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Astounding Honolulu

Weird, strange and intriguing things you didn't know about our Islands.


(page 4 of 7)

Photo: Honolulu Magazine Archives




Duke Kahanamoku

was named after the Duke of Edinburgh, who visited Honolulu in 1869. Lucky for the future champion swimmer and surfer that Alexander II of Russia hadn’t visited Honolulu that year or he might have been named Tsar Kahanamoku.





In the Pink:

People still argue about how Tripler Army Hospital got its pink color. Some say it’s because the Army general who commissioned the hospital liked the color of the “Pink Palace,” the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. But my favorite explanation is that building’s curmudgeonly architect wanted the hospital painted to match the red dirt of Moanalua Ridge where it sits because “that’s the color it will be when you’re through.” By the way, the original Tripler Hospital was built to care for wounded from the Spanish-American war.


Photo: David Croxford

CSI at HPD: The Early Days

The first breathalyzer used by police in Honolulu was in 1938. It was called a “drunkometer" (pictured above).  The first polygraph machine went into service at HPD in 1949. It was called a “deceptograph.”  In those days, if you flunked the drunkometer and the deceptograph you probably ended up in the prison-o-thingy.


Mark Twain Was A Surf Kook:

True story. Author Mark Twain tried surfing in Honolulu and wiped out. In his 1872 memoir he wrote: “In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three-quarters of a second without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.”


Historical Question:

King Kalakaua went to Japan in 1881 and offered Princess Kaiulani’s hand in marriage to a royal prince. It was declined. It makes you wonder. If the marriage had taken place, would Japan have bombed Pearl Harbor? Speaking of Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Army colonel,  Billy Mitchell, predicted in 1923 that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning at 7 a.m., the exact time and day the attack happened 18 years later.




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Honolulu Magazine December 2017
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