My Mission

Robert Sale-Hill’s poem, The True Origin and History of “The Dude” (The New York World, January 14, 1883) introduced the world to the word Dude, and kicked off a full-on Dude craze. A-Dude-a-Day[i] Blog is dedicated to preserving and sharing pics, pieces and poems from the early days of the Dude-craze of 1883. You can read more about the history and origin of the word Dude on my blogpost, "Dudes, Dodos and Fopdoodles" on my other blog, Early Sports 'n' Pop-Culture History Blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dude #38 - Hawaiian Dudes

King Kalakaua - Early Hawaiian "Dude"

 The word "dude" has long been associated with surf culture - and Hawaii is the home of surf culture.  It should not be surprising then, that there have been "dudes" in Hawaii for nearly as long as there have been "dudes."

 In January of 1883, the word "Dude" debuted - and no corner of the globe was safe from Dudedom.  By mid-1883, there were no fewer than two "Dudes" in Hawaii:

Honolulu progresses with the rest of the civilized world and now possesses two real live dudes who disport themselves languidly through our streets.  The following conversation, overheard on Saturday evening, will at once show the high intellectual faculties of this new genus of the human race:

First dude, with an embarrassed smile – “Say, Augustus, I really believe I’ve broken a corset lacing.  Have you an extra one with you?”

Second dude, with an expression of horror – “Really! Why, Algernon, where could you fix it if you had one? The gyurls are all looking at us, you know.”

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu), August 11, 1883, page 5.

But as in most things, all good things must come to an end:

The dudes have departed and once more life in Honolulu is hollow. . . .

When last seen the dude was sheltering his lovely complexion with a bright red parasol, his hat being off to allow the balmy breeze to cool his burning brain. . . .

Honolulu has lost its dude but still retains its dandy, who, rejoicing at the departure of his opponent, appeared on Tuesday afternoon in town and on the wharf most aesthetically attired in a green silk coat, dark silk skin tight unmentionables, and a stove pipe hat.  If to gain notoriety is the man’s object he certainly succeeds in his endeavors.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu), August 11, 1883, page 5.

King Kalakaua even saw the dude off when it departed:

Departure of the Mariposa.

The largest crowd that has ever witnessed the departure or arrival of a steamer at Honolulu, except when His Majesty arrived from his tour round the world, assembled Tuesday at the Oceanic Steamship Co.’s wharf at the time the Mariposa sailed. . . .  Among those present were his Majesty the King . . . [and] H. R. H. Princess Likelike . . . .

The band has gone, the dude has gone and many kind and dear friends have gone and here endeth the first trip of the Mariposa.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu), August 11, 1883, page 3.

Although those two dudes may have been the first reported sightings of "Dudes" in the Kingdom of Hawaii, they had been on the look-out for them for some months. In early June, one local newspaper sent a reporter out to survey local “experts” to learn what to look out for:

The Dude.

There has been a great deal written and printed of late concerning the “dude.” This animal is very different from the well-known “dodo,” and needs a fuller description than has yet been given to the readers of these islands, as there is some danger of confounding him with the better known animal above mentioned.
In order to add to a somewhat meager fund of information on the important subject assigned him, the writer interviewed several authoritative gentlemen of the city, with the following results:

Mr. Henry Farquhr Hebbard said: “The dude is an American caricature of the English swell. The New York dude is the best variety of the American species, the San Francisco variety is the worst; for the latter nearly always ingrafts a few hoodlum shoots on the imported stock.  When a Honolulu boy goes to Frisco and comes back a dude, there is probably no help for him.  He ought to be drowned, at least eleven miles from shore.”

This was comprehensive but not specific.  Mr. G. Carson Kenyon said: “The dude is an exotic in these islands.  He does not encourage street improvement, except by wearing out the sidewalks; but he does help to hold up the lamp posts, and is therefore not to be discouraged.  In my capacity as editor of the Bulletin I have been compelled to prod him with my powerful pen; but as an instructor in the educational department of my friend Mr. Gibson’s government, I am compelled to desire to get a chance to educate him.”

This was even less specific.  The president of the Society for the Total Supression of Puns said: “Why, a dude’s a dude.  You can’t catch me on any snap like that.”

This was discouraging.  Knowing the vast fund of knowledge possessed by the late Cactus McCrakem, the writer called upon that lamented writer’s relict and inquired if there were anything in his posthumous papers on the momentous topic of the dude.  The writer was kindly received.  The old lady rummaged through a voluminous pile of papers and at last ond a yellow tinted and musk scented sheet of note paper.  It was written in the well-known hand of the dear departed Mrs. Negus, and was headed “My Boy Cactus – A Valentine.” It was cast in the form of a parody, as follows:

What is that, mother?
The dude, my boy;
A thing of beauty, a thing of joy.
List, oh list, to his musical croak
And note the age of his latest joke.

What is that, mother?
The dude, my child.
His eyes are liquid, his speech is mild.
Neat and natty and new is he
And his trousers are wonderful to see.

What is that, mother?
The dude, my dear.
There never was any one half so queer,
His arms are lithe and his hands are slim
And very genteel the knees of him.

What is that, mother?
The dude, my sweet.
They fitted him out on some Frisco street.
Go thou, my son, go likewise, do,
And you shall be called a dudu, too.
The Saturday Press (Honolulu), June 2, 1883, page 1.

Although the people were generally critical of “Dudes,” King Kalakaua was more tolerant– in 1888, the King was a dude himself:

King Kalakaua has the reputation of being a “dude.” A prominent London tailor makes all his clothes.

The Abbeville Press and Banner (Abbeville, SC), August 29, 1888, page 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment