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ala wai canal 1920 to 1928

Meanwhile the talk of Honolulu was the upcoming demolition of Kaiser Hospital in Waikiki to make room for a new hotel. Explosives experts were coming in from the Midwest. Tourists and residents alike were making plans to get the best view of the implosion. Not to miss the opportunity, the folks at Magnum wrote the event into an episode. The premise: Magnum was trapped in an elevator in a building about to be destroyed. The film crew was scheduled to shoot the hospital’s demise.

On demolition day, we crossed the police lines at the hospital. Cameras were being set in the adjacent parking. The crew was pushed back to a safe distance. Goggles and earplugs were handed out. Tension was high. Obviously we were only going to get one take.

The countdown began, "60, 59, 58--STOP!! STOP!!" Someone shouted that they spotted a skateboarder on the sixth floor. The building was searched: nothing, no one. The countdown restarted, "3, 2, 1."

BOOM!!! The explosions went off like an earthquake. A pregnant half-moment hung in the air as the structure’s skeleton collapsed. Then the once-square building bent and folded in upon itself. The lower floors were crushed as the upper stories came down.

 

Then, the dust: an all-encompassing cloud that spread for blocks in all directions. It was worse than any fog or vog you've ever seen. You couldn't even see your outstretched hand. It was very difficult to breathe, especially for me as I laughed my head off in all the excitement.

The dust settled leaving Waikiki flocked like a Christmas tree. I was left with a new destiny. I had just seen my birthplace decimated as a set for a t.v. show. My ties to my childhood had been cut for my new career to begin. There was certainly no turning back now. Hollywood, here I come!

Now, 16 years later, I am working as an assistant director with the same Magnum producers; Don Bellisario, Charles Johnson and Mark Schilz, on JAG. From intern to A.D., that destiny has been fulfilled and I count myself one lucky guy.

I still glance over where Kaiser used to be as I sit in traffic on Ala Moana Boulevard. In its’ place stands the Hawaii Prince Hotel. It’s amazing to me that something with so much invested in it can be worth destroying. In the same way the lava changes these islands, so does man’s progress, I suppose. Someone’s history is now fading away in memory, but new histories are being written everyday.

Robert Scott, 2002