Residents of Boston, a city famous not only for beans, cod and scrod but for the fact that it voted for George McGovern in 1972, may get a considerable ethnic shock next week. Somewhere in the pack of 1,400-odd participants in the 78th annual Boston Marathon, maybe not too far from the front of it, will be a gaggle of boys and girls, aged nine to 15, and two adults, all wearing shirts brazenly emblazoned The Hunky Bunch.
The Dictionary of American Slang defines "hunky" as: "derogatory. A Central European, especially...immigrant laborer; specifically a Hungarian, Slav, Pole or Lithuanian: a bohunk." But cool it there, Boston. These are not oppressed Europeans fleeing the steel mills of Gary or the coal pits of Appalachia; these hunkies are from Honolulu, where the ethnic slur—except when it is directed at Hawaii's junior Senator—falls soft as tropic mist over a rainbow of minorities. Where else would a leading Chinese restaurant invent and flaunt a dish called Chinaman's Hat? Where else could a fast-rising immigrant Italian name his restaurant The Golden Guinea?
The Honolulu Hunkies are about as Slavic as crisp won ton, and just as good. They are Dr. and Mrs. Hing Hua Chun and their six children—Jerry, May Lynne, Hinky, June, Joy and Daven—and they are all members of the Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club. They are competing in the marathon at the invitation of the American Medical Joggers Association, the only separate group the Boston Athletic Association tolerates in the race. None of the Chuns could qualify as official entrants under the stern rules enforced by the BAA (age: 19 or over; qualifying time: 3:30:0).
They call themselves The Hunky Bunch because long ago Dr. Chun's Honolulu schoolmates gave up on Hing Hua and nicknamed him Hunky. The name stuck. Although Dr. Chun is a distinguished internist and cardiologist, chief of medicine at St. Francis Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Hawaii, his license plates carry the name Hunky and his telephone book listing is "Chun, Dr. H.H. Hunky."
The Chuns may not be the country's first family, but they probably are its fastest. If it were not for the Boston age limitations, four of the kids could be official competitors. In the AAU-sanctioned Rim of the Pacific marathon last December in Honolulu, the first marathon any of them had ever run, Jerry, then 14, finished in 3:09:20. Hinky, 13, was next at 3:13:39, followed by Daven, 9, whose 3:19:01 beat the world age-group record by about nine minutes. June, 14, crossed the line in 3:25:31, just 40 seconds over Doreen Assumma's U.S. women's age record. The other Chuns did not make the 3:30:0 qualifying limit, but they did well enough—May Lynne, 15, finished in 3:43:09, and Joy, 13, in 3:46:51. Dr. Chun, then 41, followed with 3:48:23. Mrs. Chun, 45, did not run in that race.
Before someone asks how one family can have so many 13- and 14-year-olds, it should be noted that both Hunky and his wife Connie were married before. The boys are all Hunky's, and are an even mix of Chinese and Japanese. The girls, like their mother, are pure Filipina. Although Connie did not enter the Honolulu marathon, she is ready for Boston.
"How many 45-year-old women ever run at Boston?" she asked last week.
"The book doesn't show any," her husband replied.
"Good," Connie said. "I set age-group record."
Hunky, a third-generation native of Hawaii, speaks faultless English, but Connie's speech is exotically flavored by her native Philippines. Visayan was her first language (she also speaks Tagalog and Ilocano).