September 29, 1961 – Long Beach

Long Beach, California, USA – Foggy

      Edith had set her alarm for 6:00am so it would give us enough time to dress and get ready to leave for the airport.  We dressed quickly and without a lot of fuss since we only had 45 minutes till we were to be picked up by Bill who had offered to take us to Los Angeles International airport.  I was glad that I’d laid out my things the night before so I had more time to gather myself together. 

      It caught me off guard when the door bell rang because I still needed to brush my hair and put a few things back in my overnight case.  While I finished doing those things, Edith made sure her house was ready to leave and Bill started putting our luggage into his car. 

      Once we made it the airport Bill parked the car and helped us get our luggage into the terminal.  Thankfully we’d gotten to the airport with plenty of time because we were surprised to see a large number of people in line ahead of us.  We made our way slowly through the line of passengers to check in and get our tickets.  Edith and I were grateful that Bill decided to stay with us to help us move all our luggage.  Finally, while we were standing at the ticket counter I heard a small commotion behind us and turned around to see what it was.  To my amazement I saw Bob, Pat, Janice, Patrick, David, Penny and Liz Anne coming toward us.  They had driven down from Ventura to surprise me and to see us off on our trip.  I was pleased to see them because it made me feel good to have some moral support before I started this big adventure.

      My son, Bob and his wife, Pat, made a nice couple and they had done very well for themselves over the years.  I hadn’t seen them or their kids Patrick, Penny, and little Liz Anne since last summer.  They had come down to Ventura to visit with Pat’s mother, Hazel, his sister Ramona and her family.  Bob and Ramona have always been close as brother and sister with Bob the younger of the two.  Bob had wanted to surprise me and surprise me he did.  Bob was such a sweet, thoughtful son.  He always had been, even as a little boy.  I couldn’t believe that he had driven all the way from San Jose just to surprise me.  Ramona must have been in on the surprise too since Janice and David were there. 

      After getting our boarding passes Bill said goodbye to us and the rest of us all headed to a little restaurant in the airport to have some coffee and visit for awhile before we left.  It was good to talk to Bob and Pat even if for just a few minutes to catch up on things and find out how they had pulled off this surprise.  I had tried to call Bob yesterday and he hadn’t been home.  Now I knew why.

      After having some coffee the time neared when we would have to leave so we all made our way to the gate so we could find some chairs to sit in till they called for us enplane.  Eventually the airline ticketing agent called for our section to board.  It was hard to say good bye to Bob, Pat and the kids because they were the last of my “world” as I knew it.  I had confidence that the trip would be a good one but there were so many unknowns ahead of me I felt a little like I was going outside my comfort zone.  As I kissed each of the grandkids goodbye I promised them I would send post cards.  I also promised Patrick I would make sure I would bring him some good stamps for his collection.

      Edith and I moved to the gate door and handed our tickets to the ticket agent.  As I went into the tunnel leading to the plane I turned around and waved one more time.  Walking down the tunnel I remember tearing up a little but that soon passed with the hectic process of boarding, making my way to our row and finding my seat.  I was disappointed when I saw I didn’t have a window seat because it meant my view would be restricted and I would have to rely on Flo for pictures.

      We settled into our seats, I looked through the pouch in front of my seat to see what was included and sat nervously while the plane prepared to take off.  Once the plane was finally in the air I sat quietly thinking about what was supposed to happen the rest of the day.

      Our flight turned out to be better than I thought it would be.  I’d never liked flying so being on a plane for such a long period had worried me.  I was pleased when the stewardess brought us each a menu showing us what we would get for our lunch.  I knew I would be hungry by the time we arrived in Hawaii near their noon hour or 2 pm California time. 

     The menu was impressive although we weren’t even traveling in first class. 

Menu for Hawaii Trip

Inside Menu

     I knew I was already overweight but I knew this trip would give me a chance to try various dishes I’d never experienced before so I decided not to worry about my weight for the next three months.  Edith found her food okay too but didn’t like her crabmeat cocktail so that meant more for me because I loved it all. 

