1946 - 48 Rainbows
(Authentic Reproduction)




It might surprise many that the University Of Hawaii has been playing football for one hundred years. As a “small college program” and then as an Independent until joining the Western Athletic Conference in 1979, Rainbows squads served as an interlude and resort trip for the likes of Oregon, Nebraska, Stanford, Arizona State, and Tennessee. It was not uncommon for Hawaii to host as many as eight home games per year in order to reduce their exorbitant travel expenses to the mainland and to also accommodate those major college programs that held out trips to the tropics for their recruits and players. The Hawaii athletic teams were first referred to as “The Fighting Deans” and the football team spent many seasons playing local high school, military, and area club squads as travel from the mainland to the Islands was impractical. When Otto "Proc" Klum became the head coach in 1921, his insistence on giving emphasis to the football program resulted in a surge of local interest and the development of good teams. The appearance of a vibrantly colored rainbow over the field at the conclusion of a 7-0 upset victory over Oregon State in 1923's finale ushered in a change of the squad’s name to the Rainbows. Klum tried to upgrade the competition when possible and his so-called "Wonder Teams" of 1924 and '25 tallied an 18-0 record while outscoring the competition, which included Colorado, Colorado State, and Washington State, 606-29! 


UH claimed its first All American in 1935 when Thomas Kaulukukui, christened "The Grass Shack" by immortal sportswriter Grantland Rice, received national acclaim for his 103-yard touchdown kickoff return against UCLA. Kaulukukui's jersey number thirty-two remains the only one to be retired by the football program. All of Hawaii's athletic programs were suspended from 1942 through '45 due to World War II although as many as 45,000 fans would attend football games played between U.S. military teams that featured well-known college and pro stars. The Hawaii program was reinstated in 1946 with the popular "Grass Shack" Kaulukukui as the head coach and the team was donned in uniforms that featured white helmets with a painted one-and-one-half-inch green center stripe. Unfortunately they could not gain the same type of fan following that the military games had. They were typically outdrawn in attendance by the local high school teams of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu especially as these ILH games often featured and highlighted long-standing family feuds. Hawaii native Herman “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Wedemeyer, perhaps the Islands' best known player out of St. Louis High School, was an All American at St. Mary's College of California and a national star. His significant influence caused an exodus of the better prep school players who now wanted to play only on the mainland rather than at the local college. Following the ’46 7-2 season which included a victory over Fresno State, there was an immediate resumption of the New Year's Day Pineapple Bowl which invited a mainland team to square off against the Hawaii eleven in an attempt to demonstrate that the locals could in fact play with "the big boys" and present a major college football environment for Hawaii players. Hiring "The Grass Shack" Kaulukukui to head the program when it resumed in 1946 with NCAA "College Division" status was an obvious way to kick-start the team's re-birth after the War and the 19-16 Pineapple Bowl victory over Utah, boosting the year-end record to 8-2  helped.

If interested in any of these Hawaii helmets please click on the photos below.