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AWAY FROM IT ALL

A PORTRAIT OF MOLOKAI 1970 DON GRAY DON


Away from It All


Petronello Bicoy shows off one of his fighting cocks. (Pages 107-109)


Away from It All A PORTRAIT OF MOLOKAI 1970

Don Graydon

Yellow Submarine Press Index, Washington


For Sharmen

This book was written in 1970. First publication 2012. Photographs by the author except for Sid Kent photos where noted. All photos taken 1969–1970. Topographic map by Andy Woodruff www.andywoodruff.com Aerial photo by Pete Mouginis-Mark, University of Hawaii Virtually Hawaii: http://satftp.soest.hawaii.edu/space/hawaii Book design: Don Graydon Copyeditor: Jonelle Kemmerling

Yellow Submarine Press PO Box 166 Index WA 98256 360.793.9148 dongraydon@gmail.com www.graydonreserve.wordpress.com


Contents PROLOGUE To a “shabby little island” 1. LANGUAGE Waiting for the subtitles

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2. PINEAPPLETOWN Sundays by request

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3. MOLOKAI RANCH ”What’s good for General Bullmoose . . .”

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4. HOOLEHUA The world’s largest nylon-reinforced butyl rubber-lined reservoir

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5. KALAUPAPA A rare lapse into humanity

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6. KAUNAKAKAI Prettiest waiters on the island

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7. EAST END (Part 1) Pounding poi at the Hilton

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8. EAST END (Part 2) Battles in a horse pasture

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9. HALAWA ”Sorry, but I thought you were a hippie.”

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10. MOLOKAI How do you say “rush hour” in Hawaiian?”

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A note on pronunciation marks The use of pronunciation marks with Hawaiian words has become the rule, rather than the exception that it was in 1970 when I wrote this book. Printed communications at that time— newspapers, books, maps, street signs, and so forth—generally did without the ‘okina and the kahakō that are now nearly universal. The ‘okina usually indicates a break in the sound of a word, thus telling us to pronounce Moloka‘i as mo-lo-ka-ee, not mo-lo-kai. The kahakō indicates a subtle lengthening of the vowel. In this book I retain the earlier form. I didn’t care to tinker with what I wrote back then; it is what it was.


Preface to the 2012 publication I WROTE THIS BOOK forty-two years ago as my way of remembering this rare and beautiful place where I lived with my wife, Sharmen, for nine months—she as a schoolteacher, I as a newspaper editor. The book sat on a shelf, as a typewritten manuscript, for all these decades. Reading it now, I see that it still has something to say about my life, something of interest to those close to me, but also something to say about the life of Molokai at an important moment in its history—that time when it began its change from an island dominated by industrial agriculture to a future that yet today is undecided. I’ve made no attempt to bring the book into the twenty-first century, when we no longer use “he” to stand for “he and she,” when we tred lightly on use of the term “leprosy” in favor of the more sanitized “Hansen’s disease.” The text is the 1970 original and thus is not at all updated for changes in land ownership, road directions, demographic data, and so on. Dole and Del Monte have long since abandoned their Molokai pineapple operations, but the island has resisted the lure of tourism as a replacement, unlike nearby Maui. I’ve watched since 1970 as Maui has grown like a brightly colored weed, the population nearly quadrupling to a current total approaching 150,000, the Nagata’s and Kitada’s and Ikeda’s and Ooka stores morphing into Wal-Mart and Costco, easygoing Lahaina converted into a tourist sideshow. Molokai, meanwhile, has shunned the heavy hand of tourism, has held on to its stamp of authenticity—rural, unhurried, neighborly. Today’s population of about 7300 is an increase of a couple of thousand in forty years. My newspaper, the Molokai Reporter, wrote about plans to bring hotels and big money to the west end, on lands of Molokai Ranch. But this Kaluakoi fantasy has fizzled, ending up an


undernourished version of what I heard the developers of my day propose. Same thing at Puaahala on the east end and Kaunakakai in the middle: big plans, few results. Activists mainly concerned with the soul of Molokai have put the brakes on such ideas and they also resist other notions, like a wind farm to create electricity for Honolulu. Residents of a more practical bent see the economic upside of such plans. A Molokai resident shouts “Go home!” to visitors arriving on a tour boat, while a dear friend of his makes money as a van driver for the tourists, on an island with double the unemployment rate of Maui. When I was last on the island, in 2007, Hotel Molokai was still the principal center of tourist activity in central Molokai, as it was in 1970. The town of Maunaloa was cleaner than I remember it when I lived there, and much quieter, the lively hubbub of a big pineapple camp long muted. The little airport of 1970 was still a little airport. Kaunakakai remained the island’s humble business center. When I hiked down the pali trail to Kalaupapa, I was met by Richard Marks of Damien Tours, the same Richard Marks who led me four decades earlier on my first visit to the Hansen’s disease settlement. Less than two years later, this brave man who lived as a patient at Kalaupapa for more than fifty years was dead at the age of seventy-nine. After our stay on Molokai, Sharmen and I moved to Maui, where she first taught at Kamehameha III school in Lahaina and I started the Maui Sun newspaper. Our son, Andy, was born on Maui. Sharmen and I later went our separate ways. She is now retired from the Maui public schools and living well in her upcountry home. With my partner, Jonelle, I live in Washington state, in the Cascade Mountains, retired from a career of reporting and editing. But many years ago, Molokai became a part of me for a time. This book is my report on that era. And now here it is, unvarnished Molokai 1970. Index, Washington June 2012


Preface to the original 1970 manuscript THIS BOOK is intended for those who would like to learn a bit about Molokai without having to work at it. It is short, nonscholarly, and has lots of pictures. It is admittedly a hybrid: a cross-breeding of history book, travel guide, and personal chronicle. All in all, it is a sort of Molokai documentary—a portrait of Molokai today. The book is the product of the nine months my wife and I lived on Molokai during 1969 and 1970, when Sharmen taught school and I published a twice-monthly newspaper. I want to thank Sid Kent and Mark Slattery for their help in preparing the photos for publication. I also am indebted to Violet Meyer and Frances Manuel for all their willing assistance at the Maui County Library in Kaunakakai. I should mention that some of the photos have no particular correlation to the text; they are in the book simply because I like them. Maunaloa, Molokai June 1970


Honorary mayor Mitchell Pauole greets Molokai airport visitors.


PROLOGUE To a “shabby little island”

THE LETTER was from the Department of Education, State of Hawaii. “Dear Miss Sterling,” it said. “We are happy to welcome you as a member of Hawaii’s teaching staff.” It was June 12. Sharmen and I would be married in three days. “This is to notify you of your assignment to Maunaloa School for the period September 1, 1969, to August 31,1970.” In barely a month, Sharmen and I and Bill and Sally would set sail in our new trimaran for the Hawaiian Islands. “Your school is Maunaloa School, Maunaloa, Molokai, Hawaii.” We looked at each other. Thank God, Sharmen had a job. Now we could sail off to Hawaii without any worries. But Molokai? “Molokai? Isn’t that where, you know, Father Damien and all that . . . ” “That’s right. What else do you know about the place?” “Nothing.” We drove to the library. Would a northern California library have anything to say about Molokai? Well, yes, but not much.


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Our most interesting informant was a fat little volume titled Bob Krauss’ Travel Guide to the Hawaiian Islands. From Mr. Krauss we learned that Molokai, a “shabby little island,” has a fair number of mosquitoes and the “reddest, driest, itchiest dust in the world.” On weekends, “Hawaiians trek out of the back country” into the main village of Kaunakakai. The big event of the year is the annual Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race, but when the race is over, “Molokai goes to sleep for another year.” Good grief. We had wanted to get away from it all. But if we had wanted to be this drastic about it, we would have joined the Peace Corps. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language offered no real comfort. Its cryptic description of Molokai read: “an island in central Hawaii: leper colony.” Mr. Krauss neglected to include a map of Molokai with his encouraging report, so we still didn't know where the town of Maunaloa was. Eventually we discovered a map in another book and located Maunaloa at the western end of the island, in the heart of Molokai’s dry and dusty pineapple country. We also ran across a few statistics on the island. Thirtyeight miles long by 10 miles wide. An area of 260 square miles, or about 168,000 acres. A coastline of 106 miles. Highest point at the eastern end, Kamakou Peak, 4,970 feet; highest in the west, Puu Nana, 1,381 feet. Situated in the Pacific Ocean some two thousand miles west of San Francisco. Population around five or six thousand. Industries: cattle ranching and pineapple, pineapple, pineapple. We arrived in the islands August 8, after a sixteen-day ocean crossing in the Yellow Submarine. It was a rugged trip, especially for the seasick wives. We dropped anchor at Kahului Harbor on the island of Maui and vacationed for twelve days. Then Sharmen and I left Bill and Sally on Maui and flew to Molokai to find out the things the travel books couldn’t tell us. Crossing the ocean by ourselves for the first time was, by


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turns, an exhilarating adventure, a terrifying experience, a crashing bore. So too, the life we found on Molokai. There seemed no strange or fascinating or exasperating or beautiful facet of life on the ocean that could not be matched by the world of Molokai which, in many ways, was as alien to our experience as the sea. Sharmen and I settled down in Maunaloa, along with hundreds of pineapple workers, thousands of acres of pineapple land, and millions of pineapples. At the other end of Molokai, at Halawa Valley, was the home of Johnny Kainoa and his hippies. In between, we found tourists and fishermen, hotels and hovels, immense pineapple fields and tiny taro patches, slick mainland speculators and illiterate Filipino pensioners, dusty dry cattle ranges and tropical jungle, heathens and oh-so-Christian Christians, non-practicing radicals and oh-so-American Americans, hot dogs and saimin, night clubs and luaus, American movies and cockfights. And these are the things this book is about.

July 23, 1969: The Yellow Submarine sails beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, bound for Hawaii and a new life for Don and Sharmen Graydon on the island of Molokai.


Alfred Palapala


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LANGUAGE Waiting for the subtitles

PEOPLE IN HAWAII speak differently than people in any other part of America. I am no linguist, and I can’t describe the regional idiosyncrasies. But there are inflections, constructions, phrases that immediately set apart a person from Hawaii. I suppose these differences constitute what would be considered the Hawaiian dialect of English, which seems to be used by a majority of the people raised in the state whether or not they are of Hawaiian racial ancestry. There are many widely educated, professional people whose speaking manner immediately identifies them as natives of Hawaii. Almost all natives of Molokai speak this Hawaiian dialect. Then there is pidgin. Pidgin is the Hawaiian dialect— readily understood by any American—stretched way out of shape to accommodate a lot of Hawaiian words and a whole bag of sometimes incomprehensible English language constructions. This is where you will run across sentences on the order of: “My daddy no stay home.” (My father is not at home.) “No make mad face.” (Don’t be angry.) “No can.” (I can’t do it.) “Git?” (Did you


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get it?) “Him no stop.” (He is not here.) The most popular expression in pidgin is “da kine.” Literally translated: the kind. This is one of those slippery all-purpose expressions you might hear all your life, but never be able to explain. “He’s da kine for her.” (He’s in love with her.) “She’s da kine.” (She is having her period.) The meaning usually depends on the context of the sentence. “Put him in da kine” would be an order to put something in a closet or in a car or in a drawer; that is, into whatever the speakers understand “da kine” to mean in this sentence. Sometimes “da kine” seems to be used as a filler in a sentence, a way to kill time while the speaker tries to decide what he wants to say: “He say da kine Captain Cook first white man come to Hawaii.” Or, “She gonna fix da kine mango pudding for dessert.” Pidgin, in varying degrees of strength, is a major tongue on Molokai. You hear it everywhere you go. If you hang on long enough, you will begin to understand it. When I first arrived on Molokai—before I had any competence in understanding pidgin—I took a carpentry job at the Kaunakakai pier. The workmen were all Hawaiian or Japanese-American. I could stand next to two men and listen to them talking to each other and realize they were speaking English. But I’d be damned if I knew what they were saying. I was the only white man (or haole) on the job, and the only person who used that strange version of English usually spoken in California. Because pidgin was foreign to me, I usually had to ask my boss to repeat his orders two or three times. I felt a quick empathy with the Mexican laborers I had worked with on construction jobs in California. They rated about as much consideration on a job as the shovels and wheelbarrows they used, and if they misunderstood an order, it was their laziness or stupidity that was blamed. Their very real problem in understanding English was nonexistent to most of the bosses. “They understand what they want to undestand,” these bosses would tell me. So on Molokai, I


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could visualize my foreman telling the superintendent: “That new boy not much good I think. I tell him, ‘Hey, you haole, come here, plenty quick, do this job,’ he make like he no hear. Plenty dumb I think.” I was fired after one week. Some newcomers to Molokai try to overcome the language problem by learning pidgin themselves. So you’ll run across bright young mainland college graduates speaking pidgin. I don’t dig this approach myself. It’s like saying to the fellow you’re talking with: “You’re not bright enough to understand the standard English dialect, so I’ll pretend I speak your version of English.” This approach really isn’t necessary, because pidgin is nothing but an offbeat style of English. People who speak hardcore pidgin understand the type of English I speak. And I can understand them (as long as they’re patient with me). Sophie Cooke wrote a little book about her life on Molokai, and in there she tells about a relative of hers who spoke to a Hawaiian man working a taro patch in east Molokai. “Eh! You think rain?” she asked him, affecting pidgin for his benefit. David Kalaau, the principal of Halawa School, looked up

Enthusiastic fans at a Little League ballgame.


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from his taro patch and replied, “I see no indication of it at present, Madam.” To get along on Molokai, there are a number of Hawaiian words that must be learned because they are often used in everyday speech. Everyone already is familiar with Hawaiian words that have made their way into standard English: lei, luau, lanai, muu muu, aloha, hula. Other Hawaiian words in common use on Molokai are: Alii (uh-LEE-ee) Hawaiian royalty; chiefs Haole (HOW-lee) White person; Caucasian Heiau (HEY-ee-ow) Temple; sacred place Holo Holo (HO-lo HO-lo) Holiday; to play; have a good time Kahuna (kuh-HOO-nuh) Priest; sorcerer Kamaaina (kah-mah-EYE-nuh) Old-timer; longtime resident Kane (KAH-nay) Man or boy Kapu (kah-POO) Forbidden; no trespassing Kau Kau (COW COW) To eat Kokua (ko-KOO-uh) Help; assistance Limu (LEE-moo) Seaweed Mahalo (mah-HAH-lo) Thank you Makai (mah-KAI) Toward the ocean; on the ocean side of something, such as the makai side of the road Mauka (MAU-kuh) Toward the mountains; on the inland side of something Malihini (mah-lah-HEE-nee) Newcomer; stranger; visitor Pali (PAH-lee) Cliff Paniolo (pah-nee-O-lo) Cowboy Pau (POW) Finished; completed Pau Hana (pow HAH-na) End of the work day; completion of work Poi (POY) Paste-like food made from the taro root Puka (POO-kuh) Hole Pupus (POO-poos) Snacks; hors d’oeuvres


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Taro (TARE-oh) Plant whose tuberous root is used in making poi Wahine (wah-HEE-nay) Woman or girl The tortured attempts of tourists to say Hawaiian place names are humorous proof that pronunciation doesn’t come easily, at least not until you’ve lived here awhile. My uncle visited Hawaii from California and told me this little experience: “We were on Maui, and we were talking to this Hawaiian girl. She asked us, ‘Did you go see the Iao Needle?’ When I heard that, all I could think of to say was, ‘Is that how you pronounce it?’ ” (The pronunciation of Iao is EE-ow.) The longer place names often are lightly accented on the next to last syllable. Some of the Molokai names that follow this rule are Hoolehua, Maunaloa, Halawa, Kalaupapa, Kamiloloa, Kalamaula, Puaahala. However, Kaunakakai and Kaluakoi are two of the names that normally get a slight accent on the last syllable. Molokai is most often pronounced MO-lo-kai, but there are purists who will say mo-lo-KAI-ee. Some words offer up twin vowels that seem a bit awkward to say. Hoolehua is officially pronounced ho-oh-lay-HOO-uh; Kualapuu is koo-ah-luh-POO-oo; Pukoo is poo-KO-oh. But you’ll find even kamaainas slurring through these twin vowels, making Hoolehua come out more like ho-lay-HOO-uh. Another interesting situation comes up with pronunciation of the W: should it sound like a W or a V? The W sound appears to have won out in the word Hawaii, but you never hear anyone on Molokai use anything but the V sound when pronouncing the name of the beautiful valley at the eastern end of the island known as Halawa. Almost everyone on Molokai can get by in English, but about 15 per cent of the people on the island speak either Filipino or Japanese at home. Some dialect of Filipino is the most common foreign tongue heard on Molokai, and the town of Mau-


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naloa is the place it is heard most often. About 85 per cent of the heads of households in Maunaloa are Filipino. Most of these men were born in the Philippines and continue to speak Filipino whenever they can, which is often, because most of their fellow workers also speak Filipino. Union meetings in Maunaloa are conducted in Filipino. The men speak their native language at home and in the fields and around the town. I never quite grew accustomed to going to the post office or the local market and hearing Filipino spoken all around me. I think there were times I could easily have convinced myself I was back at the Elmwood in Berkeley, watching a foreign-language film and waiting for the subtitles to appear. About half the adults in Maunaloa never reached high school. So I don’t suspect they will ever be standing in line to take courses in speaking English. Many of them will continue to speak English only when they have to, and pass on to their children a combination of Filipino, pidgin, and English. Unfortunately, the Filipino background of these children

Sharmen teaches her class at Maunaloa School.


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has been pretty much ignored at the elementary school in Maunaloa. While we were on Molokai, very few attempts were made to help the Filipino-speaking children learn English or to incorporate Philippine arts or history or geography into the classroom work. Sharmen was involved in a team teaching arrangement in which four teachers taught a class of seventy-five kindergarten, first grade, and second grade children. Almost all the students were Filipino. A dozen of them spoke virtually no English. But there was no teacher or aide in the class who could speak Filipino. And none of the classes that were taught took any advantage of the children’s familiarity with Filipino culture. In fact, the kids were not allowed to speak Filipino in class. The Department of Education was more hip when it came to dealing with children who spoke pidgin (meaning all the students in Maunaloa). Sharmen’s team used an experimental language arts program that helped show students the differences between pidgin and standard English. On a card would be a drawing of a little barefoot boy wearing short pants and an aloha shirt, representing a local boy, with a line in pidgin saying something like: “He no can swim.” On another card would be a drawing of the same boy dressed in more formal clothes, representing the schoolboy, with the line: “He can’t swim.” The children were not told there is something wrong with speaking pidgin. But they were learning the differences between pidgin and standard English so they could use either of them properly. As for me, I learned to adapt. Usually I managed to get by. But there were times I wasn’t so sure. One day I was settling down in the barber’s chair after asking the man at the shop to take just a little off the sides; not too much, now, just a trim. “Yes, yes,” the Filipino barber agreed, “nice day, very nice day.”


Cockfight at Maunaloa.


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PINEAPPLETOWN Sundays by request

THE BIG DEAL on Molokai is pineapple. Seventeen thousand acres of it. Hundreds of employees and an annual payroll in the neighborhood of $5 million. Almost half the people employed on Molokai work in agriculture. And when you say agriculture on Molokai, you mean pineapple. No sugar cane is cultivated on the island. There is a bit of vegetable gardening and two good-sized seed corn outfits, but other than that, it’s all pineapple. I don’t find pineapple itself a particularly interesting subject, unless it happens to be right in front of me, incorporated into an upside-down cake. But if you’re going to talk about Molokai, you’re going to talk about pineapple. First off, let me make it clear pineapples do not grow on trees, smart aleck tour guides notwithstanding. There is a tree in Hawaii known as the lauhala that is popularly palmed off as a pineapple tree because of the large oval-shaped fruit it bears. Don’t believe it. Pineapples grow on plants. The plants, composed of clusters of long, hardy blue-green leaves, grow to a height of about three


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feet. Each plant produces one pineapple twenty months after it is planted. About one year later, another pineapple matures on the plant. The first pineapple is known as the plant crop; the second is the ratoon crop. After the second fruit is picked, a field normally is burned and plowed under, then readied for a new planting. Or as my mother-in-law explained it to her husband: “Did you know that each pineapple plant has two babies, and they name them both before they hack them up?” The only way I enjoy looking at pineapple, other than on top of that cake, is from the air. From two thousand feet up, the fields exhibit perfect symmetry and a kind of geometric beauty. Hundreds of red-earth roads slash through the fields, each field a long rectangle with perfectly rounded corners. Occasionally you’ll find an oddball road wandering eccentrically through several fields, giving variety to the hypnotizing army of rectangular fields marching by below. On the ground, each field turns out to be composed of an

Pineapple harvest in the Maunaloa fields.


