Entries in the 'Hawaii' Category

August 31, 2010

Humu Kon Tiki Readers Share Memories of the Waikikian

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:27 am
From the collection of Tim Haack, via Critiki

A July 2006 Humu Kon Tiki post about a postcard I’d found from the Waikikian Hotel has something special happening in the comments section. Every few months (including just a few days ago) someone posts a memory about their own time spent at this historic hotel. They are enchanting to read, and a stirring reminder of the deep impact tropical experiences can have on people:

Judy Hall, August 23rd, 2006:

I cried the day that I heard they were tearing down the Waikikian. To me this was the most interesting hotel in all of Honolulu…..the most historic looking.

The lounge was the best place to hear the locals sing and sip mai-tais.

The world is a sadder place for it’s loss…..all those young lovers looking for a truly romantic place.

I’ll be eternally grateful for this postcard that you published for all of us.


Corey Pruden, October 6th, 2006:

I grew up at the Waikikian. Every year (sometimes two and three times a year) my grandparents, Midge and Richard, would bring my twin sister, Candice, and myself to The WAikikian where we would get our towels at the lagoon from Turkey, eat banana muffins and french toast with coconut syrup at the Tahitian Lanai, and walk down Waikiki to surf or just hang in front of the Rainbow Hilton swimming to the reef or catching crabs near the helicopter pad. I’m taking my kids there next month and will probably cry at all of the changes!!

Nick, November 27th, 2007:

I stayed 10 days at the Waikikian in January 1962, my first visit to Hawaii, which triggered a love affair between me and the islands. I’ve been back 7 times since then, sparked by that memorable stay, but Waikiki has changed. There were fewer hotels then, but now it’s a concrete jungle. My 2nd visit was 32 years later in 1994 when the Waikikian was still around, and although I didn’t stay there I went there for breakfast poolside a couple of times, when they served their famous Eggs Benedict, spicy Portuguese Sausage, and Hash Browns made from scratch. A couple of years later, I saw them pull down that hiotel and I could have wept. Such is progress!

Back in 1962, my self-contained room, literally surrounded by tropical plantlife, was at ground level, and every evening at dusk while enjoying a drink on my lanai, a Hawaiian lady in a muu-muu would come around playing a ukelele and softly singing Hawaiian songs. And every evening I found a scented plumeria blossom on my pillow.

I particularly remember the Piano Bar, and the pianist who, I think, was blind.

Much water under the bridge since then.

The Waikikian was filmed in the movie titled “And the Sea Will Tell,” about a real murder that took place on Palmyra Island.

And what can I say about the Waikikian’s fabulous “sail” roof that covered the entrance lobby where one checked in.

That was the real Hawaii to me. Now, Waikiki seems to be losing its identity, its Hawaiianness. For newcomers, it may seem Hawaiian, but to me, who saw it before Waikiki fell victim to land developers, it will never be the same.

Honolulu Airport back in 1962 comprised several quonset huts where Customs check our baggage on trestle tables. Now, Honolulu International Airport is a large sprawl.

Despite this, I have gone back almost every other year since I retired. I can’t seem to stay away. Call of the islands, I guess.

The Waikikian’s famous lobby, from the collection of Mimi Payne at Arkiva Tropika

Marsha Lever, May 7th, 2009:

I stayed at the Waikikian my honeymoon in 1972. I remember so well the authenticity of the polynesian architecture. There was a little flower shop in the corner of the lobby and a woman sat and strung plumeria leis. I would buy a bunch of gardenias every day, open them in a sink of warm water and put them in my hair every night. What a romantic I am and what a romantic place it was. I am so sorry that it has been torn down. A precious part of Oahu is gone for ever. Too bad.

Mike Nervik, July 4th, 2009:

My dad worked for TWA and took us to the Waikikian during my senior year in high school (1970)..remember a steak and shake joint across the street…the Ala Moana shopping center, riding a rental bicycle up into the preserve and getting lost…remember the Lania rooms and the lagoon…so sad its gone

paula, September 17th, 2009:

