Author Gathering Place

By Paula Harrington-Hill

Sidewalk ‘sign guy’ had
corner on compassion

Do you remember the sign guy on the corner of Kalakaua and Lewers avenues? The tall, spindly fellow with plenty of white hair, piercing blue eyes and a toothless grin?

His name was Charles Patrick Harmon. I remember him well; a friendly, honest, loyal, happy guy, who always had a kind word for everyone. Charles never took any crap from anyone, for any length of time. He didn't go looking for trouble but if it came his way, he didn't hide. He was a man's man and women loved him.

The first time I met Charles Harmon, I was a lonely Canadian girl looking to find my way in Hawaii and capture some of the aloha spirit. He befriended me right away with his genuine concern for my welfare. Once I got to know him, over several months, I found out that he was well traveled, well read and well educated.

It might surprise you to know that he was even wealthy once. He wrote poetry and music, and was always ready to lend a helping hand. Charles believed that we are here to live and enjoy, not hurt and destroy. He displayed the hormones he was born with and never wimped out in difficult situations. When Charles Harmon was your friend, you really didn't need anyone else.

He was in the toughest profession there is -- sales -- but he wasn't allowed to make any. He carried a sandwich-style wooden sign promoting tours. It was his job to prospect for clients by building rapport and trust, and he did that exceedingly well. Charles took great pride in what others would consider a humble calling.

He brought a lot of psychology to his work. He could always tell who the happy people were, who was ready to spend some money and those who were just plain miserable with their lives.

He took great care with the elderly and disabled. He just couldn't believe that people who have it all were so unappreciative. He loved everything and everybody. He wanted to live and die in Hawaii and he did.

He had a young daughter, Diane, whom he talked about all the time. He adored and loved her deeply and it was his greatest desire that one day he would see her walking down Kalakaua Avenue and they would be reunited.

Charles believed that all the beautiful people in the world sooner or later walked along Kalakaua Avenue. Maybe they do, but very few can make a corner their own and even fewer can conquer a corner of the hearts of so many people.

Charles Harmon didn't have a mean, cowardly or lazy bone in his body. He was a wonderful, genuine human being with strengths and weaknesses. It was a great privilege to have known him.

I believe that when you meet your maker, you get asked two questions: What did you learn and who did you help? If you didn't learn anything and didn't help anyone, she sends you back. This was Charles Harmon's last trip.

If you remember the sign guy, remember him as fondly as I do. Learn from Charles, as I did, that you never know when you've only got six months to live. Make your life a legacy to others by your generous aloha spirit as a tribute to Charles Harmon.

Paula Harrington-Hill is a registered nurse who lives and works in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a frequent visitor to Hawaii.


E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --