Ursula’s Hawaiian Adventure Continues

1923 female surfer

Illustration of a female surfer in a 1923 issue of “Judge”—five years before Ursula visited (and possibly surfed in) Hawaii

Beyond enjoying live music and dancing at her luxury hotel and checking out the waterfront activities on Waikiki beach, Ursula would have ventured further afield to experience more of Oahu, her host island.

Sutherland Oriental Shop logoShe might have walked down the street from her hotel to the Sutherland Oriental Shop in the new Waikiki business district to find her mother a special gift, like silk embroidery, handkerchiefs or a kimono. Or perhaps she stopped at the new restaurant nearby—Barbecue Inn—to try their toasted barbecued sandwiches, frogs legs, and Japanese tea.

There was no shortage of sights to see. At the time, streetcars provided convenient transportation to a variety of interesting points all over Honolulu. Ursula could have boarded the trolley at a stop right across from the Moana Hotel, where she and her friend Elizabeth Everhardy likely stayed.

1925 Honolulu streetcar

A Honolulu streetcar in 1925

Depending on the route she took, her itinerary might have included such sights as:

Iolani Palace postcard

Vintage 1940s postcard of the Royal Palace, now called Iolani Palace

  • The Royal Palace, the residence of Hawaiian monarchs until they were overthrown and Hawaii became a republic in 1894. Located on—where else?—King Street, it was now a government building where Ursula could have viewed portraits and souvenirs of the old royalty. On view elsewhere on the Palace grounds were rare documents, old treaties and relics, as well as the famous statue of King Kamehameha.
  • The Aquarium at Kapiolani Park, where she would have seen a world-class collection of colorful and exotic tropical fish and other marine animals.
  • The “Oriental” District, where visitors could experience Chinese, Japanese, Philippine and Korean business and cultures, from specialty shops selling silks, jade and porcelain, to Japanese tea houses and the famous fish market.
  • Moanalua Gardens, which offered visitors the beauty of a cultivated Hawaiian landscape, including rare tropical and semi-tropical flowers and other flora.
  • The Bishop Museum, where Ursula could have learned more about Hawaiian history and culture through their collections, including examples of the primitive art of feather work, rare feather cloaks, a grass house, model of a Hawaiian temple and other works.
  • The Kamehameha Schools, boarding schools (one for boys, one for girls) open to students of Hawaiian ancestry only.

A previous Mystery Dancer post (“Ursula’s Hawaiian Adventure”) featured a short home movie filmed by a tourist visiting Hawaii around the same time as Ursula. Here is another silent film travelogue of Hawaii, filmed in 1926, that shows some scenes like those Ursula would have seen, including Waikiki beach (at 3:10).

To reach some of the spectacular natural sights on Oahu, Ursula would have needed the use of an automobile or had to hire a driver. Wasn’t it lucky, then, that her friend Elizabeth had a car?! I discovered this upon looking up Miss Everhardy in the Honolulu newspapers.

The May 26, 1928 issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin announced that Elizabeth was one of eight new members added to the roll of the Honolulu Automobile Club in one day—a record—during the previous week. In addition to revealing that she was driving a Buick sedan, the article also confirmed that she was residing at the Moana Hotel, as I suspected!

I imagine Ursula and Elizabeth, perhaps with a few new friends, tooling around the island in the spacious automobile. They might have motored up to the Pali lookout for panoramic views of downtown Honolulu, the lush coast and the sheer cliffs of the Koolau range. Another option would have been driving up 2,010-foot tall Mount Tantalus, around hairpin curves, for breathtaking views of Diamond Head, downtown Honolulu and Punchbowl Crater.

1928 Buick ad

Ad for a Buick sedan, like the one Elizabeth drove, targeted to a female audience in a 1928 issue of “Ladies’ Home Journal”

Back then, an increasing number of tourists from the mainland shipped their cars to Hawaii as baggage or freight, so it’s possible that the Buick had accompanied the two young women there on the S.S. City of Honolulu. It’s equally possible that Elizabeth bought the car in Honolulu. If so, that may be how Ursula met a man who would eventually change the course of her life: Samuel B. Riddick, two years her junior, who was then working as a salesman at a local Buick dealership.

Tune in next week for more of Ursula’s adventure in Hawaii.

Photo Feature: S.S. “City of Honolulu”

LASSCO brochure

A 1930 LASSCO brochure

Since I was away for Labor Day weekend and have not had time to write a full post, this week’s edition of Mystery Dancer brings you a photographic treat instead. Over the past week, I corresponded with one of the authors of “Hollywood to Honolulu: The Story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company [LASSCO],” the book I mentioned in a previous post (“Ursula’s Hawaiian Adventure”). This fascinating volume chronicles the history of the company that owned and operated several cruise ships — including those that Ursula sailed on – running between California and Hawaii during the “Roaring Twenties.”

Co-author Gordon Ghareeb has generously shared with me the pages of a 1930 LASSCO promotional brochure that features several photographs of the S.S. City of Honolulu, the luxury ocean liner on which Ursula and her friend Elizabeth spent six days at sea steaming toward the Aloha State (well, U.S. “territory” back then). Sailing first-class, Ursula was one of 301 passengers on board. She may have rubbed elbows (or gone swimming!) with ex-Senator James Wadsworth of New York, movie comedy star Chester Conklin, and other prominent fellow travelers.


Ship in dock

The S.S. City of Honolulu docked at a Honolulu wharf convenient to downtown and the beach

I’m not sure if Ursula and Elizabeth shared a stateroom (or suite), or had their own rooms, but they would have been comfortable (if seasick – they did encounter some rough seas on their ocean voyage). With the City of Honolulu, LASSCO aimed to duplicate the experience “of the most palatial of hotels.” The brochure touts staterooms with comfortable beds, hot and cold running fresh water, electric fans and heaters, and ample space for clothing. (For more ship details, please see the “Hawaii-Bound” post.)

The following photos (thank you, Gordon!) will give you a glimpse of what Ursula’s life was like aboard the elegant ship.

A typical double stateroom

A typical double stateroom

Single room

A room of one’s own

Sitting room

Each deluxe suite on the City of Honolulu featured a sitting room

Suite bedroom

The bedroom of a deck suite

Suite bathroom

Deluxe suites boasted private combined shower-bathtubs


Elevator service ran between the five main decks

Dining room

The “grand dining salon” designed with Greece in mind

Music room

The music room combined French and Italian Renaissance period architecture

Music room foyer

Music room foyer

Swimming pool

Passengers enjoy the ship’s Pompeiian-style swimming pool.

Deck sports

Deck sports were popular on LASSCO ships.

Garden lounge

A corner of the garden lounge

Tea room

A cozy nook in the English verandah café tea room

The writing room

The writing room