The old Ranch House Restaurant in Aina Haina was bulldozed in the
late '80s to make way for the Metro Restaurant, also since torn down.
Construction for a Jehovah's Witnesses center began last week.

Star-Bulletin file photo

Where (____) used to be


Readers share good times at places
that still exist in memories

By June Watanabe
Star-Bulletin



Would you believe we deliberately made some errors in our "Old Places, New Places" story a few weeks back just to see if you were paying attention?

No? OK, we apologize! We goofed. We even ran a correction the next day, but that didn't stop the calls, faxes and letters, all saying what historical nitwits we were for putting KDI where the Waikiki Landmark now stands. We realize NOW that it was KC Drive In that preceded the newest structure. KC, KD, close, but no Ono Ono shake.

Anyway, there were other challenges to our collective memories, some of which we dismissed as not being as sharp as ours; but others we'll concede (Love's Bakery in Kapahulu was not where Genki Sushi is. As one writer put it: "Hey, you people! Genki Sushi's building was constructed as a Burger King in the '80s and before that, the site was a gas station. The Love's Bakery lot is still empty and it's on the makai side of the building that's next door to Genki Sushi."

Other readers showed some serious long-term recall. Former Star-Bulletin reporter Lyle Nelson, for instance, was in the newsroom in 1950 when this call came in: "Dreier Manor is on fire."

Dreier Manor is where Chunky's Drive In used to be. and this jogged Nelson's baseball memory involving Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio and the old Termite Palace (Honolulu Stadium), which stood across from Chunky's.

Here's Nelson's tale: "Few guys, right-hand hitters, could reach the left-field seats at Honolulu Stadium. Tradewinds knock down fly balls. Anyway, Joe DiMaggio, one of the all-time greats, arrives in 1944 to play for the 7th Air Force in the Hawaiian League. Supposedly, DiMaggio looked bad in first two at bats in day game at stadium. A local yells, 'Let him hit it.' The local pitcher, possibly Tuck Correa (maybe not), throws one down the middle.

"Whack! Ball flies over the bleachers in left, clears Isenberg (Street) and lands on Dreier Manor. That's the story. In my 25 years at Honolulu Stadium, I never saw anyone clear Isenberg."

An e-mailer who misses "Chunky's cornbeef hash plate with gravy over everything," remembers another landmark: Two storage tanks near the Koko Head-bound off-ramp to University Avenue.

Generations of University of Hawaii art students knew the tanks from a, let's say, more artistic angle, with the Contessa building rising up between them.

Another reader said the first Sears Roebuck was not where the old Honolulu Police Department was in Pawaa but "was downtown, across from the old Longs in a building (featuring first escalators in Hawaii) that was torn down to make a mall near the (no longer there) Kress Building, between Bishop and Fort. Remember that."

Bodybuilder Timmy Leong, Mr. Hawaii 1951 and still going strong at 69, knows what stood where Kaiser's Honolulu clinic now sits at Pensacola and King streets.

In 1953, he opened his first gym there, in the Harold Schnack building, built about 1927. He even has a photo of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, then a relative unknown, standing with him in front of his gym in the mid '60s.

"There used to be Cherry Lunch Room, Clyde's Cleaners (now elsewhere on South King) and Nelson's Awning in the building," Leong recalled. "I stayed there for 17 years before moving downtown. I was downtown for 19 years in a building that's now a driveway to another building." He's now on Ward.

Elsewhere, food seemed a sure way to fan the flames of nostalgia.

Kit Beuret, usually quoted as spokesman for Oceanic Cable, put in a fond note about Windy's, once his "favorite hamburger joint," at Kamehameha and Likelike highways in Kaneohe.

"They had a terrific teriburger and the saimin wasn't too bad," he said. "Windy's was torn down a long time ago to put in one of the island's first Burger Kings."

For Kathy S. Fox, "the best gau in the neighborhood" used to be made by a mom-and-pop grocery at Piikoi and Beretania streets.

"It was the coolest hangout after (Kaahumanu Elementary) school before we had to walk to Japanese School about three blocks away," she said. That tiny store was torn down and replaced by a new build-
ing, Fox said, but the nearby Garden House shop remains. "Amazing how some things change while others stay the same," she mused.