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army of its own: an army of thorny, almost impenetrable pineapple plants. The long leaves on each plant are stiff and pointed; portions of the edges of the tough leaves are serrated like a saw blade. Whenever I borrowed pineapples from the fields, I did my best to get fruit from rows alongside the road. This helped prevent pineapple punctures, which really smart. A good plant crop will yield forty tons of fruit from one acre of land, with each pineapple weighing in at around five pounds or better. When the pineapple is ripe, teams of Filipino field hands wade through the densely planted fields, hand picking the fruit. The pineapples are simply dropped onto a conveyor belt which, supported on a long boom, moves just ahead of the pickers. The belt carries the fruit to a waiting truck, which takes its cargo to a loading depot where the bed of the truck is lifted off and stacked. Large truck and trailer rigs then carry four of these removable beds at a time several miles down Kamehameha V Highway to the pier at Kaunakakai. The fruit is loaded onto barges and pulled by tugs to the neighboring island of Oahu, where it goes to Honolulu canneries. Most fruit arrives at the cannery less than twenty-four hours after picking. It’s a sharp, fast, efficient operation, this pineapple harvesting. It has to be, because Hawaii’s pineapple producers are competing against pineapple from Taiwan, South Africa, Okinawa, and other areas where labor is cheap. And the managers of

West Molokai and its seemingly endless fields of pineapple.


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Hawaii’s pineapple companies will be the first to tell you their employees are the highest paid agricultural workers in the world. Despite the high degree of mechanization of most pineapple work—ground fumigation, fertilization, insect spraying, and so forth—the basic jobs of planting and picking still are done by hand. An official of one of Molokai’s two pineapple plantations told me that his company spent $150,000 on an experimental planting machine that doesn’t appear to work. “This thing is supposed to have an automatic guidance system,” he said. “I’d like to set the guidance system and let the damn thing guide itself right across the pineapple fields and into the ocean.” The heart of pineapple country on Molokai is the village of Maunaloa, where Sharmen and I lived during our nine months on the island. Home to some nine hundred souls, Maunaloa owes its existence to pineapple. Ninety-nine per cent of the employed persons in the town work for the Dole pineapple company, sole owner and proprietor of the dilapidated old village, most of which was built in the 1930s. Maunaloa has a wee bit of free enterprise—a gas station, general store, movie theater, cafe, pool hall, barber shop, and launderette—but if you want to do any serious shopping, you drive sixteen miles to Kaunakakai. Kaunakakai has fewer residents than Maunaloa, but it’s centrally located and is home to most of the island’s businesses. The biggest business in Maunaloa is the Friendly Market. It’s small but full of hidden surprises. And I do mean hidden: it takes a good guide to find what you want. But what you want usually is somewhere around. Food, pet supplies, stationery, gifts, liquor, candy, dry goods, household supplies, etc., etc. A miniature department store. Sharmen claims they have one of the nicest fabric selections anywhere. One of the aisles in the grocery section was blocked all the time we lived in Maunaloa with boxes of, well, something or


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other. Small cardboard boxes filled with odds and ends of canned foods were on the floor underneath the shelves throughout the store. I don’t suppose anyone has looked in them for years. The Friendly Market is open six days a week until 6 p.m. and on Sundays by request. Probably the nicest thing about Friendly is the girls who work there. Rose is the owner’s wife; I wouldn’t recognize her without her big eye-swallowing smile. Leo is a young salesgirl who doesn’t seem to know she’s on a job, she’s always having so much fun. Grace is a tall, dignified and gracious woman who somehow strikes me as approximately the person I would conjure up if asked to describe the perfect mother. Mrs. Espaniola is a quiet one: one of those good, but colorless, persons it takes some time to know. When my parents visited Maunaloa, Rose gave them a box of Hawaiian candy as a little welcoming gift. Sharmen and I lived in a drab two-bedroom teacher’s cottage behind Maunaloa School, for which we faithfully paid nineteen dollars and fifty cents each month to the Department of Education. We shared the property with a reddish neighborhood dog who lived under our house. We never learned whether his coloring was his own or the result of the fine waves of red dust that blew on the trade winds into our yard each day from the pineapple fields. We shared the interior of the house with an occasional cockroach and an inexhaustible company of immense, giant-legged (but basically friendly) spiders. The yard was in sad shape, but I fixed that by watering the ground around the house every day until I had an enviable lawn composed of various weeds. I installed a row of pineapple plants on either side of the walkway to our front door in order to brighten up the yard. We put in a vegetable garden behind the house but lost most of it to high winds and crawly things. Three-quarters or better of Maunaloa’s population is Filipino. The Filipinos began coming to Molokai in 1924, looking for something a little better than they had in their homeland, as did


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Mariano Acoba: I don’t mean to say that I disgrace the way I was brought up and the way I lived in the Philippines. But when I compare my life back in the Philippines and my life here, I can say that I have better way of life now.


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the Japanese and the Chinese and the Koreans and the Portuguese and their fellow countrymen who had come to Hawaii before them. They were recruited by Hawaiian companies to fill the state’s demand for dependable agricultural labor. The last big recruitment drive to get new workers for Molokai took place in 1946. A majority of Dole’s Molokai workers are products of that drive. So the labor force is not young. And the children of these workers are not all that interested in getting out in the fields to carry on the work of their fathers (and, in many cases, their mothers). One of those workers recruited in 1946 is Mariano Acoba. You sometimes get the feeling he isn’t much older than the eighteen-year-old boy he was when he arrived here from P.I., as the Filipinos refer to their homeland. He doesn’t strictly look his age, for one thing; but it’s really more a matter of a relaxed and confident manner that makes you think he has no problems or responsibilities, and if he does, he’ll take care of them okay. He is married, has four sons, drives a tractor for Dole, and also is the local union leader, head of the ILWU unit in Maunaloa. One thing you notice about Mariano: he always speaks positively. He’s happy with the way his men and the company are getting along; he likes his job; he believes in his little town. Mariano has a good life here. He is liked and respected. He has his own garish yellow Corvair and a reasonably comfortable little tin-roofed house with his favorite chair, a long-armed rocker, in the front room with the Hawaii banner and the Norman Rockwellesque drawing of John and Robert Kennedy on the wall. He pays twenty-four dollars a month to the company for his house. He has been able to afford trips to the Philippines twice since coming to Hawaii. He makes a decent living. He thanks his union for helping get a reasonable wage for workers. But he does not necessarily credit the union at the expense of the company. Mariano was going to keep out of controversy when he first got to Hawaii, and he decided he wouldn’t join any organization.


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But now he is a union leader. He vaguely remembers hearing about a big strike in 1937. The ILWU successfully organized the pineapple workers in 1946, the same year he arrived in Maunaloa. He was deeply involved in the 1968 strike that ran for two months and resulted in a contract that was scheduled to expire in the winter of 1972 (a great advantage for the company, since the winter is a slack period in the pineapple industry.) Nobody is getting rich here, picking pineapple or doing other work for Dole. An average worker is making only $2.75 an hour or so. But occasionally there is overtime; some jobs offer incentive bonuses; some of the wives work during the busy summer season; there are the usual medical benefits, and, of course, there’s that low, low rent. So most people are satisfied. Naturally, the trick in assessing life in this village is to ask what the residents might have without Maunaloa. Would they be better off elsewhere? In most cases, the answer is no. But I personally can’t help being from California and I can’t help comparing Maunaloa to other places I’ve lived. Speaking for myself, then, I know Maunaloa is an ugly town: tiny, shabby, packed-together houses, red dust over everything, dry tiredlooking trees. I know the phone service varies from bad to worse. I know the water is red when it is available, and awfully dry when it isn’t. I know the town is plagued with pineapple bugs and fruit flies. I know the roads are bad. I know there are no good public beaches, although the ocean is only a few miles away on three sides of the town. But the residents seem unaware of these things. Or if they are, they don’t complain about them. A young housewife stood up at a Maunaloa Community Council meeting and meekly said that she thought the company shouldn’t have its big loading yard right in front of a row of houses. The loading yard and the immense trucks that drive through it somehow didn’t seem compatible with the young kids who live in the houses and play in the area, she suggested. The consensus


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at the meeting seemed to be that it was up to the mothers to watch the kids, not up to the company to move the yard. So much for rural radicalism. The Community Council is a sort of make-believe city council—a group that exists pretty much at the pleasure of the company, but which performs the useful functions of coordinating community activities and helping in small ways to improve the town. The president of the council during most of the time Sharmen and I lived there was Bernard Tokunaga, who, as principal of the school, also was Sharmen’s boss. Bernard happens to be one of those miraculous people, like Mariano, who see the light side of everything in such a way that you can’t ever get mad at them. Bernard was determined to get his council members off their collective ass and into some serious good works for their town. He had some fine plans, but we were not around long enough to find out if they ever worked. It looked like an uphill climb. I went to one council meeting where community organizations were to submit their requests for council subsidies for the coming year. The typical request went something like this: Bernard: How much money will the Dominoes Club need for next year? Club Rep: Well, the Dominoes Club need plenty money. Bernard: And how much would that be? C.R.: How much we get last year? Bernard: One hundred and fifty dollars. C.R.: Well, okay, uh, how about two hundred this year? My finest memory of the council always will be the Naming of the Streets episode, which took place before Bernard’s tenure. The council had worked for years on a project to put up street signs in the town. Finally, it was going to happen. Of course, part of the project involved deciding what names to put on the signs, as the streets never had been named. “What,” I asked the president, “will the streets be named?”


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“Well,” he confided, “you know the main street going up through town? That’s gonna be Main Street, and . . . ” “Let me guess,” I said. “The first street going off Main will be called First Street, and the second street will be called Second Street and the third street . . . ” “That’s right. We were going to name the streets for Hawaiian flowers, but we decided they’d be too hard to pronounce.” I went to a cockfight one Saturday afternoon in Maunaloa. I knew I wouldn’t like cockfighting, because I’ve always been a pansy or a pacifist, depending on your point of view. I don’t like blood. But cockfighting is to the Philippines what televised football is to the U.S.A. And the men in Maunaloa are not Americans by tradition: they are Filipinos. So I had to go to a cockfight. To complete my education. The cockfights took place in a dry, dusty, tree-shaded lot at the edge of the village. It’s easy to find out where the cockfights are. Just drive around the side streets on a Saturday or Sunday. If there is a cockfight, you will see the cars lined up along the road, and you are there. If there are no fights in Maunaloa, you can try around the area of the theater in Kualapuu, about fifteen miles east of Maunaloa. If it happens to be sometime during the last four months of the year, there may be no action anywhere, since the chickens are molting during that period and are not usually fought. Cockfights—or chicken fights, as a lot of people around here call them—are illegal, of course. But company officials and the police generally respect the sport as a legitimate expression of Filipino culture. An absolutely integral part of the sport is gambling. You will not see a cockfighting arena without seeing men walking around carrying sheaves of paper money, taking and placing bets. A lot of money rides on these fights; money that is made even bigger when you realize how little money most of these people have to


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Gaming table at the Maunaloa cockfights. throw around. I know one old Filipino bachelor who sold a cow, one of his most valuable possessions, in order to have gambling money. He lost it all at the cockfights. Outside the main area of chicken fighting are several tables surrounded by avid bettors playing a game that uses black tiles that look like dominoes. Twenty-dollar bills have lots of company on these tables. In a final ring around the arena are little booths operated by Filipino ladies selling sweets, soft drinks, and food. A fellow named Agader sat on the ground next to me as I fiddled with my camera, waiting for a fight to begin. He told me that before each fight, a group of chicken owners get together with their birds and match gladiators for the next event. When two birds are chosen, a small razor-sharp curved knife is tied to one of the feet on each chicken. With this blade—it is in a protective sheath for the moment—one chicken will very shortly hack the other to death. Gamblers leave their tables and gather outside the square


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arena defined by a rope on posts. By some method I didn’t follow, odds are announced and bets placed on the birds. The opponents are experimentally shoved against each other to get them in a fighting mood. The sheaths are removed from the knives and the birds are loosed on each other. Most of the action in a cockfight seems to take place in the first thirty seconds. The neck feathers of these beautiful animals flare out, as the hair on a dog’s back will bristle as it goes into a fight. The birds charge and leap and pirouette like ballet dancers. Very quickly, one of them is lying on the ground. If the downed bird has any life left, his handler puts him on his feet and forces him back into the fray. The birds literally seem to lose interest sometimes after the first few charges. I swear one chicken was wandering off, pecking in the dirt for seeds, after he and another bird had tangled for a few seconds.

Loser at the cockfights.


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But there are people in the ring whose job it is to keep a fight going until one bird is dead. Then the fight is over. Bets are paid off; the knife leg of the losing bird is cut off and his body is carried away. A circle of chicken fanciers begins forming to match opponents for the next event. After an hour or so at the cockfights, I drove over to the post office. Next door, in the community meeting room, Mr. and Mrs. Ramos were giving a party in celebration of the baptism and the first birthday of their baby. A fellow came up and offered me a Primo beer. I accepted. Primo is the best beer brewed in Hawaii. In fact, the only one. Everyone drinks it. On Molokai it is the ubiquitous beverage. The roads are lined with empty Primo bottles. Cases of full ones are stacked in many garages. The young people who get loaded on beer and then run around creating mischief are known as Primo warriors. So I drank this famous brew, sitting on the outside railing of the post office and watching the dancers inside the meeting room and listening to the faltering old-fashioned sounds of the little local band. I could see Agader inside, slicked up and dancing. As soon as I had finished my Primo, a young man came up and offered to take me around to the beer cooler for another. We did this several times in the next hour, and by then I had decided this was a very nice party indeed. The best thing about it was that I had actually attended. I mean, it’s pretty easy to stay away from parties where you don’t know anyone, and the music and dancing is strange, and you can’t understand the language of most of the people there, and you have nothing in common with the guests. But you end up going anyway, and these things turn out to not matter so much after all. Sharmen and I drove to Kalamaula that evening to attend a retirement luau for a longtime plantation employee. A. C. Lum,


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the plantation’s office manager, was retiring after forty-seven years in Maunaloa. When Lum came to Molokai in 1923, there was nothing on the western end of the island but dry cattle range. In that year, Libby McNeill & Libby decided they could raise pineapples there, and the company brought in crews of men to start a plantation. The crews in those early years were composed almost entirely of young and single Filipinos and Japanese. The men lived in temporary work camps in the fields. For entertainment, they had gambling and fighting. Family life consisted largely of visits from troupes of whores on payday. Lum lived through those days to see the early work camps consolidate and develop into the quiet, stable, and familyoriented Maunaloa of today. His career spanned the entire tenure of the Libby company on Molokai. Libby sold its plantation to Dole shortly before Lum’s retirement. Libby, a Chicago-based food processing giant, was invited to contribute to the retirement luau for A.C. Lum, the only man who had served the company during its entire forty-seven years on Molokai. With a good bit of harrumphing and throat clearing, the company explained this would run counter to certain company policies. So something like a thousand dollars was raised from plantation supervisors and employees. Mainlanders who have visited Hawaii may think luaus are those nice parties that big hotels throw each night for their guests, with lots of food and booze and Don Ho singing in the background (or someone singing the same funky songs Don Ho sings). But it turns out that, on Molokai at least, luaus still remain the property of the people. Lum’s luau was one of the best. The food was delicious, and I don’t even care much for Hawaiian food. The luau was the work of Arthur Naehu, whose family and friends made the poi, caught the crab, cooked the pig, picked the opihi, and prepared the long rice and chicken, the limu, the sweet potatoes, the lomi salmon,


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the creamed taro and squid, and everything else that goes onto a luau menu. I suppose several hundred guests were there for the luau at Kalanianaole Hall, a ramshackle old building near the mud flats a couple of miles west of Kaunakakai. The building, consisting of a single large open room, is named for Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, Hawaii Delegate to Congress for many years who helped persuade the Territorial Legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, designed to turn large tracts of government land over to Hawaiian homesteaders. During the luau, kids and dogs played in the shallow ocean water. Outside the hall, the Maunaloa postmaster and other amateur bartenders served beer and straight shots of whiskey. Inside, Lum and his wife sat at the head table, swallowed up in immense carnation leis. Ladies dashed around the room handing out seconds of everything. Speeches were given. Presents were presented. The Ebbtides played and sang. It was a good Molokai day.


THE HAWAII HIKER

The phone rang one morning at home and I answered. “Hi,” a bright, enthusiastic voice said. “This is Roger Hawley, the Hawaii Hiker. I’m at the airport. I’m gonna be hiking around Molokai this week, and I thought I’d tip you off so you can do a big story on me.” “Oh yeah? What’s this all about? “I’ll be doing just like on all the other islands, hiking just about every place there is to hike. This should be one of my most spectacular hikes. You’ve heard about me, haven’t you?” “Can’t say I have.” “Gee, Mr. Graydon, I’ve been written up in all the papers and I’m on TV all the time. I figured you’d be sure to want a big story for your paper on Molokai, and maybe you could do a big spread for the Honolulu Advertiser.” He eventually convinced me I wanted to do a story on him, so we got


together for a few minutes before he took off on what was supposed to be 110 miles worth of hiking in different areas of Molokai. The Hawaii Hiker turned out to be a gaunt and gangly Californian, six and a half feet high, twenty-one years old. He quickly assured me he was a tremendous guy who had hiked more than three thousand miles in Hawaii during the past two years. The Molokai hike would be the latest in a long series of triumphs. “I’m gonna write a fascinating story about this hike when it’s over,” the Hawaii Hiker told me. “Then, for my birthday spectacular, I’m gonna hike Niihau [a privately owned island in Hawaii that permits no visitors]. I’m gonna sneak on Niihau and get some great color shots. Life magazine will buy ’em for sure. Then I’m gonna write a book about all my hiking in Hawaii. It oughta really sell good, don’t you think?” Then the Hawaii Hiker began his hike. But somehow he managed to get back to a phone every evening to give me a progress report. We went through a nightly ritual where I would answer the phone, and he would say, “Well, guess who this is,” and I would reply, “Why, it must be Roger Hawley, the Hawaii Hiker,” and he would say, “Right, and just wait’ll you hear what I did today.” And then he would tell me something like: “I walked down Papohaku Beach today in the nude. Guess that oughta make a good angle to your story, huh?” The Hawaii Hiker was such a confident lad, such an honest believer in his work, that when he told me he had called off the rest of his Molokai hike after only fifty miles, he did it with no trace of disappointment or embarrassment. He was off to Honolulu for some rest before his next spectacular. The last I heard of the Hawaii Hiker, he had taken his old pair of hiking shoes in to be bronzed. He also had a plaque made up commemorating one of his most spectacular hikes, and he had some fantastic plans for these items. He wouldn’t say exactly what he had in mind. But he assured one reporter that what he was planning to do would make the papers all over the country.


Near Moomomi Beach


3

MOLOKAI RANCH ‘What’s good for General Bullmoose . . .’

