Hey, That’s Larry!

19 03 2011

In August of 1973, I was on my way to my new duty station at Johnston Atoll. I wound up having to spend nine days at Coast Guard Base Honolulu. Nine days in paradise- oh please, someone help me! It was my first trip to Hawaii so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and, maybe, take a guided tour. I called a tour service and arranged a one- day tour. I was told I would be picked up, along with the rest of my group, at 9:00 the coming Saturday morning at a hotel down on Waikiki. One problem-I had no transportation from the base to the hotel. So, I explained this and was told they would make an exception and pick me up at the base.

Sure enough, a station wagon, with the name of the tour service emblazoned on the doors, pulled up to the front gate to pick me up. The driver, a very healthy looking, bone-fide native Hawaiian stuck out a meaty right hand. “Aloha, bruddah. I’m Larry”.  I could already tell this was going to be fun. Larry had the perfect personality for a tour-guide. He was, unquestionably, a people person and knew Oahu like the back of his chubby hand.

We drove over to the hotel, picked up the remainder of our tour group and headed out. First stop-Pearl Harbor.

Herrrrrrrres Larry!

 Afterward, we toured downtown Honolulu, Diamond Head, the Punch Bowl, pineapple fields and all the other things tourists like to see when visiting Oahu. I took a picture of Larry standing on the steps of the ‘Iolani Palace-the former residence of Hawaiian royalty, and, later, headquarters for Steve McGarrett and Hawaii Five-O. We had a great tour and after dropping off the other members of our group, Larry took me back to the base.

Now, run the clock forward to 1979. Carolyn and I had gotten out of the Coast Guard in 1977 and moved back to Wilson, our North Carolina hometown. Our next door neighbors, Pleasant and Esther Harrell, an older couple, were celebrating a milestone in their marriage. I’m not sure which anniversary it was; but, to celebrate they went to Hawaii. After they returned, they came over one night for a visit and Pleasant asked if I had any pictures from my visits to Hawaii. Never one to be shy about showing my photo albums, I broke out a big album filled with pictures from my Johnston Island tour. As he flipped through the pages of my album, closely examining each picture, he came to the picture I had taken of Larry. “Hey”, he exclaimed, “that’s Larry!”

Turns out, while on their trip to Hawaii, six years after I was there, Pleasant and Esther also took a tour and Larry was their tour guide. It truly is a small world!

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