Bill Muench of Kailua offered an essay on Kau Kau Corner, a 24-hour drive-in replaced by Coco's coffee shop in 1960. Coco's became a landmark in its own right at the intersection of Kapiolani and Kalakaua before being succeeded by the Hardrock Cafe.

Kau Kau Corner "was billed as 'The Crossroads of the Pacific' and had a huge road sign out front indicating how many miles and in which direction it was to all the world's big cities," Muench said.

"It was 'where it was at' before and after weekend dates to catch the flicks at the Waikiki or Kuhio. There was Don-in-the-Fishbowl, an evening DJ who broadcast live from a glass enclosure in the parking lot. He took dedications that were shyly scribbled on pieces of paper or napkins and passed to him."

Muench would usually dedicate a song to his date and that way, his parents, who would be listening at home ("no TV in those days") would know where he was.

"Kau Kau Korner was where the macho guys would go to show off their jalopies and end up drag-racing out at Sandy Beach. Deucers ('32 Ford coupes) and '55 Chevies ruled back then ... It was also a neutral zone for the rival high schools - almost," he said. "It was not the place for us Roosevelt guys to be after the big game with Punahou, however, at least until after 1956 when the Rough Riders finally won a couple."

By then, he had left Hawaii for military and college. "By the time I returned in '72 with a family of my own, Kau Kau Korner was gone."

Food also prompted Tax Foundation of Hawaii director Lowell Kalapa to think of the past. While Kapahulu Avenue is now known for restaurants, he recalls when it was an "Avenue of Bakeries."

Leonard's, the mainstay, started out as a "hole-in-the-wall" at Winam and Kapahulu before moving to Kapahulu/Charles, he said. But Bill's Bakery and the Snowflake Bakery - "How many remember this one?" - are gone, with a laundromat now at the latter location between Herbert and Castle streets," Kalapa said.

Closer to town, the Meadow Gold processing plant at Keeau-
moku and Beretania "used to be the site of the old Purity Inn, which had 'bays' for customers who wanted carhop service from some of the finest ice cream and soda," he said.

"And who can forget that on the triangle where N. Beretania and N. King Street meet stood a three-story building decorated with gingerbread awnings that housed the famed Aala Pawnshop," said Kalapa, who at 47 doesn't seem old enough to remember all this. "Today it is Aala Park."

Before the Blaisdell Arena was built, the Civic Auditorium was the place to catch the big acts, recalls Michael K. Okamoto. In the '50s, he remembers seeing Roy Rogers there, and later, it was home to The Show of Stars, the Hawaii Chiefs professional basketball team, and roller derby and professional wrestling. The Civic was replaced by the American Security Bank Building, now the Interstate Building, on South King.

Okamoto also remembers that, before the Ala Moana Hotel was built, there was Tropics Restaurant, where he helped his father paint the interior (Kona/Mahu-
kona streets).

Of all the respondents, no one could top Harlin Young, who came through with nearly four pages of Honolulu history.

Among his memories: Beretania Follies ("first burlesque theater"), now Honolulu Tower condo, Maunakea and Beretania; Wally Yee's Carnival, Ala Moana Center, Kona Street; Kapiolani Drive In ("first drive-in theater in Hawaii"), in Pan Am Building area.

He also remembers the Sands restaurant, where an all-you-can-eat buffet cost $1.60. It sat where the Duke Kahanamoku statue now stands on Waikiki Beach. Kalapa goes further back, saying that the Sands was in the old English Tudor-style Spitzer home.

Young, 55, remembers catching the bus from St. Louis School (Class of '59) to downtown just to gorge on french fries drenched in ketchup from Swanky's, at Hotel and Bishop streets, where the International Savings Building sits.

"I'm an appraiser, so I know where things are," he said.

Many are personal memories. For example, his wife's grandfatherran the Kuapa Mullet Pond (Yong Fong Ltd.), dredged and developed by Henry Kaiser into Hawaii Kai. His aunt and uncle ran LeRoy's nightclub and restaurant, where the Bank of America (formerly Gold Bond Building) now stands on Ala Moana Boulevard. Young also recalls the old Ala Wai Canal boat ride concession on the McCully Street bridge (gone) and working at Everybody's Supermarket, now Kapiolani Shopping Plaza.




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