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'Hints' Heir Takes Hawaii to Heart

The daughter of the original 'Heloise' recalls when her mother dispensed household tips from their Foster Village home

By Nancy Arcayna -
STAR-BULLETIN Honolulu, Hawaii

Plumeria and passion fruit are the two things that Heloise misses most about the islands. "We used to go into the front yard and pull plumerias off the trees, make our own leis," she said. Now living in Texas, she resorts to ordering frangipani products. "Smelling that scent takes me back in time."

The popular newspaper columnist lived in the islands as a girl, attending Pearl Harbor and Aliamanu elementary schools from second to fifth grade. Her mother, Eloise Bowles Cruse, was the original Heloise, writing the household-tips column "The Readers' Exchange" beginning in 1959.

Having inherited her mother's work, Heloise II is now syndicated in about 500 newspapers. This summer, the column was added to the Star-Bulletin's Home section, where it runs every Friday.

She recalls the days when her mother began the column in the Honolulu Advertiser: "My father set up a typewriter for her, a small office at home." She also spent time working out of the newspaper offices.

Just two years after she started the column, it was syndicated under a new name, "Hints from Heloise," and by 1962, 158 newspapers had picked it up.

It was a time when few women worked outside the home. "No one else's mom traveled like she did. She did the 'Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson. She was ahead of herself business wise - I didn't know anyone else's mother who worked like mine did. Until I saw her on TV, I didn't realize how big and successful she was."

Her mother once ran a contest in her column that drew 100,000 pieces of mail, all of it delivered to their Foster Village home. "I came home from school, all of the living room furniture was pushed against the wall and the dining room table, and a couple of card tables were being used to open letters. There were boxes and boxes of letters - it went on for weeks."

When the original Heloise died in 1977, her daughter took over the column.

Like her mother, Heloise II has a number of interests outside of homemaking. "My mother was really a Renaissance woman. She made fabulous silk muumuus, painted and wrote music and poetry."

Heloise II rides her motorcycle or goes hot-air ballooning for relaxation.

"I'm no thrill seeker, but I don't mind trying something new. When I was 11 or 12, I used to skateboard in Hawaii. I was the only girl that would go halfway up the hill and down," she said.

"I've had my motorcycle since 1974. There's just something about fresh air ... it's calming and good for your health. She recently acquired a Russian-made bike with a sidecar, which "gives me someplace to put my purse."

Heloise still plays her mother's Hawaiian albums on an old-fashioned record player. "Hawaii is like my second home," she said. "It's in my heart and soul."

In fact, she still has the hula implements that her mother bought for her. "She wrote my name on the inside so when I went to hula lessons, they wouldn't get left behind."

Sounds like the kind of tip Heloise - either one - would pass on.

Nov 21, 2008

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