Posts Tagged With: Waikiki

Memories are made of this

I have always thought about doing this, but then wondered if it was a good idea.  Today I decided to try it.  This could be chapter 15 of my book “A Wish Called Wanda,” but in the end decided not to include it. I just kept thinking that someday I would blog it.  Today is that day.  The pictures of Hawaii used in this blog will be from my most recent trip in April, however the story is from 1997, our 29th wedding anniversary.  I hope you enjoy each short segment of this unusual post.

The Years have passed,

the kids are grown, so

we’re going back to where

the love seeds were sown.

 

It was the year that Dick and I started dating again. Not that we had ever stopped “seeing” each other or that we made a drastic change in our normal routine, but because I worked a lot of three to eleven shifts, when we did have an evening to spend together, we called it a “date.” That simple adjustment with a bit more concentration on paying attention to one another led to some great times on our “dates.” Most of them consisted of watching a movie at home or one of our favorite TV programs. Sometimes Dick would make us a cup of tea and a special dessert we call coffee cakes.

In early April of that year, my friend, Anna and I purchased tickets to the musical play “Forever Plaid” at a local theater. Since Dick was taking me to Hawaii for our 29th anniversary, I wanted to do something big also—–OK——not as big, but this was to be a really nice date. The tickets were for May 30th 1997, just two days before our 29th anniversary.

On the big night Mel and Anna, and Dick and I met up with another couple, and had a nice dinner at a restaurant on the way to the theater. The show was excellent, bringing back teenage memories with songs from the fifties. We laughed so hard our faces and stomachs hurt. Dick and Mel, not your regular enthusiastic play goers, laughed and enjoyed the antics and old songs as much as anyone. On the way home we drove into Gettysburg to the Lincoln Dinner for dessert, and did not get home till midnight. This was a real date for empty nestors!

Now all we had to do was wait for the long time in the planning trip to Seattle for Dick’s nephew’s wedding on June 21st.  We had written my former roommate in Hawaii (in 1966,) Karen and her husband John asking them to make the trip to Hawaii with us as they lived near Seattle. Her first response to our quite unexpected letter, explaining the wedding, and the fact that we were half way there being on the west coast, was simply a card with nothing else on it but a huge lettered YES! I danced with delight the day it arrived.

It was fun to be with the grandchildren on their first flight. The captain welcomed them aboard by name, and while we were flying through the clouds, five year old Zachary looked up at his mother and asked, “Are we in heaven yet?” The snacks kept coming, but Zach and Jake were hungry and fussy by the time we landed in Seattle. We kept promising them food. A trip to the local fish and chip place was the first thing on the to do list after landing. However, as soon as the boys got in a moving car they fell fast asleep and did not awake till breakfast time.

We had four days in Seattle and made the most of them. We spent time with Dick’s family, attended the wedding, took the kids to parks, the zoo and the waterfront aquarium. On that day Jake had three bananas he wanted to take along to feed the sharks and he wouldn’t be talked out of it. When we exited the first building he saw a body of water he decided it was time. We broke off a shark sized piece of banana and let him throw it in the water. We were in the midst of telling him that a shark would surly come up and get it sometime, when a seagull swooped down and picked it up. We think that the gull almost choked on it, because of its size, and it also looked like he had never tasted banana before. Jake got a big kick out of the whole episode and it satisfied his desire to feed the sharks.

Very early Tuesday morning we were meeting Karen and John at the airport and the rest of our family were leaving later for home. We had said our good-byes to the kids going home, and to Dick’s family on Monday night. In the morning we were saying Hello to our big new adventure, and our long time friends.

Every time we made a trip to Seattle, which we had done several times over the years, we made a point to see Karen and John. They always lived somewhere close Seattle where we could spend a day of our family time with them. So Dick and the kids had gotten to know them through these visits.

We landed in Honolulu in the late afternoon, following the five hour flight across the ocean. It was warm and sunny, we picked up our luggage, and a Buick at the rent a car. John volunteered to drive, Dick was happy to navigate. We headed for Waikiki.

