Crossroads Of The Pacific

Photo, white border. Circa 1938 – December 1948.

Price:  $10.00                Size:  2 and 3/4 x 4 and 9/16″

H. P. “Sunny” Sundstrom’s famous neon sign adjacent to his restaurant Kau Kau Korner, located at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii. Arrow markers point the way and give the distance to some of the major cities around the world. The sign was up from about 1938 to 1960. Photographed here prior to the addition of the “Kau Kau Korner” portion that was later added on top.

From a Google search, images of Kau Kau Korner Crossroads of the Pacific sign:

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see an arrow sign (virtual or in real life) pointing to a far away place, I picture myself earnestly embarking on the journey, deviating off course only to skirt obstacles, until finally arriving at the stated destination. Maybe it’s a carryover from the signposts I saw on family trips as a child, or some subconscious bird flight path thing. Anyway, while scrutinizing different photos of the sign I noticed that the same city in one shot sometimes is at a different angle than another (compared to its counterparts). I had that instant flash of “Hey, wait…..” like, if we’re using the bird example, a feeling that my flight path’s messed up. 😉 Of course, the markers were not meant to be necessarily precise. In addition, signposts in general just beckon to be climbed and hung on, (such a great photo op!) so even it they were correct when placed, the arrows would naturally tend to get moved around a little, or maybe you get some wiseacre deciding to change the arrows all around for fun.  But this was a sidetrack, I was scrutinizing various images in order to try to pinpoint when the “Kau Kau Korner” part got added to the top of the sign, in order to try to date the photo.  Then got to thinking, for such a well-known landmark (at one point the public bought more Kodak prints of the Crossroads of the Pacific sign, than those of the King Kamehameha statue, the signpost having also appeared in newsreels and in the magazines Time, Life, Look and Fortune) and (getting sentimental here) for one that oversaw a lot of life in its 20-plus years, including during WWII, wouldn’t there be a timeline somewhere? We didn’t find one, so decided to include a partial one below.

Back to the photo

Our image above, circa 1940s, and must have been a commercial-type photograph rather than someone’s snapshot. There’s currently one for sale on eBay under the title “Vtg 1940’s B&W Photo – Crossroads Of The Pacific Sign Honolulu Hawaii #827” that has the exact same angle, placement of the arrow markers and the clincher:  cloud formation. The eBay one is black and white while ours has a sepia tone. Not sure if the eBay seller had cropped their image or not.

The Hamburger King of Hawaii

A self-made man, Hanley Paul “Sunny” Sundstrom (1909 – 1965) was a Minneapolis native who grew up in Kingsburg, Fresno County, California before coming to Hawaii about 1932. He sold magazines door-to-door before he and a partner opened a burger shack in 1935 for the cost of $900.00, for want of a “decent hamburger.” At that time a burger in this neck of the woods was a just a grilled patty “thrown together” with a bun, minus the usual accompaniments we expect today. About five months (reports vary) after the 3-person operation started, with Sunny as dishwasher, his partner as cook, and the partner’s girlfriend as waitress, Sunny bought out the partner. His restaurant Kau Kau Korner, along with the Crossroads of the Pacific sign, went on to make him famous, as evidenced in postcards he received from all over the world, including one addressed to “Hamburger King of Hawaii” and another to “Sunny Sundstrom, Pacific Ocean.”

An icon is born

It was about 1938 that a friend of Sundstrom’s approached him with the idea that would make him famous. From journalist, Jane Evinger’s article “Kau Kau Burger King Abdicates To Take Over Pancake Palace” that appeared in The Honolulu Advertiser, February 21, 1960:

“A friend of mine told me that he had a fantastic idea that would make me famous from the North Pole to the South Pole, but that it would cost me $100….I’ve always been a good gambler, so I gave him the $100, and all he said was ‘Crossroads of the Pacific.’ I figured $100 was pretty expensive for that, since the Islands have always been known as Crossroads of the Pacific, but I kept thinking about it and sure enough it has paid off.”

Onward and outward….1941 expansion ad and photos

Sunstrom expanded Kau Kau Korner in 1941, at the cost of about $45,000. Below, an ad and photo appearing in The Honolulu Advertiser, August 14, 1941. Note the many missing letters for “Broiled Steak” and “Fried Chicken” on the restaurant exterior, and you can see a ladder on the right, so the photo must have been taken when they were still putting on the finishing touches.

