I was out over the weekend with friends and the question came up about whether there was a sandbox at Ala Moana shopping center or not.  The answer of course is ‘YES’ there was.

My friends know I have a great memory for things from my childhood but I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch yesterday.  My theory is that our brains are like hard drives and that once they get filled to capacity they have to purge useless information to make room for new data.  Funny thing about my brain is a crap load of old useless stuff is stuck in there like commercial jingles and cartoon theme songs from the 70’s.  To this day I can sing them all verbatim and can even recite Wrestling Hawaii locker room interviews.

So back to the sandbox.  The good thing about it was that back in the day parents could drop their kids off at the sandbox, do their shopping, and return four hours later and the kids would still be there.  Can you imagine parents doing that today?  I remember the sandbox had those concrete turtles and ladders to climb on and of course cigarette butts and those mysterious black Cheetos left behind by the neighborhood cats.  LOL.

Ala Moana back in the day was more grungy and fun.  Remember all those totem pole water fountains made from ceramic pots?  Once I was running around on the wet bench outside of Longs and slipped and fell in the fountain.  Before the high-end shops made their appearance at the mall the walkways were all asphalt with gum spots everywhere.  Do you remember Keiki Land?…the first arcade complete with a merry-go-round, boat ride, and a whirlybird helicopter.  Shirokiya was the place to go to buy your action figures…..Rainbowman, Kikaida, Kamen Rider, Zaboga, Daimond Eye, Raideen, Go Rangers.  Pete’s Modelcraft had all the cool hobby stuff.  I got my first BMX bike from Eki Cyclery….a Mongoose with motomags!  Honsport was the sporting goods store, and if you wanted morning breeze or fake doo doo Party Center was the place to go.  I picked up my first album, Cheap Trick’s Dream Police, from DJ’s Sound City.  Street level makai was the mysterious side of the mall.  India Imports had weird stuff and remember those wooden Indians in a barrel with a spring loaded da kine?  We would check those out in the bowels of Sears.  I got my first Boogey Board and skateboard from Penney’s of all places before they added the “JC” to their name.  The first surf shops I can remember were Hawaiian Island Sports, which later changed to “Creations” and Sera’s.  Who remembers the huge bird cage between Liberty House and Shirokiya?

Here’s one that nobody seems to remember.  Do you remember the large Santa before his eye job?  When I was a kid Santa has small cheerful eyes.  Then sometime in the 80’s I think they gave him those large evil eyes ala Sta Puft Marshmallow man from Ghost Busters.

Kramers man of the month, Woolworth’s chicken, the smell of incense at Iida’s, the giant dented ornaments on the Christmas trees, haircuts at Thom’s Barber Shop, The Ritz, Lynn’s Delicatessen, Connie Conrad from Security Diamond & Conrad Jewelers, San Francisco Rag Shop, etc. etc.  Soooo many great memories…..too many to list.

What were some of the shops or experiences you had at Ala Moana from back in the day?  Let me know, so I can fill my brain with more useless stuff.  hahaha.

K-den, Paul

Bird-Cage-Small da birdcage

koi pond had way more Koi back in the day

04_Ala Moana_1962_MOA  remember this fountain?

07_Ala Moana_interior_1971_1  the object was to get the Koi to eat your finger

Pete's is this pic from Ala Moana or Pearlridge?

woodmanlift the barrel, and BOING!








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6 Responses to Old School Ala Moana Shopping Center

  1. Annie says:

    Does anyone know where i can find an old commercial for Ala Moana holiday season during the late 1970’s

  2. Wesley Chang says:

    My dad used to take me to an all you can eat japanese food restaurant next to the big birdcage!

    • Craig Suyama says:

      Mr. Chang, so did my dad and mom. I remember sitting in the half circle booth and eating their delicious shrimp tempura! What memories. If anyone remembers the name of that restaurant at the top of the stairs next to the birdcage, please let me know. Thanks.

  3. Kenneth K Guerrero says:

    The shot of Pete’s model craft is indeed the Ala Moana store as you can just make out the hood of a car parked out front. Pearl Ridge had a Pete’s as well but it was inside on the mauka side of what is now known as uptown.

  4. Phil says:

    Man, that brought so many memories back. As a college student at BYUH in the early seventies fresh from New Zealand Ala Moana was a fantastic place. Eating a prince plate from Patti’s by the fountain next to the escalator that went up to Liberty House; buying an engagement ring down at Conrad Jeweller’s by Sears; lugging that green basket around Longs (usually full of saimin and my girlfriend’s makeup purchases) while it banged into my legs – hated those things; Hotei-ya downstairs, Shirokiya upstairs; the high class stuff at Liberty House; before I met my girlfriend (later wife), spending the day there buying books from Honolulu Bookshop and records from House of Music, with a side trip across Piikoi to Records Hawaii; waiting while she tried on half the store in Hartfield’s. Then lugging all the shopping over to the bus stop to catch TheBus back home to Laie, eating some yummy cold manapua leftover from the Patti’s lunch on the ride back. Wonderful days. Too bad Ala Moana isn’t for locals any more. Was a fantastic place.

  5. Patrick Abe says:

    You bought your first record from DJ’s Sound City? Such a waste, I went local and bought “A Fistful of Dollars” soundtrack at House of Music. (100% local.) As a photographer, I looked at photo equipment new and old at Francis Camera Shop, where I checked out Agfachrome against Kodachrome. Did you forget Iida’s, where one could buy workaday Japanese kincknacks and stuff too downscale for hoity toity Shirokiya. Yep, Ala Moana Center is so upscale these days, that I prefer the almost-as-stuffy Pearlridge Shopping Center rather than dodge the who-knows-where-the-roadblock-is freeway repair projects. Looking at the photo of the fountain, I wonder if it really existed back then, when $1.25 was the hourly wage, and gasoline was less than 50 cents a gallon.

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