My parents took me annually to the Waikikiian hotel on vacation for over a decade where my sisters & I learned the “hukilau” hula…words and all from Aunt Tillie & Mary who sang & played the ukulele nightly. They took the time to write words to several songs for us to take home one year. In 1981, we moved to Waikiki, where we lived just next door & went to the restaurant & bar almost daily. I missed Uku, the green parrot who greeted me until someone stole him. I miss my “hukilau ladies.” I miss Marian who played the piano in the evenings. I miss the bartenders…Hannibal, Danny, Larry & Tony. I miss the bold welcome & unconditional acceptance by all when we entered the “TL” (which the locals affectionately named the bar). My last trip to Honolulu was in 1994…before the Waikikian closed. I graduated high school in 1987 & always found a reason & the money to return to the place I called home…until the Waikikian closed. A large piece of my past has gone with the Waikikian. My heart still aches & my tears still fall whenever I think of the wonderful piece of paradise that is no longer. One thing is certain. I have my memories, my pictures & my videos, but I will never stay at a greedy Hilton hotel again.

Poolside at the Tahitian Lanai, from the collection of Mimi Payne at Arkiva Tropika

Kele, April 20th, 2010:

The Waikikian was the best! I only saw it in person one night, a wonderful evening in late July 1994. We ate poolside at the Tahitian Lanai and spent a wonderful few hours singing in the piano bar with the regulars. When the staff told me the story of how there had been plans to close the place up before but they were still holding on & just barely at that, I felt that the Waikikian & Tahitian Lanai had held on & waited for me. It wasn’t til just a couple years ago that I found out the rest of the story.

I search on the internet nearly every day looking for more info/pics/memories. Hearing from Paula’s previous post, gives me hope to carry on, she has ‘memories, pictures & videos.’ I would absolutely love to be fortunate enough to glimpse those & other tokens of what I consider one of the most magical places in the world.

Lisa, August 19th, 2010:

I,too will miss this little piece of paradise. It was unpretentious, lush and lovely. The people there were amazing, and although we did not spend much to stay there, we were treated as though a fortune was spent. We had mimosas ready at check-in and flowers on the pillows at night. Every morning I ate coconut waffles with coconut syrup and Kona coffee outside.

It was my first and only trip to Hawaii. I loved it so much I cried when I left. I wanted to stay there with the local friends we met forever.
When I heard of its plans for demolition, I was and still am, saddened. There never will be another place like it.

Carla, August 23rd, 2010:

My husband and I stayed at the Waikikian on our Honeymoom the day that we were married in September of 1961…almost 50 years ago.

When we arrived, there were orchids all over the bed and around the room. In the lobby, there was a pineapple juice machine for all to enjoy. And the talking parrot in the round cage.

THe Tahitian Lanai resturant was a favorite of many in Honolulu and of ours too. Every evening, they lit the torches around the hotel.

Out beyond, was the wonderful lagoon full of fish.

I cherish the postcard that I have kept as a rememberance.

Wonderful memories and still married to the same man, my highschool sweetheart!

Reading the post, above, brings to mind the hula dancers who met each airplane that arrived. THey danced on a wood platform in fromt of the quonset hut
All that remains now is the Waikikian name on the Hilton. I am happy for that!

Ahhhhh… can’t you just picture it now? Mahalo nui loa to all who have allowed us to live vicariously through them for a moment, by sharing their memories here.

I will echo Kele’s sentiment above: I would love to see more of people’s photographs and memorabilia from the Waikikian! If you have items to share, please please pretty please consider sharing them via Critiki’s pages for the Waikikian and the Tahitian Lanai. Critiki is Humu Kon Tiki’s sister site, a not-for-profit archive of tiki locations. Any images you can add to the archive are always greatly appreciated—not just by me, but by all other lovers of these pieces of Polynesian paradise.

August 27, 2010

Ozzie & Harriet’s Fancy Luau with Harry Owens

Filed under: Hawaii,History,People,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:27 am

Oh dear… I haven’t spent much time watching Ozzie & Harriet, but based on this 1957 clip I’d say they sure earned that reputation for corniness. If ever there was a party that needed its punch spiked, it’s this weirdly stiff affair.

Thank goodness someone thought to invite Harry Owens to the party. Harry Owens was the bandleader at the legendary Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, starting in 1934. He had a big role in developing the hapa haole sound that defined “Hawaiian” music for at least a generation, and he enjoyed introducing tourists from the mainland with aspects of traditional Hawaiian culture. He plays that role in this clip, too, by sprinkling the luau with Hawaiian fun facts. It’s a treat to see him in action, and the outfits are pretty covet-worthy, too.

