you all know the Hawaiian picture post cards: sunny climes, sandy beaches, the blue-green Pacific waters lapping them, the wave curls of the Bonsai Pipeline, the surfers, Diamond Head always looming in the distance, other defunct volcanoes strung together forming mountain ranges, the Pearl Harbor Memorials, the rainbows, sometimes double, triple and even quadruple helixes. one can almost hear the string sounds of steel guitars and ukuleles wafting as you look at them, “having a great time; wish you could hear.” [sound of stylus running across record right here!]

during early March coinciding with our vacation in this Paradise the worst storms in their history –perhaps in anyone’s, certainly ours– jazzed up the Islands. to wit: tornadoes –one by land, one a water spout, think Moses– heavy rain –three feet, yes i said feet, in two days in Kauai; winds up to 60 mpg like to take the panels and roofs off houses; hail, first marble-size, then golf ball, finally tennis ball. folks were collecting the stuff in baggies, marking them and freezing for posterity. thunder storms with three kinds of lightning, a light show which lasted some 20 minutes: ball, ground and horizontal. all the while we were hearing of sunny temps in the Apple higher than ours.

after an 11-hour flight from Newark a ten-minute trip to Fran’s uncle’s house on Oahu where we were staying took 1 1/2 hours due to a downed power line. (N.B.: Fran is vocalist Fran McIntyre, Ms, Smith. more on her later.)

was this Yahweh’s new set of plagues? it rained steadily for the first four days and intermittently for the rest of our ten-day stay. while the surging surf eroded those legendary beaches, both sandy and lava, it made for some exciting moments as water noisily and scarily gushed through the famous Blow Hole and lapped the roads we were told to avoid due to flash-flooding. everything shut down; for this tourist dominated destination that in itself spelled disaster. Pearl, the Polynesian Center, the Dole Plantation, Waikiki all mostly dark. all you could do was shop!

while water didn’t become wine, the sea did turn brown from the runoff.


Fran’s Uncle Rudy McIntyre –a trumpet-playing Shriner– and his girlfriend Harriet saved the day. he piled us into his little hybrid –gas is beaucoup expensivo– and took us on a tour of the foreboding North Shore where we ate at one of those famous roadside shrimp trucks, dessert at the mountainside “Crouching Lion,” where this photo of some of the devastation was shot, stopping off at the gift shop at Dole and a chocolatier called “Donkey Balls” –the dark chocolate-covered macs which give the place its name were to die from– as well at some beach overlooks and the Blow Hole.  getting down to other beaches was not an option due to wind and rain.

storm damage Oahu North Coast photo arnold jay smith

Rudy McIintyre is a member of a group of mostly retired musicians –some still play club dates– who gather at the new Shriners Childrens Hospital weekly to rehearse stock jazz charts which they concert later at the hospital’s charity functions. the band is called “Pote’s Band” short for Potentates. Fran sat-in for a couple, “Kansas City” and “Amazing Grace,” she left ‘em pleading for more.


whenever i’m in Oahu ;>) i always make the trek to Pearl. the Missouri is permanently berthed there now. my father, who was Chief Electrical mate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, worked on the Bg Mo and other ships. consequently, i have been aboard her many times but never as an adult. for me it was a teary tour, indeed. Fran made it all the way topside, cane and all. it was she who coined the phrase which became part of the title of this blog after hearing FDR in the film accompanying the trip to the Arizona Memorial, and experiencing the weather.


Rudy’s lady friend, Harriet, widow of a retired Navel Chief, hosted a Purim Party at the historic synagogue at Pearl. she is a studied hula dancer which she demonstrated for us at dinner. her hands actually spoke to us.

later in the week on the Lanai at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki bathed in a Pacific sunset –it rained later that night– she danced again, more formally this time. as it was St. Patrick’s day we gave her the sobriquet “Lovely Houlihan.” the leader of the classic Hawaiian string trio playing that night called it her stage name. perhaps it will stick.

sunset over the Pacific photo Fran McIntyre


just as we relaxed our guard we returned the rental car, a Dodge Caliber soon to be mercifully EX-Caliber as they are discontinuing it, and got to the Honolulu United Airlines terminal 2 1/2 hours ahead of our scheduled departure. (United and Continental had merged at the outset of our trip creating havoc across the board.)

the line snaked from the undermanned check-in kiosks clear out the door. there were no Caps nor curbside check-in. no supervisory personnel to be found. Fran managed to get us a manager by quietly telling someone we are handicapped and need our wheelchairs. i wouldn’t have been as quiet.

it was a super jumbo Triple 7 filled to capacity. THEY RAN OUT OF FOOD. FOR PURCHASE! i’m a diabetic so i persisted, loudly. Fran scored a banana from one of the hostesses, which posed the question, if Hawaii does not allow produce in or out and my Granny Smith apple, which does not grow there, was confiscated, how did that banana, which does, slip aboard?

our luggage, for which we paid extra –remember the shopping– went with the equipment to DC, thence back to Long Island, finally to us the next afternoon.

suggestions: do not fly United. buy food at the airport prior to departure.

conclusion: there is no Paradise, at least not on earth.

- © arnold jay smith

March 2012

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