Peter, one of the original Ala Wai Park lifers, suggested these places for the Ala Wai Soul lists:
• Fastop. During college, I won a contest that gave me $5 worth of free food each week for a year. I was a sucker for the pecan pie slices, but after awhile I got tired of those and even the hot dogs. The Ala Wai boys, though, never tired of any free food.
• Parker Books. We would catch the bus to Pearl City and check out the comics. An older African-American man owned the place, and along with Kam Swap Meet and the monthly Comic Convention at Mo'ili'ili Community Center, was one of the stops for any comic collector back in the mid- to late-1970s.
• Kam Drive-In. We saw some films there, can't remember what. As I mentioned, my biggest memory of the place was all about comics. JJ and I would meet up after delivering Sunday morning newspapers and take the bus from Mo'ili'ili to Kam Drive-In. Comics were kept in low-grade plastic covers back then and the sun would practically melt them enough that you could smell it. Mylar was a few years away. I often spent more money at Fun Factory next door at Pearlridge than I did on comics. Spent $19 once. That was a tragedy.
• Froggie's/Jelly's. Froggies was another comic-book landmark. I wasn't there much, but all the comicholics I knew went there a lot. Some of them got into the Dungeons and Dragons games, including my brother, Kimo. I'm not saying they were dorks and nerds. That wouldn't be my place.
• Masu's Massive Plate Lunch. Right by Ala Moana. Massive is right. We often got there late (no car) and took whatever they had left, which was usually the ono and sweet teri chicken, and also the hearty chili. Masu's eventually relocated to Liliha, but the owners retired a couple of months ago. The newspapers and TV stations gave Masu's their proper due.
• Kewalo's lunch wagon. Peter is big on this memory, but I hardly ate there. May or may not still be there.
• Likelike Drive-In. Again, Peter is fond of the place. An alternative to Zippy's for a late-night scarf, he writes. I'm no fan of LIkelike, though. The food is average at best.
• Diner's. Excellent nomination by Peter. The locations were on Beretania near Mo'ili'ili Field and even Kalakaua near the old police station. For us broke kids, the $1.25 hamburger special was a must. The chain shut down several years ago, essentially replaced by the much more successful L&L Drive In chain.
Kimo notes that the most unique thing about the old soda machine at the fire station was that it was an original RC Cola soda machine. Most people have forgotten that RC Cola regularly beat Coca Cola and Pepsi in taste tests. I liked RC pretty good, but not enough to miss it like I missed 7-Up. Good thing they brought 7-Up back recently. Still the best of the lemon-lime sodas.