The Eyre Era

Remembering this magazine’s pivotal co-editors, Cynthia and David Eyre.


Published:


Cynthia and David Eyre, from our May 1971 issue. 
In 1966, this magazine changed its name from Paradise of the Pacific to HONOLULU, and changed its focus, too. No longer would it sell the virtues of the Islands and the Pacific to a Mainland readership. Instead, it would focus “on Hawaii in general and its fabulous capital city in particular” for a local audience. The new magazine’s first editors were the husband and wife team of Cynthia and David Eyre, who discharged their duties for 10 years with style, grace and fearless honesty.

To the left here is my favorite photo of the Eyres from their era. It captures their style, the magazine’s sense of humor and the changes sweeping through the city. It accompanied an article in which the Eyres, self-confessed Establishment squares, spent some time advising the staff of a new underground publication, Hawaiian Love Journal. It was cocktails versus joints; suits versus not much clothing at all; married monogamy versus free love.

Cynthia passed away in 1989; David Eyre passed away last month, at 95. I’ve always admired their era, and don’t know how they did it—editing a magazine is a full-time job, but David was also vice president of public relations for Castle  & Cooke. The heart of every issue was a collection of short, pointed items slugged “Commentary.” The items were unsigned. One supposes the critiques of society-lady fashion came from Cynthia, the political digs from David, but it hardly mattered. It was the voice of the Eyres.

Pressed to describe their “point of view,” they simply ran an illustration of an angry goat. They were critical, but always in pursuit of a better Honolulu. The Eyres set a high standard for such plain speaking. Best if I let them speak for themselves with a few quotes from “Commentary”:

Once again the community that has long loved and lauded the great Duke Kahanamoku has gone through the embarrassing performance of having the Olympic star’s personal finances discussed in public. … The caterwauling, the maudlin tears, the effusive sentimentality we have so recently witnessed are tantamount to a total dismissal of dignity. 
July 1966

[Criticizing the location of the new state Capitol under construction:] Equally disturbing is the juxtaposition of the new building to Iolani Palace and Washington Place. These old buildings are dear to all Hawaii but to plunk our new capitol between them as we have is sad, sad, sad. … The Oahu Development Conference, the State, the City & County keep talking about planning. But when does it begin? After everything has been totally and permanently fouled up?  September 1966

Maybe the trouble with the controversial DOE is a case of staff infection.
July 1973

Well, we’ve been steamrollered into Aloha Friday. A very effective lobby engineered this bit of provincialism, whereby women take off their girdles and wear non-fitting garb to the office 52 times annually, while men discard neckties and crawl into that garb known as the Aloha shirt. Did you ever hear a minority voice during the past couple of months? No! So we’ll voice one. Truth is, almost no man past 30 really looks good in an Aloha shirt. … Most have pot bellies, broad beams, hairy arms and hairy chests that are best covered. … With women, it’s just as bad. At a time when the mini skirt is the ultimate in fashion, Honolulu’s girls-with-good-gams are urged to hide them in missionary cloth. The sack! … We could get the spirit of Aloha Week once a year and wear a noisy shirt for seven days straight. … Then Aloha Friday was promoted for summer months and we thought somebody was pushing things a bit far.  Now the garment industry, well-backed, has flimflammed us into a whole year of this nonsense.  Give 'em a yardage and they'll take a mil. 
April 1967

Forty years later, those of us entrusted with this magazine try to do as the Eyres did—to love and know a place so well that we celebrate its best qualities, as we do in this "Best of Honolulu" issue, while kicking at the things that could be better.  I like to think the Eyres would approve.


 
 

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The outspoken Eyres made many a sharp observation in their “Commentary” section of HONOLULU Magazine. Here are a few more that we didn’t have room for in the March issue:


Hawaii’s Pat Saiki came to the floor of the Republican Convention in her hair curlers! That does it! We’re voting Democrat!
  September 1968

A ride—or walk—down Kalakaua Avenue these days makes one wonder if anyone’s in charge. Are the merchants ands hotel operators really doing anything to correct the drift toward shoddiness that is occurring on Waikiki’s main thoroughfare? … [U]nless the tawdry, the honky-tonk, the sleazy, the growing lack of taste are checked these qualities may very well engulf all that has been good in Waikiki.  September 1969

Ah, the audacity of the union leaders! They have pressed the pineapple and sugar industries to the wall for so many years that the owners often wonder just how long they can stay in business in Hawaii. Many of our big companies have long since searched elsewhere in order to remain solvent. … Thanks to the ever-pressing unions, our greenbelts—so worried about by state officials these days—may wind up supporting nothing more productive than lantana. 
December 1971

Well, you’d thought they’d discovered the noble bones of King Kamehameha at last for all the commotion on Diamond Head. Day after day there were cops and copters, a covey of police cars (one of them wrecked) tour buses belching big batches of shutter-happy tourists, irate residents and a whole flotilla of Hawai‘i Five-O heavy equipment parked in all directions.
     McGarrett & Co. were filing an episode (with the unlikely title “I Want Some Candy and a Gun That Will Shoot”) about a psycho GI fresh from Vietnam who holes up in one of the old Diamond Head gun emplacements with his all-day suckers and snipes away at cars below.
     When the neighbors dialed the mayor’s office and snarled about their peaceful pleasure palaces being jarred by the rotor blades and honking horns etc., Hizzoner’s office is reputed to have answered that
Five-O was good publicity for Hawaii.
    Snipers on Diamond Head? Oh come on, Frankie, baby!
August 1971

A writer we know notes that all Elks Clubs observe a solemn ceremony at 11 p.m. in their clubhouses. A part of the ceremony is for members to toast their “absent brothers”—and he wonders if those absentees are their black, brown and yellow brothers.  March 1972

Anybody listening to Fourth of July speeches this year? Probably not. Our population is now often broken into two classes when a holiday comes along: those who work like any other day and those who goof off. … “Celebration” today means loading up a case of Primo and heading for the beach … “Celebration” is also Diamond Head Crater with rock and pot. Our legislators, in fact, encouraged our people NOT to observe holidays in the manner originally intended when they converted a number of them into three-day weekends. Memorial Day, recently observed, was one of these. And the Sunday paper, once skinny on the day before a holiday, was fat, fat, fat with SALES, SALES, SALES. Glorious Memorial Day Sales … Sales to Honor the Dead.  July 1973


[On a Danny Kaleikini performance at Caesar’s Palace, attended by local politicians and media members on the casinos dime and televised locally:] You do know, don’t you, that Hawaii is a leading “sucker state” in sending aficionados to the green tables of Las Vegas? … Danny Kaleikini has become a personable fixture at the Kahala Hilton. His appearance at Caesar’s Palace was portrayed as a step up. We think it was a step down.  July 1973
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