Below, beautiful waitresses in new uniforms, from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, August 13, 1941.

Sydney was Sydney, then Sidney, then Sydney

Back to the question….when was the top part of the sign “Kau Kau Korner” added? Sometime between about December 1941 and December 1948. The exact date was not found, but articles on a misspelling provide the estimate:

Above left, a photo that appeared with a short news clipping December 4, 1941 in The Algona Upper Des Moines. If you enlarge the image you’ll see that the sign for Sydney (Australia) situated on the top left among the markers, has the correct spelling for that city. The sign in this photo, is minus the “Kau Kau Korner” portion that had been added to the top of the sign later on. Note the larger marker at the bottom that says “Elks Fiesta” and the number of blocks to get there, indicating the signpost was sometimes used for local events.

Above, on our right, a photo that appeared December 24, 1948 in the Lubbock Evening Journal. This image shows the misspelled “Sidney” signpost, as well as the addition of “Kau Kau Korner” portion on top. That’s airline stewardess Marge Tolosano posing in the shot.

Above, from the front page of the “Hawaiian Holiday” section of The Honolulu Advertiser, May 22, 1955:  Models in swimsuits, Sally Lee and Charlene Holt (atop ladder) replace the “Sidney” arrow with one showing Sydney. The correction was made at the request of Mrs. Yvonne Coopersmith, of Australia. And, though the story ran in May, evidence posted on the website Tiki Central indicates the marker was corrected in March.

Kau Kau Kitchen

Kau Kau Korner closed February 21, 1960, due to loss of lease. That following July, Sunny Sundstrom opened Kau Kau Kitchen. At that time the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a nice big article (rightly so, of course) for the new pancake house, but we particularly like this short clip from 1961, also from the Star-Bulletin. It’s rather touching, and gives a partial description of the interior. We’d love to see any old photos that someone might have of the mural.

A partial timeline

1935 Hanley P. “Sunny” Sundstrom and partner open a burger shack, a counter restaurant with six stools; Sunny buys out partner after about five months.

About 1938 Crossroads of the Pacific Sign goes up for the cost of $100.00 at the idea and offer from a friend.

August 1941 Kau Kau Korner restaurant re-opens after a $45,000.00 upgrade and expansion. To the menu is added sirloin steak and fried chicken. Menus from that time show the restaurant was open 24/7 and that the menu was a pretty extensive one.

December 1941 photo showing that the arrow for Sydney (Australia) was spelled correctly. Sign is without the “Kau Kau Korner” addition on top.

December 1948 photo showing the “Kau Kau Korner” portion on the top and the sign for Sydney is now incorrectly showing “Sidney.”

March 1955 the marker for Sydney, Australia is corrected. The Honolulu Advertiser, runs the photo on the cover page of its “Hawaiian Holiday ” section, dated May 22, 1955.

February 21, 1960, Sunday evening, Kau Kau Korner restaurant and drive-in serves its last meal. The property owner decided not to renew the lease. Per Sundstrom, much of the equipment was planned to be auctioned off. Crossroads of the Pacific sign “probably” to go up outside his upcoming pancake and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, Kau Kau Kitchen.

Kau Kau Korner restaurant is being converted to Coco’s Coffee House by the new renters, the firm Spencecliff (Spence and Cliff Weaver.)

July 1960 Sunny Sundstrom opens Kau Kau Kitchen at 2154 Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, the site of the former Melting Pot restaurant. Specializing in Sundstrom’s twenty best pancakes recipes from his stash of over 100 recipes and also offering Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Crossroads of the Pacific sign is not found mentioned in any newspaper articles for Kau Kau Kitchen or in any for Coco’s Coffee Shop.

October 1960 Coco’s Coffee House opens at site of the former Kau Kau Korner Restaurant.

November 11, 1965 Hanley P. “Sunny” Sundstrom dies in Tijuana, Mexico, while undergoing treatment for cancer, leaving a wife and two daughters, and a sister.

August 1986 Coco’s Coffee House is torn down.

July 1987 the Hard Rock Cafe opens at the site of the former Coco’s location. In 2010 the business moves to Waikiki Beach Walk.

Currently, a replica of the Crossroads of the Pacific sign, with arrow markers primarily showing distances to military bases, is up outside the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.

____________________________________________________________________________

Sources:  “images of Kau Kau Korner Crossroads of the Pacific sign.” Google.com search. Accessed December 15, 2018.

