Bechtel was building an underwater pipeline
at Barbers Point near Honolulu so we had to move to Hawaii. In
those days, Waikiki Beach had far fewer hotels. The Royal Hawaiian
Hotel, above, stood almost alone. We lived just on the other
side of Diamond Head, close to the beach, in Kahala.
A few years before we moved there,
my parents were on the same cruise ship to Hawaii with Elvis
Presley. Here are some pictures of Elvis with his arm around
my Mom on the ship. There's more to the story but the pictures
are the main thing. Update: Scotty Moore, the original guitarist
with Elvis, now has these 2 pics plus the rest of the story on
his website, with my permission. Check it out here!
Ceremony - August 21, 1959
"What a scene there was in Hawaii
on Statehood Day 1959! Celebration swept through these islands
on news of our joining the union of States of the U.S.A. Communities
lit bonfires, neighborhoods held impromptu dances, cars blared
their horns and people walked the streets with broad grins and
greetings, seeing themselves as full-fledged Americans. "
My Dad took my older brother Steve
and me (age 5 1/2) to see the 50-star US flag raised for the
first time. It was unforgettably historic! If you look closely,
you can see the very long ropes that were used, reaching all
the way from the ceremonial speakers up to the flagpole at the
top. Once the flag was raised the Army fired a 20-gun salute
from a battery artillery. At least, that's what I remember but
I was only a little kid.
lWe were in this crowd listening
to speakers at the statehood ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii. The
50-star flag was raised for the first time that day.
is a related story as published
in the NY Times dated Aug. 21, 1959.
This was our house in Kahala, just a
few blocks from the beach. We lived right behind Diamond Head
- close to Waikiki but far enough away to be peaceful and quiet.
I saw one of the first American satellites going overhead standing
on that driveway at night: it may have been Echo 1A.
Shawn and my Mom
Backyard in Kahala on Oahu. From the
left: My Mom, Shawn, Steve, Jamie, me with a missing front tooth
and my Dad.
Waste family in Hawaii
(click for larger size)
Christmas in Hawaii
We had some of the best weekend outings
living in Kahala. We'd just jump in the car and just minutes
later, we were on a beautiful Hawaiian beach. I don't know exactly
where this picture was taken but you get the idea. I'm the kid
on the right holding the dried leave.
We would sometimes go barefoot in public
- even at Christmas time. Definitely a big difference from the
icy cold Canadian winter the year before! My brother Steve and
I look extremely pleased to see Santa, for some reason.
The REALLY Big Wave of 1960
Ever been evacuated because of tidal
waves? Well, we were . . . . twice! There was a tremendously
powerful earthquake in Southern Chile during May, 1960. I remember
my Mom had to come pick us up at school and get us all to high
ground because of a tidal wave warning. After the danger passed
we went home but in the middle of the night I recall being woken
up because of a message broadcast through our neighborhood saying
that a tidal wave was coming. This time our whole family got
in the station wagon and headed high into the hills again. We
heard on the car radio that the wave did hit Waikiki but only
caused some surfboards to be knocked over. But on the Big Island
of Hawai'i, the waterfront of the city of Hilo was devastated.
The tsunami that hit Hilo on May 23, 1960 was generated from
a 9.5 magnitude Chilean earthquake and killed 61 people, destroyed
537 buildings and caused over $23 million dollars damage. I'm
amazed to tell you that the 1960 Chile earthquake is now considered
to be the largest earthquake ever recorded! Both of my grandfathers
lived through the "Great Quake" of San Francisco, 1906
as very young boys. But that one has down been reclassified as
"only" a 7.8. So imagine a 9.5!!
Not too long afterwards, my parents took my older brother Steve
and me with them vacationing on the Big Island. On that trip
we went through Hilo and saw the destruction first-hand. I clearly
remember seeing a large sign of the type you would see on the
front of a movie theaters completely smashed down, obviously
from a force that was pushing down from above. It's all rebuilt
now but we had a closeup view of what a tsunami could do. Once
was enough, thank you!
It's a fact that Hilo has been hit by
a major tsunami more than once and will undoubtedly be devastated
again. Here is a link to their Pacific
Tsunami Museum. The 1960 wave hit all
the way around the Pacific Rim, including Australia and Japan
but it was much smaller by the time it got there. But that's
still very unusual -a Pacific-wide tsunami only occurred three
times in the last century. Experts say that of the three, the
1960 wave was definitely the biggest.
to Sandpoint, Idaho
I think my family enjoyed living in
Hawaii more than anywhere else on our Bechtel travels. The wave
barely caused a ripple in our lives, so to speak.