Mahalo to Murph for the tip!

July 23, 2008

The Diamond Head Game

Filed under: Hawaii,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:55 am
Posted by RandomManA

I have never, ever heard of this. The Diamond Head Game, with your host, Bob Eubanks! In his ’70s best! This was submitted by Bora Boris, who does remember it, and says it was pretty much all downhill after the opening. Which I can believe. The video quality here isn’t great, but it’s still pretty captivating.

So, what’s the grand prize for a game show that’s being played by people already on a dream vacation to Hawaii? A dream vacation to Paducah?

November 11, 2006

This Week at Arkiva Tropika

Filed under: Arkiva Tropika,Central California,Hawaii,History,Las Vegas,San Diego,San Francisco,Seattle,Tiki,Trader Vic's — Humuhumu @ 5:54 pm

A weekly review of my favorite among the many items Mimi Payne has posted to her Arkiva Tropika website in the past seven days:

Trader Vic's Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika
Trader Vic’s Trading License, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a souvenir Trading License, given to customers in the ’40s at Trader Vic’s, granting the recipient “trading privileges.” This one was granted in 1945 to a couple after having dinner & a scorpion at the Oakland location.

Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika
Detail of a menu from the Islander in Stockton, from Arkiva Tropika

This is a bit hard to make out here, but I love this bit from a menu from the Islander in Stockton. “The Gourmet Deluxe Dinner” (“For those discriminating people”) cost $4.75 per person, and was served with a bottle of Paul Masson Rose Wine. Also: “The Islander is available for private parties, fashion shows or any special activity.”

Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika
Menu from Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, from Arkiva Tropika

This 1952 dinner menu, from the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, is just dag-flippity gorgeous. The artwork and color palette look like they could have come straight from a vintage rayon aloha shirt. The Halekulani, and its famous House Without a Key restaurant & bar, are still operating today.

'60s or '70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s or ’70s postcard from the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

With the sad news about the remodeling of the Islands Restaurant at San Diego’s Hanalei Hotel this week, Mimi pulled out a lot of great Hanalei & Islands items from her collection. Above is a great postcard from the ’60s or ’70s, showing how the front of the hotel used to look, including its famous sign, which was sadly removed a few years back.

'60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s brochure for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

This brochure from the 1960s has lots of full-color pictures from the Hanalei’s heyday, inclulding views of the Islands Restaurant.

'60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard for the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego, from Arkiva Tropika

Another postcard from the Hanalei has two different views of the Islands Restaurant.

Page from a '60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika
Page from a ’60s cocktail menu from the Islands restaurant, from Arkiva Tropika

And this ’60s cocktail menu, from the early days of the Islands restaurant, features some fantastic illustrations of tropical cocktails.

'60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s appetizer menu from Aku Aku in Las Vegas, from Arkiva Tropika

Another item inspired by a recent closing — this 1960s appetizer menu is from the Aku Aku in Las Vegas, which was part of the Stardust Casino for 20 years. Aku Aku closed in 1980, but the Stardust closed just last week.

'60s postcard from Trader Vic's in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika
’60s postcard from Trader Vic’s in Seattle, from Arkiva Tropika

This postcard shows the exterior entrance to the Trader Vic’s in Seattle, which was in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (today it’s the Westin). The Seattle location was Vic’s second restaurant, after the original Oakland location; it was initially named the Outrigger, and was renamed Trader Vic’s later on to be consistent with the rest of the chain. This picture is from the 1960s. Trader Vic’s used birdcage lamps like these in several locations; when the Seattle Trader Vic’s closed in 1992, some of these lamps went to the then-new Crocodile Cafe a few blocks north, where they can still be seen today — perhaps even the lamps in this very postcard!

Gadzooks, Mimi went on a posting rampage this week! This is truly just a smidge of all the great things she posted — be sure to check it all out yourself at Arkiva Tropika.

