The Standard Oil sent our family back to Honolulu in 1947 when I was in ninth grade. My father took frequent trips to learn what Far Eastern business could be salvaged in the aftermath of World War II.
Honolulu had not yet turned into the Miami of the Pacific with skyscrapers that blotted out Waikiki Beach as in the photo above. In 1947, only three hotels rose in splendor on Waikiki—the Moana, the Halekulani, and the pink-faced Royal Hawaiian. Sweet-smelling plumeria and colorful hibiscus flowers permeated the air. We lounged on the beach and watched the surfers stand like statues as they rode their boards to shore.
I didn’t learn to surf, but did study ukulele. As a high schooler, I had to wear shoes each day to Punahou School. For phys ed, I had a choice of hula or basketball. I chose hula and expended my energies trying to perfect the hip movements.
Did I love this paradise? No. I missed my friends in New York. Awkward and shy, I was not invited into the cool cliques. Instead I connected with the Navy kids from the Makalapa Base on the other side of the island of Oahu. My mother drove me out for lunch and a swim, but not so often that my hair turned green as the local childrens did from whatever chlorine mixture they used in their swimming pool.
I’ve never wanted to go back. I like remembering Honolulu with those three hotels on Waikiki .