WESTERN MOLOKAI is not what a newcomer expects Hawaii to be. You have to look hard for a coconut tree. There’s damn little rainfall and no tropical vegetation. Dusty eroded gullies harboring colorless bushes and trees slash through the rolling hills. The first time I drove the good paved road from the airport to Maunaloa, I could almost imagine myself back in the dry Altamont hills near my hometown in northern California. Most of the western quarter of the island is used for cattle grazing. It requires about fifteen acres of this sparse country to take care of just one cow. This also is pineapple country, because pineapples can prosper without a lot of water. The entire western end of the island is owned by an outfit called Molokai Ranch, the biggest among a bevy of big landowners who control almost the entire island. Molokai Ranch owns 75,000 acres—about 45 per cent of the 168,000 acres that comprise Molokai. The State of Hawaii owns better than 50,000 acres; industrialist George Murphy owns about 15,000; Francis Brown owns 6,000; the Bishop Estate owns 4,700; the Meyer


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family owns 3,000. Smaller private owners hold what is left of the island: only about 12,000 acres, or 7 per cent of the area of Molokai. The ranch has been owned since 1908 by the Cooke family of Honolulu, which ties the ranch and Molokai to one of the oldest and best known names in Hawaiian history. Amos Starr Cooke came to Hawaii as a missionary in 1837, just seventeen years after the first missionaries arrived in the islands. He and his wife operated a school for the children of Hawaiian chiefs. Then he went into business. He was a founder of Castle & Cooke, Ltd., an agency that provided central services such as financing, marketing, accounting, and purchasing for the state’s sugar plantations. The firm grew into one of the five big firms credited (or blamed) with influencing most of the commercial and political life of the islands for many decades. Much of the land that makes up the present day Molokai Ranch once belonged to the Hawaiian chief who became Kamehameha V, monarch of all the Hawaiian Islands, in 1863. At some point, these lands went to Princess Ruth Keelikolani, who bequeathed them on her death to Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of Kamehameha I. When Princess Bernice died in 1884, the land went to her husband, Charles Reed Bishop, who already had acquired a good deal of Molokai land in 1875. In 1893, Bishop turned over his Molokai property to the Bishop Estate, an agency set up to provide financing for the Kamehameha Schools for Hawaiian children. The land changed hands again in 1897 when Bishop convinced the Bishop Estate trustees to sell the property because the profit being earned from the land was “enormously small.” This represented one of Bishop’s rare lapses of good business judgment, for the ranch today is worth a lot of money. But the land was sold—for a price variously reported as $150,000 or $251,000—to a group that formed the Molokai Ranch. The Cooke family came onto the Molokai scene shortly after


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when Charles Montague Cooke, a son of Amos Starr Cooke, went into partnership with four other men to form the American Sugar Company on the former Bishop land. They planned to establish a big sugar plantation in western Molokai. The plan failed for lack of fresh water. In 1908, Cooke bought out his partners and turned management of the ranch over to his son, George P. Cooke. Cooke lived on Molokai with his wife, Sophie, and took care of the ranch for forty years. It seems that George and Sophie were hardworking, conscientious, and respected citizens of Molokai. Cooke prospected all over his land for water; concentrated on cattle ranching while phasing out the ranch’s sheep herd (there were seventeen thousand sheep on the land in 1908, along with nine thousand cattle); raised large amounts of honey for commercial sale; started a dairy, and, in general, kept busy. George Cooke served for many years in the Territorial Legislature. He helped set up the Hawaiian homesteading program on Molokai, despite the fact that the Territory of Hawaii had to terminate the ranch’s lease on many thousands of acres of grazing land in order to carry out the program. During World War II, much of the ranch’s land was used for military training exercises, and it was not uncommon for tanks to charge through ranch fences on their way to a “battle.” A startling incident in the ranch’s history occurred in 1923 when ranch manager E. E. Conant was killed by an explosion when he tried to start his car. No one ever was tried for the murder, and even today you can hear stories from people claiming to know what really happened. The murder apparently was connected with the suspension of open deer hunting on ranch land after it was discovered that some hunters were taking their kill to Maui and selling it. The big man on the Molokai Ranch today is George P. Cooke’s nephew, Harrison Cooke, a small old man who visits the ranch about once a week from his home on the principal island of


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Oahu. When he visits Molokai to meet with ranch manager Aka Hodgins, he dresses so simply and unobtrusively it’s hard to impress anyone by pointing him out as a millionaire. That is, I assume he’s a millionaire. He owns a bunch of sporting goods stores in Honolulu, is president of Molokai Electric and Molokai Ranch, chairman of the board of Bank of Hawaii, and I don’t know what all. Aka is a young, very competent man who is deadly serious about his work. He is the kind of guy you wouldn’t dare offer a beer to during working hours. I’ve talked with Aka a bit about the ranch, and he once told me he hoped I wasn’t going to try bringing up the history of the ranch again. I asked him why I shouldn’t. He said he didn’t feel that talking about the past helped anyone now; the past is past and needn’t be rehashed. I didn’t bother to tell him how much a remark like that would hurt the feelings of the nation’s history teachers. And I didn’t point out the havoc it wreaked with America’s traditional reverence for its own past. I simply determined to find out what it was that Aka was determined to keep hidden. But Aka could have saved his breath. If there are any skeletons in the Cooke family closet, or any sinister mysteries in the ranch’s past, I did not stumble across them. The Molokai Ranch today is not universally loved, but neither is it scorned. You won’t hear many ill words on Molokai about the ranch, and this is certainly something in the ranch’s favor. It is difficult to convince everyone to love you when you control nearly half the world. And that is about how much the ranch controls of this little world called Molokai. In many ways, Molokai Ranch is Molokai. Besides its vast cattle ranges, the ranch owns most of the pineapple land operated by Dole, letting it out on long-term lease to the company. The ranch owns most of the land in Kaunakakai, the island’s principal town. It owns a meat marketing company, a sand and rock firm, the Standard Oil agency on the island, and part of a seed


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corn operation. It leases business buildings in Kaunakakai and sells some home lots. In fact, the ranch is so big and so important to Molokai that it sometimes reminds me of the big, bluff, filthyrich character, in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip, known as General Bullmoose. The old general was so powerful and so rich and so important that he could claim with confidence: “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the country.” The biggest part of the ranch acreage is used for cattle ranching or pineapple cultivation. Aka is in charge of a herd of about 2,500 Santa Gertrudis breeding cows that graze on some 53,000 acres of land. Dole leases about 9,000 acres from the ranch for its pineapple. Some of the land out on the western tip of the island is leased to Honolulu Construction and Draying Company, Ltd., which mines something like 200,000 yards of sand a year from Papohaku Beach for shipment to Oahu for use in making concrete. For some reason that big island of Oahu—with a coastline of 209 miles—cannot provide enough sand for the booming construction industry of Honolulu. The conservationist in me says HC&D can’t mine hundreds of yards of sand off that beautiful beach every day for eleven years, as it has done, without damaging the beach. But I’ve been to the beach. It is the biggest, widest, most beautiful beach on Molokai. Hidden away at one end of the mile-and-a-half-long beach is the sand mining operation, in the same spot it has been in for eleven years. From the looks of things, it will take another century or so before you will be able to tell that any sand has been removed. So Papohaku Beach now remains virtually unspoiled, a virgin stretch of gorgeous warm sand facing out toward Oahu, twentyfive miles away across Kaiwi Channel. Papohaku Beach is actually too unspoiled. I’d like to see it stirred up a bit by visits from sunbathers and fishermen and beachcombers. But there are none. For this beach, like almost


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every nice beach in western Molokai, is hidden away behind the locked gates of Molokai Ranch. For nearly fifty years, there have been hundreds of persons living in Maunaloa who have been unable to visit the magnificent seaside areas that are only a few miles away from their homes. The ranch has a lot of good reasons for keeping visitors off its land. Brush fires, poachers, lost cattle, accidents; that’s what would happen. And, after all, it is private property. The ranch sometimes gives out passes to go on its land—that’s how I got to see much of the ranch—-but you really have to know somebody to get one of these. Fortunately, after all these years, changes seem to be coming to the west end. The ranch may turn over a stretch of beach at Halena to the County of Maui, and perhaps someday the county will improve the road and put in picnic areas. The old Ilio Point Coast Guard station is now owned by the state and is a potential site for a state park. The ranch itself has big plans for tourist development of its land. This would result in opening up many of the now inaccessible west end beaches, including Papohaku. Without waiting for these changes, there are two beach areas on ranch land that people can get to, if they can find their way. One area is the two-mile stretch of beach from Halena to the old Kolo Wharf, on the southwest coast. To get there, drive up Maunaloa’s main street to where the road branches to left. At this point, turn right and drive past Maunaloa School and directly into the pineapple fields, where the dirt road begins. This road will dead-end in a fence after a short distance. Turn right and follow the fence for three miles or so. The road eventually will pass through an opening in the fence. Stay to the left where the road forks just past this point. About two miles farther, and just a short distance from the ocean, a road cuts off to the right and goes half a mile to the old Halena Camp. The main road, however, continues another two miles to Kolo Wharf, following fairly close to the ocean.


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Due to an offshore reef that results in shallow water along the shore, and a large number of volcanic rocks, there are almost no good places to swim along this beach. Sharmen and I found just one good spot: a wide, deep swimming hole with a sandy bottom, located about a quarter-mile from the wharf in the direction of Halena. About the only way to find the spot is to walk along the shore until you see a large area of water that is clear of the dark areas indicating the presence of big rocks. During the time we were on Molokai, this spot was marked for us by the cabinet of an old television set that rested on the shore between the ocean and the row of kiawe trees bordering the beach. Although this is a perfectly nice beach, we rarely saw other persons on the weekends we went swimming there. With the calm water and the solitude, it’s a delightful spot to go skinnydipping. But if you happen to be a schoolteacher or a newspaper editor or anyone else with some sort of public reputation to uphold, you should keep your eyes open for the occasional fisherman or tourist who will pass through.

Don plays with Tassa at the beach. Sharmen enjoys one of the isolated, rarely used beaches of west Molokai.


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The other accessible area on ranch land is Moomomi Beach, located on the northwest coast. Moomomi can be reached by driving up State Highway 46 from Kaunakakai for about five miles, to within two miles of the airport. At this point, turn right on Highway 481, which goes to Hoolehua. About one mile up this road, just past the post office, turn left on Highway 48 (Farrington Highway). The paved portion of this road will end after three miles. Just before the paving ends, the big FAA communications receiving station will be visible off to the right. At this point, the road enters the pineapple fields. After a mile and a half of travel through the dusty fields, the dirt road runs into a closed gate. Visitors can open the gate, drive through, and then shut it again behind them. The road then passes through cattle pasture for another mile and a half before ending on the coast at an old Hawaiian Homes picnic pavilion. Below the pavilion is a miniscule beach guarded partially from the ocean by a large area of rough black volcanic rock. It’s a great spot to picnic and to go running around like a kid, chasing crabs or looking for rocks and shells. You also can hike west along the shore or on top of the seaside cliffs for about half a mile to Moomomi Beach proper, a large clean crescent of sand bracketed by rock outcroppings. Swimming at Moomomi is not the best because the waves usually are too heroic for amateur swimmers. However, the swimming is good at Moomomi and in front of the nearby pavilion on the occasional days when the sea is relatively calm. The waves usually are too large for easy swimming at Papohaku and most of the other northwestern and extreme western beaches. Some very heady plans are being concocted by Harrison Cooke and his ranch directors for many of these beaches and the land behind them. They now envision nothing less than a $240 million tourist development, including a permanent community of thirty


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thousand persons. That’s mighty big talk on an island which now has a total of less than six thousand residents. But that’s the way developers are operating these days in Hawaii. If you’re not talking 200 or 300 million dollars, you really don’t have much going for you. Molokai Ranch has gone into partnership with Louisiana Land and Exploration Company to form the Kaluakoi Corporation, which will oversee the whole development. Hotels, golf courses, roads, condominiums, retirement homes, employee housing, restaurants, shopping centers, schools, churches, beaches, lagoons, and maybe even that pizza parlor I’ve missed ever since I moved here from California. It is to be what is known in the land development game as a “complete tourist destination area.” Which means it will be a world unto itself, and mainland tourists will be happy to spend their entire two-week vacation at Kaluakoi on the island of Molokai. Which is a startling thought, when you realize that most of the tourists who make it to Molokai nowadays arrive on a morning flight, grab a quick bus tour, and are on their way to the next island by 5 p.m. Despite my natural aversion to land development schemes, I think this particular project has a lot going for it. It has some smart men and some big money behind it, so it shouldn’t falter financially. The whole 6,800-acre project is under the control of a single outfit, so the development need not be haphazard or unplanned. It is being built on land that’s no good for agriculture and only marginally useful for cattle ranching. And I mainly like the idea that the project will open up those beautiful seashore areas to the public. There is another reason I have high hopes for the project. This reason is Ted Watson. Ted is the man Kaluakoi has put in charge of their development. He is short, sixtyish, articulate. But he doesn’t hide behind his pretty words. He seems to pay attention to what you are saying to him. And he tries to answer the


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Developer Ted Watson points out potential resort sites on Molokai Ranch shore property to architect Charles Griggs. questions you are asking instead of insistently advancing the words he thinks you ought to hear. I talked with a fair number of developers during my stay on Molokai. And how do you tell the legit operators from the quickbuck artists? They all are official land developers. They all have completed “beautiful” projects in Samoa or San Diego or somewhere. They all have money and land. They all intend to “cooperate fully” with state and county agencies. They all promise to build lovely buildings that are compatible with “your lovely island.” (Nobody is going to build one of those ugly old high-rises that are spoiling all the other islands.) They all will hire employees locally. Etc., etc. So, you check how they shake hands. You watch their eyes when they answer a question. You make a note of the subjects that seem to put them on the defensive. You look for clues to their style, so you’ll have some key to decoding their plans. Once in a while you run across a developer who is easy game—someone with a project so blatantly wrong that he is


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easily defeated. You don’t like the guy, but you feel a bit in his debt for helping you justify your cautious attitude toward other developers. One of these fellows came up with a plan to build a six-story, 200-room hotel on the Kaunakakai waterfront on land leased from the Hawaiian Homes Commission. The project was wrong for several reasons, not the least of which was his notion of throwing up a six-story building in a rural area where nothing else stood over two stories. Also, I didn’t like the developer. He gave me a sore arm, hanging on to me and explaining the virtues of his project. County planners turned him down cold. It was a clear victory for the little people and for honest-to-goodness, as opposed to dollars-and-cents, progress. Which is all simply a long way of saying it’s hard to know whether to trust a developer. But I trust Ted Watson. And I’m looking for good things over the next ten or twenty years out on west Molokai. Except for the natural grandeur of the coast, it’s a bleak area today. But ten years from now I’m going to buy Ted a drink on the lanai of one of his hotels, just back of the prettiest little beach at Kaluakoi, and thank him for giving the people of Molokai such a lovely spot to spend their Sunday afternoons.


Sid Kent photo

Murphy Mersberg pulls lining into place at the Hoolehua reservoir.


4

HOOLEHUA The world’s largest . . . .

A SEAWATER CHANNEL once separated the two halves of Molokai. At that point in geological history, the big central Hoolehua Plain wasn’t a plain at all, but simply a part of the Pacific Ocean. One day the younger east Molokai volcano finally managed to pour enough lava into the channel to build a bridge to the western volcano. Eventually the channel was filled with lava, forming the linking plain. The Hoolehua Plain was lost at sea at least once when the level of the ocean rose hundreds of feet, but the seas eventually receded and gave it back. When you drive along Highway 46 from Kaunakakai and get to within a couple of miles of the airport, you’ll come to a sign that indicates Hoolehua is off to the right, one mile up Highway 481. That leads you to believe Hoolehua is a town. But all you will find one mile up Highway 481 is a post office and a credit union building. Hoolehua is not a town, but rather a big, spread-out area of homesteads and pineapple fields. Dozens of small, plain old houses are spotted here and there. Most of the homesteads have


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nice big yards, and this space is used for any number of rural endeavors: growing vegetables, storing junk cars, raising pigs and chickens and cows and horses and kids. A funny thing about the homesteads: they were given out by the state in the 1920s as a method of rehabilitating the Hawaiian race. The idea was to give the Hawaiians a chance to make their living off the land. But the pineapple companies jumped in and offered to sublease most of the property from the homesteaders. Today most of the them live on a corner of their forty-acre homesteads and rent out the rest to the pineapple companies for ninety dollars a month, plus a bonus payment that has been running about eight hundred dollars a year. The homesteading program was a good idea, though. Because God knows the Hawaiians needed rehabilitating. When Captain Cook stumbled onto what he called the Sandwich Islands in 1778, an estimated 300,000 Hawaiians were living there. Cook brought with him the white man’s civilization and, at no extra charge, venereal disease, cholera, colds, pneumonia, alcohol, tobacco, mosquitoes, influenza, smallpox, leprosy, measles, diarrhea, whooping cough, scarlet fever, mumps, beriberi, diphtheria, bronchitis, and bubonic plague. In 1920, the year the Territorial Legislature passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, there were 24,000 Hawaiians and 18,000 part Hawaiians left. The Hawaiians that remained in 1920 were, in the words of a report on the Hawaiian Homes program, “economically depressed, internally disorganized, politically threatened.” It was bad because (shades of the American Indians!) you had a group of people who were virtual outcasts in their own homeland. A big hang-up was that they had almost no land of their own. When Kamehameha III agreed to give up his absolute hold on the land of Hawaii in the mid-nineteenth century, almost all of the state’s four million acres were divided up by Kamehameha himself, his chiefs, and the government of the islands. The


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commoners of Hawaii came out of this division with a total of thirty thousand acres, and a lot of this was swallowed up later by the big sugar plantations. The Hawaiian Homes program offered homesteads on a ninety-nine-year lease, at one dollar a year, to anyone with 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. On Molokai, homesteaders moved onto land at Kalamaula, just west of Kaunakakai, and at Kapaakea and One Alii, just east of Kaunakakai, in addition to Hoolehua. Along with the land, the government provided loans for houses. The program never measured up to its intention to turn Hawaiians into self-sufficient farmers. But at least it succeeded in getting some of the land back to the Hawaiians. There is a great deal of homestead land still available in Hawaii—on Molokai alone, some twenty-five thousand acres. But the Hawaiian Homes Commission is unable to put people on the land, principally because the commission can’t afford to develop the property for homes or to lend money for home building, and the Hawaiians who want the property can’t afford to do this on their own. So the land sits, or is leased out to ranches or commercial users. Anyone who comes up with suggestions to raise more money for the program is liable to be cut off with the admonition: “Don’t rock the boat.” In other words, if you really insist on pushing the issue, maybe we will just discover that this program is not quite constitutional, since it singles out a particular racial group for favoritism. If you ask me, what the state really needs is a homestead program for anyone and everyone. Land is too damned precious around Hawaii. Sophie Duvauchelle, a Kaunakakai realtor, tells me that home sites, when you can find them, go for up to one dollar a square foot. That’s more than ten thousand dollars for a quarter acre, on an isolated little island where there appears to be an awful lot of land just sitting around doing nothing. But that’s beside the point, because most of this property is controlled by big landowners who don’t have to let go until they are ready.


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On Molokai now, no matter what the price, you are lucky to find a lot or a house for sale, or a house or apartment for rent. An illustrious visitor came to this area long before homesteaders moved into Hoolehua and long before George Cooke grazed his cattle on the plain. This was Kamehameha I, Kamehameha the Great, who put his troops through their paces on the Hoolehua Plain in 1795 in preparation for the invasion of Oahu. This is the same Kamehameha the Great who lured his cousin to a new heiau on the island of Hawaii and gave him the honor of being the first human sacrifice for the temple; the same Kamehameha the Great who had his eldest son executed for messing around with one of his wives. Likewise the same Kamehameha the Great who took his troops from Molokai to Oahu, drove the defenders of Oahu off the Nuuanu cliffs, and became the first man to unify the Hawaiian Islands. Today he is revered as the father of modern Hawaii and as the man who gets the state’s working people off work each year on Kamehameha Day, June 11. Stories also say this Kamehameha found his

Boy Scouts rally to a good cause.


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“sacred wife,” the girl Keopuolani, on Molokai. When the great warlord brought his troops to Molokai in 1795, there were an estimated eight to nine thousand residents on the island. The population eventually dropped to an all-time low of one thousand by 1910. With the advent of pineapple cultivation and homesteading, the population began its growth back to the present figure of more than five thousand. It’s not much of a place, the little Molokai Airport that also claims a site on the Hoolehua Plain. You’ll find a little building next to one main runway. But it’s the heart of Molokai’s public transportation system. In fact, it’s all of Molokai’s public transportation system. There are no public buses to transport people around the island; no passenger ferries to take residents to the other islands. The airport is it. The Dillingham Corporation is talking about running passenger ferries between Molokai, Maui, and Lanai, the islands that make up Maui County. If this works out, they want to expand the service throughout the state. I hope for the success of this project more than that of any other on Molokai. It would break the sad stranglehold the airlines have on the people of the islands. It costs about twenty-five dollars round trip to travel to Honolulu. The average guy just can’t consider taking his family to another island. And the wild thing is, you’re so close you can see the lights of Honolulu from Maunaloa. It would be a four-bit bus ride on the mainland. The Molokai Airport is virtually a second home for a quiet, courtly Hawaiian gentleman named Mitchell Pauole, a homesteader, a lay preacher, and, at more than eighty years of age, the Honorary Mayor of Molokai. Mitchell Pauole is that alert, white-haired old man who will be standing with open arms, waiting for you as you enter the terminal after your flight from Maui or Honolulu. He will give you a most sincere “Aloha, welcome to Molokai”


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and shake your hand. If he’s in the mood, he gives the women a kiss on the cheek. For the past several years, Mitchell Pauole has been chosen Honorary Mayor of Molokai in an informal and unofficial community election. He takes his job seriously. He greets everyone at the airport, coming and going. He officiates at everything, in English and Hawaiian. He always shakes hands. No matter if you just shook five minutes ago. In my nine months on Molokai, that man must have shook my hand a thousand times. Mitchell Pauole was born on the island of Kauai. He came to Molokai in 1923, in his mid-thirties, to homestead some land at Hoolehua. He lived in a tent during his first three months on the island, offering church services even then. He and his wife raised nine children on Molokai. And he is without doubt the most dependably kind, courteous, and gracious man I know. Another person you want to see while you’re at the airport is the Gray Line girl, for this may be your only chance on Molokai to see a girl wearing a miniskirt. It was the idea of Jim McMahon, head of Gray Line Tours, to put miniskirts on his girls. This was considered a radical idea on Molokai, but he got away with it. Despite Jim’s forward thinking, any other girls you see wearing miniskirts around the island are, as likely as not, wearing short pants underneath them. The future of the Molokai Airport is in doubt right now, with state planners and various Molokai factions jockeying for position while they begin work on plans for a new airport—one that can accommodate a two-mile runway to handle big jets from the mainland. The state is eyeing one site in west Molokai and another potential site near the present airport. Ted Watson is holding his breath, because a big jet field out near the immense tourist development his company has in mind would be bad news. No tourist likes a 747 skimming just above the roof of the hotel where he’s trying to sleep in his sixty-dollar-a-day room. And the homesteaders are up in arms over any site near the


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Travelers arriving at Molokai airport can count on a warm greeting from longtime honorary mayor Mitchell Pauole. present field, because that would mean relocation of some of their homes. Quite a few people here believe arguments over the site for a big jet field are academic, since Molokai doesn’t need an airport that big anyway. They are saying that all the island will ever need is a good airport that can handle interisland airplanes. I’m pinning my hopes, but not my money, on this idea. The pineapple village of Kualapuu is spotted along the eastern edge of the Hoolehua Plain, at the other end from the airport. Kualapuu is owned by the Del Monte Corporation, just as the village of Maunaloa is owned by Dole. The Del Monte plantation


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is considerably smaller than Dole’s, and Kualapuu seems a more attractive and better maintained town than Maunaloa. But in most ways, the two operations are about the same. They grow lots of pineapples, pick them, and ship them to Honolulu. Kualapuu has a nice new grammar school, the usual sagging old theater, a combination grocery store and gas station that may or may not be open when you stop by, and a couple of other little business places. Kualapuu seems to be best known these days at the namesake of the new Kualapuu Reservoir, a big hole in the ground that sits, in the pineapple fields, about a quarter-mile from town. The reservoir is the largest nylon-reinforced butylrubber-lined reservoir in the world, and I don’t know if this is supposed to be a particularly notable distinction or not. Some reservoirs are lined with concrete or asphalt or some other material to keep the water from escaping into the ground. This one happens to be lined with thin sheets of rubber. And it’s the biggest of its kind in the world. The reservoir also is the largest manmade reservoir in the state. The Kualapuu Reservoir is one of the best things to come Molokai’s way since the volcanos. Not because it is the world’s biggest rubber-lined reservoir. But because, for the first time, it provides a dependable, year-round supply of fresh water for the western half of the island. Lack of water shot down plans at the turn of the century for a big Molokai sugar cane plantation; lack of water has hampered pineapple cultivation, since the fruit grows more dependably when it can be irrigated; lack of water has prevented any major diversification of agriculture in the area; lack of water would have killed any designs on tourist development of the west end. The reservoir, completed in late 1969, is the last phase of the $10 million Molokai Irrigation Project that was in people’s minds, on the drawing boards, and in the works for fifty years. Farmers and ranchers had been frustrated by the fact that western Molokai was getting only about twenty-five inches of


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Grass grows through an abandoned car that kids now use for play. rainfall or less a year, while areas of the island’s northeastern mountains were receiving two hundred inches. While western Molokai went without rain, millions of gallons of water a day poured onto the mountains, collected in streams, and shot down deep valleys into the ocean. Now, water that ends up in Waikolu Stream is diverted at an elevation of nine hundred feet into an immense five-mile-long tunnel, through an additional four miles of transmission pipeline, and into the reservoir. The state already is looking toward expanding the system by building a three-mile tunnel to link the streams in Pelekunu Valley with the present tunnel. The big disappointment with the reservoir, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact it is not being used for fishing or swimming or boating. It makes a great lake. If it ever gets full, you will have a lake fifty feet deep, containing 1.4 billion gallons of water, with a surface area of a hundred acres. But the only way into the lake now is over a rather formidable chain-link and barbed wire fence. The reason given for locking off the reservoir is that recreational use would damage the rubber lining.


