From Our Files: Moments from Hawai‘i’s Past—July Edition

A look back at Honolulu from July 1955 to 1995. Stories taken from the archives of Paradise of the Pacific and HONOLULU Magazine.

Our History

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.




It’s getting harder to figure out the backgrounds of Hawai‘i’s beauty pageant contestants, Paradise notes. The annual Ka Palapala beauty contest, founded in 1937, traditionally had seven ethnic categories, Japanese, Korean, Caucasian, Chinese, Hawaiian, Filipina and Cosmopolitan, but, in 1955, “Our girls swim, surf, hula, speak the patois of an American campus. As is usual with children of immigrating peoples, they have dropped the mannerisms which once distinguished the women of Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines. All—and this includes the Caucasian—have taken on something essentially Hawai‘i. Call it Aloha.”




HONOLULU shows another side of a notable Hawaiian musician. “Palani Vaughan the fitness devotee can be seen three days a week at the Central YMCA. There, in a cavernous gymnasium filled with men and women of all ages, you’ll find him clad in shorts, working hard in what is possibly the most rigorous exercise program on the island. Called Sports Conditioning, it stretches, flexes and exercises the whole body in an hour of perpetual motion to music—usually fast. Says Vaughan, ‘After two months of this class, I can really feel the difference. Everything’s toned up.’”



The Rev. Al Miles digs into the state of race relations in Hawai‘i. “In the past two-and-a-half years, many whites have, unsolicited, told me how they now understand the ‘plight’ of African-Americans and other minorities because of ‘all the racism’ they have experienced in Hawai‘i,” he writes. Intrigued, he interviewed more than 40 white people. “I wondered if they’d have tales of crosses being burned on the lawns of their expensive homes, lava rocks flying through their windows, and lynchings and other brutal murders being carried out in the gusty trade winds of the night.” Instead, Miles says, his sources had mostly vague sentiments to share, the strongest words coming from a recent Boston transplant who had trouble getting service at Liberty House Ala Moana. “The store clerk, one of them [Japanese], wouldn’t even look up or talk to me,” she said. “They might as well rename that place ‘The Japanese Mall.’” 






Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at


Did you know? In 1995, the Honolulu Police Department reports there are 192 gangs in Hawai‘i, with exactly 1,992 members. Sample gang names: Sons of Samoa, Waipahu Stoney Boiz and girl group RAD-ATTAC-TAC.