I fell in love with Hawaii when I was a kid growing up in small-town Ohio … thanks to my Dad. He loved all things Hawaiian, but his passion was the music. He would hum, sing, or whistle his way through all the popular Hawaiian songs of the day.
At Christmas he was just as likely to croon Bing Crosby’s version of “Mele Kalikimaka” as “Silent Night.” He even owned a ukelele … and that made him very cool.
Hawaii was all the rage with my friends, too. My best friend’s father turned their entire basement into a Hawaiian Tiki Lounge, complete with a grass-skirt-covered bar, coconut monkey heads, rattan furniture, a juke box that played only Hawaiian 45s, and a pinball machine. It was magical!
I was always captivated by the old, sepia photos of the graceful, lei-clad Hawaiian women and the virile, surfing men …
… probably because they reminded me of my childhood hero, Tarzan.
Now that I’m grown up, I still love the music, memorabilia, and people of Hawaii. And although modern-day Honolulu and Waikiki are gorgeous, with gleaming hotels and upscale boutiques, I find myself drawn to the simplicity of the “old Hawaii” I’ve come to treasure.
And although Dad never made it to Hawaii, he always wanted to go. When I walk around searching for “old Hawaii,” I hope he’s riding on my shoulder taking it all in.