You Can Meet the Most Interesting People in a Mayor’s Office.

I’ll bet a lot of the people you know have been to Hawaii. In fact, the odds are that you’ve been here. This wonderful, unique exotic place is on almost everyone’s bucket list. That includes celebrities, of course, and during my 50-plus years here, mostly while I was working for Frank Fasi, the Mayor of Honolulu, I’ve had the good fortune to meet a few. A lot of interesting and important people came to see the mayor and you never knew who your would find when you walked into his outer office. 

Does the name Martin Agronsky ring a bell? He was a network television reporter in the 1950s and 60s and won awards for his work covering Senator Joe McCarthy and the Adolph Eichmann trial. He also wrote a book about the first 100 days of the Kennedy Administration. Somewhere around 1973 or ’74, Agronsky was in Honolulu and had an appointment to interview the mayor. He and I had a chance to chat for a while in the mayor’s outer office and we ended up having dinner that night, together with our wives. Imagine what fun that was for a political junkie like me!

One day it was Wilt Chamberlin, almost universally acknowledged as the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. Chamberlin was a full inch over 7 feet tall and Frank was about 5’9″, but the mayor had the City Hall photographer summoned and despite the almost comical difference in their heights, I know he treasured the photo of the two of them together.

Another time it was the comedian, Red Skelton, who was in town to promote his paintings of clowns on display at a local art gallery. There was some political controversy occurring at the time and during his brief visit with the mayor, Skelton mentioned he’d read about it in the morning paper. Frank, just making polite conversation, said that being the mayor was sometimes a tough job. Skelton expressed sympathy, but then said that his job was more difficult than the mayor’s … “because,” he said, “I have to be funny all the time. People expect it.”  And he looked rather sad.