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But, anyway, we had a lot of fun before the reservoir was completed. Before Dave Wisdom and his crew put down all the rubber sheeting, you could drive down the smooth sloping sides of the reservoir in your car and tour the bottom of the big hole. I even got a job there once, for three days. I was hired as general flunky, at fifty dollars a day, by a film crew from Standard Oil that was working up a television commercial featuring the reservoir and Standard’s rubber sheeting. Standard sent a dozen men out here for the filming, with most of them coming from New York, Florida, and California. I had the feeling, watching the camera helicopter (at $600 a day) flying around, packing its $100,000 camera and its high-priced cameraman, that the commercial probably was costing more than the reservoir. Dave Wisdom, by his own admission a “fat old man,” cracked the whip over his crew of fifty-seven local men and women as they put the miles of rubber sheeting in place. He knew all his people by name and, like an old mother hen, kept them in place by constantly clucking at them from the comfort of the canopied golf cart he used to get around the big project. He loved to remind the men that his girls were more dependable workers than they were. He and his golf cart were such fixtures at the reservoir that you almost expected them to be there forever. But right after the champagne bottles were broken over the valve, which was then turned, thereby releasing water into Dave’s reservoir, he was gone—to Tahiti, I think—to work on another one. Two of Molokai’s best known clans left their imprint on the Kalae area, just a few miles up Highway 47 from Kualapuu. Kalae is now a residential section popular with some of the better educated and more affluent islanders. George and Sophie Cooke lived at Kalae during the many years they ran the Molokai Ranch and they are buried here at the summit of Kauluwai Hill. Two tall chimneys, the ghostly remains of their big Kalae home, can be seen off to the left of the


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main road. The house burned to the ground in late 1968. Kalae was also home to the Meyer family. Rudolph Wilhelm Meyer came to Molokai in the mid-1800s after, according to one account, being shipwrecked at both Tahiti and at Lahaina, Maui, while trying to reach California. Meyer settled at Kalae, married the High Chiefess Kalama, raised five sons and four daughters, managed the lands that later became Molokai Ranch, ran his own three-thousand-acre cattle ranch, and started a dairy, coffee mill, and a small sugar plantation. He died in 1897, presumably of exhaustion. Meyer’s original home still is standing at Kalae and is the oldest existing wood frame building on Molokai. Meyer had a role in one of the best stories to come out of nineteenth-century Molokai: the disappearance of the village of Palaau. Meyer went into partnership in the cattle business with

The remains of two historic island residences: the Meyer home (below) and the Cooke home (at right).


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a fellow named Oramel Gulick. After a while, Meyer and Gulick began noticing large shortages in their herd. The culprits turned out to be nearly all the adult males of Palaau, working together on wholesale cattle rustling. The men were convicted and sent to Honolulu to serve prison terms. They were followed by their families. By the time they were released, the men decided to stay in Honolulu. The village of Palaau, on the southern coast several miles west of Kaunakakai, was abandoned. Meyer also is remembered as the man who planted the first kiawe tree on Molokai. This is no small distinction. This tree proliferated to such a prodigious extent that it is perhaps only by luck that Molokai today is not one huge kiawe forest. You will find these stark, dark-limbed trees with the tiny leaves in most places around Molokai. The branches on many of these trees are so black and withered-looking that it’s hard to tell if they are dead or alive. Some of the kiawe thickets along the southwest coast look like perfect habitats for the terrible headless horseman who pursued Ichabod Crane in legend. The beans of the kiawe tree are good for feeding cattle; the tree itself is good for making into charcoal; the tree’s wicked thorns are famous for puncturing tires and bare feet. You will run into Meyers all over the island today. Meyer’s Kalae ranch is owned now by a family corporation, which has leased the land to various people for grazing dairy cattle and horses, for home sites, and for pineapple cultivation. The settlement of Kipu offers an interesting side trip in the Kualapuu–Kalae area. To get to Kipu, now a little residential area for Del Monte employees, drive from Kualapuu for less than one mile up Highway 47. A paved road branches to the left here and winds for about half a mile through a lovely wooded gully before reaching Kipu. The settlement sits in the hills behind Kualapuu and just in front of Del Monte’s nine-hole golf course.


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I suppose the most noteworthy fact about Kipu, other than its picturesque isolation, is that it seems to have the highest per capita collection of junked cars on the island. That’s saying a lot for any Hawaiian rural area, where the preservation and public display of useless, rusted, four-wheeled relics is a sort of fetish. I don’t know if it’s high camp or low taste, but there they are. At almost the very end of Highway 47, a couple of miles after the paved part of the highway ends, is Palaau State Park. There are two items of interest in the park for visitors: the phallic rock and the Kalaupapa lookout. To get to both these places, turn left into the park and drive for half a mile down the rutted park road to where the road ends at a turnaround. Beginning here is an older, narrower road, usually blocked by a heavy piece of wire rope. Hike down this road for about two hundred yards to a sign that indicates the phallic rock is off to the right. A short, steep trail goes from here to a tiny nearby clearing. In the center of the clearing is the phallic rock, a hunk of stone that stands about seven feet high. It’s really not much to see, if you want to know the truth. The sexual symbolism of the rock will be obvious to you, as it was to Hawaiian women in ancient times who came to the rock in hopes of receiving help in conceiving children. The lookout can be reached by returning to the turnaround and then hiking off into the woods, directly toward the ocean. As is common on Molokai, there will be no signs to help a newcomer. But there is a path of sorts that has been worn between the trees. The short trail leads to a maintained grassy area bounded on the makai side by a metal railing. Beyond the railing, a green cliff plummets down for some sixteen hundred feet, disappearing into the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Off to the right is the Kalawao Peninsula, the flat four-thousand-acre appendage to the north coast of Molokai that is the home to the island’s famous leprosy settlement. The village of Kalaupapa is visible along the western coast of the peninsula.


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There is another magnificent view of the Kalaupapa area from the very end of Highway 47. When we were living on Molokai, the Navy and the LTV Corporation of Dallas were busily working on some sort of secret project at this spot. There was a twenty-four-hour security guard at the site, and the men working there definitely were keeping their secret project secret. I once saw them aiming a large, very James Bondish device in the general direction of the U.S. mainland from the back of a big van. It looked like the nose cone of a small bomb, painted gray, with a telescope or telephoto lens mounted on either side. The word “video� was muttered by the men. I finally gave up trying to crack the secret. A friend of mine insisted it had something to do with submarine detection. Another fellow said they were testing long-distance radar. But who knows? Right next to where the Navy spies were located is a viewing area built out on the edge of the cliff. To the right of this area, a steep trail descends down the face of the cliff and leads to Kalaupapa. From the lookout, there is a sharp view of the entire peninsula, with the town of Kalaupapa in the foreground. Approximately in the center of the peninsula, back toward the cliffs, is the extinct crater of the small volcano that formed the Kalawao Peninsula. This peninsula is a geological afterthought, a piece of real estate formed by lava bursting from the foot of the great northern Molokai sea cliffs long after the rest of the island was formed. The result is a flat peninsula bounded on three sides by ocean and on the fourth by vertical cliffs that isolate it from the rest of Molokai. It was this natural geographical isolation that led Kamehameha V and his government to choose the Kalawao Peninsula as the logical dumping ground for the hundreds of leprosy victims in Hawaii who were endangering the health of people around them. In 1866 the first lepers were abandoned on the shores of Kalawao.


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This was the beginning of an amazing story of misery and of courage that made the name of Molokai synonymous, in the minds of people all over the world, with one of the most dreaded of diseases, leprosy. This remains true to a great extent even today, although leprosy has been virtually eliminated from Hawaii and there is no longer any reason to fear the disease.


St. Philomena Church on the Kalawao Peninsula near Kalaupapa.


5

KALAUPAPA A rare lapse into humanity

ON A BLUSTERY SUNDAY with the weather clearly out of sorts, Sharmen and I visited Kalaupapa for the first time. The wind blew all day, as if this were its last chance, and the rain chased us off the peninsula that evening. But looking back, it was one of the finest days we spent on Molokai. We hiked to Kalaupapa over the old trail that switchbacks down the cliff from the Kalaupapa lookout at the very end of Highway 47. Of course, you can fly into Kalaupapa from Honolulu Airport or from the Molokai Airport. However, the nicest way to get to Kalaupapa is down that lovely three-mile trail. It’s steep and sometimes slippery, but the beautiful hiking through fern groves, and the views of the peninsula as you walk down the trail, make it worth the trouble. Visitors who want to compromise can arrange to hike in and then fly out on the daily scheduled airline or on the chartered airplane operated by Timmy Cooke of Molokai Aviation Corporation. Because the entire peninsula is controlled by the State Health Department, and because it still is used for the treatment


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Aerial photo by Pete Mouginis-Mark, University of Hawaii

of leprosy, tourists must make arrangements before visiting. The easiest way to do this is to call one of the two tour companies at Kalaupapa, Damien Tours or Kalaupapa–Kalawao Tours. Visitors are allowed on the peninsula only during the daytime and must be accompanied by an authorized tour guide. They also

The village of Kalaupapa sits on the flat Kalawao Peninsula at the base of Molokai’s precipitous northern cliffs.


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must bring their own lunches, since there are no stores or cafes open to the public. The tour operator may ask prospective visitors to call the office of the Kalaupapa superintendent to let the people there know they are coming down. This is just a formality. But persons who are middle-aged or older and plan to hike in should make it clear to the people in the office that they are not over thirty years old. In other words, they had better lie. It seems that Elmer Wilson, the superintendent of the peninsula, has a thing about older hikers. He’s afraid they are going to break their necks coming down his trail, and he will do his best to keep them out if he thinks they are not young enough to suit him. My sixty-yearold mother hiked down to Kalaupapa and back again without missing a step, but I made sure to break the news to Elmer only after it was all over. Before Sharmen and I set off down the trail that first time, I had been somewhat startled to learn that the man who would be our guide for the day had an active case of leprosy. The only reason I was surprised was that I knew next to nothing about the disease. Or about sulfone. So I was cautious, when I need not have been. Richard Marks, owner and operator of Damien Tours, met us at the bottom of the trail and immediately gave us a cold Coke from an ice chest in his car. He didn’t offer to shake hands with me, and I didn’t offer to shake hands with him. Richard was a big man, lightly bearded, fortyish. He didn’t look like he had leprosy, though I’m not sure what he would have had to look like to fulfill my apprehensions. Richard explained that health department rules didn’t allow him to ride in the same car with us. His wife was ill and couldn’t perform her usual duties as tour driver. So he gave us the keys to a rattley old Chevy station wagon while he climbed into an immense battered and rusted Chrysler eightdoor limousine. He was alone, except for his three dogs, who rode in the trunk with the lid up.


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We rattled through the little town of Kalaupapa, stopping at points of interest: a monument to Father Damien donated by British schoolchildren; the grave of Mother Marianne, the first nun to aid Father Damien in his work with the lepers; the “downtown” section of town with its new library, post office, and administration buildings and its aged firehouse and community hall. At each of our stops, Richard got together with us and talked quietly and knowledgeably about Kalaupapa, as his dogs romped in the streets. The next stop on the tour turned out to be Richard’s own home, a neat bungalow on one of Kalaupapa’s quiet side streets where he lives with his wife, Gloria, a former patient. Richard’s home happens to be a bit of a museum. A big pyramid of glass fishing floats stands in the front yard; beautiful old bottles in a hundred colors and shapes are on haphazard display around the yard; vintage cars and aging tour limousines in varying stages of reconstruction or disrepair dominate the backyard. Richard Marks has been a patient at Kalaupapa since the mid-1950s. His father also is a patient here, as is a brother of his. Richard and Gloria’s five children live in Honolulu with Gloria’s parents. No children are permitted at Kalaupapa. Richard sees his children from time to time, when he visits the state leprosy hospital at Honolulu. Before settling permanently at Kalaupapa, Richard was a patient for a time at the federal leprosarium at Carville, Louisiana. At Carville, he got an initiation into some of the modern approaches to treatment of leprosy. This helped turn him into a quiet sort of troublemaker when he came to Kalaupapa and had to face Hawaii’s outmoded and sometimes inhumane policies. The times are changing, and Hawaii now is coming more into step with the successful and liberal policies on the mainland. Yet Richard still is exiled to his own car, apart from his visitors. There is no medical justification for this, since sulfone. Richard speaks soberly and sincerely (and at length) about


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Kalaupapa and about leprosy. He doesn’t come on strong, and I like that. He is the sort of man I feel compelled to believe. By the way, he does refer to the disease as leprosy, not Hansen’s disease. Apparently there was quite a movement some time back to use only the term Hansen’s disease, named for the Norwegian physician who first identified the bacteria that causes leprosy. The idea was to help defuse the connotative dynamite surrounding the word leprosy by simply dropping the word. Richard doesn’t buy this approach. He reasons that changing the name ignores the basic problem. And that is that many people don’t realize that leprosy in America is no longer a disease to be dreaded. It has been whipped by sulfone. Simple as that. Richard parked his limousine at the base of the peninsula’s volcanic crater. I drove the station wagon up to the lip of the crater while Richard rode on the hood. (“If they caught me inside the car, I’d lose my license for the tour company.”) The inside of the crater is overgrown with shrubs and trees. A brackish pool fills the very bottom of the crater, several hundred feet below. There is a small graveyard near the crater rim where several of the alii—Hawaiian royalty—are buried. A white cross, a very big and boxy white cross, stands in the graveyard. It is fairly new, and it was placed here in the midst of these subdued, crumbling, stony graves for some very good reason, I’m sure. You can see it for miles. Next stop was just down the road from the crater. Richard showed us a good vantage point to view the stern Molokai cliffs trailing away to the east. We leaned into the wind to keep from being blown over, and exclaimed at the forbidding beauty of the miles of two-thousand-foot cliffs plunging into the ocean. Breaking up this line of cliffs that runs from the peninsula to the eastern end of the island are a number of deep valleys: Pelekunu, Waikolu, Wailau, and others. A hundred years ago and more,


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these valleys were home to Hawaiian fishermen and farmers and their families. Today they are deserted. We continued driving away from Kalaupapa and toward the eastern side of the peninsula, where the first group of persons with leprosy were abandoned in 1866. To the left of the dirt road we came upon a fragile, beautifully restored chapel. This is Siloama Church, founded in that same year by thirty-five of the leprosy victims. The church is named for the Biblical Pool of Siloam, where sufferers were cured of illness and disease. According to one account, the persons who were sent to Kalawao received a cash allowance of twenty-five cents per week, presumably from the government of the islands. From this, the church members managed to save $125.50 toward construction of the first chapel at the leprosy settlement. With the aid of supplementary donations, materials were purchased and the chapel was built in 1871. A short distance down the road from Siloama is St. Philomena, Father Damien’s church. The first wing of the church was built in 1873, shortly before Father Damien arrived on Molokai. The present structure was fully completed just after his death in 1889. The historic old building is owned by the state, and this is one of Richard’s gripes about Kalaupapa. The state is not maintaining St. Philomena and other historic buildings and sites on the peninsula, he told us. St. Philomena has a shiny new paint job now, but it’s due to the volunteer work of Marines from Oahu. “The Marines did more in six or seven weekends than has been done here in forty years,” he said. Graves are spotted all over the lawn on the right side of the church. Father Damien’s original grave site is there. The body of the priest was returned to his homeland of Belgium many years ago at the request of the Belgian government. Sharmen and Richard and I went into St. Philomena and sat near the altar on unsteady old wooden benches. Richard told us


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Richard Marks, a patient at Kalaupapa, leads tours of the settlement. about Damien. When the priest arrived in 1873, Kalawao was a place of despair. The eight hundred people living there had an incurable disease. They had been virtually forgotten by the outside world. The inmates of this hell accepted one axiom: “There is no law here.” The stronger men lived under no constraint. Some of them robbed their weaker neighbors of food, clothing, and shelter and kidnapped and raped the more desirable women. The people lived in makeshift shacks or out in the open. They had to walk long distances to find fresh water. They depended for food on unreliable shipments from Oahu, which sometimes were merely dumped from a ship and left to float ashore. Unbelievably, one of the government’s theories in sending the lepers to Kalawao was that these sick and dying individuals would farm and homestead the land. They were supposed to be colonists. They would develop a self-sufficient community. This didn’t happen.


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Kalawao was a rocky, barren, undeveloped wasteland when they arrived. The people were too sick and dispirited to do anything. When the rougher inmates began a reign of terror, sporadic attempts were made by government officials to keep them under control. But the outlaws knew how to get rid of meddling officials. They would simply crowd around the visitor, grinning at him from their collapsed, disease-ravaged faces and touching him with the open, leprous sores on their bodies.

Richard Marks gives some attention to the three dogs that ride in the open trunk of his battered old Chrysler limousine.


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Damien walked into this mess and took over. He was thirtythree years old, hardworking and in perfect health. When the men crowded around him, touching him, he touched them back. He ate with them. He let them smoke from his pipe. He helped them to become human beings again. He gave them sixteen years of his life before he died, a leper. Although no one denies Damien was a martyr, you still can get into a bit of controversy around Kalaupapa if you overpraise him. After all, Damien wasn’t the only person to help the people of Kalawao. There were brave unselfish helpers before him, and after him. But I think Richard came right to the point when he said, “Damien wasn’t the first person to come to help the people here, but he was the first person to stay and to live permanently with the people.” Damien was the one person who really made a difference. He brought hope to the hopeless. From all accounts, he was a crusty, disagreeable old bastard, and perhaps he had to be to work the miracles he did. Damien helped the lepers get materials and put up homes. He came up with pipe to build a water supply line. He fought a running battle with the Department of Health for more help, more food, more medical supplies. He also realized his people were starved for diversions and entertainment. So into his church services in the little chapel went all the ritual and pomp he could muster. One story says he even had St. Philomena painted in bright, gaudy colors to cheer up his people. Damien was the only priest on the entire island of Molokai, and somehow he also found time occasionally to go “topside”—to the main part of Molokai where most of the island’s population lived. He founded and helped build two churches in east Molokai: Our Lady of Sorrows in 1874 and St. Joseph in 1876. Despite all his work, Damien’s hopes for improvements at Kalawao were continually frustrated. Perhaps this is why, as the years went on, he became more and more abrupt and disagreeable and offensive to any persons but lepers.


