Anyone who watches old movies even occasionally has witnessed a scene set in a restaurant or nightclub where a fetching young women approaches a table occupied by the leading man and lady and asks if they would like a souvenir photograph.
After our mother’s passing in 2010, we spent hours going through dozens of old photographs we’d never seen before (many of which we’ve shared with you here), and one that especially sparked our interest was enclosed in a folder labeled “Louie’s Club 29,” a long-gone nightspot in our home town (Oklahoma City, don’t you know). The picture inside the folder depicts Mom and Dad Cladrite as young marrieds, out for an evening of fun with friends (their backfence neighbors) and Dad’s youngest sister and her beau. You can learn more about that souvenir photograph here.
Last year, sad to say, we lost our father, which led to another deep dive into the photograph bin, and we were very excited by another souvenir photograph, this one from—wait for it—Honolulu Harry’s Waikiki, a tiki bar and restaurant in Chicago. In this picture, Mom and Dad (that’s them on the right) are accompanied by Mom’s lifelong friend, Lois, and her husband, Eddie. Lois and Eddie resided in Atlanta, so the two couples must have met up in the Windy City (we don’t know for certain what the occasion might have been). This picture was taken in the early to mid-’50s—we know this because Honolulu Harry’s opened in 1952 and by the late ’50s, Mom had gone blond. In this picture, Mom still sports the medium brown locks she was born with, so the picture has to date to the few years in between.
We were amused to see that the photographer at Honolulu Harry’s seems to have been quicker on the draw than the waiter. As you can see, the table is spotless, the ashtray empty, the four cocktail napkins still fresh and unsullied by condensation or spilled Mai Tai. We imagine the plastic (or were they paper in those days?) leis were placed around the foursome’s necks as soon as they entered and before menus were even placed on the table, and that the Johnny (or Jill)-on-the-spot photog hurried over and snapped this picture.
We wonder if the two couples were initially seated facing each other (note the arrangement of the napkins) but for the sake of the photograph, with an empty table beside them, perhaps Lois and Eddie slipped around and slid in next to Mom and Dad, only to move back to the other side of the table afterward (yes, yes, it’s a minor detail, but we’re suckers for such minutiae.)
Honolulu Harry’s Waikiki was in operation for a decade, from 1952-62. It offered that odd combination of Asian and Pacific/Polynesian influences so often seen in tiki joints of the era—the establishment’s advertising touted “American, Cantonese, Japanese and Hawaiian foods with dancing under the Hawaiian skies” and that same awkward but fun cultural blend can be seen in the club’s decor and even the design of its exterior.
Fun fact: The previous occupant of this space was the Barrel o’ Fun Tavern, a favorite hangout of Mr. Fun himself, John Dillinger.
If only Mom and Dad Cladrite (and Honolulu Harry’s Waikiki) were still with us—we’d join them in a heartbeat for a Waikiki Zombie and a Pupu Platter.