Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1920s – dredging of the Ala Wai Canal, Hawaiian Pineapple buys Lāna‘i, billboards outlawed and Honolulu Hale is completed. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world.
President Dwight D Eisenhower had approved the creation of Arizona Memorial in 1958. $500,000 was needed for its construction. The public law stipulated that the monument would be built without federal funding. Several organizations and individuals helped in the effort to raise the required amount. In 1958, the Territory of Hawaii contributed the initial $50,000. It needed more money. Colonel Tom Parker offered a benefit concert with Elvis.
Parker came to Hawai‘i and set up the show and stipulated that every cent would go toward the War Memorial fund. March 25, 1961, during his hour on stage, Elvis sang 15 songs. Appearing along with Elvis were Minnie Pearl, The Jordanaires and DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore, two members of Elvis’ original backing band. Sterling Mossman, a local Hawaiian comedian, also served as master of ceremonies and performed. “It was a crackjack show, a sellout, and the biggest single gate in the history of show business in Hawai‘i.”
A shortage of laborers to work in the growing (in size and number) sugar plantations became a challenge. The only answer was imported labor. Starting in the 1850s, labor shortages were eased by bringing in contract workers from Asia, Europe and North America. By 1884, Hawai‘i Island counted more than thirty plantations, many of them in the Hilo area. Immigrants were arriving by the thousands, mostly from Asia. They fulfilled labor contracts and afterward stayed on.
There used to be a Japanese plantation workers camp associated with Wainaku Mill known as Nikai Camp – for most, it was referred to as the Japanese Village. It became an attraction. “A mile and a half from Hilo, above the Wainaku mill, there is to be found, in a green, fern-clad valley with a sparkling stream and a dashing waterfall, a complete Japanese village, with thatched roofs and bamboo walls for its houses.” However, tragedy struck the village … “During Monday afternoon, the 15th (January 15, 1895,) the Japanese camp at Wainaku was completely destroyed by fire.”
Starting in 1934, Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt – aka Donn Beach – opened the first Polynesian motif bar in Los Angeles, just off Hollywood Boulevard, named “Don the Beachcomber”. Not to be out-done, Victor Jules Bergeron – aka Trader Vic – in 1936 converted his Oakland “pub into a South Seas tropical retreat with tiki carvings, bamboo and outrigger canoes and rechristened it “Trader Vic’s.”
The Polynesian Pop revival was underway. In the 1950s and 60s, an epidemic of island fever swept the US. Tiki-themed structures spread like jungle vines. The Polynesian restaurant boom produced from 100 to 200 restaurants. Once such made its way to uptown in the Windy City. From its opening in 1949, Honolulu Harry’s Waikiki on Wilson Avenue in Chicago, provides “entertainment direct from Hawaii” and “dancing under Hawaiian skies.” By 1959, its owner escalated the restaurant to an “authentic Hawaiian theatre restaurant.”
Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1910s – Duke Kahanamoku is Hawai‘i’s first Olympic Champion, Outdoor Circle formed, Hawai‘i National Park is formed and Lili‘uokalani dies. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world