Nostalgia, Punahou, Sports

Al Harrington, my JV football teammate — 66 years later

Al Harrington and Moi

The site:  Kincaid’s restaurant, near the waterfront, midway between downtown Honolulu and famed Waikiki Beach and its concentration of resort hotels.

Margie and I were hosting, for dinner, Jonathan Lyau, his wife Kelli, and their two delightful kids, Sierra and Spencer.  Jonathan has been my running coach since 1997 — first in Team in Training, a fundraising program of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Since then, he has provided me personalized training schedules. This dinner was a token way to say thank you.

As the six of us were leaving the restaurant, Jonathan said he had spotted Al Harrington, at the table next to ours.  Al had achieved national fame as a television actor on Hawaii Five-O.  But I remembered Al vividly as a future football star. We were teammates on the junior varsity team at Punahou School.  Still, I  hadn’t recognized him.  So Margie and I went back in and I introduced myself.  He was good enough to say he had been trying, while we were dining,  to recall who I was.  Once I mentioned our playing together on the Punahou JV team, he stood up and greeted me warmly.  That long-ago connection brought us both joy.

His personal history:  A native of Pago Pago, Al lived there for three years before moving to Honolulu to join his mom, who was working as a nurse.

Back to the Punahou School JV football team:  Al was just a freshman, not eligible to play on the varsity, and I was a junior, not good enough to make the varsity but loving to play.

Even then (1950), it was clear that Al Ta’a, as he was then known, was destined for sports stardom.  In fact, he was the first high-school football All-American to come out of Hawaii.  He went on to play, impressively, for Stanford University.

At this restaurant meeting, I went back in time 66 years. The vivid memory was still there.  Waiting to be remembered — and waiting to be shared.