My first overwhelming thought was, WOW! Things are really crowded. There were major freeways and buildings everywhere, while I remembered, two lane highways and a lot more open space. Our condo was right in the heart of Waikiki beach area, on Kuhio Avenue. We had a one bedroom, with a hide-a- bed couch in the living room and a small kitchen, on the 26th floor. Standing on our lanai was quite windy, but the view was wide spread, overlooking the distant mountain where, years ago, we would drive late at night to gaze on the lights below. Now that same hillside was dotted with houses all the way to the top. To the right we could get a glimpse of the ocean.

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We took a little time to settle in then went out for a walk straight up our old stomping grounds of Kalakua Avenue. Karen and I were giddy. As she was pointing out things to John he had never seen before, Dick and I were looking for familiar things. The street names were the first things that came back to us. Kuhio Beach was right across from where we came off of our street and remains the main public beach on Waikiki. We recognized the Moana Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian which is still low and pink while squeezed in among the high rise hotels around it.

Here is a view from the Top of Waikiki restaurant in April 2015

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The International Market place has changed from a surreal, exotic walk in the park with cute little shops and open air jazz and piano bars, to a crowded touristy, trinket shop stop, but is still at the same place.

 

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This is what International Market Place looks like in April 2015.  Perhaps progress has been made to restore it to a semblance of what it was in the 60’s.

Stay tuned, the fun is just beginning.

 

 

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Everything Changes

“Everything changes.” He was saying, “Even in your home town, things change over the years.”  I was speaking with a Hawaiian man who I caught up with on the street and asked him if he had lived here long.  “All my life.”  He replied.  I had asked him if he remembered one of my favorite restaurants from 50 years ago when I lived in Honolulu for over 3 years.  Oh yes He remembered Coco’s, one of his favorite restaurants as well.  “Long gone,” he said,”It changed to Hard Rock Cafe then Hard Rock moved to Waikiki and there is no trace of Coco’s.”    We agreed that every thing changes over time, but still some things remain the same and brings back the memories of times gone by.   Thus the reason for my most recent trip to Oahu, Hawaii.  While writing my youthful memoirs, I once again became familiar with the way things used to be, and I was curious to know what the changes were and if I would recognize anything.  I am pleased to tell you that the answer is yes.  Many things, not the least of which is the beauty of the land itself, remain the same.

When people find out that I have written a book, the first thing they want to know is what it is about.   The answer is really quite simple.  “A Wish Called Wanda”  is about the foundation of my life.   The part of my life I chose to write about ends at age 23, but what I experienced, and the choices I made in those first 23 years set the path for my life. Everyone could write that story.  I loved those days of my life, I wanted to savor the moments, and tell about those years as a legacy to all who would embrace joy for life.  After researching and reviewing the events of my youth, getting it in print and published, I had a great desire to revisit the places where the memories were made.  I took along my sweet friend, Lisa, who helped get the book in print and my dear friend, Deanna, who proved to be a great asset to us as we traveled.DSCF4083

The airplane movie screen teased us with scenes of the lush beauty of the land.  A picture like this one captured my heart at age 19 and made me want to experience the reality of it. A waterfall sets the opening scene in the book.

DSCF4087The airport drew out our cameras to capture first impressions.

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Our taxi dropped us off on Saratoga Road to the place I came 50 years ago to spend my first three nights in Honolulu.  Later my apartment was located on this spot.  I have a picture of me taken in front of this tree, as a young girl.

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Waikiki, so much has changed and still much the same.

Thank God they can’t change this.

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There are things about the Island that cannot be changed and I like to think about those, rather than to dwell on the expensive shops and massive amounts of hotels that have invaded Waikiki in the past 50 years.

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My beloved Ft DeRussy, where I spent many a happy hour, is changed but her beauty still lingers and proximity to that breath-taking blue water and our hotel is still the same.  In life as well as in places things change and sometimes we wish for things as they were.

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Like the glass elevator in the Ilikai Hotel that let you see over the opposite end of Waikiki for miles, gone now because of the many hotels that obscure the view.  We did find a hotel up the road that offers at least some of that view from their glass elevator.  I was happy to find another glass elevator in the area.

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Diamond Head is the Icon that hasn’t changed, but something about it has.  Fifty years ago only military personnel could go inside the crater.  Today anyone can climb to the summit and enjoy beautiful views of the ocean and city.  When I say anyone that includes me.  We had a goal to climb to the peak and we did it.  Stay tuned for the next blog climbing the number one icon of Waikiki.

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