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ISALND HISTORY: Original Coco Palms Hotel employee Gladys Hashimoto

Original Coco Palms Hotel employee Gladys Sun Hashimoto (1929-2020) was hired by Coco Palms manager Grace Buscher (1910-2000) shortly after Coco Palms opened in 1953.

According to David Penhallow in his book, “The Story of the Coco Palms Hotel,” he wrote “Gladys Sun Hashimoto’s life, like so many employees at Coco Palms, would be a page-turner book in itself. For starters, Gladys’ mother, a Hawaiian from Waimea, was sold to her father, Tuck Chow, a Chinese rice farmer who’d recently arrived from China.

“Gladys, who had been raised on a rice farm in Hanalei, was determined to get an education and walked miles barefoot to Hanalei School and graduated at the top of her class at Kapa‘a High School. During her high school years, she worked as a part-time maid for Mrs. Veda Hills, the owner and manager of the Coco Palms Lodge.”

When the Coco Palms Lodge became the Coco Palms Hotel after Lyle Guslander (1914-1984) bought it in 1953, Gladys stayed on.

Of her days at the Coco Palms Hotel, Gladys recalled that “I was hired as the telephone (PBX) operator and also handled the check ins and check outs at the front desk. At first I had the night shift, and Lily Bender had the day shift. Lily did the best hula in the Coco Palms employee show. I was also in the show. Three of us danced and sang a Japanese song while wearing kimonos.

“Later on, I learned everyone’s job. I did Elsie Hoopii’s reservationist job when she wasn’t at work. I even did bookkeeping for Albert Teraoka.”

For years, Gladys Hashimoto also coordinated the Easter celebration at Coco Palms.

“I loved every minute of it, but I’ve heard there was a lot of arm twisting and bribery by Grace to get certain employees to wear the hot pink bunny suit on Easter Sunday. Some of the Easter bunnies were Joseph Iokepa Mederios, Edgar Cummings and Lopaka Mansfield,” she said.

When the Beachboy Hotel opened in 1970, Gladys Hashimoto became its office manager.

Gladys Hashimoto and her husband, Albert Hashimoto, had two children, Patricia and June.
Source: The Garden Island

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