Evinger, Jane. “Kau Kau Burger King Abdicates To Take Over Pancake Palace.” The Honolulu Advertiser. February 21, 1960. Sunday, p. F-4. (Newspapers.com).

“New Kau Kau Corner Opens Thursday.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. August 13, 1941. Wednesday, p. 10. (Newspapers.com).

“Crossroads of the Pacific.” The Algona Upper Des Moines (Algona, IA). December 4, 1941. Thursday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com).

“Wither Away?” Lubbock Evening Journal (Lubbock, TX). December 24, 1948. Friday, p. 5. (Newspapers.com).

“National Dignity Restored.” The Honolulu Advertiser. May 22, 1955. Sunday, cover page. (Newspapers.com).

Tiki Central (www.tikiroom.com). Accessed December 22, 2018.

Sigall, Bob. “Crosswords, sign marked popular Honolulu drive-in.” Honolulu-Star Advertiser. April 27, 1912. Friday, p. B2. (Newspapers.com).

“Pancakes Reign in Kau Kau Kitchen.” The Honolulu Advertiser. October 3, 1960. Monday, p. 13. (Newspapers.com).

“Love Thy Competitor.”  Honolulu Star-Bulletin. May 28, 1961. Sunday, p. 76. (Newspapers.com).

“H. Sundstrom Dies; ‘Kau Kau’ Owner.” The Honolulu Advertiser.”  November 13, 1965. Saturday, p. 20. (Newspapers.com).

6944 Wyoming Street, Dearborn, Michigan

Old photo, 6944 Wyoming Street, Dearborn, MI. January 25, 1967.

Price:  $6.00             Size:  5 x 5″

Like the prior post’s two photos, this one might have been taken by or for a real estate company. It shows a small restaurant, what one would affectionately call a hamburger joint, at 6944 Wyoming St., Dearborn, Michigan, one block south of Warren Ave.

The sentry

We see faces and figures almost everywhere and this is a good one:  The partial image of a sentry-type guy standing straight (as sentries do) and looking to his right. The manhole cover is his armor and he is guarding the restaurant. 🙂

Various name changes

October 13, 1955, Detroit Free Press ad, waitress wanted, restaurant name not given.

Tone’s Grill, 1 block south of Warren – waitress and counter help ads April 5, 1956 – October 5, 1959. Tone’s was owned by Anthony Basso per city directories (1955 – 1956). And there’s an Anthony Basso entry for Tony’s Grill in 1953, which may or may not have been at the same location.

February 1, 1978 – July 3, 1978 restaurant for sale ads

DC Coney Island in 1990 Free Press ads for newspaper box stands

Kas’s Coney Island – most recent name found, about September 10, 2010 – November 12, 2013. No longer in business.

June 2017 photos

The sign in the window shows for sale; these photos below were taken from our visit to the area in June 2017. For how long the business has been vacant we’re not quite sure, maybe 2013-ish, per an Mlive business entry search. Anyway, you can still read the faint “Coney Island” on the big hanging sign, which was probably for one of the more recent incarnations, and the interior is neat, cool that is….There’s the old 1950s counter with the metal edging (I have the same type in my kitchen only my counter is yellow) the old counter stools, the Semper Fi U. S. Marines plaque proudly displayed off to the side next to the small U. S. flag, the definitely older country scene on the wall (1920s? maybe) and the two wall plaques. We’re betting the decor was still in place from Tony’s era. (We kinda feel like we know Tony a little, now. A cool guy.)

The display, above left is a shorter version of J. P. McEvoy’s popular poem, circa 1925:

“Guest, you are welcome here,

Be at your ease;

Get up when you’re ready,

Go to bed when you please;

Happy to share with you

Such as we’ve got:

The leaks in the roof

And the soup in the pot…

You don’t have to thank us

Or laugh at our jokes,

Sit deep and come often…

You’re one of the Folks.”

The one above right, shows a saying (how can we argue with it?!) by an unknown author and states:

“The man who invented work

Made one bad mistake:

He didn’t finish it!”

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Dearborn (Wayne County, Mich.) City Directory, 1953. Vol. 11. p. 37. (Ancestry.com).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Dearborn (Wayne County, Mich.) City Directory, 1955. Vol. 12. p. 678. (Ancestry.com).

Waitress wanted ad. Detroit Free Press, October 13, 1955. Thursday, p. 48. (Newspapers.com).

