People came. It’s not the same.

26 08 2011

In a roundabout way, from champagne and sashimi at a dinner in Waikiki to a long ride back to the studio via Ala Moana, an anniversary night out made me think of my late dad Arthur.

DH and I reaffirmed our wedding vows yesterday (27 years to the same partner, thank you) and celebrated by going to the “old” Surf Room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for dinner. The restaurant is now Azure that specializes in seafood since the grand Pink Lady was renovated a few years ago.

We knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same (it wasn’t) as what used to be our favorite restaurant, but Diamond Head was still in view (kind of) and the service was just as attentive.

The fine-dining room is now set farther back from the beach and does not include the terrace next to the sand, and pillars and the fancy tents from a different restaurant block the million-dollar view that was the Surf Room’s.

Instead of real tablecloths and that cute and endearing pink candle fixture of the hotel, there were place mats the server kindly encouraged us to keep our dishes on.

That part of the critique aside, the chef’s preparation of the fish DH ordered was excellent (apparently, because I don’t recall that he offered me any to try ;-)), the sashimi melted down my throat, and I got a little tipsy on the champagne. No hangover this morning either.

And, oh, I almost forgot to tell you, our table was next to Senator Dan Inouye’s, and I’m pretty sure the secret service folks could pick up our conversation.

Going home we picked the wrong route. By the time we figured that out, it was too late, we were stuck. Long story short, only one traffic lane was open on Ala Moana boulevard leaving Waikiki for many blocks. One. Or, I should say, it looked like the Board of Water Supply had coned off all the others.

I began a Facebook thread about traffic/driving conditions and found it interesting that I would think it interesting to write about routes and directions. A few people have told me I should be a taxi driver because I know my way around pretty well.

When I was a kid, Dad drove a dump truck for a living. Went riding everywhere, and he would teach me.

When he decided working for the government would give him more financial security, he quit independent driving and applied to the Board of Water Supply, starting there as a pipe fitter’s helper. (My uncle, his brother, also drove truck, and he quit driving because of the bad traffic. He said it wasn’t fun anymore.)

Dad, a Chinese-Hawaiian who left school before finishing the 8th grade, eventually worked up to traffic inspector, a job he held until he retired. He was the person you went to see down at City Hall for a permit to bend the rules affecting traffic flow. He was smart and important (to borrow key words from The Help). He knew how to adjust traffic flow to make it safe and smooth for motorists. He was honest and earned the respect of contractors.

The test in the job application process involved identifying streets and neighborhoods on Oahu. For example, where are the streets named after men’s first names, in alphabetical order? Answer: St. Louis Heights. Name them. He did well from his experience of driving loads all over the island.

He missed the answer to a question about a little street in Wahiawa. He really got a kick out of the fact that it was one block from our house!

All this was in the 1950s and early and 60s while there were still pineapple fields and a scenic view, before Mililani and subsequent subdivisions and towns sprouted up on our ag land. This was prior to H-2.

During those days it took about 40-45 minutes to travel from Wahiawa to Honolulu along two-lane Kamehameha Highway, which we enjoyed every Thursday—me with my mom in a taxi on her day off to buy music books, and on the weekend to call on the relatives—the three of us, first in the dump truck and then in the car when we got a car. I think it might take that long or longer on the freeway today during rush hour.

In 1963 our family moved to Honolulu, a sacrifice on my parents’ part so I could walk to Punahou School.

Today the places south and west of Wahiawa and Pearl City are unfamiliar if not foreign to me. What happened? People came.

I can’t help thinking that Dad might have something to say about last night’s road set up. I can hear him now.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke



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