A Bridge to Friendship in Honolulu

If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there.

AS URSULA AND ELIZABETH settled into Honolulu life, they began to socialize with other young women who lived and worked in the city—both newcomers like themselves, as well as at least one longtime Honolulu resident who was a “frequent flyer” in the local newspapers’ “Society” pages.

"Society" news

Bridge parties that Ursula attended featured in Honolulu newspapers’ “Society” pages

On the evening of July 12, 1928, Ursula and Elizabeth traveled several blocks from their apartment to visit the home of their new friends Betty Schlarb, Marie Harbor and Anita Osberg for a bridge party. The trio had decorated their two-bedroom Haulani Court cottage—one of a group of 14 rental properties right on Waikiki Beach—in a color scheme of orange and green for the occasion. The hosts and their 18 guests, all women, vied for game prizes reserved for the highest scorers.

Originally from Washington State, Betty, Marie and Anita had sailed from Seattle to Honolulu in mid-April of that year. It’s not clear if Betty and Marie, who were Beta Phi Alpha sorority sisters at the University of Washington, knew Anita beforehand or had become friends with her on the cruise ship.

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A Visitor from San Francisco

If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there.

I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT CREATING AND SHARING “Mystery Dancer,” but one of my favorite aspects is the detective work. My husband is amazed by my research skills, and tells me I should work for the NSA. It’s true, I love watching a picture take shape and sharpen as I discover and connect the “dots,” but I think I’ll focus on Ursula for now.

While researching her time in Hawaii, I came across a curious if confusing news item in the July 15, 1928 Honolulu Advertiser.

Honolulu Advertiser clip

Was this news brief from the July 15, 1928 “Honolulu Advertiser” correct?

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Settling In To Honolulu

1930s Hawaii tourist brochure

Cover of a 1930s Hawaii Tourist Bureau brochure

If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there.

A HAWAII TOURIST BUREAU BROCHURE published not long after Ursula traveled to Hawaii boasts, “Visitors are learning rapidly that Hawaii is too beautiful for only a cursory visit, and many of those in circumstances to linger have willingly allowed a casual visit to melt into an endless sojourn.”

This seems to have been the case with Ursula. I don’t know how long she intended to stay in the U.S. territory when she first set out. Perhaps she planned to return to California after a couple of months, but found the Islands so alluring, she felt compelled to settle in indefinitely. I do know that after living at the Moana Hotel for several months, Ursula and Elizabeth’s circles widened beyond beach-going, sightseeing, and hotel reveling; they started to integrate their lives into Honolulu as residents rather than tourists. Continue Reading →

A Hawaiian Romance

At some point during her Hawaiian adventures, Ursula met a young man named Samuel B. Riddick. I don’t know how they met, but I like to think it was at the Buick car dealership, where he worked as a salesman. It’s possible that Ursula’s friend Elizabeth bought her Buick sedan or had it serviced there, and perhaps Ursula accompanied her, catching Samuel’s eye.

Buick salesmen Honolulu 1928

Samuel B. Riddick worked for a time in his early twenties as a Buick salesman

And why wouldn’t she? She was a beautiful, stylish, vivacious and confident young woman of independent means who was intelligent and well traveled – from Europe to the Grand Canyon. A couple of future news articles (to be revealed in a later post) would mention that they had met and had a romance in Hawaii around this time. Continue Reading →

Grand Canyon Or Bust, Part 2

(This is Part 2 of a two-part post. Need to catch up? Read Part 1 here.)

Trails and Automobile Drives in the Grand Canyon

This tourist brochure, published throughout the 1920s, guided Ursula and Clara through the Grand Canyon.

When I first thought of writing about the photograph of Ursula and Clara at the Grand Canyon, I wasn’t sure how much I’d have to say about it. My excitement grew, however, after scanning the photo into my computer and zooming in on the piece of paper Clara held in her left hand. After rotating the image 180 degrees so I could read the text right side up, I made out the word “Drives,” with the letters “a-n-d” and some broken type above that. I thought the area obscured by her index finger might say “Trails and.” So, to Google I went.

Eureka! I found a picture of a Grand Canyon tourist brochure entitled “Trails and Automobile Drives.” Its illustration and graphic design matched the one Clara held exactly. With a little more digging, I discovered some photos of the inside of this brochure, which the Fred Harvey Co. published nearly every year from at least 1923 to 1931. I was looking at and reading the same brochure that Clara and Ursula consulted on their southwestern adventure!

The brochure offered tourists a variety of chauffeured automobile trips along the rim, excursions to Navaho and Hopi Indian Reservations and mule-back or horseback trail rides into the Canyon. It also spurred me to see if I could identify the lookout point where mother and daughter stopped to view the Canyon’s splendor and pose for the photo. Continue Reading →