      Our trip was quiet but by the time we landed I was feeling a little tipsy from the champagne they kept serving us. When they opened the airplane doors so we could walk to the terminal the difference in humidity was very noticeable in addition to the September heat. 

      I smiled when I saw a big native dressed as a Chief carrying a red feather blanket standing next to two lovely Hawaiian ladies holding Leis standing at the entrance of the gate.  I decided to call him Rain in the Face because of his demeanor as people passed by.  The three made it clear we were expected to pass by the three, get a Lei and then move on as quickly as possible.  As I passed by they were all business and they didn’t demonstrate any of the friendliness I’d heard was typical of Hawaiians.  I finished moving down the line as fast as I could and then turned to look back and watch Edith go through the line.

      “Get out of the way lady and let the others get their Lei’s!”  The male Hawaiian commanded Edith when she didn’t move past very fast. 

      I was shocked and dismayed at how Chief Rain in the Face had treated Edith and watched in horror to see the kind of impact his words had on her.  Edith’s face crumbled but she did as requested and moved along faster than she had been.

     As we went to get our luggage I tried to cheer Edith up and soon her mood seemed to cheer up.  Just like in the movies we found our Hawaiian tour guide waiting holding a sign up for us as we neared the baggage claim area.  Edith, Flo and I congregated around the guide once we’d gotten our all our bags and he introduced himself as Rudy.  Rudy steered us outside to the bus which would take us to our hotel. 

      The drive away from the airport was fun and I enjoyed seeing the lush terrain as we traveled since it was so different than what I was used to.  Our bus pulled up a hotel after only driving for a few minutes.  Edith and I dropped our jaws at the same time when we saw the hotel because it wasn’t what we thought it would be.  The hotel we saw was called the Moana Hotel and while it had a nice traditional Hawaiian name it looked beat up and had a cheap look to it.  Edith whispered to me that she thought we were supposed to be at a different hotel but before she could say anything to Rudy he had our luggage unloaded and us ushered into the hotel.   When we saw the lobby it didn’t reassure us that our rooms would be what we expected either so I mulled over what if anything I would say or do. 

Moana Hotel and Beach

  I was pleased and proud of Edith when she spoke up and told Rudy that she and I had paid to stay at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel not at the Moana.  I didn’t think that others would have spoken up.  I didn’t think I would have said anything either.  I smiled when the guide gave up arguing with Edith and went over to the house phone to make a call.  After Rudy finished talking on the phone he went over to Curt, spoke to him for a few minutes and then went outside. 

     Curt called us all together to tell us Edith had been right and they were bringing the buses back for us. 

      While we waited for the bus I went outside to look at the beach.  The sand was so white, the water and sky so blue that I was in awe.  It was amazing how blue the blue was and that they had such different shades of intensity. 

     Eventually the bus returned, we loaded up again and traveled to our hotel.  When we pulled up at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel the delay and mistake were forgotten because the hotel was obviously much more superior.  Edith and I were scheduled to share a room and each room was supposed to have twin beds.  This, our first room on the trip was beautiful and overlooked the gardens below.  We could see flowers and there was a wonderful clear view of the ocean and its beaches.  Looking around our room we found there were many amenities out of the usual so I felt quite pampered.  hung up my dresses, admired the view.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Dining Room

      I decided to write a letter to Ramona.  I found stationary in the desk so I pulled some out and sat at a table by the window:

Sept 29, 1961

Dear Ramona, Ray, Janice, David, Mike, Binky;

     Boy it is warm here.  We arrived at 2:20pm, California time, got off the plane and was met by a big Chief (Rain in the face) who had a red feather blanket and  two Hawaiians with Leis.  We each got one and then they took one picture – hurrah!  This is for my memoirs.  The boy put the Lei on Edith and then very businesslike shoved her aside saying “Get out of the way and let the others get their Lei’s.”  Then bus came and we got in and after a long wait we drove to the Moana Hotel which was very beat up looking and a cheap Hotel.

