IN TROUBLE IN PARADISE APRIL 21, 2014
I spent a lot of time in Hawaii, especially during the 1950’s and 60’s, and what a place to spend a lot of time. I would go, say for a week, but end up a couple of weeks; or go for three and end up four or five. This one particular trip was planned for three or four weeks, and was stretching into several months. I left before school was out, and when summer vacation came, Gary joined me with the surfboard.
My businesses in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach were in good hands with my manager, Dean, who was a very trusted friend and had been working with me for at least ten years.
During the days, I spent on the beach at Waikiki in the area of the Halekulani Hotel, with a deep, deep tan; while the nights were spent at the Clouds, a nightclub which my friend Annie had. It was a wonderful place, high end entertainers, along with high end clientele. A lot of the time I would help out bartending at the service bar, supplying the drink orders for the waiters and waitresses. Annie and I had first met playing softball for the Orange Lionettes when we were 16 years old, and she is six months younger than I — which she always just hates.
The months were flying by, and just about every week there would be a phone call from Fullerton, CA, and it would be my Mom — she was alone since my Dad had passed away — and it would be the same conversation each time: Very tremulously, “Well, when are you coming home? How can you be away from your business like this?” I would try to soothe her, and sweet talk her, and get it across to her that Dean was handling everything just fine. I could tell she was getting more worried; after all, she was 83 years old at the time. The year was 1961.
Finally, a LED light came on in a recess of my mind, which gave me the solution to my dilemma. (I don’t think LED lights had been invented yet, but this was a mighty big flash.) I rushed out to the nearest Travel Office, purchased a round trip ticket from LAX to HONO, then dropped it off in mail to Mom. At this juncture in her life, she had only been in an airplane one time, and that was when Bud and I had our little airport in San Juan Capistrano after WWII. A lot of people might not call them airplanes — just puddle jumpers. Bud and I both gave her a ride, and that was that. She finally acquiesced to fly over to Honolulu to see first hand what was going on. It would be all by herself, and at 83!
A sizable group went with me to meet her at the airport, and she was in ecstasy over all the attention and the numerous leis that were draped around her neck and shoulders.
So now I became the tour guide, and took her everywhere around the Island of Oahu. We visited the north end where Makaha is located and is world famous for all the surfers trying to ride those mountainous, mammoth waves. We saw the Pali, drove around Diamond Head to see Hanauma Bay, then up the east coast past Koko Head, through Kailua and Kaneohe, past Old Sugar Mill to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We took several days to drive around because we were very busy spending days at WaikikiBeach with me swimming and Mom relaxing on the Terrace of the Halekulani Hotel just off the beach. We would have a delightful luncheon on the Terrace, then take a little stroll, but back in time for Cocktail Hour where we would be served by the beautiful Mandarin Chinese ladies all decked out in those long, silk, straight gowns secured tightly at the neck. Then back to the Hotel (Annie’s, and the price was right for me) to get ready for the evening activities. Life was good.
Gary was going to have to be back in school, and I guess it was time for me to get back to business, so the three of us boarded a plane with all kinds of gear: surfboard, luggage galore. To get it all back to Fullerton and Laguna Beach, we had called Bud in San Juan that he should meet us at LAX with his Ranchero for all the luggage, and have his wife, Evelyn drive up in their sedan for the live luggage. We three travelers ended up at my home in Laguna. Took Mom to her home a day or two later.
I know my Mom had a super time. All my friends treated her like a Queen, and she was in her glory. It was the trip of her lifetime.
And she stopped nagging me to get back to business. Thank goodness.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS