Looking out the window as rain pelts our mossy lawn and weeds sprout in the garden, I see few reminders of our week in Hawaii. I’ve eaten all the chocolate-covered, pineapple-shaped, shortbread cookies, and given away most of the colorful emery boards fashioned like tiny surfboards. From time to time I still pull out the dozen paper umbrellas — not all from mai tais — and spread them on the table as an impromptu centerpiece for dinner guests. Once I set them out at a Starbucks to bring a touch of the islands to a friend. But the memories of tropical plants, daily temperatures a predictable eighty degrees, and a cerulean ocean have faded…until Reyn Spooner rides into the room on my husband’s back.
Reyn Spooner may not be a household name for most people, but it has become one for us. Spooner is both a person and a brand. Reyn McCullough got his start in the men’s clothing business by opening a store on Catalina Island in the forties, and ended up owning his own Hawaiian garment factory, which produced shirts and shorts for sale around the world. Ruth Spooner was a woman with a sewing machine. He acquired her business in 1962. The Hawaiian shirt business took off when Reyn and others in the clothing industry persuaded local employers to allow their workers to wear casual dress once a week. Thus the birth of Aloha Friday.
Having hung out at bus stops in downtown Honolulu on days other than Fridays I can testify that Aloha shirts rule.
On our vacation, we discovered the Spooner brand by accident, when we came upon Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts while searching for a restaurant. My husband pawed through hundreds of the 15,000 assorted vintage shirts hanging on racks in the store and a few hours later chose one. His purchase made room for the store owner to move in one more shirt from among the 1,500 the clerk told us are in storage.
The appeal of Spooner’s shirts is that none feature lines of naked hula girls dancing across the wearer’s belly over a background of neon palm trees. The woodblock print designs are classy and the colors subdued. Think Brooks Brothers with flowers, fish, and waves.
My husband ordered two more shirts on-line. He won’t have to wait for Fridays to wear them. Casual dress is the norm in the Northwest. And he can keep Hawaii alive in our imaginations by wearing one every casual weekday.