Every Saturday of my childhood, for as far back as I can remember, my mother went to the hairdresser’s for her weekly wash and set. That was back when they called them beauty parlors. This one was in Kaimuki, a suburb of sprawling Honolulu city that was once a thriving merchant district. By the time my sister and I were born, it had started to stagnate a bit, but I loved it.

Hopper In Kaimuki
Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Hopper In Kaimuki by Jai Mansson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

There was Aotani Fountain, where you could get root beer floats and corned beef hash patties with a scoop of sticky white rice, as Hawaiian locals enjoyed. There was the Kress store, a five and dime that sold everything from ladies dresses to electronics to holiday decorations. There was the “crack seed” store that sold Chinese style dried fruit preserved in a mixture of syrup and spices stored in great glass jars – that salty-sweet licorice scent is the smell of my childhood.

Crack Seed
Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Untitled by Randi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Best of all, there was the library. It was a block and a half from the salon and we were allowed to walk there. On days when mom was having a permanent, we got an extra hour – a special treat. It was my heaven. There, I discovered the wondrous works of Edith Nesbitt and Edward Eager. I spent hours in the children’s reading section, selecting which treasures to bring home. I loved the smell of the books and the feel of the protective cellophane covers. To this day, the crackle of a cellophane covered library book when you open it is a magical sound to me.

Edward Eager Half Magic

When my mother arrived to collect us, freshly coiffed and beautified, I’d scoop up my armful of books with the glee of a successful hunter. These are some of my happiest memories. Those Saturday mornings, in the pages of those crackly books – that is when I learned to time travel. When I mastered the mysteries of the card catalogue and the Dewey decimal system, I found I had access to hundreds of portals to different worlds. Now, I’ve got the Internet and I have a world of information at my fingertips. It’s not the same, though.

Kaimuki Library

What was your favorite escape as a child?

Cover photo credit: Creative Commons License Card Catalog by Gregg Richards is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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