Working foot patrol in Waikiki came with plenty of distinctive challenges and many unique problems, especially during the 70’s. It was the era the world began to really change from “Leave It to Beaver” to “Miami Vice”.
But there was still enough Mayberry around that working foot patrol was fun. Okay, maybe not fun, but it was interesting.
At that time there were 5 movie theaters in Waikiki. The biggest and best known was the Waikiki #3 on Kalakaua.
It had a huge open area in the front with a fish pond full of koi and a water fountain. The walls of the pond was filled with small plagues engraved with replica signatures from the movie stars that had been in the movies shown there.
Inside there was a church style pipe organ on a platform that raised and lowered the organ between shows for many many years and was played expertly by the late Johnny deMello. During the 40’s it was part of many radio shows coming from Hawaii.
Inside the roof of the actual theater was painted with clouds and star constellations were projected on the ceiling during intermissions. There were actual palm trees and banana plants growing against the side walls.
For many of the years I walked foot beat, the manager was “Buck” Richards. Mr. Richards could have doubled for the late Duke Kahanamoku. He was tall, well built, with skin the bronze color of Hawaiian “Alii”. The entire time I knew him he had the most beautiful head of snow white hair. It was for people like Buck that the word “gentleman” was coined as he was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
During the years I walked the foot beat, I would often escort Mr. Richards and the night deposit bag to the bank a short distance away. If I couldn’t be there, or was off, I would ask one of the other beat men to make the walk. It was only a block or so, but why tempt fate.
It was the opening week of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, the original with Newman and Redford. It was one of those weeks when my days off were in the middle so my first wife, Maura, and I decided it probably wouldn’t be too crowded so we went to see it at the Waikiki Theater number 3.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The front area around the pond was packed and there was a line down the stairs and onto the sidewalk.
We walked up to the ticket booth and I had just about decided to skip the whole thing when the girl in the booth called out to me.
I turned and greeted her, then told her we’d come back when it wasn’t as crowded. She asked me to wait a minute, and picked up the house phone to the manager’s office. After a very short conversation she turned and told us to go up to the front door and Mr. Richards would meet us.
We climbed the stairs, walked past the koi pond and all the people standing in line, and just as we started up the last few stairs the exit doors flew open and Buck Richards stepped out. He was dressed, as always, in a dark suit, spotless white shirt, and had a matching tie and breast pocket hanky.
Holding the doors open wide he open his arms in welcome and in a big voice greeted us with; “Alooooohha. So glad you’re here. Come in, come in”. As he ushered us inside he was giving his undivided attention to us and none of the surrounding crowd.
You can be sure this gathered a lot of hard, surprised and just plain puzzled looks from the crowd standing there.
We were allowed to choose our seats before the doors were opened so we continued getting looks and questioning stares as the rest of the crowd came in.
Nobody said anything to us directly until Maura went to the concession stand about 30 minutes into the film. While she was standing there a young woman approached and asked;
“Who are you?”
Maura, not really knowing how to answer replied; “Why?”
“Well”, the young woman explained. We were standing in line when you and your boyfriend…”
“Husband”, Maura corrected.
“Of course, husband”, she continued.” You both walk past everyone in line, the manager opens the doors to greet you both and let you in. Who are you?”
The girl attending the concession stand at that time was the same girl that had been in the ticket booth. At this point she decides to head off any problems.
“Excuse me ma’am”, she spoke up. “Have you been watching the movie?” said the counter girl.
“Well, of course I have”, came a kind of snotty response.
“Maybe you should watch a little closer.”
Turning to Maura she topped it all off by sliding our refreshments across the counter and said,” It’s on the management. It’s really nice to meet you.” She turned to the other woman she asked “And what can I get you?”
Without saying anymore Maura took our snacks and got back into the theater before the young woman spotted the big grin on her face.
I don’t know if that woman ever spotted me in the movie I was never in, but I bet she wasted a lot of time trying. Maura and I waited a few minutes into the next showing before leaving.
I hate autograph seekers.