In 1949, Wallace Armstrong met Elizabeth “Bitsy” Underwood. a Greenwich , Connecticut debutante, at the Plaza Hotel Christmas Ball. Although he had escorted another deb to the party, he soon escorted Bitsy down the aisle. Shortly, after their much publicized wedding, Wallace was drafted into the Navy and stationed in Honolulu.
On a weekend jaunt to Waikiki, Wallace found himself in a noisy Hotel Street bar. Ignoring that the “Jolly Whaler” was off-limits to Navy personnel, he ordered several of their house rum cocktails. Shortly after midnight, the bar quieted down as the conga drums started to beat their pagan rhythms. Suddenly, a spotlight illuminated the most beautiful exotic dancer Wallace had ever seen.
She had long black hair with a red Hibiscus flower behind her left ear. She began the slow undulations of the classic Hawaiian hula. If every little movement has a meaning all its own, this dance was a Webster’s dictionary of implications. She took off lei after lei after lei, then she grabbed a large basket of tropical fruit the size of her torso. Whipping off her cellophane grass skirt, she left nothing but two mangos and a pineapple between her and the crowd. And then, blackout……
As Wallce ordered another rum cocktail, he asked the bartender the name of the dancer. “Her name is Hibiscus Heaven, which by the way, is what we call the cocktail you’re drinking.”
For Wallce Armstrong, life would never be the same. AWOL, Wallace returned the following night, hunting for Hibiscus Heaven, but she did not show up. Night after night, he stalked her in every bar in Waikiki, but all he ever found were more of the Whaler’s rum cocktails of the same name. By the time the military police caught up with him, he had broken every rule in the book.
When word of Wallace’s odyssey reached Bitsy, she immediately filed for divorce. After his release from the brig and an honorable discharge from the Navy, Wallace reopened the “Jolly Whaler” with a small amount of family money. He renamed it “Hibiscus Heaven” in the hope that she would be lured back; he never saw her again.
After too many years of drinking Hibiscus Heavens into the wee hours, one of Wallace’s bartender bought him out for a song. As a tragic tribute to it’s former proprietor, the bartender named it “Waikiki Wally’s”.
“Waikiki Wally’s” embraces love at first sight, fatal attraction and ruining your life with rum and alimony. For all of these reasons, I bought it from the bartender.
Elizabeth “Bitsy” Armstrong