Counter and grill service ad. Detroit Free Press, April 5, 1956. Thursday, p. 42. (Newspapers.com).

Waitress for counter and grill ad. Detroit Free Press, October 5, 1959. Monday, p. 31. (Newspapers.com).

Restaurant for sale. Detroit Free Press, January 31, 1978. Monday, p. 27 and July 3, 1978. Monday, p. 29. (Newspapers.com).

News boxes west of Woodward. DC Coney Island. Detroit Free Press, January 27, 1990. Monday, p. 27 and February 25, 1990. Sunday, p. 40. (Newspapers.com).

Kas’s Coney Island. businessfinder.mlive.com (accessed October 8, 2017).

J. P. McEvoy. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._P._McEvoy (accessed October 8, 2017).

Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, Mass.

Johney Cake Hill New Bedford Mass pc1Johney Cake Hill New Bedford Mass pc2

“New Bedford, Mass. One of New Bedford Quaint Streets. Johney Cake Hill, Corner Union and Bethel Streets.”

This is the second of three cards in The Cunha Family Collection. The sender wrote:

“My Dear Friend, I drop this post card so to let you know that you might see a friend Sunday, that you havn’t seen for some time. Yours Truly. M.S.”

Sent to:   “Mrs. Mary Cunha, 115 Sumner St., Taunton, Mass.”

Behind the name

The definition of “bethel”  is a holy place or a chapel for seamen. The street name Bethel is present-day Johnny Cake Hill; the address of 15 Johnny Cake Hill being home to the Seaman’s Chapel whose facade bears a plaque with a quote from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. (See below for an interesting 1928 newspaper article from the Emporia, Kansas’ Emporia Gazette.) A Wiki article on New Bedford tells us that the city’s nickname is “The Whaling City” because it was one of the most important whaling ports during the 19th century; also that the area that includes New Bedford, Greater Providence and Fall River is home to the largest Portuguese-American community in the U.S.

The Bethelen Cafe

Always intrigued by the small shops and restaurants that appear in these town views, we looked for the Bethelen Cafe that shows on the corner there, but didn’t find any specific mention of it in city directories, Google books, or historical newspapers currently online. Perhaps it was replaced by The New Bedford Whaling Museum? No, the well-known museum is up the street a ways. But check out the following page from Roger Chartier’s WhalingCity.net  which shows a detailed history with several wonderful old photos of the corner of Union and Bethel, including one of the St. Helena restaurant. You’ll be able to take in the detail of the fountain in front of the restaurant – note that there is also a fountain in our postcard image but it’s a different one. Since our postcard was sent in 1909, an estimated time-frame for the card’s view would be that year or within several years prior. We might guess that the Bethelen was a brief successor to the St. Helena Restaurant, with the name Bethelen being a combination of Bethel and Helena.

1928 newspaper article re the Seaman’s Bethel (courtesy Newspapers.com).

Moby Dick Mast Article

Divided back, used postcard. Postmarked October 3, 1909 from New Bedford, Mass. Publisher:  The Metropolitan News & Publishing Co., Boston, Mass. and Germany. No. G 15 121. Made in Germany.

Note:  At the time of this posting, surprisingly, no other postcards of the same view are showing up online.

Price:  $15.00

Sources:  New Bedford, Massachusetts. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Bedford,_Massachusetts. (accessed October 25, 2015).

Chartier, Roger. “St. Helena Restaurant – Cafe…” WhalingCity.net. (Web accessed October 25, 2015.)

“Moby Dick” Mast In Tars’ Pulpit Must Be Torn Down. Emporia Gazette. 19 Jan 1928. Thur, p. 6. (Newspapers.com)

Stone Bridge Cottage, Tiverton, Rhode Island

Stone Bridge Cottage Tiverton RI pc1Stone Bridge Cottage Tiverton RI pc2

Portuguese message1

Stone Bridge Cottage was a popular hotel and restaurant which later became known as Stone Bridge Inn. The Inn appears to have survived as an establishment at least until August or September of 1976, according to a newspaper ad for the Inn as a musical venue to include buffet lunch and champagne. The open, roofed porch that encircled the building would later have been enclosed. According to authors Nancy Jensen Devin and Richard V. Simpson, the building shown here in this 1909 postcard would have been the third structure, described as,  “…a large, wood-shingled, two-and-a-half story hotel occupying a corner lot at the east end of what was once the Stone Bridge….The once-fashionable resort catered to vacationers and travelers for almost two centuries.” 

