Sunday, October 16, 2011

Abandoned Blog

Note: This blog was abandoned after I messed up the template. If you are interested in Hawaiian history, culture and nostalgia, please visit my new blog here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Haleiwa Hotel

More than a year before Waikiki built its first grand hotel, visionary businessman Benjamin Dillingham opened a luxury resort hotel on a strip of land on Oahu’s North Shore. He called it “Haleiwa,” which had been the name of a girls’ dormitory built by Protestant missionaries in Waialua in the 1830s. But it's not hard to see the image of the ‘iwa bird itself — noted for its enormous, angular wingspan — reflected in the design of the hotel itself, with its elongated roofline, perched on a gentle mound.

Whereas the Moana and, later, the Alexander Young Hotel in downtown Honolulu served the traditional function of accommodating visitors, Dillingham’s hotel was conceived as part of a larger concept. Having built the Oahu Railway & Land Company, whose primary purpose was to provide a means of transporting sugar from western Honolulu and the North Shore to Honolulu Harbor, Dillingham hoped to capitalize on his investment by encouraging passenger travel as well, and his new hotel was a means to this end.

To entice passengers to take the three-hour, fifty-six mile rail journey from Honolulu to Haleiwa, Dillingham planned to develop luxurious accommodations situated in a deluxe country club setting as an end-of-line attraction. Leasing forty acres of land along the ocean and the Anahulu stream from Bishop Estate, the railroad magnate hired O. G. Traphagan, who was to design the Moana Hotel in 1901, to realize his grand scheme. As at the Moana, the architect responded with an elaborate Victorian layout, masterfully combining a sense of privileged grandeur and country informality.

When the hotel opened on August 5, 1899, guests were conveyed from the railway terminal over the Anahulu stream to fourteen luxurious guestrooms. Each room had a private bath, hot-and-cold running water, and telephone connection with the front desk. The resort offered a myriad of recreational activities including tennis, canoeing, ocean fishing, and golfing. There was an ocean-front nine-hole golf course, the second to be constructed in the islands, as well as a large concrete swimming pool of soft fresh water filled from the property’s springs.

The weekend getaway from Honolulu to the Haleiwa Hotel became hugely popular with the Island’s affluent. At the turn of the century, a round-trip, two-day excursion by train cost $10. It included an overnight stay at the hotel and a tour of the Waialua Sugar Mill (Dillingham was director of the Waialua Sugar Company). From there, visitors took a carriage ride to Wahiawa to view the pineapple plantations (Dillingham founded Hawaiian Pineapple in 1901). In effect, it was a trip through “Dillingham World.”

Ultimately however, even Dillingham could not resist the gravitational pull of Waikiki as the focus of the tourist industry. This was due in part to the newly aggressive promotion of tourism by the Honolulu Merchants’ Association and the opening in 1927 of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which instantly provided Waikiki with a hotel of worldwide distinction.

The territorial government then stepped in with two critical projects which led to private sector capital investments. The first was the construction of the Ala Wai Canal (1920-1928). The government also upgraded the harbor’s visitor reception facilities — piers 8, 9 and 10 were rebuilt between 1920 and 1924 and construction of the Aloha Tower was completed in 1926.

The Matson Navigation Company also advanced the government’s tourist agenda with the launching of the 17,000-ton Malolo in 1925. The 650-passenger luxury oceanliner was the fastest ship on the Pacific at the time, reducing the six-and-a-half day journey from San Francisco to four-and-a-half.

During the height of its popularity, the Haleiwa Hotel had made the name Haleiwa famous, and when its doors closed in 1943, its name was adopted by the surrounding community. About 1953, the aged, termite-ridden structure was torn down. Haleiwa Joe’s restaurant now stands on the site where the ‘iwa once soared.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leonard’s Bakery Sign

Leonard’s on Kapahulu Avenue has been the go-to place for malasadas since the bakery was started by Leonard DoRego in 1952. These crusty confections, brought to Hawaii by Portuguese settlers from the Azores and Madeira, once had a religious connection — they were made to use up all the lard and sugar in the house before the beginning of Lent. Malasadas were especially popular on Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Fortunately, in this heathen age we can observe Mardi Gras all year round.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 25, 2010

“Bird of Paradise” (1932)

The first screen version. This excerpt shows one of the dramatic high points of the film. Warning: the dance sequence is not exactly hula kahiko. And watch for the cool outboard-powered outrigger at the very end of the clip.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

“Bird of Paradise” (1951)

A publicity still with Debra Paget and Louis Jourdan.

This was the second cinematic rendering of the “Bird” story, following a version with Dolores del Rio and Joel McCrae from 1932, but the plot’s antecedents reach further back to a more remote era on Broadway, to a hit 1912 play of the same name by Richard Tully that starred Laurette Taylor.

Its plot only slightly resembles that of the later screenplays but is equally as melodramatic: Luana, a Hawaiian princess, redeems the soul of her lover, a beachcomber doctor who saves her people by isolating the germ that causes leprosey, and then sacrifices herself to the volcano god to save her people (again).

