|Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg
December 1967. I was going to Honolulu to spend New Year’s Eve with my cousin June Hibdon and her family. Before leaving Los Angeles my brother took our mother and me to lunch at another of his favorite luncheon restaurants, Au Petit Cafe in Hollywood.
Then I was off to LAX with a short wait for my flight and a little time to relax.
|Then Honolulu. Almost from the moment I left the plane my family began a whirlwind tour — first draping me with many sweetly scented flower leis.
Then a catch-up visit at their beautiful house before we were off to visit Pearl Harbor and to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I was surprised that Honolulu was so urban. I don’t know what I expected. Certainly not Gaugin and sloe-eyed Polynesian women in vividly flowered sarongs riding white horses under coconut palms, but I didn’t think there’d be a crowded freeway! But there it was: a crowded freeway!
| At the house, my cousin, June showed me a small coconut palm growing in a bucket partially filled with water. I was amazed when she told me that the coconut had been placed in the bucket less than a week before and the palm was already about two feet high! That was more like what I expected!
We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve at home which was fine with me. All around us was the sound of fireworks celebrating the arrival of 1968!
On January 2nd, my cousin, her husband Milt, and son Dennis were invited to the home of friends named Sheriff (surprisingly) in the Niu Valley.
|Milt at the Sheriff’s house.|
|We went for dinner at a restaurant called Hon Kung in Honolulu.|
|The next day we were off to Waikiki.|
|It was also more urbanized than I would’ve expected.
We visited shopping areas and walked along near the beach. I was beginning to wonder where the real Hawaiians were. Were there any “real Hawaiians?”
|The next day, Dennis dismantled the large Christmas tree and as he packed the ornaments back into their boxes I visited with June as she did her nails.
And in the evening we were back on the town in Honolulu. Dinner at Wo Fat Ltd. on Hotel Street.
Dennis, who was 15 had invited his friend, Steve Fikes.
|The next day I was shown the colonial House Marketplace, an interesting experience but not really very different from a mainland shopping mall except for a Polynesian and oriental focus.|
|After leaving we went for a beautiful dinner at the Royal Hawaiian.|
|They then took me to a club called Gaugin where jazz pianist Joe Bushkin was playing. Coincidentally, I had just done an illustration for a Columbia Records: Joe Bushkin LP! Joe Bushkin Turns Doctor Dolittle On.|
|When I ordered a drink I was asked to show an ID! Sort of a compliment — but not when you’re over 30! I was over 30!|
| I had June and Milt write and sign this because if I told people, they wouldn’t believe it! And to look under 20 when you’re over 30 doesn’t seem too complimentary for a man! At least not this man!
During a break in the music I introduced myself to Joe Bushkin and told him that I’d done his LP!
The next night was more of the same; this time at The Kahala Hilton with a show featuring a local celebrity, Danny Kaleikini.
|Kaleikini had just started at the Kahala Hilton in 1967 but would continue there for thirty years! He performed in front of every celebrity who came to Honolulu!|
|And these were the most amazing Tahitian dancers!|
|The next day June and Milt entertained. The guests were Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge Durbrow.|
|Durbrow had had an amazing career in the State Department.
Until 1961 he’d been the Ambassador to South Vietnam until he was replaced by President Kennedy.
I’d noticed that during my trip, the people with whom I’d come in contact were supportive of the Vietnam War and I was getting the impression that Oahu in general agreed with the US government’s positions. Even my cousins were critical of a lack of support for the war.
Durbrow having been the Ambassador to South Vietnam during the buildup to the war, there were a thousand things I’d have loved to ask him but considering the circumstances, I let it go.
I still think about it though.
And then we went to Duke Kahanamoku’s.
The real Duke Kahanamoku was the person who made surfing popular. He died 17 days after we visited the club named in his honor.
|The headliner here was Don Ho, who was at that time possibly the most popular entertainer in Hawaii.
He wrote the song, “Tiny Bubbles.”
|But finally it was time to leave and go back to real life! It had been a wonderful trip and even though I was surprised by many things aside from the attitude about Vietnam — for example, most of the entertainment venues we went to were decorated with silk plants and flowers in a place where a coconut in a bucket of water can produce a two-foot plant in a matter of days! — aside from that, it was great to spend time with my cousins and finally to get to Hawai’i!|
|I dined out on stories for years!
|Contact Bob here.|