My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Rumors of his demise

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Lily Ah Sun held her breath as she scrolled the microfilm of stories that appeared in the Honolulu dailies during 1981, the year her father and her Uncle Mits quit speaking and tore the previously close family apart. The last person to use this roll had not bothered to rewind it, so Lily started from the end of the year and worked forward.

The first two references were for the mysterious Clarence Ah Sun. Lily knew her genealogy back four generations and had never heard of a Clarence Ah Sun. But he had to be family somehow. All of the Ah Suns were related. Here it was, an item in Dave Donnelly's column -- Aug. 27, 1981.

"Clarence 'Bobo' Ah Sun postcards from Jamaica: 'Call off the wake. Like Mark Twain, rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Having a blast performing aboard the Viking Horn cruise ship. The Caribbean is nice, but it ain't Hawaii. Send my aloha to everyone back home.' " Dot dot dot.

Rumors of his demise?

Lily quickly scrolled down to the next Clarence reference. He was getting newsier and newsier. Both papers mentioned him on the same day, July 23, both in Police Beat. A missing persons report had been filed with HPD for noted entertainer Clarence "Bobo" Ah Sun. Fellow entertainer Tony Martinez of the band Mauka Showers was quoted in the Bulletin as saying he was worried. "Bobo and I talk all the time. It's not like him to be out of touch for over a month, even when he's off working on a cruise ship."

Well, Clarence's disappearance was solved by the Jamaica postcard to Donnelly five weeks later.

Ah, but here was something significant. Lily's Uncle Mits was mentioned in the Police Beat, both papers, June 21: "HPD Officer Mits Ah Sun reported his service revolver, a Smith & Wesson .44, was stolen out of his car while having a few pau hana drinks at the Pearl City Tavern."

And here was another reference to Clarence, again in Donnelly's column, May 5: "Clarence 'Bobo' Ah Sun, back in town from performing aboard a cruise ship in Alaska, had 'em dancing up a storm when he sat in with Norm and Gary Compton at Nick's Fishmarket." Dot dot dot.

Lily would have to ask her mother about old Clarence.

The only other Ah Sun reference in either paper during 1981 was for her cousin Quinn, in the Star-Bulletin on April 29. The short story included a photograph, which brought tears to her eyes because it raised long-submerged memories. In fact, Lily was there on that day when the two sides of the Ah Sun clan were still speaking.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at

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