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Picnicking at the Waipio Valley lookout on the Hamakua Coast Photo: Linny Morris Cunningham
Vol. 7, No. 6
December 2004/January 2005


Made in the Shades 

by Julia Steele
photo by MACARIO

The bucolic Big Island town of Waimea is known for cattle and cowboys, not silver-haired women in Elvis glasses, so you may be a little surprised when you walk into Daniel Thiebaut’s restaurant in the middle of town and meet Aunty Betty—the hostess with the mostest, the tutu with a twist, the four eyes with perfect vision who has embraced the fine art of eyewear and made a spectacle of spectacles. You never know what Aunty Betty will be wearing—the va-va-voom scarlet-and-sequined cat’s eye glasses that are oh so ’60s Italian Riviera, or maybe the martini glasses glasses (the right eye with a cherry, the left with a twist), or possibly the swans, two crimson birds with rhinestone eyes arching their necks to meet over the bridge of Betty’s nose. Oh, and let’s not forget those Elvis glasses—modeled from the King’s Vegas days and replete with sideburns.

Vegas? Did somebody say Vegas? Aunty Betty slips on a pair of dollar sign glasses. "Somebody said these would be good for you when you go to Vegas, yeah, uh huh," she confides. "But no, they weren’t. In fact," she laughs, "they magnetized my pocketbook." But no worries. Another pair, made by an admirer, with a little frog and dice on either side—with those, she won $2,500.

In a former life, Aunty Betty worked thirty-three years at the Pearl Harbor Shipyard; she moved to Waimea eight years ago, lives on Hawaiian Homelands with her beloved chihuahua terrier, Tita, and dances hula with Buzzy Histo’s haŻlau. She has some fifty to sixty pairs of glasses at this point ("Like how Imelda has shoes, yeah, uh huh," she says dryly) and wears them seven days a week, greeting people at the entrance to Thiebaut’s with a look pitched somewhere between Gina Lollabrigida and Dame Edna. "It puts a smile on people’s faces," she says. "You can hear them whispering to each other: ‘Did you see those glasses?’"

Daniel Thiebaut
(808) 887-2200