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Priests were sent to help Damien two different times, but they soon left. They couldn’t stand to work for him. In 1885, when he was forty-five, leprosy broke out on the priest’s body. And one Sunday during that year, Damien stopped using the expression “my brethren” in addressing his congregation. Now it was “we lepers.” He was a wasted, feeble old man by the time he died in 1889 at the age of forty-nine. Twelve-hundred lepers were living on the peninsula when Damien died. Luckily, there were some good people to step into his shoes. Joseph Dutton, a Catholic layman from Vermont, had worked with Damien and gained his confidence during the last years of the priest’s life. Brother Dutton stayed at Kalawao for forty-four years. Shortly before Damien died, the first nuns, led by Mother Marianne, arrived at Kalaupapa and began the work which Franciscan Sisters still carry on today. I returned to Kalaupapa several months after that first day, once again hiking down the trail. I had an appointment with Elmer Wilson and some other people at the settlement. I started with Ed Bell, the assistant administrator. Ed is skinny, gray-haired, pleasant and likable. His face and hands show the ravaging effects of the leprosy bacillus that was alive in his body from 1936 to 1952. He was cured by sulfone. We shook hands, he sat me down, and he told me a bit about himself and about the little town he helps administer. After medical treatment killed the leprosy in Ed Bell, he went to the University of Hawaii and got a degree in public administration. He attended graduate school at Syracuse for a while before returning to Kalaupapa, where he took the job of assistant superintendent. He is one of 129 people at Kalaupapa who used to have leprosy. They are now cured, and free to go home if they wish. But for most of these former patients, Kalaupapa is home. So they stay. In what a nasty person might term a rare lapse into humani-


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ty at Kalaupapa, the state permits the former patients to stay and to enjoy a host of benefits: free housing, food and clothing allowances, no state taxes, and so forth. The state pays for all utilities and maintains the houses, but the residents take care of their own yards. They do a beautiful job of it. Kalaupapa is a very pretty, very pleasant little town. When Ed came to Kalaupapa, it still was a place of widespread suffering. There were four hundred active patients. The sixty-bed hospital was always full. Then sulfone came into use. Ed and many others were cured. There are now only thirty-six active leprosy patients at Kalaupapa. There are only about two hundred residents on the entire peninsula, including the nonpatient civil service employees. Elmer Wilson, the big boss at Kalaupapa, is a hearty, jovial sort, open and cooperative. He went out of his way to make me feel at home and to show me around. We stopped at his home for a drink, then walked next door for lunch at the settlement’s cafeteria. Wilson is a builder, not a medical man. He came to Kalaupapa for the first time in 1946 to rebuild the settlement’s water pipeline, destroyed by the big tidal wave that hit that year. He stayed until 1953, working on a number of building projects on the peninsula. He came back in 1968 as administrator for the settlement. Although he has no hand in setting medical policy, he personally believes some people are trying to move too fast toward revising outmoded policies regarding leprosy. He wants the state to move cautiously. I suppose you can afford to be cautious and conservative when you don’t have the disease. Sister Richard Marie is the supervisor of the Franciscan nuns at the state hospital in Kalaupapa. She struck me as sort of what you always expect a nun to be: sweet and soft and kind and good. She enjoys helping the people at the hospital because “they’re the happiest patients I’ve ever worked with.” She is at Kalaupapa because of the example of Mother Marianne. Sister


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Richard Marie joined a convent in New York for the sole purpose of someday going to Kalaupapa. She was a nun for twenty-two years before she got the assignment. The day I visited the hospital, the regular doctor was on vacation. Dr. Lee, a little Chinese lady from Honolulu, was temporarily in charge. We walked through the hospital, visiting the patients. There were only a dozen or so, although the hospital can accommodate about thirty-five. She had cheerful words for everyone, and she took advantage of my visit to introduce me to a couple of the older female patients as her boyfriend. As we walked around, Dr. Lee offered some beautifully indiscreet remarks about Kalaupapa and some of its residents. These remarks would be followed by, “You won’t write a word of what I have said, will you?” I assured her that I would not. Out on the streets of Kalaupapa, I saw many persons whose deteriorated faces and hands showed the effects of leprosy. The men and women I saw in the hospital had suffered even more severe damage. One old woman had been blinded. There was an incredibly withered, ancient-looking Chinese lady whose face was so ravaged by the disease that it appeared little more than a sad caricature of a human face. Most of the patients at Kalaupapa now are being treated with one of the sulfone drugs, which first came into use in Hawaii for the treatment of leprosy in 1946. These drugs, taken regularly in pill form, can cure leprosy. They kill the bacteria that cause the disease. Sometimes the cure takes many years. But it works. Victims of leprosy now know there is a good chance they will be cured, that they can avoid serious disfigurement, that they can go home again. What a magnificent change from the days in the nineteenth century when Hawaii’s solution to the leprosy problem was announced on handbills posted in villages: “All lepers are required to report themselves to the government health authorities within fourteen days from this date for inspection and final banishment to Molokai .”


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We now know that leprosy is not a particularly contagious disease. It’s contagious, but only mildly so. And only for some people, and only under certain conditions. It’s believed that most of the people of the world could not contract leprosy even if they tried. It also is believed that a majority of the people with leprosy have a noncontagious variety of the disease. A lot of old wives’ tales about leprosy have gone out the window. At least, I hope they have. People used to consider leprosy a punishment for moral wrongdoing. You don’t hear that one anymore. Leprosy no longer is incurable, of course. Leprosy is not a venereal disease. And leprosy is not inherited, although a susceptibility to the disease can be. Medically, leprosy is a bacteria that usually grows in the skin, affecting the nerves of the skin, face, arms, and legs. The result can be a loss of sensation in the extremities, resulting in insensitivity to the pain that normally warns a person he is being burned or otherwise injured. Eyes and eyelids can be damaged and blindness sometimes occurs. Leprosy also can result in loss of hair, skin eruptions, collapse of the nasal bridge, and resorption of bones so that the bones of the fingers and toes waste

Cattle roam the beach outside Kalaupapa, near the foot of the three-milelong trail from topside Molokai down to the village.


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away. Despite the advances in knowledge and treatment of the disease—and its virtual disappearance from Hawaii—-there still are an estimated ten million persons in the world with leprosy. The State Department of Health named a Citizens Committee on Leprosy in late 1968 to review Hawaii’s program of treatment. Its enlightened conclusions and recommendations may have startled some people. But they were accepted by the state and are slowly being put into practice. The most important finding of the committee was that once a patient is underway on a program of sulfone treatment, he can no longer transmit the disease. So the committee, under Thomas K. Hitch, senior vice president of First Hawaiian Bank, told the state that it is no longer necessary to isolate leprosy patients for long periods of time. The committee said patients needing hospitalization should be treated voluntarily at general hospitals and not special leprosariums. After treatment is well underway, they should be returned to their homes and their regular lives while continuing to take sulfone. Bernard Punikaia, a former patient and still a resident of Kalaupapa, was a member of that committee. I spent the rest of that afternoon with Bernard and three of his friends, drinking beer at the one little bar in town (beer only; closing time 8 p.m.). We talked a bit about the committee’s work but spent most of the time just rapping about life on Molokai: how they spend their time in Kalaupapa and how I spend mine topside. By the time I left at 4:30, full of Primo and potato chips, I felt the same way most of the people at Kalaupapa appear to feel: comfortable and happy—even though it was beginning to rain, and I still had a three-mile uphill hike ahead of me. I made it home and went right to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up, itching. Somehow, in my half-awake condition, the itching had something to do with the fact I had not taken a bath after returning from Kalaupapa. From Kalaupapa. Where people have leprosy. In the morning, when I thought about it, I


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realized it takes more than facts to kill a myth. And that there is some part of the average human being that feeds off superstition and fear. I felt like apologizing to someone. The day is coming when there will be no patients at Kalaupapa. No new patients are being sent there, and the settlement will remain open only as long as the present residents are living. Someday the settlement will be closed. And Hawaii will have to decide what to do with the peninsula that constitutes one of the most scenic and historic pieces of land in the state. You watch. There will be real estate men and land promoters and hotel operators from forty-nine states casing the peninsula over the next few years. They will want it. Someone is going to suggest building a Hawaiian Disneyland there. Someone else will visualize a “model city.� They all will be visualizing money. Richard Marks would like to see the whole peninsula turned into a state or national park. Ed Bell agrees. I hope the state agrees. Hawaii made a big mistake at Kalawao in 1866. It needn’t make another one now.


Outside a Kaunakakai store.


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KAUNAKAKAI Prettiest waiters on the island

KAUNAKAKAI IS NOT the most beautiful little town in the world. Maui County paid for a beautification study of Molokai, and this is how the report describes the drive from the airport into Kaunakakai: “The visual experience, like the change in elevation, diminishes until the traveler is welcomed at sea level to the town—through a rubbish dump and an auto wrecking yard.” But personally, I like the town (though, as with New York, I don’t think I’d want to live there.) Much of it is cluttered and sagging and raunchy, but that just makes it picturesque. It looks rather like an old western cow town, with Fords and Datsuns parked in the street instead of horses. But don’t get me wrong. Kaunakakai has paved streets, electric lights, and flush toilets, just like your hometown. Ed Shima, the postmaster, has a wonderful plan to spruce up the town without altering its basic character. He wants all the businessmen to cooperate in repainting every single building in Kaunakakai. It seems like a good way to brighten up a very nice little town. But the last time I saw it, most of the buildings still


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looked like they were in the last stages of a very painful sunburn, tattered and peeling. If the repainting idea works, Ed and his helpers have hopes for other beautification plans: underground electric wires, water fountains, pedestrian benches, sign controls, and the like. But I know Ed’s philosophy hasn’t filtered down to everyone yet. I was speaking with the minister of a Kaunakakai church, and he seemed actually proud of the fact his church building carries the first and only neon sign on Molokai—one of those “Jesus Coming Soon” signs. Kaunakakai is the commercial, social, cultural, and political hub of Molokai. Which is to say, it’s all we’ve got. This is where you come to do your shopping and pay your taxes and have your fun. It has one each of a lot of things: drugstore, post office, hospital, community center, library, bakery, variety store, dentist office, bank, travel agency, furniture store. And more than one each of some other things: grocery stores, cafes, gas stations, movie houses, barbershops, launderettes. Prices for goods in Kaunakakai, and throughout the island, are high. Molokai prices are supposed to be the highest anywhere in Hawaii. Regular gasoline costs forty-five cents a gallon and ethyl is fifty. Milk goes for around eighty-five cents for half a gallon, and anything under a dollar for a dozen large eggs is considered reasonable. Richard Misaki, owner of the busiest grocery store on the island, has a number of reasons why prices are high. In the first place, goods that have been shipped from the mainland to Honolulu must then be reshipped to Molokai. In the second place, business on Molokai is small time: local businessmen don’t have the quick turnover and don’t get the discounts of large chain stores. And in the third place, prices aren’t so high, anyway. He says he personally compared everyday shelf prices in Honolulu with those on Molokai, and found that prices were comparable in 80 per cent of the cases.


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Misaki is almost a Molokai native. He came to the island with his parents in 1922, when he was one year old. His father, like tens of thousands of his Japanese countrymen, had come to Hawaii originally to work in the sugar plantations. He arrived in Hawaii when he was sixteen, planning to make some money and return home. But he married, and stayed. Misaki’s father worked on Maui for a number of years before

Richard Misaki: I can remember back to about 1926–27. Not too accurate, maybe, but I can recall the number of stores we had here. Where Mayo Kikukawa’s old store is, it used to be Toguri’s store. Where Mrs. Ito has her shop, that used to be a pool hall run by Mrs. Nishimura’s brother, the contractor Nishimura. Francis Takata’s dad had a service station where Araki’s store is right now. Right where Dr. Chu’s office is used to be a market run by Nohara; he used to have a piggery; he had a meat market, and that was the only meat market on the island. And of course Chang Tung’s store was here. Kaunakakai Bakery—Kanemitsu—used to have a shop right in the same area there, so all the shops were from Chang Tung’s down this way. We used to have a poi shop in the back here. Kim’s Service used to be an old theater. Yoshinaga’s store used to be used by Mrs. Kikukawa, the Midnite Inn Kikukawas; she had a dress shop there.


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taking his family to Molokai, where he did some fishing and carpentry for a living. His mother, just to keep busy, started a sweets shop. And that was the beginning of Misaki’s store, which today handles groceries and dry goods in a good-sized pink block building on Kaunakakai’s main street, Ala Malama. The store is easy to spot—it’s the one with the big garish yellow plastic sign out front. Misaki wants to expand his operation but hasn’t decided the best way to do this. He could lease more land from Molokai Ranch, but it is expensive. The ranch owns the land on which Misaki’s store is located; in fact, it owns the whole side of the street the store is on. Misaki also could wait until a shopping center is built in Kaunakakai, but that’s too uncertain. And the shopping center, too, depends on a lease from Molokai Ranch. Across the street from Misaki’s, Harry Chung also has a grocery store. Harry’s Market is a sort of hole-in-the-wall opera-

Harry's Market in Kaunakakai. Headline in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports problems aboard Apollo 13, the spaceship that aborted a moon landing and returned to Earth on April 17, 1970.


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tion, and he acknowledges that the store barely breaks even. But in the past, it was enough to take care of the Chung family, and to put five of his six children through college. Harry’s parents also were immigrants to Hawaii; both his mother and father were from China. His father ran a poi factory at Lahaina on the island of Maui and raised taro in a valley north of town. When Harry was still a child, his mother decided she wished to return to her home country to live out the rest of her life. The entire family went to China, where Harry lived for several years. His mother died, and he returned to Hawaii. His father never came back. Harry came to Molokai with his wife in 1933 to work as a butcher for Y. K. Yuen, then the biggest grocer on Molokai. He said he came here despite the fear that many people, particularly the Chinese, had of Molokai because of its association with leprosy. Harry’s Market is like most of the business establishments in Kaunakakai: small, homey, personal. Visitors from mainland cities, accustomed to plastic courtesy and computerized efficiency, are sometimes a bit startled by the way things are run here. The pace is slow and comfortable; too damn slow for me, sometimes, with my big-city metabolism. The stores are small and don’t always carry what you think they ought to carry. The grocery stores still offer direct credit to their customers, and credit customers actually get a receipt on which every item purchased, and its price, is laboriously handwritten. But after a while, you find it’s handy to use this personal credit, and you soon learn which stores have what, and when. I sometimes fear for the local businesspeople, however, when I think about the slick mainland operators who will someday be moving onto the island. With them, these sharpies will bring paved parking lots, late hours, discount prices, big sales, trading stamps, shiny new stores, hustle-hustle service, and all the other things the highly noncompetitive businesspeople on Molokai don’t have to provide right now.


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Ala Malama is Kaunakakai’s main street and commercial center. Take the locally owned Dairy Queen, for example. I dig the Dairy Queen, because I like their chocolate milk shakes. But you’d get your order faster if you mailed away for it. And with its devil-may-care landscaping and decor, it has about as much class as my back yard. But McDonald’s will come in, slap up one of their bright new hamburger stands, plant a few trees, train their people to be sharp, and steal Dairy Queen blind. For the moment, however, they needn’t worry. Business is so slow right now that many people get involved in two or three different operations. Mits Watanabe works for Molokai Electric and also owns part of a launderette. Nobu Shimizu is in charge of the Peace Corps training camp on Molokai and is a partner in the Dairy Queen. Marybeth Maul, in addition to being the only judge on Molokai, has interests in the Kualapuu Market and a Chinese restaurant in Kaunakakai. Sophie Duvauchelle runs a furniture store and a real estate office. Charley Kawano works for Aloha Airlines and sells insurance. Henrietta Aki sells insurance and is the island’s only travel agent. And so on.


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Among the fixtures of Kaunakakai, along with the old buildings and the dogs and the plumeria bushes, is Coconut Harold. Coconut Harold is a haole, perhaps in his late twenties, quiet and harmless, who lives on the lawn in front of the library. That is, I presume he lives on the lawn in front of the library. I rarely saw him anyplace else during my nine months on Molokai. He was a strange cat, always barefoot and dressed in the same brown pants and faded sport shirt, always packing the same battered flight bag in which he carried the plastic bucket that he poured the coconut milk into. He ate a lot of coconuts. I would have found out the story behind Coconut Harold, except that I always felt vaguely nervous when I talked with him, so I never stayed with him long. He didn’t do any work that I know of. But one day I did see this sign on a bulletin board in town: “I’ll make round trips to Honolulu for you in exchange for expenses only (for purchasing. etc.) Coconut Harold.” The first advice I would give to anyone moving to Molokai is: Get a TV set. Molokai is a quiet place, and you can go stir crazy without a simple diversion now and then. Night life on Molokai is limited, to say the least. However, the island does offer some nighttime entertainment, mainly in the Kaunakakai area. First of all, there are the theaters. In common with rural areas throughout the state, Molokai boasts some of the oldest, saggiest, most weather-beaten movie houses in the nation. Our very favorite is the Kukui, an outdoor walk-in theater on a Kaunakakai back street. You’ll never find the Kukui on your own, so ask directions. If you want to find out what’s playing, check the bulletin board across the main street from Misaki’s. We have seen some good movies there, such as Easy Rider, The Fixer, and The Seagull. The price is right. Most movies cost seventy-five cents a seat, although somehow we saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for sixty-five cents. We paid something like three dollars apiece when we saw it in California. The best thing is


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that it is outside. When we go to the Kukui, we usually take along potato chips and a six-pack of Primo, stretch out comfortably on a big bench, and take life easy. Kaunakakai has another theater of sorts, the Kamoi. This dark, dirty cavern is normally worth avoiding at all costs, unless the movie happens to be something special. I must thank the Kamoi for bringing such movies as Romeo and Juliet, Medium Cool, and Monterey Pop to Molokai. But, on the other hand, what

The Kamoi Theater in Kaunakakai. Movies stay at Molokai’s four theaters for one night only. Most of the movie houses alternate between American, Japanese, and Filipino movies, with the prices for foreign films usually higher than for American. Adult movies—skin flicks—are shown at all the theaters but the Kukui in Kaunakakai. An enterprising voyeur can catch girlie movies four nights a week on Molokai: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Kualapuu, Thursdays at the Kamoi, and Fridays at Maunaloa. Premium prices, of course.


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good are the movies if you can’t hear them because of the rotten sound system and the noisy kids. Once again, you can’t complain about the price; usually seventy-five cents. Bring mosquito repellent with you to the Kukui; bring flea powder to the Kamoi. Molokai theaters have a mystifying reluctance to reveal what movies are showing. You rather suspect them of being operated as tax write-offs, with the goal being to lose money. None of the island’s four theaters-—two in Kaunakakai, one in Kualapuu, one in Maunaloa—have phones. Only two of them post announcements of coming attractions that can be read from the road. At the other two, you have to park your car and walk up to the entrance of the theater to see what is playing. None of the theaters make any attempts to advertise. When I was publishing my little newspaper, which was received by every postal patron on the island, all of the theaters declined to advertise. One manager quaintly explained his decision this way: “We can’t afford to advertise because we don’t get enough business.” The island offers a few nightclubs, with Kane’s being the number one attraction. Kane’s, in the center of Kaunakakai, is a big, dark, low-ceilinged room partitioned off into semi-autonomous sections. The result is a hideaway that would not be out of place in Bogart’s Casablanca. To enter Kane’s, a guest must walk into the Kaunakakai Bakery, past the household goods department, past the coffee shop area, past the row of plastic flowers, turn right before the meat department, walk past the kitchen, and turn left into the nightclub. When the bakery is closed, Kane’s is entered through the nearby alley. Kane’s has the best band, the most varied entertainment, and the prettiest waiters on the island. The Kane’s Trio plays a good variety of conservative rock and roll along with Hawaiian songs. The trio is composed of three local boys: a skinny drum-


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mer and two guitarists who have got to be the biggest Hawaiians in the world. Kane’s brings in outside entertainers once a month or so, including an occasional stripper or belly dancer. The waiters are pretty; among them are some very pretty boys who apparently enjoy looking like girls. There are a number of these obvious mahus on the island. However, they are not considered objects of curiosity except to newcomers to Molokai. Everyone else here accepts them for what they are: honest and average boys—the sons of local families—who happen to have acquired a slight quirk in their sex lives. Across the street and a block east of Kane’s is the Midnite Inn, which runs a nightclub in a big back room. It is just that, a big room, with little atmosphere. There is no sign on the Midnite Inn, a pink stucco building on the corner of Ala Malama and Kamoi. The nightclub is entered via a little side door on Kamoi. Midnite can be fun, and the Ebbtides are a good group. Just count on it being rather sedate compared with Kane’s. The Seaside Inn at the east edge of Kaunakakai also offers entertainment and dancing. The Seaside has seen better days, but then so have I, so I like the rundown old hotel sometimes. Everything takes place out of doors on a patio surrounded on one side by the shabby, single-story buildings of the hotel and on the other by the ocean. Bob Krauss, in his travel guide to Hawaii, had told us about Seaside before we even left California. “To watch Molokai at play,” he wrote, “go dancing under the banyan tree at the Seaside Inn of a weekend. It’s as riotous an evening as you’ll find in the 50th State.” The night we treated two friends from California to the Seaside, an enthusiastic fight broke out at 2 a.m. that provided a sparkling end to the evening and chased everyone home. The last of the island’s night spots is the Hotel Molokai, about two miles east of Kaunakakai. The hotel provides good Hawaiian music on the weekends in a very comfortable and attractive shoreside restaurant and lounge.


