Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dad Says Aloha to Hawaii--for 2 days

My father, Harold Burk (older son of Isaac Burk and Henrietta Mahler Burk) was a self-employed travel agent in New York City. He was often offered "fam trips" (familiarization trips) to various destinations, so he could see first-hand what the travel and accommodations were like and make recommendations to clients.

Since 1946, Dad's travel agency had been located inside the swanky Savoy Plaza Hotel (it became the Savoy Hilton in the late 1950s), and his clients had money to travel wherever. But with 3 young kids, he rarely took advantage of these trips.

One of Dad's dreams was to go to Hawaii and in 1959, he was offered a fam trip there. My mother simply couldn't find anyone to take care of the youngsters for a week or more. Finally, she suggested he go alone, which he reluctantly did.

Here's what he looked like getting off the plane in May, 1959, probably in Honolulu. This was in the days when leis were made of stunningly beautiful orchids!

Dad was in Hawaii for perhaps 2 or 3 days when he got an urgent call from my mother: We three kids had fallen sick with something like German measles. She needed his help. He had to turn around and fly home. He brought back a small figure, like a netsuke, and my memory was it looked like a Buddhist god of contentment. It sat on his dresser for many years as a reminder of his brief trip to Hawaii.

The following year, Dad had his first heart attack. Within a couple of years, the Savoy Hilton had been torn down to make way for the General Motors building. While the hotel was in its heyday, Dad would very likely have rubbed shoulders with the likes of "Don Draper" and his ilk, especially if they enjoyed the tiki menu at the stylish Trader Vic's restaurant.

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