Despite the ludricrous story, “Bird of Paradise” brought a whiff of the erotic and the exotic, including a simulated volcano for the third act and real Hawaiian music. Though its success was limited in New York, the play was hugely popular throughout North America for over a decade between 1912 and 1924 and was revived twice in the West End of London. It made both its author and producer a fortune, which they lost and partially regained in the course of a protracted plagiarism lawsuit.

The play was also a major influence in popularizing Hawaiian performance culture throughout the US and beyond. While “Bird” was a drama, it included in the production what was purportedly authentic Hawaiian music. As only Hawaiian musicians could play in the style, Tully imported a band from the Islands known as the Hawaiian Quintette, which included the famous steel guitarist Walter Kolomoku (seen at right). Their performances led them to become so successful in their own right that they recorded the play’s incidental music for the Victor phonograph company, a recording that sold well into the 1920s.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jacques Arago

Vue of the King’s Heiau at Kealakekua.

Jacques Arago (1790-1855), the French writer, artist and explorer, was a major player in the documenting of Hawaiian life in the early nineteenth century. He arrived in the Islands in 1819 aboard the corvette Uranie, in the crew of the renown navigator Louis de Freycinet, who had been commissioned by the French government to collect data about the geography, meteorology, ethnology, and indigenous flora and fauna of the southern hemisphere.

Although the Uranie was in Hawaiian waters for only three weeks, it was at a critical point in history. Kamehameha I had died just three months earlier and the people were still in mourning. The culture was in turmoil for other reasons — the kapu system was disintegrating and there were disputes about the succession.

Ooro, One of the Principal Officers of Kamehameha II.

Arago seems to have been well received by the Hawaiians. In addition to sketching them, he often entertained them with juggling and magic tricks. He chronicled not only the lifestyles of the elite, but ordinary things such as the beating of tapa, the clothing, hairstyles and headdresses of the period — even the manner of criminal executions — and he was particularly fascinated by the Hawaiian art of tattooing.

Verbally witty and observant as well, Arago made acerbic comments about pompous chiefs and certain resident foreigners. He also made trenchant social observations, such as the following on the role of women: “The condition of women here is truly wretched ... they are treated like beings perfectly useless, except to propagate the species....”

The Manner in Which the Natives Tattoo Themselves.

The Houses of Kalaimoku, Prime Minister of the King.

The fate of the Uranie after it left Hawaii was also remarkable. Having visited such ports as Australia, Guam and the Marianas Islands, it ran aground in the Falkland Islands and Arago did not return to France until 1821.

Back in Paris, he published a comprehensive illustrated account of his experiences entitled Narrative of a Voyage Round the World. It was a great success and was reprinted countless times and translated into several languages.

Despite losing his sight in his later years, Arago continued to travel and even wrote for the theater. He died in Rio de Janeiro, leaving behind an invaluable record of Island life — over forty of his drawings can be seen at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Perhaps the most fortuitous aspect of Arago’s visit was its timing — in 1819 the Hawaiian culture, though transitioning, was still fundamentally intact. It would be another two years before the arrival of the minions of religion and the social devastation that followed.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kalakaua Avenue, 1944

Marquee Notes: “Lady in the Dark” was released in February, 1944. The coming attraction, “Girl Crazy,” was released in November, 1943. Hawaii got everything late in those days, so I’m guessing this shot was taken in front of the Waikiki Theater in late 1944 or perhaps early 1945.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Fort Street/Punahou Streetcar, 1910

Heading down Fort Street toward Honolulu Harbor in tropical whites.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Streetwise: Kalaimoku Street

The short, block-and-a-half stretch between the Ala Wai Canal and Kalakaua Avenue in the western part of Waikiki was named for the High Chief William Pitt Kalaimoku (c. 1768–1827), who was prime minister of the Hawaiian Kingdom during the reigns of Kamehameha I, Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III. He was a descendant of the King of Maui and a cousin of Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu, wife of Kamehameha I.

He adopted the name William Pitt after the Prime Minister of Great Britain, William Pitt the Younger, and liked being addressed as Billy Pitt. He was a warrior as well as a diplomat; in the battle of Kuamoʻo he defeated Kekuaokalani, a son of Kamehameha’s who led a rebellion against the succession of Liholiho, another of Kamehameha’s sons. He died in Kailua Kona, on Hawaii, in 1827.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SS Lurline

From her maiden voyage in 1933 until 1962 (with a break as a troop carrier during WW2) she plied the Pacific while plying her passengers with cognac and kümmel. It was pure luxury and pure pleasure all the way.

Matson Cocktail

1/3 shot kümmel
1/2 shot cognac
1 sugar cube
Chilled champagne
1 lemon peel
Chilled 6-oz martini glass

Pour kümmel and cognac over crushed ice in a shaker and shake gently. Place the sugar cube in the glass. Strain kümmel and cognac into glass. Add champagne to fill. Float lemon peel over the top. Sip slowly and stay away from the ship’s rail.

Labels: ,