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Occasionally there are other types of entertainment, but not often. There are even some sporadic attempts to introduce formal “culture” to Molokai via plays and concerts and so forth. The most ambitious project along this line while we were on Molokai was a series of programs sponsored by the University of Hawaii. We were enthusiastic over the idea of the series but lost most of our enthusiasm after the first couple of programs. The first offering was a comedy presented by several competent but unexciting actors. The second was a mixed-media mess purporting to be a hip history of music, presented by a longhaired group of young men organized into something called the Theater of Madness. The production needed people who knew how to act, and the Theater of Madness didn’t. The series was a big disappointment to me because I was very hot to see good theater and

The Honolulu Symphony brings its music to the schoolchildren of Molokai.


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art and music come to Molokai. When the productions turned out to be second- and third-rate, they just scared me away. The worst thing is that people on Molokai who have never seen many plays or concerts also may be turned off to the whole scene and never realize how beautiful this type of entertainment can be. Why should they keep returning to programs of dubious quality, at $1.25 a seat, when they can stay home and see something better on TV, for free? The entire Honolulu Symphony actually visited Molokai while we were here, but the orchestra came to perform only for the island’s schoolchildren. The orchestra had discovered in the past that very few adults will attend a concert on Molokai. Sports are a popular form of entertainment here, as elsewhere. High school teams, the men’s senior basketball league, Little League teams, and so forth, all have a healthy following. Outdoor sports, particularly hunting and fishing, are a way of life on Molokai. The open season is not very long each year for the thousands of axis deer. But poaching is also a popular pastime, so it’s open season year-round for many hunters. In addition to deer, hunters go after pheasant, turkey, wild goats, and boar. The ocean seems to be a second home for a lot of people, who spend their time pole fishing from boats or from shore, spearfishing, net fishing on the shore, or setting traps and nets out in the ocean. I’m a lousy fisherman, but I assumed that because of all the fishing done here, we could always find fresh fish in the markets. Wrong again. Fresh fish is very hard to come by, since most people get their own by fishing for it, and the markets, therefore, see no need to carry it. The biggest event of the year on Molokai is a sports event: the annual Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race. Nine-man teams of young men race long outrigger canoes for thirty-eight miles across the ocean from Molokai’s west end to Waikiki Beach at Honolulu. I rode along on an escort boat for the 1969 race, and I


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Friends and family cheer as the Little Leaguers play. got tired just watching the men paddling for hour after hour through the ocean swells. Molokai’s entry in the race finished ninth out of twelve canoes, so I assume they did a good deal of their training at Kane’s. The coach mentioned something about a “Primo diet.” Campers on Molokai have lots of places to throw down their sleeping bags and put up their tents. Many of the most popular spots, however, are not officially open to the general public for camping. So it’s best for visiting campers to use some discretion in where they spend the night, to be unobtrusive, and to leave a clean campsite. The best places for camping are these: along the beach between Halena and Kolo Wharf on the southwest coast; at the Moomomi park pavilion on the northwest coast; at Palaau State Park near the Kalaupapa lookout; at the Hawaiian Homes park pavilion next to the Royal Coconut Grove about one mile west of Kaunakakai; at One Alii County Park several miles east of


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Kaunakakai; anywhere along the southeastern shore beginning at Waialua (where the paved portion of the road ends, about 18 miles east of Kaunakakai); and at the little county park in Halawa Valley. Campers are supposed to have permits for camping at the two county parks. However, the county overseer in Kaunakakai wasn’t giving permits to just anybody when I was on Molokai. I got the feeling that longhaired campers ought to resign themselves to camping without the comfort of a permit. The island’s one fire station and its only police station are in Kaunakakai, the center of government services. There’s also a decrepit old jail, a courthouse, library, county overseer’s office, and a state building with several different offices: social service, fish and game department, tax collector, employment office, agricultural services, health department. The federal government is represented on Molokai by the Soil Conservation Service, an important agency in a rural area like this, and by the Community Action Program. The CAP seemed to be doing some good work in developing a certain amount of community activism—-getting residents, particularly the poorer ones, to realize they can work together to improve things. Fred Bicoy, a Molokai native and former schoolteacher, directs the CAP. Fred and his people are involved in programs for the elderly, a community bus service, preschool education, a community-owned shrimp industry, and other projects. Molokai has no official legislative body of its own; nothing comparable to a city council or board of supervisors. The island is a part of Maui county, which is dominated by the island of Maui. The county also includes the small pineapple island of Lanai. The county is run by an elected mayor and a nine-member county council with seven members from Maui, one from Lanai and one from Molokai. When I was on Molokai, the island’s representative to the


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county council was Loy Cluney, a competent Democrat who formerly was chief of police for Molokai. He was Molokai’s one and only elected government official. Even this one guaranteed voice for the people of Molokai is not elected exclusively by Molokai voters. All candidates run at large in the county, so even the Molokai politicians must campaign for votes on the island of Maui. Molokai is lumped together with Lanai and Maui for state legislative elections, so the odds of a Molokai candidate ever reaching the state capitol at Honolulu are not very good. There are reasonably active Democratic and Republican parties on the island. But residents and organizations here rarely seem to get wrapped up in political issues. Hot and emotional topics that would cause all sorts of controversy most places on the mainland are virtually ignored on Molokai. This makes for a lot of peace and quiet. But I also like to see people holler once in a while. Sometimes it’s the only way you know whether or not they’re alive. For all you heard about it on Molokai, the war in Vietnam might as well not have existed. The only time the war entered into the life of the island was one day in December 1969, when a big crew of Molokai reservists returned from active duty in Vietnam. They were praised as defenders of freedom, given a party, welcomed back into Molokai life, and once again the war was forgotten. The war clearly was viewed on Molokai as something to be accepted. It required no discussion and no defense, because no one was criticizing it. The one exception was the ILWU, the pineapple workers’ union on Molokai. The ILWU leaders staged a big picnic next to the Royal Coconut Grove for its members and told them flat out that the war is wrong. Water fluoridation and abortion law reform were two other issues stirring in the state at that time. But not too much of the stirring took place on Molokai. When Maui County was considering the fluoridation of all its public drinking water, I worked up a


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story for the newspaper I was then publishing on Molokai. None of the civic organizations on the island had discussed the issue, and it was only after my urging that they took positions on fluoridation. As I said, Molokai doesn’t have much direct representation in government. But it seemed that once a month or so, some high-powered committee or other from the state legislature would visit Molokai on a fact-finding tour. Whether the legislators were interested in Molokai, or merely in a little vacation, I’m not sure. But at least they came, and people here had a chance to tell them about Molokai. A favorite interest of the legislators was the schools, and there were days when there appeared to be more senators than students in Sharmen’s class. State legislators spend time visiting local schools on Molokai because they are responsible for appropriating money for all the public schools in the state. There are no local school districts, as there are in most states. This turns out to be quite an advantage for a small, relatively poor area like Molokai. It’s not likely the island, on its own, could pay for the schools and programs the state provides. This really paid off in Sharmen’s classroom, where there were thousands of dollars worth of tape recorders, electric typewriters, movie projectors, and other gadgets for use in operating an experimental language arts program created by the state. This particular program is beautiful, simply because it attempts to treat children as individuals instead of faceless automatons. The program is based on the theory that each child has his own interests, his own capabilities, and his own rate of learning. So, within the framework of the program, each student decides what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. He keeps track of his own progress. He helps students who are behind him, and gets help from those ahead. Walk into Sharmen’s classroom during the language arts period, and it looks like a madhouse. All seventy-five kids are


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off doing their own thing while Sharmen and her three fellow teachers wander around offering help where it’s needed. It looks like a madhouse, but it’s controlled chaos. One child is reading; another is practicing penmanship; another is helping a friend with reading cards; another is practicing on one of the electric typewriters; another is receiving instructions from a tape recorder. Suddenly you realize these children are learning. And craziest of all, they seem to be enjoying it. Molokai has three elementary schools in addition to the one at Maunaloa. The island has just a single high school. This is Molokai High and Intermediate School, which handles most of the seventh and eighth graders on Molokai and all the students from the ninth to twelfth grades. A phenomenon of public school life here is that about 20 percent of the high school age population of Molokai goes to high school off the island. This represents as many as a hundred students going to school elsewhere, principally to private schools on Oahu or to the public boarding school on Maui. This is a practice that may have had some justification years ago, when it was a big jump from Molokai High to college. There doesn’t seem to be much point to it now, unless it has something to do with the prestige of a private school. Molokai High has an approved and reasonably complete academic program and it offers guidance to all its students on preparing for college. A Molokai High graduate can go directly to a four-year college if he is qualified and ready. If not, he can start in first at one of Hawaii’s two-year community colleges, which accept any and all high school graduates. And plans are in the works now for a start on a modest community college program on Molokai itself. The main highway from the airport to Kaunakakai offers some good opportunities for sightseeing. About halfway between the airport and the town is the turnoff for one of the prettiest drives


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on the island, up to the Waikolu Valley lookout. As usual, there’s no sign for the turnoff and a visitor simply has to keep his eyes open. Coming from the airport area, the road is situated just to the left immediately after a large bridge, which is located about half a mile down the highway from the turnoff to Highway 47 and Kualapuu. (Coming from Kaunakakai, a visitor must look for this big bridge and turn right immediately in front of it.) The Pacific Concrete and Rock Company is located just across the highway from this road. The last time I was there, a small sign that said “Molokai Forestry Camp” pointed up the road to the Waikolu lookout. The road is unpaved, but passenger cars can make it up here with no trouble in good weather. If there’s been a lot of rain, visitors ought to think twice before taking off on the ten-mile drive to the lookout. To get there, you must stay to the left at a fork in the dirt road, two miles from the main highway, and also keep left at a second fork one mile farther on. Soon the road will pass the abandoned forestry camp and enter a beautifully deep and dark forested area. Along the way, a number of jeep trails take off into the forest. About nine miles up the road, off to the left side, is a serene, grass-carpeted depression in the ground marked by a sign that says “Sandalwood measuring pit.” The pit is a scenic reminder of some rather bad times in the early nineteenth century, when Hawaiian chiefs ordered their people into the hills to gather the precious sandalwood for them. The wood was stacked in the pit, which approximates the size of the hold in merchant vessels of that day. When the pit was full, the wood was laboriously hauled out of the hills to be loaded on ships that carried it to China. From the sandalwood, the Chinese got oil for medicines and perfume, and wood for religious carvings, incense sticks, and other objects. At one time, the sandalwood trade in the islands was the main source of revenue for King Kamehameha I. But it was hell


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on the working men, who began pulling up the young sandalwood trees in order to kill off the supply and end their labors. This tactic, plus reckless exploitation of the existing trees, put an end to the sandalwood trade in Hawaii before the mid-1800s. Up the road one mile from the pit is the lookout, at an elevation of about 3,500 feet. From the lovely grassy area at the lookout is a magnificent view deep into Waikolu Valley and off to the ocean in the distance. Several tall, thin waterfalls pour down the face of the valley’s steep green cliffs. The road continues beyond this point, but it shouldn’t be attempted without a fourwheel-drive vehicle. It’s possible to hike from the Waikolu Valley lookout to the rim of nearby Pelekunu Valley for another fantastic view into an immense mountain valley with the ocean in the background. I’ve never tried the trail, but I understand from friends that it can be hiked in two hours or so. The directions for finding the trail get rather complicated, however, and hikers probably should seek directions through the fish and game office at the state building in Kaunakakai. A pretty inland fishpond is located off the main highway, closer in toward Kaunakakai. To reach it, travel about one mile down the highway from the big bridge where the dirt road cuts off to the Waikolu lookout. To the left, the Friendly Isle Dairy can be seen. Take the road that branches to the right here. A couple of hundred yards down this road are two dirt side roads in succession, off to the right. Take the second road, and drive down it for about two miles to the fishpond, which will be on the left. Many years ago, the fishponds built all along Molokai’s south coast were a principal source of food for the islanders. This old pond is one of the few built inland instead of directly on the ocean shore. A little farther down the main highway, and about one mile west of Kaunakakai, is the Kalamaula area with its homesteads, long row of churches, and the Royal Coconut Grove. The grove,


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with about a thousand trees spread over ten acres along the waterfront, was planted at the order of Kamehameha V sometime in the 1860s. The row of churches blossomed somewhat later, during the period in the 1920s when the homesteading program was getting underway in the area.

The Royal Coconut Grove on the waterfront near Kaunakakai.


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I don’t know anything about the churches, but I did learn something about a variety of Christian evangelism from one of the members of one of the churches. He was a well-dressed, wellmannered, quiet-spoken teenage boy, driving a big new car. I was hitchhiking and he picked me up. I make it a practice, when I hitchhike, to be considerate to my benefactor. I mean, if he wants to talk, I let him. If he asks questions, I answer. If he wants to be quiet, I shut up. So this quiet-spoken young man asked some quiet questions about myself, which I answered, quietly. Then he reached inside the briefcase next to him and quietly offered me two pamphlets about his church. I accepted because, after all, he was doing me a favor. Then he cleared his throat a bit and told me the pamphlets cost a dime. I paid up. I mean, it was still cheaper than cab fare. But I got even with him. I never read them.


East Molokai family: Diane and Moki with Moki Jr. and Lanny.


7

EAST END (part 1) Pounding poi at the Hilton

TO MY WAY OF THINKING, the real Molokai doesn’t begin until you get a few miles east of Kaunakakai. This is the east end, the seat of Molokai’s history, the home of its legends and its native people. The west end is terribly dull, dry, and colorless when it is measured against the variety of scenery and people and activities in the east. In the mid-1800s, virtually all of the people on Molokai lived on the eastern half of the island. This includes those who lived in the now deserted northeastern Molokai valleys. So the east end is where you will find the pre-Christian places of worship, the fishponds, the homes of gods and sorcerers, the later Christian churches, the outlines of old taro patches, and all the other reminders and remainders of old Hawaii. The east end lost population steadily after the midnineteenth century. Rev. H. R. Hitchcock, the Protestant minister who built the first Christian church on Molokai, estimates there were 6,000 people on Molokai in 1834—roughly the same number as in 1970. Residents later began deserting Molokai for


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more prosperous islands, and nobody from the other islands saw any reason to come to Molokai. By 1860, Molokai had fewer than 2,900 people. The population dropped to 1,700 ten years later. Total population hovered just above the 1,000 mark during the early twentieth century, but dramatically jumped to almost 5,700 by 1935 with the advent of pineapple cultivation and homesteading. The population then included many Japanese and Filipinos, imported to work in the pineapple fields, and Hawaiians from other islands who wished to take advantage of the homesteading program. And almost three-quarters of the population lived on the west end, almost a complete reversal from a hundred years earlier. The population distribution now remains approximately the same. Today, the east end is to some degree unchanged from the last century. Old-time residents of the area often still live very simply, depending on nature to help provide the necessities of life. Many people fish and hunt and raise livestock and grow vegetable gardens; there still are a few taro patches. As a matter of fact, the east end is a travel writer’s dream. It provides a great opportunity to paint glowing word pictures of the brown-skinned natives happily pounding poi and throwing their nets into the foaming sea and strumming their ukuleles under the palm trees on moonlit nights, etc. In other words, the east end is a very easy place to over-romanticize. Because it is, really, a part of old Hawaii; one of the last places where you can hope to get some feel of what Hawaii used to be. Part of the reason for this is that Molokai has the highest percentage of Hawaiian and part Hawaiian people of any of the state’s major islands, and the east end is where you will find the many Hawaiians who are not living on homestead land. Although the east end looks like old Hawaii in some respects, it’s good to keep in mind that we actually are well into the second half of the twentieth century. What we really find on the east end is an old Hawaii that is turning into new, modern Hawaii fairly


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rapidly. And the travel writers and other east-end glorifiers are bringing this change about as quickly as anyone. The more people who read about the native, traditional, unspoiled places on Molokai, the less native and traditional and unspoiled these places are going to be. An article in Holiday magazine is good for a thousand more tourists a year, thereby diminishing by some simple ratio the very delights that drew the people there in the first place. Today on Molokai, you will hear scheme after scheme for hotels and resort developments on the east end, which will mean more and more people, bigger and better roads, higher prices, new buildings, and all the folderol of modern resort living. And what will happen to the “real Hawaii?” I imagine it will still be there, sandwiched between the high-rises. And the natives will continue to make poi, throw their nets, and have their luaus. Only they won’t be doing these things at home. They’ll be doing them on the lanai of the Molokai Hilton every night at 8 and 10 p.m., with matinees on the weekends. Hotels mean jobs and money for the east enders who are interested in jobs and money. Right now the east end has a high rate of male unemployment. It is a poor area, according to the customary standards of personal income, education, job skills, and so forth. Lots of couples raise large families, and I don’t really understand how they manage to do it, but they do. Many of the homes in which families live are beyond hope; they are little more than shacks and I fear for their survival in anything above a moderate breeze. But somehow I can’t feel sorry for the so-called poor people on the east end. I think it must be easier to be poor on Molokai than in many places; certainly it’s easier to be poor in the country than in the city. I hope I’m not merely being glib; I’m not poor, so I really couldn’t say what it is like. But I do know that while some of the east enders live in shacks, these shacks sit on


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An east-end home. pieces of oceanside land that would be the envy of any California millionaire. I know they don’t have much money, but they know how to live from the land and from the sea. I know they are blessed with a climate that makes a lot of clothes and elaborate houses superfluous. For the moment, at least, the east end has undeniable charm and beauty. I always feel I can count on visiting the east end and having something nice happen. Something nice and simple and human like helping some boys launch their fishing boat or watching an old woman pick limu from shallow water or talking with a kamaaina about the 1946 tidal wave or helping a Filipino fisherman clean his nets or talking to some young people bicycling to Halawa Valley or learning about fighting cocks from an east-end chicken raiser. People out here seem to take the time to be human. East-end


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old-timers always seem to be ready to put down whatever they are doing in order to help someone else or to simply pass the time of day. I felt downright guilty sometimes out on the east end when I would go hustling through the area, snapping pictures and interviewing, allowing myself half an hour here and fifteen minutes there. The people I visited were invariably warm and wonderful to me, forcing me to condemn myself for putting friendship on a time schedule as I kept one eye on the people I was visiting and the other on my watch. The east end may have only one quarter of the people, but it has three quarters of the scenery. This half of the island, formed by the younger east Molokai volcano, reaches a maximum altitude of nearly five thousand feet. Much of the mountainous area appears dry from the road, but there are vantage points along the highway where tall green mountains and thin wispy waterfalls can be seen. For the time being, the east-end road is appropriately narrow and winding, giving a person a chance to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. The road parallels the coast from Kaunakakai to Waialua, a distance of about eighteen miles, but is set back several hundred yards from the water along almost this whole stretch. A number of old Hawaiian fishponds, some in excellent condition, are visible along the way. Beyond Waialua, the road loses its paving, and then begins to follow the shoreline. Unfortunately, there’s no good swimming beach on the entire south coast of Molokai, with the exception of the small swimming area Sharmen and I found near Kolo Wharf on the southwestern end of the island. I have never found any others. For perhaps ten or fifteen miles on both sides of Kaunakakai, the water is very shallow and it is possible in spots to wade out into the ocean for hundreds of yards. Coral reefs half a mile or so off shore prevent the ocean waves from reaching land. Dirt from the mountains has washed into the ocean along much of the island’s south coast, creating mucky mudflats.


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The reefs begin giving way past Waialua, and ocean waves are free to crash onto the shore. However, there are no good swimming beaches in this area, either. Out here, Molokai comes within about eight miles of the western tip of Maui. Lanai can still be seen off to the right of Maui. Part of the scenery on the east end are the animals you will run into—perhaps literally—all along the road. The most common are pigs, dogs, horses, cattle, chickens, mongooses, frogs, and mynah birds. Everyone raises one or more varieties of the domestic animals. The big frogs are the ancestors of frogs first brought to Hawaii from Puerto Rico in 1932 to kill insects, scorpions, and centipedes. The mongooses—the weasel-like creatures that will slink across the road in front of your car— were imported from the East Indies in 1883 to kill rats, but they have since decided they prefer chicken eggs. As in the rest of

Slopping the hogs at an east-end farm


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Hawaii, there are no snakes. Much of the history of the east end, and of the entire island, is told in the histories of Molokai’s old-time families. Families like the Cookes, the Meyers, the Duvauchelles, the McCorristons, the Dudoits; names that you will run across again and again. Take the Duvauchelles, an old east-end family. According to Zelie Sherwood, her grandfather, Edward Henry Duvauchelle, came to Molokai from his home in France, after stopping for a time in New Zealand. Edward Duvauchelle lived at Kaunakakai and used to cook for Kamehameha V when he was on Molokai. Duvauchelle got on the bad side of Kamehameha V once when he shot one of the king’s deer. Axis deer from India had been imported to Molokai in 1867 and the king had forbidden any hunting of the animals. According to Zelie Sherwood: “My grandfather’s the one who shot the first deer on Molokai. It ate his potatoes, so he shot it. Kamehameha didn’t talk to him for three months.” Duvauchelle married a woman on Maui. After her death, he married a part English-part Hawaiian girl from Molokai and they raised four sons. One of these sons became Zelie’s father. Zelie lived in Honolulu as a young child, where her father worked for the government. In the early part of this century, when she was four years old, she moved with her family to Molokai and has lived here ever since. Another of the strange stories in Molokai history involved her father. He served on Molokai as district overseer, an important government position. Sometime around 1916, a Chinese fisherman was murdered out on the east end. Seven years went by before charges were brought. At that time, Duvauchelle and two of his sons were charged with the murder. They were convicted and spent ten years in prison. According to Zelie, her father and two brothers were innocent because no murder ever took place. The Chinese fisherman actually had returned to his home in China, she said, but there was no way to prove this.


