My predecessor at the newspaper and mentor, Bob Krauss, used to write a column of several short pieces called In One Ear. In tribute to him today, I thought I’d emulate that.
KHNL/KGMB General Manager Rick Blangiardi spoke to my Downtown Exchange Club last month.
Blangiardi was the defensive coordinator at the University of Hawaii under coach Dave Holmes in 1973. One of his most memorable football games was when Hawaii played and beat the University of Washington.
I heard he carried a piece of the game ball in his wallet and asked him about it.
“Well, I did until somebody stole my wallet,” Blangiardi replied. “Here’s what happened. It was September 15, 1973. It was my 27th birthday, which was a nice thing to have happen on my birthday.
“We went to Seattle to play Washington. The Huskies were picked at that time to win the PAC 8. They were loaded with talent. Jim Owens was their heralded football coach, in his 17th year.
“UH was the underdog. We were supposed to lose by 28 points. We went out there on a sunny opening day in Seattle. Over 52,000 Washington fans were in the stadium.
“Our defense was terrific that day. We held them on five fourth-down plays, including three times inside our 10-yard line. We beat them 10 to 7.”
Levi Stanley made 11 tackles and assisted on five others. “We felt we were about to be shoved off a cliff,” Stanley said, “and we couldn’t let that happen. We proved who was king of the mountain!”
Cornerback Harold Stringert intercepted three Washington passes, the last one with just 3:37 left in the game.
Hawaii’s offense made several mistakes, even though quarterback Casey Ortiz completed eight of 17 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown.
Tailback Albert Holmes had 20 carries for 115 yards, and Tui Ala, the “Waianae cannonball,” carried 17 times for 70 yards.
Holmes called it his biggest win ever. Blangiardi was given a game ball. “I stayed up all night at the old Olympia hotel and cut the ball up into pieces. Every defensive player got a piece, and I carried mine in my wallet.”
I heard from Susan Yasuda, Sears Hawaii District Office marketing manager. She told me that the first Sears Roebuck store in Hawaii opened on Oct. 11, 1939 — 80 years ago.
It was a catalog store with samples of merchandise. Orders would be taken and then shipped directly to customers from Los Angeles.
The store was at 1290 Kapiolani Blvd. and Piikoi Street, where INspiration Interiors furniture store is now, and had 10 employees.
Two years later, on Dec. 8, 1941 — the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed — Sears opened a $600,000, 105,000- square-foot full-line retail store at 1455 S. Beretania St. near Kalakaua Avenue. That location later became the police station in 1959 and is now One Kalakaua Senior Living center.
The Beretania Street Sears was purchased “secretly” through a third party because the Big Five sugar-producing companies controlled the economy in Hawaii and at that time did not want mainland competition to come in.
Yasuda says a little-known fact about the property is that the roof of the building had an acre-size, 6-inch-deep “lake” on it. It was used to augment the store’s air conditioning. The lake was stocked with tilapia, and any kid who purchased an aquarium was given a couple of fish from the lake.
Sears opened stores in Kahului, Hilo and Lihue in the early 1950s and was the anchor tenant for the new Ala Moana Center in August 1959 — 60 years ago this summer.
The Pearlridge store is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Islanders are familiar with its three koi sculptures hanging in the escalator well. The koi are made of steel and copper and weigh 2,900 pounds. A team of craftsmen, rather than a single artist, conceived and created the sculpture.
Sears nationally has faced some tough challenges, but locally it still has stores at Pearlridge, Ala Moana (appliance and mattress store), Kahului and Hilo.
“We will always be grateful to Hawaii for welcoming us 80 years ago and supporting us through the good and difficult times,” Yasuda concludes.
La Mariana Sailing Club
Jocelyn Leroux asked me about La Mariana restaurant at 50 Sand Island Access Road. It’s one of the last, original tiki bars.
“I heard recently that the owner of La Mariana (who died in her 90s some years ago) had bequeathed her restaurant to some of her employees. Do you know if this is true, and do you know more about the story?
“Also, many years ago there was a gentleman who played piano at La Mariana on some evenings. We heard him play Hawaiian oldies beautifully, and he died in his 90s a few years later. We can’t recall his name and wonder if you might be able to throw some light on the subject from this sketchy information.”
Annette La Mariana Nahinu founded La Mariana Sailing Club in 1955. Back then, 13 members joined. Each paid $2 plus 50 cents a month for a boat slip.
Nahinu told me many years ago that her South Seas tiki bar decorations mostly came from Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic’s and Tahitian Lanai.
Nahinu said a Japanese investor appeared at her door back in 1992 and offered $5 million for the lease.
They settled on $7.8 million. Nahinu demanded cash — American dollars, not yen — in a suitcase. But before it could happen, the Japanese economy’s bubble burst and the deal fell through.
Still, Nahinu got to keep the $400,000 cash down payment.
Nahinu died in 2008 at age 93. She had no family and left the sailing club in a trust to her employees. Last year they signed a new, 20-year lease, so expect to be able to enjoy them for a long time to come.
The pianist Leroux asked about is Ron Miyashiro, and while retired, he’s still very much alive and well regarded. He and his friends moved to La Mariana when their previous spot, the Tahitian Lanai, closed in 1997. They later moved to the Pagoda hotel.
My friend Jim Anderson suggested I write about the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook on Hawaii Island.
The hotel is at the 1,400-foot elevation overlooking Kealakekua Bay and the City of Refuge.
It was founded in 1917 by Kinzo Manago and his picture bride, Osame Nagata. They came to Hawaii around 1912. A $100 loan from a former employer helped them begin.
They began selling udon, coffee, sake, bread and jam out of their home to cabdrivers and salesmen. They let guests sleep on cots, tatami mats and futons in one large room, if they needed a place to stay in 1917, for $1 a night.
They added a second floor and restaurant as the business grew to over 66 rooms.
Their son Harold, and his wife, Nancy, took over in 1942, when none of Harold’s seven siblings wanted to do it. During the war the hotel catered mostly to soldiers who had occupied Konawaena High School.
Grandson Dwight Manago and his wife, Cheryl, manage the Manago Hotel today. They claim to be Hawaii’s oldest restaurant, and I have no reason to doubt them.
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 provides personal experiences that enrich the column. I invite you to join in and be an Insider at RearviewMirrorInsider.com. Mahalo!