October 1, 2006

Scooby Doo: A Tiki Scare Is No Fair

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:19 pm

Scene from “A Tiki Scare is No Fair”, courtesy of Scooby-Doo.com

In my post earlier this summer about a totally groovy, early-’70s Hanna-Barbera-themed party I went to, I mentioned a “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” episode where the gang goes on a Hawaiian vacation; the episode had generated some discussion on Tiki Central. It’s titled “A Tiki Scare is No Fair,” and it aired on October 17, 1970. I haven’t seen the whole episode, but Warner Bros. has posted the last two minutes of the episode on YouTube to promote Scooby-Doo.com. This clip includes a dramatic chase through a thatch-covered hut, a giant robot-monster-Aztec-tiki god thing (which probably makes more sense if you’ve seen the episode), a suspicious witch doctor, and the requisite totally-shocking unmasking. It’s worth watching for Fred & Daphne’s spastic dance alone, but those who have harbored a secret Velma crush will thrill to see her swingin’ her hula hips.

September 28, 2006

Last Remnants of Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki Sent to Dumpster

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Las Vegas,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 3:29 pm
Last remnants of Don the Beachcomber at Waikiki's International Marketplace
Last remnants of Don the Beachcomber
at Waikiki’s International Market Place,
photo from Fil Slash

A tragic and shocking development in Waikiki: these two moai posts, which are the last reminders of Don the Beachcomber’s glorious presence at the International Market Place in Waikiki, have reportedly been sent to the dump.

These moai used to stand sentry at the Dagger Lounge and Bora Bora Bar part of Don the Beachcomber. The original Don the Beachcomber location in Hollywood kicked off the entire Polynesian Pop trend; he led the charge once again after he moved to Hawaii, and created the International Market Place with his Don the Beachcomber restaurant as the centerpiece. The International Market Place also held a Trader Vic’s, and became a major tourist hub in Waikiki.

This space is being renovated to accomodate a new Quicksilver store, and local tikiphiles have been keeping a close eye on the renovations. Despite assurances that there were no plans to remove the structural moai posts, they are now missing. Remarkably, the construction crew reportedly tossed them in to a dumpster that was taken to the dump.

It’s a terrible shame that a lovely piece of the International Market Place’s history has been treated so shabbily, and that the location of these tikis is now complately unknown. It seems hard to believe that anyone would actually throw them away; perhaps they went home with a member of the construction crew. There have been rumblings about Don the Beachcomber re-opening in Las Vegas; I’m not sure how that’s coming along, but surely that would have been a better home for these historic tikis than the dump.

UPDATE: Holden Westland, owner of Tiki Farm, passes along this news via Tiki Central:

I am happy to let you all know that I received a phone call with the whereabouts of these 2 special Moai and they are safe and will soon be revitalized in a place very befitting of their dignity not too far from their original location.

Verrrrry mysterious… but it sure sounds a lot better than the dump.

September 7, 2006

La Mariana Up for Sale

Filed under: Hawaii,History,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:22 pm
Annette Nahinu at La Mariana, photo by Gregory Yamamoto for the Honolulu Advertiser
Annette Nahinu at La Mariana, photo by Gregory Yamamoto for the Honolulu Advertiser

Annette Nahinu, owner of Honolulu’s La Mariana Sailing Club, is looking to sell. La Mariana is a longtime institution, the last of the true old-style tiki bars still in operation on the island. Nahinu is turning 92 later this month, and wants to ensure La Mariana will continue after she’s gone; she has no heirs, and needs to make plans now before it’s too late. She plans to donate some of the proceeds from the sale to the University of Connecticut, her alma mater; she says it was the only university willing to admit her. One of her special terms: she wants to continue to live in the apartment home above La Mariana until she dies.

One of the regulars quoted in a Honolulu Advertiser article says:

It’s the last authentic taste of Hawai’i… It’s the absolute, true feel of old Hawai’i.

This is interesting, since La Mariana, like the many other restaurants, hotels and nightclubs that sprung up in Hawaii during the heavy tourist years of the 1950s and 1960s, wasn’t authentic Hawaiian — it was manufactured to deliver on visitors’ idealized expectations of Hawaii. These expectations were partially set by tourists’ visits to Polynesian restaurants back home — which in turn had their basis in the minds of Hollywood-type decorators and designers, probably more than any actual knowledge of the then-exotic islands. The restaurants and bars of Honolulu did, however, develop their own local character that set them apart from their mainland forebears, thanks especially to the wonderful musical performances there, and the unique social world of the people who lived and worked there. La Mariana likely does deliver a feel of old Hawaii, if your definition of “old Hawaii” is the middle of the last century.

