended by 30,000 people.
>> Aug. 13 marks the 60th anniversary of Ala Moana Center’s grand opening.
Before 1959, downtown Honolulu had been the main shopping area for well over 100 years. Locals flocked downtown to shop at Liberty House, McInerny, Andrade, Kress, Ming’s and the Ritz.
Former Honolulu Advertiser Editor Bud Smyser recalled “the alarm in the downtown business community on learning a giant shopping center was planned for Ala Moana. Downtowners feared it could decimate downtown retailing.” They were right.
Sears was the anchor tenant that paved the way for smaller stores to follow. If a giant like Sears could do it, they could take the chance, too, they felt.
Phase 1, the Ewa wing of the shopping center, extended from the Piikoi Street side to the center court area near Keeaumoku Street. Phase 2 opened seven years later in 1966. It cost $25 million to build, and 87 tenants moved in, including Sears, Longs, Foodland, Woolworth, Slipper House, HOPACO, Carol & Mary, McInerny, Pocketbook Man, Ming’s, Shirokiya and Iida’s.
Today Ala Moana Center is the world’s largest outdoor shopping center, with over 200 stores and 70 restaurants occupying 2 million square feet. Annual sales top $1 billion annually.
>> Roller derby made its debut in Hawaii on July 21, 1954. The New York Chiefs, who were led by “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Freddie Noa, defeated the Chicago Westerners by a score of 36-31, before a sold-out crowd at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium.
>> Hawaii Electric Light (HELCO) has an interesting history in that its origin story has its roots in at least 10 different enterprises (mostly sugar and coffee plantations) founded on Hawaii island.
It began in 1890 with the construction of a small water-driven dynamo at the Hilo Boarding School that lit a dozen small bulbs from dusk to 10 p.m. in the study hall and principal’s cottage. It gave rise to the (originally named) Hilo Electric Light Co. in 1894.
>> On Aug. 1, 1859, The Queen’s Hospital opened temporarily on the corner of Fort and King streets with 18 beds.
Four locations were considered for a permanent hospital, wrote George Kanahele in the book “Emma: Hawaii’s Remarkable Queen”: Iwilei near the current site of City Mill; Palama near a soap factory; Queen Emma and School streets; and Manamana, owned by Chester Kapaakea, King Kalakaua’s father.
The dusty and barren area named Manamana (which means “much spiritual power” in Hawaiian) was selected and purchased for $2,000. Trustees erected a facility with 124 beds. In its early days, patients stayed for long periods in the hospital. In 1875 the average patient stayed for 73 days.
Currently, The Queen’s Medical Center admits 19,000 patients a year and serves 200,000 outpatients. It has over 550 beds, 1,000 doctors and 3,500 employees.
If you look closely at the Queen’s logo, you can see that it’s made from two intertwined E’s, derived from the royal cipher. They’re Queen Emma’s royal E’s. Atop it is her crown. Beneath is a banner that reads, “The Queen’s Medical Center” and the year 1859.
The Rearview Mirror Insider is Bob Sigall’s weekly email that gives readers behind-the-scenes background, stories that wouldn’t fit in the column, and lots of interesting details. My Insider “posse” gives me ideas for stories and personal experiences that enrich the column. I invite you to join in and be an Insider at RearviewMirrorInsider.com. Mahalo!