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After months of planning our dream vacation to Hawaii under the guiding hand of our travel agent, Peggy Doyle, Jim and I were finally on our way up the Atlantic City Expressway to the airport with a light snow on the ground. Pacifico Valet dropped us at the airport and our 7 a.m. US Airways flight left on time.
We survived the 11-hour flight to paradise, and upon landing in Honolulu were picked up by a black limo and whisked away to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Arriving the day before the start of our tour, we had the opportunity to have lunch at the Willows, Hawaii’s original Garden Restaurant since 1944, with our former neighbor, Bill Sharp, who has resided in Honolulu for 25 years.
We met our Tauck Tour director, Jeff Gumble, who was ready to guide us through four islands during the next 12 days. Early Monday, we were on our motor coach headed for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, a poignant reminder of the tragedies of war. Following a sightseeing tour of the Punchbowl Crater, Hawaii State Capitol and Washington Place, the governor’s mansion, we returned to our hotel to prepare for a private after hours welcome reception and dinner at the Pacific Aviation Museum. Following our Tuesday morning tour of the island, checking out the spot where the Burt Lancaster/Deborah Kerr love scene in “From Here to Eternity” was shot, we gathered on the beach in front of the hotel for an outrigger canoe ride that was especially exciting when we caught a wave and virtually flew back to shore. Wednesday we were off to the airport for a 30-minute flight to Kauai, where we enjoyed a lunch in an outdoor setting at the St. Regis in Princeville.
After sightseeing and another day to relax on the beach and by the pool, we were headed back to the airport for another 30-flight to the island of Maui. During the Drums of the Pacific Luau, complete with imu ceremony and buffet dinner, this columnist wound up on stage learning the hula. I had to go to Hawaii to learn to cook and even received a framed certificate of completion from the Gourmet Cooking Hawaii culinary experience with chef James McDonald. Jim’s going to hang it on the freezer door. We toured across the island to Haleakala’s summit offering dramatic vistas along a winding mountain road. Day 9 and we were off to our final destination, the Big Island of Hawaii with a tour of Volcanoes National Park and lunch at the Kilauea Lodge. After a relaxing day by the pool, we were off for an enjoyable sunset cruise along the Kohala Coast, often sighting whales popping out of the water. A trip to the famed Kona coffee-growing region, a visit to the Pu’uhonua (Place of Refuge) and Painted Church followed by a stop in Kailua-Kona for last minute shopping and lunch, and alas it was time for our farewell dinner at Brown’s Beach House with lots of pictures taken as new-found friends said their goodbyes. With a snowstorm threatening the northeast and flights being canceled, Jim and I were delighted to land in Philadelphia on schedule at 6:15 a.m., where it was only raining.
Residents of The Shores at Wesley Manor got into the Mardi Gras spirit when the Gloucester City String Band entertained two days before Ash Wednesday. I stopped to chat with Doris Paynter and Edith Himmelberger when I arrived at the manor. Thanks to Jeff Deal, who told me my sweater was stuck in the back of my slacks when I took off my coat. Sue Clark, Mary Leap, Mary Kate Somers and Bee Ray handed out purple, green and gold beads, party masks and crowns to residents when they arrived for the concert. Linda Dantinne brought her father-in-law, David Dantinne, to see his sons, Rich and Stephen Dantinne, who are in the band. It was great to see Elaine Devinny, who enjoys life at the manor. When band director Harry Rivell tapped his baton, the band opened the festivities with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I took a seat in the second row with Jane Doran and Lillian Richards, who sported purple jeweled crowns on their heads. Lillian, who will be 98 April 3, loves living at the manor, but misses son Tim Richards, who is living in Florida. Jane admitted she is 89 and appears in promotions in print and on television for the manor. Mike Caputo, who divides his time between Mount Laurel and Ocean City, served as emcee often marching up and down the aisles encouraging others to join him. Members of the band played banjos, accordions, saxophones, trombones, drums and double bass and sported purple golf shirts and black trousers. Jimmy Rivell, who entertains at Market Days on Asbury Avenue, played a banjo solo. Joe Zingara, 89, sang “When Your Smiling” and admitted he was looking for a lady in the audience. Betty Fischer, 100, and Esther Ash, 104, had their toes tapping and hands clapping to the music during the concert.
I waved to Mary Zuccarini when she arrived during the concert and stopped to say “hello” to Phyllis Hover, who recalled my serving as room mother when my son, Jimmy, was in her kindergarten class at the primary school. Sue Clark, Mary Kate Somers and Bee Ray served cupcakes and quiche during the concert while Barbara Cavanaugh poured punch. I spotted Sara Ginther and stopped to say “hello” as I headed back to the office before the concert was over.
It was three days before Valentine’s Day when members of Exchange Club arrived at the Tuckahoe Inn with their favorite ladies to celebrate with a special dinner. It looked like a sea of red during the social hour as many sported the traditional color for this holiday of love. I caught up with newest Exchange member David Powell, who is delighted to have joined this prestigious service club. Bobby Barr maneuvered his way around the dining room with his usual dexterity while Stu Sirott, who coordinated this dinner, handed out long-stemmed American beauty roses to all the ladies. Linda and Chuck Peterson report they are building a new home in Delaware and will be moving as soon as they sell their home in Upper Township. President Frank McCall welcomed members and guests to the dinner and new Exchangette President Linda Gronert invited ladies to the February dinner at Fitzpatrick’s in Somers Point, then gave a beautiful prayer. Vonnie Price joined husband, Ed, before dinner, having just passed her final test for making Charity League pins. Jim and I enjoyed dinner, served by Allison Mullen and Kelly Ann Whelan, while chatting with Mary and Bill Woods, Andrea and Don Paul, Carol Heenan and Eric Wakabayashi. Lillian and Rich Ellerman report their grandson, Rylee Dempsey, a criminal justice major, is on the dean’s list at West Virginia University. Kathy Taylor, who forgot to wear red, introduced Exchange Club Student of the Month Connor Brady, who will be attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Connor is seventh in his Ocean City High School class with a 4.6 grade point average. Connor, who is on crew, is looking forward to rowing on the Schuylkill while at Penn. Jim and I caught up with Dorothy and Homer Gerken and Mary and Don Johnston as we headed to the parking lot after dinner.