The first in The Cunha Family Collection:  This card was sent by Miguel S. Cunha, presumably a relative of the addressee. Two of the three are written in Portugese (and if anyone can translate them we’d surely appreciate it.) The translation is difficult due to the sender’s handwriting, and the possibility of misspelled words or even a change in spelling over the years. This one appears to be about someone named Mathes going (or who was going) to California with (or to see?) Miguel’s brothers, and something regarding a letter being sent to Miguel’s father? Also, someone named Jose Antonio is mentioned.

The card is addressed to:   “Jose Silveira da Cunha, 115 Sumner St, Taunton, Mass.”

The likely fit for the addressee shows in Massachusetts Marriage Records, for Jose Silveira Da Cunha, born about 1878 in the Western Islands (of the Azores). Married on November 10, 1906 in Taunton to Maria S. Azevedo, born about 1880 in the Western Islands (of the Azores). The groom’s parents are Joao Silveira Bettencurte Cunha and Rosa Margarida Da Silveira, and the bride’s parents are Manuel Vieira Siceira and Mariana Azevedo. The next two postcards in this small family group are addressed to Mary Cunha and Mrs. J. Cunha at the same Sumner Street address.

Divided back, used postcard. Postmarked October 6, 1909 from Newport, Rhode Island. Publisher:  The Metropolitan News Co., Boston, Mass. and Germany. No. 9259 (44078).

Price:  $5.00

Sources:  “The Stone Bridge Music Festival.”  The Berkshire Eagle, 27 Aug 1977, p. 64. (Newspapers.com)

Jensen, Nancy and Richard V. Simpson. Images of America:  Tiverton and Little Compton. Charleston:  Arcardia Publishing, 1977. (Google eBook.)

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. (Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915.)

Reuben E. Lee Riverboat Restaurant

Reuben E. Lee Riverboat Restaurant pc1Reuben E. Lee Riverboat Restaurant pc2

“Reuben E. Lee. Riverboat Restaurant. Harbor Island, San Diego. Overall Length 204′ – 8”     Width 55′     Overall Height  65′     Weight 1,000 Tons.   Owned by Far West Services, Inc. Operators of Snack Shops, Reuben’s, Coco’s, The Whaler, Wu Ben’s and Reuben E. Lee Riverboat. California, Arizona, Missouri, Hawaii.”

The Reuben E. Lee Riverboat Restaurant was built in 1969, and was a restaurant that was constructed on a barge and built to resemble a Mississippi Riverboat. For about 34 years it was a very popular destination for dining, birthdays, wedding parties and the like, but there were issues with water leakage and in 2003 it was closed down, being deemed structurally unsafe. In April of 2012 it was towed from it’s longtime location to a local shipyard in the San Diego Bay, and sank at the end of that year, due to it’s hull giving way. (How sad.) ….Well, even though the Reuben E. Lee never steamed up or down any waterways, it went the way of many a vessel, and maybe that is poetic, in a sentimental sort of way, for the restaurant that was built to look like a riverboat.

As to the date of this postcard, the cars in the photo are the major clue. Many appear to be mid-1960s models but the orange wagon (center) appears to be either a 1970 Opel Kadett Station Wagon or maybe a 1972 Opel 1900 Sport Wagon. Maybe the red-orange color was not available in both years? Any Opel experts out there, feel free to post your comments, please! Parked next to the Opel is what looks like a 1965 Dodge Charger (comments welcome, of course.)

Divided back, deckled edge, unused postcard. Published by Photo Art, 200 Neptune Ave., Encinitas, California 92024. Series or number 54226-C. Circa early 1970s.

Price:  $3.00

Sources:  Fiorina, Steve. “Landmark floating restaurant Reuben E. Lee sinks at local shipyard”. ABC10 News. 11 Dec 2012. Web. Accessed 25 May 2014.

Blauer, Phil. “Restaurant plans afloat to replace sunken Reuben E. Lee”. CBS8.com. 31 Jan 2013, revised 1 Feb 2013. Web. Accessed 25 May 2014.

Hill, Taylor. “Harbor Island’s Reuben E. Lee Towed Away”. The Log, California’s Boating and Fishing News. 21 May 2012. Web. Accessed 25 May 2014