Friday, May 24, 2013 was Senior Skip Day at Punahou. Remember the fun of that day at Kikila, the White Estate, located across from Pounders? Did you know that the gift of this day can be traced back to the antics of members of the Punahou Class of 1941 a.k.a. Punahou’s “Greatest Centennial Class”)?
Ever wonder how Senior Skip Day came to be observed at Punahou? If you said it was because of seniors skipping class you’d be right. But you may be surprised to learn that the precedent-setting exodus came not at the end of the year, the time at which it is celebrated today, but nearer to its start.
On November 5, 1940 a large group of students headed for the beach on what was a self-selected holiday. What followed was a situation that caused me to literally laugh out loud while I read Ka Punahou’s coverage of the story. See if you feel the same way.
ELECTION DAY RETURNS BRING STARTLING UPSETS TO MANY: EIGHTY ‘VOTERS’ STUFF BALLOT BOX AT MAKAPUU BEACH — Ka Punahou, 12 Nov. 1940: 1.
“It was fun, but it sure turned out a lot different from what we anticipated,” was the general remark made by the members of the school who cut last Tuesday morning.
What was intended as a gay lark was turned into a far more serious matter when about 80 boys cut school Tuesday morning and headed out for Makapuu. Because of the unselfish thoughtfulness of Cline Mann (’41) and Mary Hodge (’41), the truants were encouraged to return to school at lunch time. The boys, failing to realize the seriousness of the situation, had previously disregarded the attempts of Eddie Ching and Stanley Mott-Smith to make them return to school.
The idea of the whole thing was that the public schools were having a holiday of election day. “Us old men gotta vote, eh?” the boys said. The result was that on Tuesday morning they got together very hurriedly, counted a few noses and “hauled” out to Makapuu. When the last car arrived, the boys were elated to see that there were 18 cars and about 80 boys in the jolly group.
For a while they were quite happy and gay, romping on the sands and swimming in the surf, not to mention a few other forms of entertainment. Suddenly, from the top of the hill horns started blaring and hands started waving. Cline and Mary had arrived of their own accord and spread the news around that the boys had better go back to school or suffer the consequences. Then their whole attitude changed. There was a mad dash for cars and a hurried change of clothes. Some of the boys didn’t even take time to remove their bathing suits. They put their pants on over them and took off for town.
On the way in to town the boys began to contemplate what school they wanted to go to next. They even went so far as to learn the alma maters of several of the other schools.
The whole bunch stopped at the Blue Bird for a hurried bite of lunch and then returned to school. They arrived on the campus sunburned, sandyhaired, barefooted, and a little apprehensive as to what their reception was going to be.
Everything went fine until the next morning when Mr. Shepard [Punahou’s President 1929-1944] read off a long list of names of people to see him during the day. Mr. Shepard talked the situation over with all the boys, getting their stories and various opinions. Mr. Shepard acknowledged the fact that the whole matter was first a prank, but he said that the seriousness of the matter lay in the fact that the boys took the law of the school by means of mob rule and that was far more serious than just an ordinary cut.
A faculty meeting was held and then a special meeting of the board of trustees to decide on what was to be done. Meanwhile all sorts of ugly rumors were spreading around. Two weeks suspension was the most frequent one. Finally, on Friday morning, Mr. Shepard spoke before the assembly on the matter; but he explained the whole situation, and then delivered the long-awaited-for decision. All of the people who cut were placed on probation and the whole bunch of them will have to go to school the day after Thanksgiving. There were sighs of relief all over Dillingham Hall. The boys all admitted that the punishment was very fair and just.
But was the punishment so easy? Not really. Read the next blog post for more on that.
Editor’s Note: The Blue Bird was an ice cream shop in Waikiki. A few girls were also involved in the escapade.