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If there is a family name you will run across more frequently than any other on the east end, it probably is the Dudoit family. The Dudoit (doo-doo-wah) clan, another French-Hawaiian family, got its start on Molokai in the mid-nineteenth century. According to one history of Hawaii, Jules Dudoit came to Hawaii in 1837 as the owner of a ship transporting two banished Catholic priests back to Honolulu from the mainland. The priests had been kicked out of Hawaii, apparently as an act of simple discrimination against Catholics. Due partly to Dudoit’s efforts, the priests eventually were allowed to go ashore. Dudoit later was one of the persons who complained to a French Navy captain about the persecution of Catholic priests in Hawaii. This captain immediately threatened to open fire on Honolulu unless Kamehameha III and his government stopped their discrimination against Catholics. Kamehameha agreed. Dudoit later became the French consul to Hawaii. He met a tragic end, however, when his cook came into his bedroom one night and murdered him with a carving knife. Dudoit’s sons, Jules and Charles, attended the private Punahou prep school in Honolulu and later owned and operated an interisland freight schooner. Jules married a Hawaiian woman, settled on Molokai, and raised a large family. I tried to get some information on the family from one of the older Dudoits on Molokai “Can you give me some information about the history of the Dudoit family?” “Yes, but I don’t know. You can ask the Bishop Museum.” “But you’re the Dudoit.” “Yeah, but, but . . .” “You see, I keep running across the name of your family in the history books, but I don’t really know much about the family.” “Yeah, I know. Grandfather, great grandfather, and all that, and so on so on so on, but I don’t like to think about it or talk


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about it. Goddamit, they were somebody in their days, and when they come here, they leave us poor. And we gotta struggle. They were rich people. My grandfather; my great grandfather; they were somebody. Sometimes I wish my last name wasn’t a Dudoit.” “How come?” “Well, goddam, it’s Dudoits Dudoits Dudoits; always some kind of trouble, you know what I mean?” So all I gathered from this conversation was that the Dudoits are not generally the richest people on Molokai, and that some of them have modest reputations as hell-raisers. I had heard these things before. But then the Dudoits are a big family, and I suspect there are all types within the membership. At any rate, the Dudoits are an important kamaaina family, and the descendants of the early Dudoits are settled all over the east end today. Jesse Dudoit is one of these descendants. I met Jesse on the third and final day of the hike that Sid Kent and I took along the length of Molokai’s south coast. Sid and I were tired and sore, hobbling along on blister-covered feet after having walked about thirty-five miles in the previous two days. We figured we had another seven or eight miles to go that day in order to reach the end of the road at Halawa Valley. Then, thank God, we came across Jesse’s refreshment stand. Jesse has a little shack on the ocean, just a short distance beyond the start of the dirt road (about a mile past the Waialua Bridge). From the shack he sells glass fishing floats, colored coral, and other souvenirs, plus cold Cokes. This is Jesse’s Coral Shack. We bought the Cokes. I took off my boots and sympathized with my feet while Jesse talked about life on the east end. Jesse used to work for the county on Molokai, but he is retired now. He spends his time minding his shop, smoking his pipe, and occasionally fishing. He lives alone in the nearby old house where his father and mother raised most of their eighteen children. Jesse is one of those who remember the giant tidal


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Jesse Dudoit offers Cokes and souvenirs at Jesse’s Coral Shack. wave of April 1, 1946, that struck the Hawaiian Islands. On Molokai, the wave destroyed the water pipeline and caused other damage at Kalaupapa, washed half a mile inland over uninhabited land on the west end of Molokai, and destroyed valuable taro patches and a number of buildings out on the east end. Jesse particularly remembers the day because he was working for the county and had to gather a crew of men from Kaunakakai to repair damage out on the east end. He had difficulty rounding up the crew, because the men thought he was kidding. After all, why should they believe him? They knew it was April Fool’s Day. One of the more amazing persons on the east end is Petronello Bicoy, an old Filipino gentleman who managed to raise a handsome family of seven sons and five daughters from his earnings as a fisherman. He doesn’t seem to think he is all that amazing, although he is obviously proud of his children. One son, Fred, a former schoolteacher, is the manager of the federal Community Action Program on Molokai. Another son is a Honolulu attorney.


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All his sons, and all his daughters’ husbands, have good trades or professions. And they have given Bicoy and his very sweet wife a total (at last count) of sixty-two grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Bicoy first came to Hawaii from the Philippines in 1919, when he was fourteen years old. He was “smuggled” into Hawaii, he says, by an old man who let him pretend to be his son. He says it was common in those days for Filipinos to take false names in order to get around the rules that might have kept them from coming to Hawaii. Bicoy was lured to Hawaii by the words of a sugar company recruiter who told Filipinos: “If you people go Hawaii, you can find gold on the highway.” Needless to say, Bicoy did not find gold on the highway. He arrived on the island of Maui and went to work on the sugar plantation for thirty-five cents a day. After a while, his situation improved, and he was making as much as a dollar a day. By 1923, Bicoy had enough of Maui and decided to move to Molokai. He says he is the very first Filipino to settle on Molokai. He arrived on June 16, 1923. Shortly afterward, Libby started its pineapple operation on west Molokai and began importing a lot of Filipinos. For a time, Bicoy was the only Filipino on the island, and he says the natives took some time to get accustomed to him. Despite the fact he has lived in Hawaii since 1919—and in the same spot next door to Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church since 1929—I swear he had to think it over a moment before he confessed to me that, “Now I consider Molokai my home.” It must have taken many long years before Bicoy decided he would never return to the Philippines to live. He has never lost his attachment to the country he left when he was fourteen years old, and he has not become a U.S. citizen. You know for sure he is a real Filipino when you see the rows of chicken coops in his back yard, where he keeps the fighting cocks he raises. I asked Bicoy how he managed to make enough money from his small-scale fishing operation to raise a dozen children. He


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Petronello Bicoy: In the month of July 1923 I go down Halawa Valley. I like play baseball with those Hawaiian people. But those Hawaiian people never see no Filipino. They only see about Filipino in the newspaper; they only see article that say the Filipino is a killer. That’s right, a killer. So, I get down the baseball grounds, and then everybody is scared, because I’m a Filipino. They think I went down there to kill them. But after I stay a little longer here, all those people, they know me well, and we all good friends.


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explained it to me, but I’m not sure I understood his formula. But it obviously worked: “Well, before was very cheap the stuff, you know. Rice is cheap; everything is cheap. You can provide yourself. “Those people from the government always come see me before, because I got lotta children. They say, ‘Mr. Bicoy, I think you need help.’ Well, sure I need help, but you know who help me. Only God could help me; people won’t help me. “ ‘No, no, no, our government help you. You got plenty kids.’ Yeah, I know I got plenty kids. I gotta go struggle myself. “So those wahine from the government, they always come check up on me. But my idea is, I don’t raise a lotta kids and ask for help. I can manage myself.”


Swinging high at Kilohana School, east Molokai.


8

EAST END (part 2) Battles in a horse pasture

THE EAST-END ROAD is loaded with sites of interest. I just don’t see any way out of listing them all and talking a bit about each one. Many of these places are indicated by Hawaii Visitors Bureau markers (metal poles that support the colorful picture of a Hawaiian chief along with the name of the site). For some perverse reason the Visitors Bureau sees fit to put up these markers all over the state without ever telling anything about the places they mark. For instance, imagine a newcomer to Hawaii driving down Molokai’s east-end highway and coming to the marker that says: Ililiopoe Heiau. What is this poor stranger to make of this cryptic message? Ililiopoe Heiau. Well, let’s see. Could it be a girl’s name? Is it the name of the chief in the picture? Is there perhaps a thing known as a heiau, and is the sign indicating the presence of a heiau with the name of Ililiopoe? If so, what is a heiau? What is the Ililiopoe Heiau? Where did it come from? Where is it? Who took it? On one side of the road is a cow pasture; on the other, masses of trees. Is a heiau perhaps another name for a cow


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pasture? Or for a grove of trees? Or did the Visitors Bureau, busy with many other projects, just put up the sign in the wrong place? You see the problem. If the Visitors Bureau had any cool, it would include a brief description of each site along with the marker. Or it would publish a pamphlet for each island explaining all the markers and make these pamphlets available without charge at the various airports. The sites I’ll talk about begin with the Hotel Molokai, located a couple of miles east of Kaunakakai, and continue along a stretch of some twenty-two miles to the headquarters of George Murphy’s Puu o Hoku Ranch. The sites are listed in geographical order and should be easy to find if they are looked for in relation to other sites. Sites marked with a Visitors Bureau sign are indicated by the initials HVB in parentheses after the name. Hotel Molokai. The Hotel Molokai is just what hotels on small palm-covered Pacific Islands are supposed to look like. The small guest buildings, each only two stories high, are dotted around beautifully landscaped grounds next to the ocean. It is a very tastefully designed setup and something islanders can use in measuring the appearance of new hotels that come Molokai’s way. I’m afraid it’s not the Hotel Molokai that will be found lacking. Right now, the hotel is the only public place on Molokai where you can hope to find dinners that are anything out of the ordinary. Prices are in line with the quality. Alii Fishpond. Look first for a couple of fairly new and attractive rustic wood cabins off to the right, about a mile down the road from Hotel Molokai. Behind the cabins is the thirty-sevenacre Alii Fishpond, which is being used for fisheries research by the Oceanic Institute. It’s okay to take a look around. Alii Fishpond is a good example of the fifty-eight fishponds that once existed along Molokai’s south shore. There were variations in the


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ponds, but most of them were like this one: a piece of ocean boxed in by a low wall of volcanic rock or coral, with one or more openings in the wall barred by narrow grills. Young fish could pass through the grills and into the fishpond. When they had grown a bit, they were no longer small enough to fit through the grill, and thus became trapped in the pond. The grills kept the eating fish in, kept the predators out, and permitted water to circulate through the pond. The fish were harvested from the ponds with nets. Fishponds have been in use in Hawaii for hundreds of years, and several of the ones on Molokai are still being used to a small extent today. The ponds were built by the commoners upon the orders of the alii, and a large pond could take as long as a year to complete. The Oceanic Institute is using this pond for research into ways people throughout the Pacific can raise mullet, shrimp, lobster, and other seafood. You can locate fishponds in various degrees of preservation or decay at several spots along the coast. One Alii Park (oh-nay uh-LEE-ee). This spacious county park offers a large grass playing field, covered picnic benches, a barbecue pit, wading pool, showers. The ocean here is too shallow for swimming. Kawela City of Refuge and Kawela Battlefield (HVB). These two neighboring historic sites are mysteries to me. The best I can find out is that the City of Refuge was a location where persons fled either to avoid injury during battle or to escape prosecution for crimes. The battlefield apparently was the site of one of Kamehameha the Great’s military engagements. To my untrained eye, it looks like a horse pasture. Kamalo Harbor. Four miles or so beyond the battlefield, the road makes an abrupt 90-degree left turn just past a road sign that warns: Slow-Bad Curves. Turn right, instead of following


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the road to the left, to take the short dirt road that goes out to the old Kamalo Pier. A number of local fishermen still keep their boats just off shore here, and a cluster of shacks used by Filipino fishermen is located near the shore. Occasionally a good-sized fishing boat or sailboat will pull through the break in the reefs and into Kamalo Harbor and tie up at the collapsing pier. But not often. Back up the main road, a hundred yards or so toward Kaunakakai, another dirt road travels toward the mountains through the old Kamalo village area. The road winds around in the trees for about half a mile before returning to the main road. St. Joseph Church. This shabby little church, founded by Father Damien in 1876, is hard to miss. This is literally true, since it sits almost on the highway just down the road from Kamalo. It is a tiny, quaint wooden structure resting on a foundation of rocks. It is now in the process of restoration, and not a minute too soon. There is one of those picturesque old graveyards alongside the church, with some not very picturesque plastic flowers symbolizing, I suppose, someone’s undying love for the deceased. Puaahala. This is it! The first major tourist development on Molokai. Hotel Molokai has fewer than one hundred rooms. Puaahala, when its projected seven hotels are completed, will have about fifteen hundred. Plus a shopping area, marina, homes, apartment houses, etc. Though it is the newest of the sightseeing sights of east Molokai, it may turn out to be more important and historic than any of the rest. I can visualize two possible inscriptions for the historic plaque that will be placed at Puaahala in 2000 AD. The first reads: “On this hallowed spot, in the year 1970, a band of brave men began laying the foundation for the visitor industry which has made possible the happiness and prosperity of Molokai today.” The alternate plaque reads: “Here lies Molokai—


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daughter of the Goddess Hina, home of contentment and simplicity—killed by greed. On this spot, in the year 1970, were diagnosed the first symptoms of this incurable cancer.”

Sid Kent photo

Smith–Bronte landing spot. On July 15, 1927, Ernest L. Smith, pilot, and Emory B. Bronte, navigator, landed their small plane in a kiawe tree along the shore in east Molokai. So ended the first successful civilian flight from the mainland to Hawaii, just sixteen days after a pair of military flyers had completed the very first Pacific crossing. Smith and Bronte flew from Oakland to Molokai in twenty-five hours and two minutes. They had not intended to land in a kiawe tree. They had not even intended to land on Molokai. But apparently a fuel pump failed, or they ran

East-end scene.


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out of gas, so they had no choice. The landing spot is marked by an inadequate little memorial stuck off in the bushes to the side of the road. Fortunately, the state is buying the site and there should be improvements to the area some day. Mary McCorriston tells this story about the unexpected conclusion to the flight: “I heard they were coming, so I went to Honolulu to meet them. I was down at Wheeler Field waiting for them when they were landing back on Molokai. My cousin called me up in Honolulu and said, ‘What were you doing down at Wheeler Field?’ And I said, ‘Waiting for Smith and Bronte.’ And he said, ‘Eddie [Mary’s husband] is entertaining them at your house on Molokai right now.’ Eddie [a judge] was holding court, where the Kilohana School is now. And he had a radio, listening; he was a great one for that, you know. Then what happened was, he saw the plane coming overhead, circling over the air, so he says, ‘Let’s close court. I want to see what’s happening to those two guys.’ “When he got to the spot where they landed, these two fellows were sitting up on a tree in their little plane. So he stopped and looked and says, ‘Are you Smith and Bronte?’ They said, ‘Yes, we are.’ He said, ‘Are you hurt?’ and they said, ‘No.’ So he waited there and took them down to our house, and he was there entertaining them while I was down at Wheeler Field waiting for their plane to land.” Keawanui Fishpond. Keawanui was built by the ancient Hawaiians before Columbus arrived in America. It is the oldest known fishpond on the island, and it was still in use up until a few years ago. The pond can be reached through the Diamond J Ranch, just up the road from the Smith-Bronte landing spot. Visitors should ask permission at the ranch to take a look. Loipunawai Mystic Spring (HVB). The sign for the spring is located on the left side of the road just past Kilohana School. Off


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in the bushes on the makai side of the road from this sign is a tiny pool of still water. This may or may not be the spring that the sign mentions. Zelie Sherwood tells me that at one point in Molokai history, invading soldiers cut off the islanders’ supply of fresh water. The residents then discovered this freshwater spring, which at that time was bubbling up under the salt water in the nearby fishpond. They were able to dive into the pond and collect enough fresh water from the spring to survive. Ah Ping Store. Ah Ping offers the one and only chance on the east end to buy gas. That is, if the store is open, and if the attendant is in the mood to wait on customers. Sid Kent and I went to Ah Ping’s once to get gas for his car and found the fat young storekeeper asleep on a bench. He sort of woke up. “Do ya want something?” “Yes, some gas.” “Can ya come back in an hour?” “Yeah, okay.” Ah Ping sells beer and soft drinks and cigarettes and a few of the other necessities of life. The selection reminds me of the grocery stores I ran across in some of the poorer areas of Italy. You know, a few shelves full of pasta, some laundry soap, and cigarettes, and that’s about it. I’m not sure who runs Ah Ping’s these days. The original Ah Ping died in 1948. According to George Cooke, Ah Ping formerly owned a Maui sugar plantation, which he sold for “a considerable sum of money.” Cooke says that when Ah Ping was fined twenty thousand dollars by the feds for dealing in opium, he paid them immediately in cash. At any rate, Ah Ping’s isn’t much. But it’s the only store on the east end, with the exception of a fruit stand a few miles farther on, and Jesse Dudoit’s curio and refreshment stand a few miles beyond that. Kaluaaha Church. This is the oldest church on Molokai, a Protestant church built in 1835 under the direction of the Rev. H.


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R. Hitchcock. This large stone-walled church was built to accommodate twelve-hundred worshippers. The building originally had a roof thatched with leaves. It now has a tin roof, and it has lost its steeple, so it looks like a big cow barn as much as anything else. The supporting buttresses were added to the building about 1917. This historic structure is being restored. The church is a short distance back from the road, on the left, and is unmarked. Our Lady of Sorrows Church. This church, about one mile past Ah Ping’s, is the first of the two churches founded by Father Damien on the main portion of Molokai. It was built in 1874. The small wooden building was restored a few years back and is in beautiful condition. An excellent life-sized statue of Father Damien is on display in a shelter near the church. Keanaohina (Cave of Hina) (HVB). This is the birthplace of Hina, legendary mother of Molokai. The cave supposedly is located in the nearby hills, but nobody seems to know exactly where. The Visitors Bureau marker is located in Queenie’s front yard. Queenie is an old Filipino man who fishes, raises cows, fights chickens, lives in the collapsing old structure you’ll see there, and speaks the damndest pidgin I’ve ever heard. I can’t understand him, but I enjoy visiting with him. I’m sure Queenie is far more interesting than the cave. Wailau trail. There is, or used to be, a trail that proceeded from the southern coast, over the mountains, and down into Wailau Valley on the island’s north coast. There is a Visitors Bureau marker near the beginning of the trail, but the portion of the marker that used to say “Wailau Trail” is missing. This is just as well, since the trail doesn’t really exist anymore either. I spoke to a fellow who managed to hike into the valley with a friend of his. The trail was gone, they said; destroyed by landslides and by years of unchallenged jungle growth. This young man and his


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friend were taken out of the valley by Coast Guard helicopter when they failed to return after a week. When they were picked up, they were building a raft to use in an attempt to sail out of the valley. “Maybe we could have banged our way out the way we came in,” he said, “but we didn’t want to try.” Ililiopoe Heiau (HVB). A heiau is a sacred worshipping place of the ancient Hawaiians. Ililiopoe Heiau is the second-largest heiau in the Hawaiian islands and, like many other heiaus, was a site for human sacrifices. It is believed to be as much as six hundred years old. A legend tells of a man, Umoikikaua, who lost nine sons as sacrifices at this heiau. He asked the god Kauhuhu for revenge, and this god sent a terrible flood that washed out parts of the heiau and carried its priests out to sea. The heiau is essentially an immense flat pile of rocks, about the size of a football field. The terraced walls of the structure reach a height of about twenty feet at one end. As with fishponds, heiaus were built by the common people at the command of the royalty. Mark Twain had some sharp words about a sacrificial heiau he saw on Oahu, and they are pertinent to Ililiopoe: “Those were savage times when this old slaughterhouse was in its prime. The king and the chiefs ruled the common herd with a rod of iron; made them gather all the provisions the masters needed; build all the houses and temples; stand all the expenses, of whatever kind; take kicks and cuffs for thanks; drag out lives well flavored with misery, and then suffer death for trifling offenses or yield up their lives on the sacrificial altars to purchase favors from the gods for their hard rulers.” The state also plans to buy the Ililiopoe Heiau, so one day it will be easily accessible. For now, it cannot be seen from the road, but it can be reached through a bit of hiking. Drive down the road about a hundred yards past the Visitors Bureau marker, until you cross a small bridge. Then walk for a quarter-mile or so


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up a dirt road that takes off into the hills from the main road. There is a gate at the beginning of this road, but it should be unlocked. At the end of the dirt road (there will be a house here), turn to the left for about a hundred yards. Directly ahead will be the high terraced wall of the heiau. I understand the heiau property belongs now to Pearl Friel, manager of the Bank of Hawaii in Kaunakakai. Visitors might want to ask her permission before going up there. Paikalani Taro Patch (HVB). The road travels past a fruit stand and another old fishpond before reaching this site. The open piece of land across the road from the marker is the location of the former taro patch. This apparently was a taro patch set aside for the use of Hawaiian royalty. Puu Mano (Shark God Hill) (HVB). The shark god Nanaue was dragged up this hill and killed, according to Hawaiian legend. There is a road up this hill, but it is blocked by a locked gate. Zelie Sherwood told me the story of Nanaue and, considerably boiled down, it goes like this: A shark god on the island of Kauai got married and his wife gave birth to a son, who was Nanaue. The shark god warned his wife that the boy would become a shark if he received any meat to eat. Unfortunately, the woman’s father fed meat to the boy. Soon Nanaue began to crave human flesh. A shark’s head and teeth developed on Nanaue’s back, and he began picking off local fishermen and eating them. He was discreet about the whole thing and ordinarily wore a cloak to hide his shark’s head when he was out in public. But his secret was eventually discovered, and he had to run for his life to Maui. He was also found out there and went to Molokai, where he again took up his habit of eating fishermen. His neighbors eventually discovered he was a shark god. They trussed him up in nets and ropes, dragged him up Shark God Hill, cut him up into small pieces with bamboo knives, and cremated him.


