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johnny dollar's vault

retro pop culture and various local observations and ramblings.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
johnny dollar's vault resides in the basement of stately dollar maisonTM, amongst the wine cellar, tiki bar, and finicky electrical panel. from time to time i will unearth various artifacts from either there or from the random crevices of my mind.

please visit the new and improved pig cookin' post!

NOTE: this blog will NOT deal with any recent pop culture (i.e. since about 1990) or topical issues, so if you're looking for discussion about britney baracko jacko flacco, look elsewhere, lol

Friday, April 13, 2007

baltimore tiki history: the hawaiian room in the emerson hotel 1963? to 1970

first off, i need to thank the following sources for the images and info provided herein : johntiki, the baltimore sun, the maryland historical society, critiki, ooga mooga, and arkiva tropika.

okay, here is hopefully a bite-sized history morsel. baltimore once had a tiki bar! how do we know? it's mostly through the stuff left over, found in thrift shops, antique stores, flea markets, and increasingly, ebay.

anyways, the restaurant was named 'the hawaiian room' and it was located in the emerson hotel at the corner of baltimore and calvert streets. it operated from the early 60's until 1970 when the building was demolished ~ apparently the hawaiian room had to shut down because they were serving alcoholic beverages to minors. also, things downtown weren't so hot in 1970 or so i hear. but back in its heyday, you could go downtown, get some great tropical rum drinks, watch a show with fire dancers and hula girls, and eat probably the fanciest asian-style food available at the time (this was before nixon visited china, and to most roundeyes, chinese food was synonymous with chop suey).

these ceramic mugs, swizzle sticks and matchbook are the property of my friend johntiki who lives in belair. he's been researching this establishment for years. nice collection, huh?

and then, BAM... there was an article this past march in the sun about a couple who met in the hawaiian room ~ it's actually a landmark civil rights case, and the couple still lives in locust point! imagine ~ in 1960 a hawaiian and hon could not get legally married in maryland. read the article, it's tres interesting.

peep the interior of baltimore's own polynesian palace. geez i want that time machine NOW...

the menu of drinks available is great ~ from the collection of mimi payne. click on it for the higher resolution image and enjoy...

and thus, here is the reason that these mugs ended up in people's cupboards... once you drank the drank, you could take the mug home! i wonder how many of these mugs are somewhere in your great aunt's kitchen.

finally, whereas many tiki mugs were stock items used nationwide and internationally, this mug was only ever used at the hawaiian room in baltimore. it has kind of a vaguely kon-tiki look, but it also kind of reminds me of a mad amish guy... heheh.

[mug courtesy of collection of kohalacharms]

if you ever see any of this stuff, let me know ~ there are tons of us who would love to preserve this piece of local history.

no freakin way! meki the son :) of joann and meki to'alepai runs a polynesian dance group here in baltimore named meki's tamure, the same as the troupe that performed at the hawaiian room. so you might see them sometime soon!


Blogger Scott Huffines said...

That's some impressive research! Baltimore needs another tiki bar.

1:40 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thanks atomicteevee! i hope we get more background info from the to'alepais.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome roundup, j$ -- and thanks for the Critiki shout-out! I've always thought that the Hawaiian Room mug looked like Dr. Zaius.

2:50 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thanks humuhumu, and i just want to give credit where it's due. heheh - dr. zaius... perfect for the 'planet of the apes' from grog log...

3:15 PM  
Blogger Scott Huffines said...

Hey, I'd copy that Sun article in its entirety and post it to your blog or archive it... articles like that tend to disappear off the net after a while, it happened to us w/ freakshow stuff we were archiving. Great read!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Charissa said...

Agreed. A "Hawaiian Room" would get major attendance in Baltimore, I think. Cool stuff, J$.

11:56 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thx for the suggestion atomicteevee ~

cc: it would be great to be able to bring it back... (dream...)

12:52 PM  
Blogger John AKA Reggaexx said...

Hey Johnny $ (this is Johntiki didn't want to confuse anyone with the decidedly un-tiki blogger ID) - very nice write-up and I'm honored that you have chosen to use the pictures of my collection! Things have really started to improve on the Hawaiian Room front over the last month after a couple years with very little new information! I was thrilled with the article and pictures in the Sun and even more floored to hear Cocoanutz popping up on Tiki Central - we definitely need to put together a Maryland (DC, VA too!) luau and try to relive if even for a brief moment what was the Hawaiian Room and was is the continuing legacy of Baltimore tiki!

Also - I don't know why I haven't done it sooner but I'm adding your blog to my list - even though the subjects of tiki and Jamaican music are, or at least should be, on opposite ends of the spectrum. :-) I love your blog!

11:44 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thanks johntiki, and seein' as you've been the champion of this history,there's no way i couldn't mention you ~

hopefuly a luau soon!

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, The picture of johntiki's ceramic mugs isn't showing. I have a Skull Mug from the Hawaiian Room, Emerson Hotel. If you don't have a photo of one I could send you some. I live in Middle River.

5:55 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

hi anonymous, the picture shows up fine for me ~ it may be your browser or something? anyways, sure, if you want to email me a photo of your mug that's fine - johnny _ dollar at hotmail dot com.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey I just came across one of those skull mugs from the Hawiian Room at the Emerson Hotel. (skullduggery). My mom gave me a box of "old Halloween" stuff that she no longer wanted. You mentioned in the story to let you know if anybody comes across this kind of stuff. Cool story, by the way!

4:08 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

neat, denise, whereabouts did you receive this? these sorts of things tend to show up in the most random places.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I found on of the mugs today...It is the coffee mug looking ones...It was at a thrift store right in front of my face so I grabbed it. I was trying to find info on the my when a friend found this...It also has a yellow and silver foil sticker on the bottom that says Japan. If you have anymore information on it pls let me know.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Or if you want a photo of it let me know...it so cool and in perfect shape...he looks like a mad man bc the gauges in his ear are to tight. I love this mug...one thing I also trying to find out is it's worth but, I cannot find any info anywhere since they are so rare.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Or if you want a photo of it let me know...it so cool and in perfect shape...he looks like a mad man bc the gauges in his ear are to tight. I love this mug...one thing I also trying to find out is it's worth but, I cannot find any info anywhere since they are so rare.

1:09 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

are you planning to sell it on ebay? if you put in on ebay at auction, in my experience the item will be bid up to its market value.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you Johnny and yes I am going to action. It. I am just now getting around to it bc I was sick but that may be a blessing since it is gift buying season. If you want to see it my ebay user ID is amyboo11. And thank you for the help.

5:03 AM  
Anonymous T D said...

I have a pair of small tiki mugs in perfect condition if anyone is interested looking to sell pics on instagram search mainely decor

10:51 PM  
Blogger Charles C Hagaman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazing internet adventures!
I have the skull mug in my tiki collection coutesy my late father.....didn't realize where it came from!

1:33 PM  

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