Aw man, I can't believe they knocked down the Fire Station. The official name was McCully-Mo'ili'ili Fire Station, and it was a broad structure that covered a wide space on the corner of University Ave and Date Street, it was an oasis of sorts. Lots of grass. Lots of space in the back, where the firefighters stayed in shape by playing volleyball. (That big net was up at least once a week.)
There, in the back, is where Mr. Wong came to drop off newspapers for us guys who had paper routes. My route began across the street, on Date, and included Terrace Towers and a bunch of apartment buildings and cottages behind Terrace on Kamoku Street. It was only to 60 to 65 papers, but it was spread out and took more time than a similar number of papers in the condos like Ala Wai Plaza.
I "inherited" the route from Vonn Rasmussen, who was a cool guy. His family lived in Terrace Towers, and he had the route wired. He could reach the fourth floor with a fling. I couldn't do it, even in eighth grade and throwing the skinny Saturday paper. The railing always blocked me, and after five, six, seven tries, my newspaper was all hemmajag. The route wasn't easy when there was basketball and baseball practice right after delivery, and then bill collection after practice. It's no wonder my grades hit the skids that year. I did meet a lot of cool customers and even cooler stray cats, though.
But meeting at the Fire Station was always cool. There were about eight or 10 other carriers there, including one my best friends growing up, JJ. One of the best things about the wait was the soda machine. It was over behind the kitchen, and that old machine cranked out sodas at just 25¢ each. One of the old Ala Wai gang, Peter, remembers that RC Cola came out of that machine. I just remember the Diamond Head sodas. Grape. Orange. Good stuff and most importantly, cheap.
I wonder where that machine is. I can't imagine where it could be now. The image of the Fire Station, the back area and the soda machine are ingrained in my brain. Somehow, an ice cold 25¢ Diamond Head grape soda tasted so much better in 1978 than anything possibly could now.
Epilogue: No more fretting by me. The old fire station will be replaced by a new $4.5 million fire station.