Icon of an era; Fawcett's attire; Boy tops 300 papers


POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2009

Paper carrier's smile became icon of an era

He was the face of statehood. The grinning boy—missing a front tooth—happily hawking the Star-Bulletin's March 12, 1959, edition emblazoned with “;STATEHOOD!”; in huge red letters. The photo ran on the front pages of newspapers across the United States.

The Associated Press photo of newspaper carrier Chester Kahapea appeared in history books and even the Encyclopedia Britannica, said Kahapea.

In an interview with the Star-Bulletin earlier this year, Kahapea vividly recalled the exhilaration of the day Congress approved Hawaii's admission to the union.

“;People was running lolo (crazy) that day. Horns were blowing! ... But I didn't realize what statehood meant,”; said Kahapea, who was selling papers on Hotel Street.

The photo made the Palolo Valley teen a celebrity. Strangers recognized him and offered him rides. He soon had pen pals from other states. “;I loved it,”; he said.

Kahapea, 64, retired last year from his job as a construction inspector after he was diagnosed with incurable amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He began volunteering with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to inform others about ALS and said he adopted the motto “;Never give up.”;

In March, Kahapea visited the Star-Bulletin's newsroom and posed with a copy of the statehood edition he sold 50 years ago. He still possessed the same irrepressible smile—with the gap nicely filled in—that shined so brightly from front pages across the nation heralding Hawaii's new status.

—Star-Bulletin staff




Fawcett's attire was perfect

KITV journalist Denby Fawcett wore a borrowed dress to her 50th Punahou class reunion this year. But what a dress.

The silk muumuu was made with fabric patterned after the Star-Bulletin's famous 1959 front page announcing congressional approval of statehood. The dress is owned by Eleanor Pence, 96, widow of Judge Martin Pence, the first federal judge confirmed in Hawaii after statehood. Fawcett was told the publisher of the Star-Bulletin at the time, Betty Farrington, had the muumuus made and gave them to friends.

“;Eleanor Pence had the muumuu stuffed in the back of her closet and out of sight for years,”; said Fawcett. Pence's daughter, Merrill Johnston, also a member of Punahou's “;Statehood Class,”; decided not to wear the dress to the reunion and offered it to her girlhood friend Denby.

“;My classmates were astounded by the statehood muumuu. My lei maker loved it so much she made me the 1950s-looking carnation hairpiece to wear with the muumuu and refused to charge me anything,”; Fawcett said.

“;As women we all try to find the perfect dress to wear to a party but seldom succeed. This WAS definitely the perfect outfit.”; Fawcett was picked to lead a procession for the class of 1959 during the June 13 reunion, which brought together Punahou alumni from 1929 to 2009.

“;The muumuu has additional meaning and pride for me because the Star-Bulletin gave me my first job as a news reporter,”; Fawcett said. “;When I was 16, I wrote a column for teenagers for the Bulletin for 50 cents a column-inch.”;

— Star-Bulletin staff




Boy who usually sold 20 papers daily topped 300

I remember the excitement that was present that day. You felt it everywhere you went. For me it was as if the air was vibrating. Everyone seemed to be very happy and speaking loudly. People were talking excitedly in groups everywhere I went. I was in the sixth grade at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki. For kids in the sixth grade, this kind of feeling didn't come along that frequently, unless, of course, you had a good day playing marbles or spinning tops.

Every day, after school, I sold the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Most of us paper boys had a paper rack in our charge. Mine was in front of Larry Pang's Market just down from Uluniu Street on Kalakaua Avenue. There was an extra bundle of papers lying on the ground next to my rack that day. I opened the bundle and took off along the beach carrying a hefty supply of papers under my arm and calling out, “;Paper sir, paper ma'am.”;

Only that day, I got to embellish my spiel with words that were new to me and made me feel as though I was doing my part in creating a new state. “;Extra, extra, read all about it, statehood, statehood.”; I was the messenger, the last step in the statehood process, the person who was indispensable, spreading the news to those who did not know yet. Hawaii could not have become a state without me. For that one day, my role in society became crucial. I had no less than a “;mission”; to accomplish—to make sure that everyone knew, that no one was left out.

I remember walking down the beach that day entering hotels and bars that were normally off limits to paper boys. On any other day, I would have been expelled (sometimes rudely). But this day was different. People were calling for me and everyone wanted a paper. It was a feeding frenzy. I continually ran out of papers and had to return frequently to my paper rack in front of Larry Pang's market to resupply. Everyone was celebrating. I sold more papers that day and received more tips than ever. I normally sold around 20 papers per day. On that day I surpassed 300. The euphoria lasted for days afterward. For me and my sixth-grade buddies and colleagues, only the excitement of the arrival of a major storm or a tsunami could have topped that day.

—Keoki Moore, Durango, Colo.