Editor’s Scratchpad

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Street walking
down memory lane

The Hawaiian Journal of History, published by the Hawaiian Historical Society, is the prim and proper journal one expects from a scholarly association. The latest edition, however, has an article guaranteed to make most readers sit bolt upright. It's entitled: "My Experiences in the Honolulu Chinatown Red Light District."

The author, Ted Chernin of Pearl City, is unabashed: "I made it no secret that I patronized them and found that had no effect at all on my relationships with other people, men or women, or on my job." He writes that "the going rate for locals was $2, and in those days that amounted to a full day's wages for the average common working man." Peacetime soldiers and sailors, ever discriminated against, paid $3.

The brothels sported discreet names: Bell Rooms on North Kukui, Pacific Rooms on Mauna Kea, the Palace Hotel on Nuuanu, and the Rainbow Hotel on River Street. When he retired in 1971, Chernin said, he was presented with an old folding gas station map "marked with the locations of all the houses."

Not the sort of article most men would put their names to.

--Richard Halloran

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