The New York Times of 29 August 1920 told how Wilbert J. Root of Ludington, USA, answered that question intelligently and honestly — so he might go to Hawaii and see the hula hula and ukuleles in action. Apparently it was part of his professional development plan, as he was a teacher of dance, and it was cheaper if the army paid his way over. The strange thing is, the army agreed to accept him and then really did send him to Hawaii. Go figure…
The San Jose Evening News reported on 1 September 1927 that the “It” Girl, Clara Bow, would autograph the genuine Hawaiian ukulele that was the prize for the ukulele playing competition.
The winner was not only to receive the uke with “Its” monaca, but was to be featured on the stage of the California Theatre with their regular production team. Other prizes included cash, a Ferguson Uke, and a Sherman and Clay Uke. The audience of the California judged contestants over four nights. I wonder who won?
Ms Bow was doing a promo for her latest picture, “Hula”, and page 2 of the News carried a photo of the star suitably attired in grass skirt and lei which looked something like this.
Prizes offered were:
1st. Hawaiian ukulele, given by Clara Bow and a month’s pass to the California Theatre
2nd. $10 in cash and a month’s pass to the California Theatre.
3rd. a $10 Gibson ukulele presented by Sherman Clay & Co. a month’s pass to the California Theatre.
4th Hawaiian Koa ukulele, with patent pegs, $7.50, presented by Ferguson Music House, and a month’s pass to the California Theatre.
5th $5 in cash and a month’s pass to the California Theatre.
6th a month’s pass to the California Theatre.
.. In 1927, $10 was about the same as $600 in today’s value.
Franchon and Marco were also said to be talent scouting for ukulele players, and planned to have representatives in the audience over the four nights of the contest.
I still haven’t found out who won.
The Toronto Star 20 March 1945 was dismayed to report that the ukulele was unfit for use in the South Pacific. Brought up to associate those tropical islands with hula girls and ukuleles, the reporter learnt from Ms Belmont (founder of the Metropolitan Opera guild no less) that ukuleles fall apart there. I wonder what she was doing with the uke… Oh, and nothing was said as to the stability of hula girls.