Ambassadors of Aloha
The beach boys of yesteryear may be gone but their legendary Aloha Spirit lives on
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The names are iconic: Chick Daniels, Turkey Love, Splash Lyons, Rabbit Kekai, Squeeze Kamana and Blackout Willie. They were the young men, some in their teens, who frequented Waikiki teaching malihini (newcomers) how to surf, paddle in the early decades of the 20th century.
The Waikiki beach boys, as came to be called, were as adept in the water as they were skillful musicians and singers, quick to pluck an ‘ukulele, beat a drum, croon or otherwise entertain visitors. In a 2010 interview, celebrated surfer Rabbit Kekai (now 90) defined being a beach boy as “earning your money or living down by the water.”
Long before mass tourism, in an age when only the wealthiest travelers (the kind that arrived with Louis Vuitton trunks and evening gowns) could journey to the remote Hawaiian Islands, beach boys had become a fixture among luxury travelers and visiting celebrities like Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney, Marilyn Monroe and others.