From Our Files: Moments from Hawai‘i’s Past—December Edition
A look back at Honolulu from December 1930 to 1965. Stories taken from the archives of Paradise of the Pacific and HONOLULU Magazine.
In 1888, King Kalākaua issued a royal charter, commissioning a magazine. Then titled Paradise of the Pacific, this publication became HONOLULU Magazine, making it the oldest magazine west of the Mississippi.
Eben Low, “Hawai‘i’s most famous cowboy,” spent many years ranching on the Big Island and used to cross the frozen Lake Waiau on horseback. “Strange stories for this land of year-around open lānai, white-duck suits, iced drinks and sun-tan dresses,” Paradise writes. But many tourists still cry, “Snow in the semi-tropics! Why, that can’t be!”
Hawai‘i Kai has not yet been developed by Henry J. Kaiser. Notice the absence of Portlock below Koko Head, and no manmade islands in Kuapā Pond.
“Scrimshaw is a folk art portraying the homes, the families, the ships, the ports visited and even the dreams and desires of these lonely water-bound wanderers,” Ernie A. White writes, about sailors who etch pictures on whale teeth. “In a small shop in the former whaling port of Lahaina, in the state of ‘Owyhee,’ the brightly rigged-out tourist can for a few dollars and cents purchase a do-it-yourself kit of a previously smoothed sperm whale’s tooth and receive instructions on how to etch your own genuine scrimshaw.”
Ron Jacobs tells the story of how, in 1957, Elvis Presley came to the Islands for the first time. A radio DJ for KHVH, Jacobs remembers thinking, “How could we get to Elvis?” He teamed up with fellow DJ Tom Moffatt to pull off an elaborate hoax: “We would never be able to get to Elvis—but we could create our own Elvis!” They recruited the station’s production manager, Donn Vernon Tyler, as the world’s first Elvis impersonator and drove him around the island, calling in to the radio station to broadcast where “Elvis” was, even getting Tyler to sign a few autographs for adoring fans. “Consider, if you will, Tyler, 18, and Moffatt and I, in our 20s … about to attempt a rock ’n’ roll radio hoax of the first magnitude, involving The King,” Jacobs writes. “None of this sounds like a formula for bodily survival.” At the end of the day, Jacobs and Moffatt were called in to meet Presley and ended up emceeing his concerts.
Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at shop.honolulumagazine.com.