Hawai’i Calling (Waikiki)

The lecturers on the ship spoke about how the mainland became interested, perhaps even obsessed with Hawaii.  They mention Elvis and the movie “Blue Hawaii” where Elvis wore Aloha shirts and a Lei while playing a Ukulele.  Of course there is also Hawaii 5o on TV. But I think mainland interest in colorful shirts, flower leis and the uke well predates Elvis.

Beginning in the 1930s a live radio show “Hawaii Calls” originated from Waikiki Beach.  It was, at first, relayed by shortwave and picked up by over 700 stations.  It featured “hapa haole” music (half Hawaiian, or more accurately, half outsider).  One of the most famous hapa haole songs was “I want to back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua Hawaii, which started as a play on a mildly popular and now completely forgotten song, “I want to go back to my little black shack back in Hackensack, New Jersey.”   The song was covered by Bing Crosby and Arthur Godfry in the States.

The show opened with the host Wembly Edwards holding a mic up to catch the sound of the surf.  The show ran into the 1970s and, as a kid, was on my family’s radio every week.  It really hit it big when Godfry was a guest for three weeks and brought Haleloke Kahauolopua back to be one of the “little Godfrys” on his daily radio show and weekly TV program.  He played the Ukulele, wearing an Aloha shirt and lei while she sang.  Sometimes he would open a show with Hawaiya, Hawaya, Hawaya.

That show, as well as Frank Sinatra in “From Here to Eternity” hooked my parents on Hawaii and Waikiki Beach.  They wanted to go all their lives, and before pop died they got on a Continental Airlines non stop from Newark to Honolulu.  While I had been to Hawaii before I had never been on the sands of Waikiki or swam in the waters.  We fixed that this time.  We got on a bus for to Waikiki.

We went to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon on the beach, a bit of calm water within sound and sight of the surf. 

A local beach attendant got out a big electric drill, drilled into the hard packed sand, and set up an umbrella for Suzi and Me.

  We took our Raven Radio beach towel (You can get one for a $240 contribution to the station, in case you missed our fund drive, https://kcaw.org hit the “donate” button) and spread them out on the sand.

Went swimming, and then, with our waterproof cameras, photographed the local fish that swim in the lagoon. 

I even picked up some sun.

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