Well, it’s almost that time. I do remember I hated working Waikiki during Halloween. That place was strange enough without everyone running around in masks and costumes. However, as with every “holiday”, some officers found a way to have some fun and do some good.
The Cops Are Monsters
One of my earliest beat partners was Bobby Yarnell. A big, barrel chested part-Apache Indian with a huge zest for life and the job. I learned something from Bobby every day I worked with him.
Every year at Halloween Bobby would turn his yard, driveway, and carport into a haunted house and a maze full of monsters. The elaborate costumes, masks, and make up were all done by Bobby’s wonderful wife Nora.
The monster maze was on its fourth or fifth year when Bobby approached me and asked if I could help out with traffic control. Since this required I be in uniform we had to have permission from the Chief of Police. Considering the good publicity these little happenings generated, and the senior police Chaplin and Catholic Nun Sister Roberta Derby was also involved, permission was quickly granted.
The Sister wielded a great deal of authority in the department, well not exactly power or authority, but she usually got her way.
When I say elaborate costumes and make-up, I mean these were Hollywood movie caliber. The huge full head masks were lifelike and constructed so well they could be used for several years. The make-up was so well applied that you really didn’t want to clean it off until you had scared a good number of kids. It was great.
All of this was out of Bobby’s pocket except for a small amount of donations from the watch officers and others. All of the cops involved would also donate money as well as their time.
This year Halloween fell on a Saturday so Bobby opened the maze on Friday and Saturday nights. It was open from sunset, about 6:00 pm, to 10:00 or 11:00 pm, and there was a line of kids waiting to be scared from early on. Cops, dressed as famous monsters were there to do their best to oblige.
It took me three years to work my way from traffic control to monster. During those years the whole thing grew and grew until it outgrew Bobby’s yard and he had to move it to a neighborhood park. Again, with the good Sister’s blessing, permission was granted.
One year, 1977 or 1978, a friend gave us the use a construction size flatbed truck. All the monsters, complete with grave yard tombstones and pretty damsels in distress, participated in the Kam Day parade through Waikiki.
Since Kam Day is in June, it was a bright, clear day with humidity only a little less than the temperature. The elaborate costumes only increased our discomfort so we had to break character once in a while to re hydrate.
The truck had the “Wolf man” among the tombstones; “Dracula” was in his coffin with a pretty handmaiden; the “Human Fly” (me) menacing several pretty girls; and the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (Bobby) with a damsel (Nora) at his feet.
The webbed hands of the creature were actually constructed of rubber gloves and I remember one moment when Bobby raised his hand to wave and the sweat literally poured out of the glove in a stream.
But he never broke character.
The greatest joy of his life was when Bobby found out Nora was pregnant. There were four of five kids living with them from her prior marriage, and Bobby treated them like his own, but they both wanted one of their own. He was ecstatic.
I remember the day he and Nora brought Brandi home. That barrel chest of his was even bigger than ever. His smile never faltered, even over diapers.
After retiring from the Department, Bobby spent several years as an investigator for the Honolulu Police commission.
Brandi grew up, went to school, and then became a Honolulu Police officer. A fourth generation cop. She graduated at the top of her academy class. Recently she was promoted to detective. I know she’s a hell of a cop.
It was with deep sadness and a sense of personal loss that I read of Bobby’s passing not too long ago. I think the good Lord needed a good “monster”. Rest in peace Bobby. Rest at peace.