     Our guide said it was OK to everyone but Edith thought we were supposed to be at the Royal Hawaiian.  Edith spoke up and said this is not the R.H. and I paid enough for the trip to stay at the R. H. so our guide changed his mind, they brought back the buses (we were all unloaded and in the Hotel) and we were brought to this place, the Royal Hawaiian.  It is beautiful here and our room is lovely looking over the garden.

     We are just going out for a walk now. 

      Edith and I decided to go for a walk to see what some shops might tempt us to buy.  Edith and I had noticed several nearby as we had pulled up to the hotel.  In one shop we found some pretty materials but they were more expensive than either of us was willing to pay.  After our foray out alone Edith and I took a few pictures before settling into some lawn chairs in the garden.  When we returned to our room I decided to spoil myself and take a bubble bath.  Afterward I felt so relaxed I lay down to rest in preparation for the night I knew we had coming.  Lying there I tried to imagine how I’d feel in 90 days after more days like this of going from airport to bus to hotel and so on. 

      Edith and I were pleasantly surprised when a waiter brought us some complimentary fresh pineapple to eat.  While I snacked on pineapple I decided to finish my letter to Ramona:

      (Later)  We walked and the stores are nice.  The real nice ones were very expensive but the materials were pretty.  We came back, sat on the lawn chairs and took some pictures.  I forgot to set the distance which you will find out but I’ll learn.  I took a bubble bath in soft, soft water, took a little nap, the waiter brought us a fresh pineapple to eat and now we are getting ready to go to the Beach Comber’s for dinner and a tour party.  It’s hot, hot here with over head clouds looks like rain.  I’ll wear my gold dress tonite and I’m sorry I sent my sweater home, but Edith is letting me wear her beautiful black lace scarf.

     Well can’t think of anything else to write love Mother

P.S. Can’t tell you how happy I was to see Bob, Pat, Janice, Patrick, David, Penny, Liz Ann this morning and how surprised – boy – missed you Ray and Mike.  Love Mother.

      Rudy came to pick us up so we piled onto a bus for our drive to the restaurant – The Beachcombers.  We were all pleased when Curt, our tour company escort, announced to everyone that dinner was complimentary of Travel World.  As it turned out I’d never been to a restaurant quite like the Beachcombers and the atmosphere was very fantasy-like.  We felt honored when we found out Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaiian royalty, was sitting at the table next to ours with his wife.  It turned out he owned the restaurant,.   Our food was quite delicious but I could hardly eat all of it because there was so much of it.  After having a Whiskey sour before eating I was served a filet of beef two inches thick, stuffed mushroom caps and wine for dinner.  Our dessert was a coconut Sunday and even though I hadn’t eaten all my dinner, I did finish my dessert.

      Our dinner was very relaxing and when the entertainment started it only added to our night in a nice way.  The entertainment was delightful and was very pleasurable.  We were treated to a Fire Dance by hula dancers and some Hawaiian singers.  Just when I thought the amusement was winding down Ed Kinney and his troupe came out and continued to amuse us.  All in all the diversion lasted for 3 hours.  I never thought I could smile so much and clap so hard for such a long period of time.  By the time we climbed aboard our bus again I was ready to go back to our hotel and get some sleep.  During our ride back to the hotel I noticed that it had started to sprinkle and by the time we arrived it was really coming down.  When I stepped out of the bus I was pleased to feel the air was cooler.

      Once we were in our room Edith was still excited and not quite ready to sleep so she started writing a letter to the Fillmore Herald about what we’d seen so far.  She didn’t plan on mailing it right away but wanted to get a good start on it anyway.  I put on my bed clothes on and settled onto my bed for the night but as I tried to doze off Edith kept asking me questions about our day saying she couldn’t remember everything.  Eventually she finished but I felt like I might as well have written down everything for her since I’d more or less dictated most of it to her.  I hoped this wasn’t a sign of what was to come with her and these letters to the Herald!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Patrick S Poplin
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 23:23:25

    Thanks Janice, in particular, for this posting. It is refreshing to see our family through Grandma’s eyes.


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