Where Hawaii Played
by Arthur Suehiro with
text by George Engebretson
Above: Herman Wedemeyer
1995, Watermark Publishing
Below: Herman Wedemeyer, triple threat for St. Louis High School,
note: Honolulu Stadium is a beautiful "coffee table"
style book with gorgeous photos and interesting text about the
colorful history of one of the great old American ballparks.
No landmark reflected the local culture of Hawaii in "da
old days" quite like the beloved Termite Palace. Whether
your interest is sport or Hawaiiana, you will love this book.
It is available at bookstores in Honolulu, or you may order it
directly from author Arthur Suehiro at email@example.com.
The following is an excerpt
from the chapter "Football Fever":
A gridiron star at
St. Louis High School and an All-American at St. Marys
College in California, Herman Wedemeyer played pro football for
the Los Angeles Dons and the Baltimore Colts, as well as professional
baseball for the San Francisco Seals (now the Giants). He later
served with Hawaiian Airlines and on the Honolulu City Council
and State House of Representatives and is vice president of public
relations and promotions for the Toyota Auto Division of Servco
Pacific. Wedemeyer also played the featured role of Duke on "Hawaii
My family moved to Honolulu from
the Big Island, where I was born, when I was five. Kalihi Uka
Park was our front yard. There were nine kids in the family.
Im the oldest and my brother Charlie the youngest. Our
father was quite an athlete and played in the Hawaii Senior Baseball
League for the Wanderers and the Hawaiians. Sports ran high in
I was offered a baseball scholarship
at St. Louis where coach Charlie "Fat" Fernandez and
Francis Funai took us to championships. In football John McColgan
was our head coach, assisted by Sam Kapu and the Joy brothers,
Barney and Biggy, who handled the line. Hiram Kaakua, the "Black
Grange," and Tony Morse, who were legends in their time,
coached the backfield. Needless to say, we did well.
As a youngster, I idolized our local
playersJoe Kaulukukui, Nolle Smith, John Olmos, John Gomard.
I attended Roosevelt when these players won the 1939 ILH [Interscholastic
League of Honolulu] championship. I adapted my own running style
from the high stepping of Nolle, the deceptive, silky-smooth
moves of Joe Kaulukukui, and a combination of both Johns. To
enhance my running I played without the cumbersome hip pads and
just taped pieces of sponges to my hipsless weight and
not as binding.
I was lucky, I guess. One of the
things I was able to do was make quick decisions on the field.
I recall one game against McKinley where they punted and one
of their players grounded the ball, then tossed it to an official,
who turned away and let it bounce around loose. The whistle hadnt
blown and it was still a live ball, so I picked it up and returned
it like a frightened rabbit to their five-yard line. We scored
a TD on the next play. I still tingle with excitement thinking
about those timeslike getting caught by a quick kick that
sailed over my head. I retrieved the ball only to find 11 guys
coming at me. So I kicked it backwhich Id learned
from Kaakuato their ten-yard line. Then we intercepted
their pass on the next play for a TD. Of course, possession of
the ball is todays style of play; you dont see a
kick-off of a kick anymore. But it made for exciting football
and thats what we were: entertainers ready to put on a
show at the snap of a ball.
Stadium was always at capacity on football season weekends. Just
picture the fans arriving in open streetcars hanging on to the
rails because there were no more seats. Going home was the same
High school games were colorful.
The Stadium had it and saw it all: tears and laughter, winners
and losers. Perspiration-uniformed warriors decked with fragrant
leis, their faces bloodied and their shins skinned, embraced
by both friends and foes.
Honolulu Stadiumit was another
day, another time.
Below: Program for induction
into the College Football Hall of Fame, 1979.
was during World War II that high school football really came
into its own as the towns biggest crowd-pleaser. With many
UH [University of Hawaii] players marching off to war, an 11th-hour
Stadium win over Willametteon December 6, 1941marked
the end of Rainbow football until after V-J Day. It fell to the
ILH, then, to fill the gap. This was accomplished with a host
of talented players, most notably St. Louis triple-threat Herman
Wedemeyer. After his Stadium years, Wedemeyer went on to St.
Marys College in California, earning All-American honors
alongside Armys Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard. Named the
countrys Best College Back of 46 by sportswriting
guru Grantland Rice, Wedemeyer is still considered one of the
best (the best, many say) football players in Hawaii football
for Charlie Wedemeyer's memories of Honolulu Stadium.
to see Al Harrington celebrating a victory in Honolulu Stadium.