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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Prewar Honolulu part II

There was total discrimination against blacks in the Navy in those days.  The few of them in the Navy were limited to being cooks and mess attendants and they were trained in separate boot camps.  On ships or shore bases, blacks had separate living quarters.  They were seldom seen on liberty and quietly disappeared into native or Filipino sections of town.
The most rigid discrimination in Honolulu involved the many prostitutes that manned the several cat houses of the tenderloin.  They were governed by the iron fist of “Pistol” Adkins (I may have his last name wrong , but his nickname was “Pistol”), the head of the Honolulu vice squad.  I do not recall all of the thirteen laws that governed the Honolulu whores, but some of them were: Never go near Waikiki.  Never use public transportation except taxis.  Never go to a public beach except at Kailua across the island on the windward side.  Never be seen afoot on the streets of Honolulu.  Do not try to buy property.  Violations brought swift retribution from Adkins in the way of fines, jail time, and deportation stateside or to some other part of the South Pacific.
Controlled prostitution was condoned by the civil and military authorities for the reasons that it had always existed in Hawaii and, with the massive influx of military personnel in those years, local females would be at peril if there were not “camp followers” to satisfy male appetites for a fair price.  (In 1941 the going price was two dollars—excluding high priced call girls who serviced the officers.  Thus, a two-dollar bill was commonly known as a “whore house dollar”.)  The cat houses operated openly with neon signs such as “Nuuanu Room” and pimps stood on street corners handing out books of matches advertising various houses.
On our limited budgets, we did not spend a lot of liberty time in the environs of Waikiki, but we knew how to have a good liberty on a small amount of cash.  Bar drinks were relatively cheap as were movies.  Instead of patronizing a restaurant when we were having supper ashore, we patronized little saimen stands that long preceded fast food joints.
There was on saimen stand that we frequented two or three blocks down Beretania toward Nuuanu anal.  It was simply a canvas enclosure set up on the corner of a vacant lot.  It had two or three bare wood tables and in a corner there was a cooking pot and a charcoal brazier.  For thirty-five cents we could get a bowl of noodles (the saimen) and a couple of strips of nikoo (thin slices of beef strung on a stick and roasted on the brazier).  Dick always insisted the Glover and I go there for evening chow when we went ashore together because he had taken a shine to the chubby, friendly little Japanese waitress.  I do not know if he ever made any real headway with her or not since it was a family operation and Mama-san and Papa-san kept a pretty close eye on her form the cooking corner.
Hawaii was, indeed, a “melting pot” of nationalities, particularly in the lower classes.  Pure Hawaiians were disappearing as the natives intermarried with Japanese, Filipinos. Chinese, and Caucasians.  A person of partly white blood was known as a “hap-haole”.  More and more the typical Hawaiian was of mixed blood, usually Asiatic and Hawaiian.
More than on American sailor happily married a slender and beautiful Hawaiian girl.  An AMM!c, Carpenter, in VP-23 was an example.  His Hawaiian wife, Ludi, became one of my favorite people.  She and “Carp” lived in a small house in Kaneohe with their five kids.  It was sort of a second home for many of us and she was kind of a surrogate mother.  She was typically gracious and happy.  I never saw Ludi upset except after the war began and Carpenter wanted to send she and the children to family stateside.  She refused to leave the islands.

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