La Mariana was opened by Annette Nahinu more than 50 years ago, and it has become a sort of resting place of Waikiki’s storied Polynesian Pop past; tikis there came from the Sheraton’s Kon-Tiki, lamps came from the Trader Vic’s, and tables and chairs came out of the Don the Beachcomber. It’s all a bit worse for the wear, but thank goodness it’s still somewhere to be admired and enjoyed. With luck, someone who respects the history represented at La Mariana will purchase it and ensure its continued longevity.

July 28, 2006

Postcard from the Waikikian Hotel

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:59 pm
Postcard from the Waikikian Hotel
Postcard from the Waikikian Hotel

I recently found this postcard from the Waikikian Hotel in Waikiki; it was one of the most dramatic examples of modern Polynesian architecture, designed by Pete Wimberley. It was one of the main tourist hotels during the height of the midcentury love for all things exotic and tropical and Hawaiian. This is a nice view of the lobby, but what I love best is what’s written on the reverse:

Reverse of postcard
Reverse of postcard

2/ And here is the Waikikian – built like the prow of a nature ship – where I spend my final week in a “jungle suite” + my “half gone native” room mate with her Hawaiian boyfriend hovering. Now that I’ve moved to the centre of tourist activity “on the strip” I begin to be glad of the Waikikian week – believe it is rightfully the best surviving proponent of old Hawaiian hospitality – despite the bell boys who persistently put an arm across my shoulder + an obsequious manager who persisted in addressing me as Miss Jones! The “Jungle” tapers off to a bay lost beyond this picture – to the right beyond the glaring electric sign. Lobby illumination so “full of atmosphere” too dim to even read newspaper headlines.

It’s apparently #2 in a series of postcards used to log someone’s trip. It’s far more interesting than the typical “The weather is amazing here, I don’t want to come home!” business normally to be found on these old postcards.

April 24, 2006

True ‘Okolehao to Hit Market Soon

Filed under: Hawaii,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:11 pm

There have been rumblings about true ‘okolehao becoming available again for the past couple of years, but I don’t think anyone was holding their breath for it to actually come to fruition. Now comes word that it’s getting much closer to being a reality.

‘Okolehao is an old-fashioned, moonshine sort of a liquor, made by Hawaii locals using the root of the ti plant. In recent years, a liqueur labelled “Okolehao” had been available, but it was almost cordial-like, and bore little resemblance to the real deal. There are a few old cocktail recipes that call for ‘okolehao, and some also like sipping it straight — it has a taste a bit like a sweet tequila.

The new production is being done by Sandwich Islands Distilling Company, on Maui. An article nearly three years ago in the Honolulu Advertiser laid out the company’s plans to produce a true ‘okolehao, and today a representative from the company announced on Tiki Central that they are planning to start selling under the “Nine Islands Okolehao” label this summer. No word yet on how we will be able to get our grubby little hands on the stuff.

April 10, 2006

I Dream of Jeannie’s Hawaiian Episodes

Filed under: Hawaii,History,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:46 pm
I Dream of Jeannie goes Hawaiian
I Dream of Jeannie goes Hawaiian

On December 26, 1967 and January 2, 1968, I Dream of Jeannie went to Hawaii. In the first episode, “Jeannie Goes to Honolulu,” Don Ho guest stars, and filming took place on Waikiki Beach and at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Duke Kahanamoku’s. The second episode, “Battle of Waikiki,” has a great tiki scene at Ulu Mau Village, and a luau. Sabu the Coconut Boy has put a series of fantastic screenshots up in a thread on Tiki Central, highlighting lots of great aloha wear, leis, tikis, tropical cocktails served in tiki mugs, and scenes of late-’60s Hawaii. He has also posted links to download both of the entire episodes.

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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

- Website Design and Programming

- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s massive Polynesian Pop collection

Barefoot Bloggin’
A surfin’, ukein’, freewheelin’ monkey boy

Beachbum Berry
Author of Grog Log and Intoxica!, and one of my dearest drinkin’ buddies

Blog from the user interface designer extraordinaire

Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

Dumb Angel
A look at the 1960s Los Angeles mod, pop, surf, and music scene

Eye of the Goof
Pop culture with a tiki tinge

Forbidden Island
My Wednesday hangout, the Bay Area’s best tiki bar

Humuhumu’s Life in Photos
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Random interesting things from Humuhumu & Hanford Lemoore

Kevin Kidney
Kevin loves tiki, I love Kevin, you will too

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Periodical publication covering the wide world of Tiki

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