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Old Sugar Mill (HVB). This is the site of a sugar mill operated by a fellow from Norway from 1870 to 1900. It is located two miles beyond Puu Mano, shortly after the end of the paving on the main road. Mokuhooniki Island. This tiny piece of land one mile off the eastern end of Molokai was formed much later than Molokai. It was created when hot lava from the east Molokai volcano shot up from beneath the sea and solidified. The tiny island was used for many years as a military target.

Sid Kent photo

Puu o Hoku Ranch. This fifteen-thousand-acre cattle ranch encompasses some of the most beautiful land on Molokai, including most of Halawa Valley. Headquarters for the ranch is located some four or five miles past the old sugar mill site. Industrialist George Murphy (not the dancer-politician with the same name) bought the ranch in 1955 for something like three hundred

George Murphy relaxes at his Puu o Hoku Ranch home.


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Round-up time at Puu o Hoku Ranch. thousand dollars. Since then he has spent many times that amount developing the property. There is even talk now of putting up some hotels on the land. Murphy is a big, frank man, and it’s easy to visualize him presiding at board meetings. He runs Murphy Industries, an international outfit involved in a lot of activities, including major drilling projects and the manufacture of drilling equipment and portable electric tools. He also owns several automobile dealerships in Honolulu. When I saw him, he was lamenting the fact he was unable to sell his big, beautiful Charolais breeding stock and beef because of various marketing problems. He finally had to ship most of his large Charolais herd to the mainland for sale. “A cattleman just can’t make a dime these days,” he told me. Sacred Kukui Grove. This kukui grove, located on Puu o Hoku Ranch property near the edge of Halawa Valley, was considered one of the most sacred spots in the islands by ancient Hawaiians.


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Once again, Zelie Sherwood told me the story. Molokai was conceded to have the most powerful kahunas, or sorcerers, in Hawaii. Of the kahunas on Molokai, Lanikaula was the most powerful. A kahuna on Lanai wanted to get rid of Lanikaula, so he came to Molokai, feigning friendship, to live with him. His real aim was to get some of Lanikaula’s feces, because this is the best ingredient to use when you’re working bad magic on someone. He finally got what he came for and returned to Lanai to do his dirty work. The kahuna put a curse on Lanikaula, resulting in his death. Lanikaula’s three sons buried him and planted kukui trees around his grave. They grew into the immense grove of trees considered sacred by the old Hawaiians. According to Zelie, some Japanese farmers cut down half of the grove about 1910 in order to clear the land to raise crops. As they were working, one of the men became paralyzed and remained that way the rest of his life. After the land was cleared, crops refused to grow on it. What remains of this grove of light green trees can be seen on a plateau to the right of the main road, about a quarter-mile away, just before the road dips down into Halawa Valley.


Patty and James pose at their camp in Halawa Valley.


9

HALAWA VALLEY ’Sorry, but I thought you were a hippie.’

I SAW THE BOY AND GIRL sitting along the side of the road. They looked like they could use a ride, so I picked them up. James was young; it appeared he had slept in his clothes for the past month or so; his blond hair hung to his shoulders. Summer also was young, maybe nineteen, skinny and pretty. Carrying makeshift packs, they were planning to camp at Halawa Valley. They had no money, so I took them into Kaunakakai and provided them with the most important ingredients for a happy life at Halawa: cigarettes and mosquito repellent. I took them back out to the main road and they continued hitching to Halawa. As it turned out, James and Summer were the advance guard for quite a crew of longhaired young men and women from the mainland who eventually gathered to live in the beautiful isolated valley at the eastern tip of Molokai. I began hearing more and more about the new visitors. Word seemed to be going around: “The hippies are coming. The hippies are coming.” I was publishing my newspaper on Molokai, so Sid Kent and his wife and I drove to the valley to take some pictures and get a story.


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Our car bounced down the steep, narrow dirt road into the valley. We marveled, as usual, at the view of Hipuapua Falls at the head of the valley; of the stream meandering through the valley before emptying into the bay; of the lush greenness of the valley floor. We parked near the mouth of the stream and began looking for James and Summer. We spotted them just across the stream, sunbathing on the beach. Summer was sitting on a blanket, naked as the day she was born, and looking fine. The regulations probably would have called it indecent exposure. But on Summer it looked as decent as anything I’ve seen in years. Summer threw on a shift—James was already presentable—-and we walked over to their campsite. I had brought along two loaves of bread, some cigarettes, and a six-pack of Primo as housewarming gifts. Several other longhairs were sitting around the camp and we were introduced. Right off, we learned that life was not all sweetness and light at Halawa. A fellow named John was talking to me: “We were just camped in this old shack across the river the other night. We were fixing dinner over a campfire and somebody started shooting at us.” “Are you sure?” “Sure I’m sure. Somebody was shooting from up on the side of the valley; up on the road, I guess. We just ran off where it was dark and they stopped shooting. The next day, when we were gone, somebody burned down the shack. They left our stuff outside, so we just packed up and moved over here.” “Who did it?” “I don’t know. Somebody from the ranch, I guess. They don’t want us around.” “Was the shack on their property?” “I didn’t think it was. It was right down along the beach, and you’re supposed to be able to go anywhere you want along the beaches.” “Is this camp here on ranch property?”


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“Hell no. It belongs to this guy named Johnny. He’s a Hawaiian and he lives over there, just a little ways away. He gave us this piece of canvas for a tent, and he told us we could stay here.” We met the Hawaiian named Johnny that same day. Johnny Kainoa and his wife, along with two of Johnny’s young daughters from a previous marriage, are the only year-round residents of the valley. Halawa used to be home for hundreds of Hawaiians, but the population declined over many years as more and more people decided to leave. Most of the remaining families left after the 1946 tidal wave destroyed the valley’s taro patches. Now Johnny and his family, living in a decaying little house partway up the valley, are the only ones left. Johnny is in his mid fifties, very dark skinned, missing lots of teeth. He spends his time fishing, picking opihi (small, edible limpets) from the rocks along the shore, taking care of things around the valley, and during the summer working for the Del Monte pineapple plantation. Johnny welcomed the longhairs to Halawa Valley. He likes them and treats them right. Johnny said he never had any trouble with his young mainland visitors, although quite a number of them had visited the valley during the previous year or two. I was curious about the shooting and the burning of the shack, so I stopped in to see Fred DeMello, manager of Puu o Hoku Ranch. The ranch owns most of the land in Halawa Valley. Fred is a short, muscular cowhand. He lives with his family in one of the attractive old wood-shingled buildings dotted around the headquarters of the Murphy ranch. He speaks quietly and is direct and to the point. He doesn’t like hippies. “They make a hell of a mess down there in the county park, you know. We had to go down there, few days ago, and make them clean up the pavilion. It was a real mess. They were all just sitting around. They didn’t say nothing. I couldn’t tell if they were high from dope, or drunk on beer. This one girl, she had a


JOHNNY

Johnny Kainoa sees the good in the longhaired visitors who accept his hospitality in Halawa Valley. “They all my hippies,” he says. When nice people come here to Halawa, and they think they willing to stay and keep the place clean, I say, “Okay, but don’t plant weeds [marijuana] around there.” I tell my boys that. “Don’t do that kinda stuff. If you do that in Mama’s land, I find out, I’ll have to put you out of the land. You gotta ’scuse me that. I don’t want you do something to break the law. But you want to stay, you think you wanta have nice place, go ahead, you stay, you welcome to do so.” You see these boys, when they come down here, they got lotta


tension. In the Big Island they got plenty trouble. That’s why a lot of tension. In the mainland, the same thing. Now these boys come over here, they really good, I can control them real nice. They listen. Anytime I want any help like this, they glad to do it. Sometimes they run short of food. I tell them, “Here, tomorrow, the water’s good. I want a couple you boys go with me, make opihi, come on.” You see all that food in there now? Two boxes of food there. That for the boys that go with me, make opihi [collect edible limpets]. You know that boy come over here with you? Well, he the one make opihi with me. He’s a good opihi picker; I teach him. These boys got too much tension. Now you get somebody help them, you could put them right on the nose. We not perfect, you know. We could help one another. All they need is help, is all. Somebody can love them. I don’t care if you hippie, no hippie; don’t make no difference to me. I’ll help you the best I know how. That’s what I like. That’s why I helping these boys out. Plenty people don’t like them. They don’t like them, that’s their business. The people across, they don’t want the hippie. But I tell them, “Look, this hippie do you any wrong?” And he say, “No, but I don’t trust this kind of people.” So I tell him, “But did they do you wrong? They never go in your yard, destroy your place. Who the one destroying your place? Our local people. And you know who come steal our net? Our local people. These haole boys don’t do that. They walk up, with a pack. And they don’t do anything like that. That’s why I like these boys. They one of the best people to help. They need help. Help them; not to destroy them. Love them.” These boys work hard. I make them learn how to work. They gotta learn for their own good. They pick opihi, make their own money. Now they go outside, buy food. When I see people, I tell them. “See my haole boys? They all my hippies. They plantin’ their own food. They make it good. They all my hippies, and they doin’ good.”


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Johnny Kainoa looks out from the porch of his Halawa home. minidress up to here, and no pants. You could see her ass and everything.” “What sort of mess did they make at the pavilion?” “Just a big mess. They always eat there, and they don’t clean up the place after. My wife cleans up the pavilion for the county, and we don’t want these people down there messing it up. They build fires right in the goddam pavilion. Why don’t they use the barbecue? They even piss in the wash basins.” “Is that the main problem you’ve been having with them? Down at the pavilion?” “No. They trespass on ranch property. They go in that church, the one by the pavilion, and take out the benches and leave them outside. We caught some of them up on our land a while back, poaching, and we took their guns away. They’re dirty and they stink.” “Hippies with guns? They don’t usually . . . ”


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“Yeah. They were poaching, so we took their guns away.” “Okay. Well, I wanted to ask you if you knew anything about a shack being burned down in the valley. One of the guys staying down there said he was staying in the shack, and when he was gone . . . ” “I burned the shack down. It was an old shack made out of driftwood. It was on ranch property.” “This guy also told me someone took some shots at him when he was camped by the shack.” “I don’t know nothing about that. I don’t need no gun to chase off any goddam hippies.” The next time I got to Halawa was a couple of weeks later when Sid and I walked into the valley at the end of our three-day hike along the south coast of Molokai. We staggered into the pavilion, where James took a victory picture of us. He told us the situation hadn’t changed much in the valley, except that a few new people had arrived. It turned out that Fred DeMello was partly right about the longhairs: they actually were eating their meals at the pavilion. He also was partly wrong: they did not leave a mess behind them. I saw these young people prepare meals several times at the park, and I also saw them wash their dishes and clean up the area afterward. It eventually struck me that most of DeMello’s criticisms had to spring less from fact than from simple prejudice against freaky looking kids. Thanks to our hike, Sid and I learned something about the general attitude of other Molokai people toward the longhairs. I wrote a piece about the hike for the Honolulu Advertiser. In the article I commented on the fact that no one ever offered us a ride, although much of our hike took us along the main Molokai highway. Later, five different persons told me, in essentially identical words: “I’m awfully sorry. I would have offered you a ride, but I thought you were a hippie.”


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This sort of mild aversion to the new visitors is pretty popular around the island. A little girl in Sharmen’s class came up to her one day and, apropos of nothing, informed her: “Do ya know what? Hippies eat cowshit.” I told one longtime Molokai resident that the Halawa longhairs appeared to be reasonably well-behaved individuals. “Oh,” he replied matter of factly, “then they’re not hippies.” Some of my acquaintances in the Kaunakakai business community felt it was humorous to point out a passing hippie and then tell me (who happens to have a beard), “Look, Don, there goes one of your friends.” (More often than not, it was.) But for every person on Molokai who feels this way, I think there is another person who is willing to give the longhairs a chance. Happily, the police seemed to be in the latter category. They seemed notably unconcerned about the longhairs. The police dutifully sent a squad car into Halawa Valley whenever the ranch felt like complaining, but almost invariably they found nothing wrong. One policeman told me the only thing he fears from the hippies is that they will introduce drugs to the island. Some of the Halawa longhairs use drugs, but they’re generally cool about it. About the only thing you’re ever going to find down there is marijuana—a drug that is definitely harmful to human beings because it can get them thrown in jail. A young man named Jimmy found this out one day after he made the stupid mistake of planting a little grass garden in the valley; someone tipped off the police and he was arrested. The only other incident involving drugs in Halawa Valley that I ever heard of involved a Hawaii state senator. This gentleman—who, I know, would prefer to remain anonymous—came to Molokai one day on official business. He paid a visit to the valley and for some reason rifled through the belongings of one of the longhairs. He found a small amount of marijuana and hashish (the more potent resin of the marijuana plant) and took it with him. The good senator never officially reported his find. I assume


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he either realized he could be prosecuted for theft or decided to use the stuff for himself. Or both. One of the more dedicated opponents of the hippies is a fellow from Michigan who owns a cabin in Halawa Valley. This is Mr. Koonmen, who normally comes to Halawa with his wife during the winter months. Mr. Koonmen is a retired businessman. (“A very big businessman,” his sister assured me.) I had a word with Mr. Koonmen one day in order to find out what he had against the hippies. Just about everything, as it turned out. They are dirty and lazy and they set a bad example for kids and they use bad language and they don’t respect their parents and they sleep with people they aren’t married to and they use drugs and they are unpatriotic and they don’t have jobs and so forth through the usual anti-hippie litany you can hear anywhere in the country. At one point, he asked me a question that went something like this: “Do you think it’s right for these kids to steal things that don’t belong to them, to spread disease, to lead innocent children into using dangerous drugs, to cause a young girl to get pregnant due to their bad example, and to contribute nothing to society?” Well, what could I say? That question topped even the old familiar, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” “No,” I replied. He smiled triumphantly. I knew it was time to leave. As I was walking away, he said, “Tell those people they have my sympathy.” “They don’t want it,” I told him. The situation in the valley got worse. Fred DeMello and a couple of his men visited the valley and had words with the campers. The men from the ranch carried firearms, a gesture the longhairs took as something less than friendly. Johnny said he joined the discussion and soon ended up in an argument with the ranch foreman. Johnny related the incident: DeMello told him to keep


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his dog off ranch property or he would shoot the animal. The dog, DeMello said, had been chasing deer and bulls on the ranch. Johnny challenged DeMello to carry out the threat. Apparently afraid of being caught in a bluff, DeMello shot the dog in the hip. A few weeks later I got my first look at this dangerous animal that had been terrorizing helpless deer and livestock on the ranch. The dog was still alive; in very good spirits, as a matter of fact, despite the big chunk of meat shot out of his hip. The dog was a little black and white mongrel; he weighed perhaps ten pounds and appeared about as vicious as Bing Crosby. Johnny was mad that day. He was still mad about his dog. And now he was mad because the ranch had fenced off an area down near the beach where visitors to the valley formerly had been able to camp. The ranch was within its rights; it owned the property. But this petty action by the ranch only helped dramatize how little public land there really is in Halawa Valley, the most beautiful single accessible spot on Molokai. Johnny was working on an idea. The county park is on a small site several hundred yards back from the ocean. Johnny was trying to figure out how to convince the state to take over the park and extend it all the way to the ocean. The extra land would have to be purchased from the ranch. This would guarantee the public permanent access to the ocean here, which is one of the very very few decent places to swim on the whole island. It also would provide a park big enough to handle the crowds who will be coming to the valley as soon as the island’s tourist developments materialize and as soon as the state goes ahead with its plans to pave the road all the way into the valley. While the state is at it, I hope it also makes sure the public always has a way to get to the two beautiful waterfalls— Hipuapua and Moaula—at the head of Halawa Valley. There is a lovely trail to the falls that travels through deep forest and past crumbling stone walls built by the old residents of the valley. It takes about an hour to hike from the county pavilion to either of


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In Halawa Valley: Moaula Falls, and a daughter of Johnny Kainoa.

the falls, which plummet into large freshwater pools that are great for swimming. To get onto this trail, start from the pavilion and head away from the ocean. Stay to the right at a fork in the road about two hundred yards from the pavilion. Stay on this road until it ends at a house after about half a mile. The trail begins along the right side of the house. The trail is fairly easy to follow, except for one place where it turns to the right and crosses over the river. Be prepared to do some wading. After I left Johnny that day, I walked next door to take a look at the little community the longhairs had built up over the past few months. Johnny’s wife owns several acres in the valley and he had turned over portions of the land to his visitors for their use. Four or five campsites were spotted here and there on the land.


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Because of the dense vegetation in the valley, the campsites weren’t visible from the road. James was living in a comfortable little shack consisting of a wooden floor topped by a log framework covered with canvas. (Summer had left for another island.) Cary and Lois were living under a big shelter built around the removable box from the back of a camper truck. Len and David and Tom had pitched two tents along the edge of a large clearing, and the open space had been turned over to a vegetable garden. Everyone seemed settled in some sort of neat, though primitive, dwelling. Each site had its flourishing garden. James and his friends also got food by helping Johnny fish and pick opihi. Some of the men were planning to pick pineapple that summer for Del Monte. All in all, they seemed to be doing well. A couple of months later when I saw Easy Rider in Kaunakakai, a remark in the movie brought me right back to this

Halawa Valley family in their makeshift home.


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little village at Halawa. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were riding across the country in their big flashy motorcycles. They had gone through any number of adventures, and Hopper was digging it. But Fonda knew this wasn’t what he really wanted, and one night he told Hopper, “We blew it.” “What?” “We blew it,” Fonda repeated. And nothing more was said. But you knew he was thinking back a thousand miles to the quiet New Mexico commune where he had almost decided to stay. A peaceful, pretty spot where people lived humbly and without pretense; where they made their living off the land and found their enjoyment in people rather than in things.


Smiling faces in Sharmen’s Maunaloa classroom.


10

MOLOKAI How do you say ‘rush hour’ in Hawaiian?

OLD-TIME RESIDENTS of the island would often ask me, “How do you like living on Molokai?” Now there’s a dangerous question. I can’t explain my mixed feelings about Molokai in a quick comment, and my interrogators weren’t interested in speeches. So I usually passed off the question with a brief and diplomatic reply: “It’s just great. The people here have really made me feel at home.” Or, “I like it very much, although I have to admit that sometimes I get lonely for the big city.” These replies are true as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough. A little disclaimer before I try to answer the question at length: you must keep in mind that every newcomer’s impressions of Molokai will be different. Every person will filter what he sees through his own particular set of beliefs and prejudices and experiences and come up with his own particular view of the place—not the right view or the wrong view, but simply his own view. This is what Sharmen and I have done. We are city people. We have spent much of our adult lives in the San Francisco area.


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The things we learned there about life are the things that influence our thinking about Molokai. When we find something on Molokai that we consider unusual—whether it’s a scene of extraordinary beauty or ugliness, an act of kindness or stupidity, or whatever—it most often derives its unusual nature from comparison with our former life in California. First of all, I was bothered by a notable lack of imagination in many people and organizations. When a chance came along on Molokai to inject a little life or variety into an event, imagination usually lost out to conformity and routine. How else do you explain the nonsensical decision to make a drab village even drabber by numbering the streets of Maunaloa instead of giving them pretty Hawaiian names? We saw this type of thing around us every day, and we began to wonder if people were walking in their sleep. A community organization holds a luau in a sterile school cafetorium, ignoring the limitless number of lovely outdoor locations. Theater owners make no attempt to let you know what movies are showing. A civic group opens a meeting with some community singing, and the favorite song—I’ll never know why— seems to be, “I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad.” Another group presents leis to island newcomers; they are made of plastic. The big event of the year is the Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race—and the road to the takeoff point is impassable, the overnight campsite for spectators has no water, and the pre-race entertainment is as exciting as a sixty-year-old stripper. Some kids taking part in a Christmas program, on an island that has never seen snow, sing an old American standby, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Just Like the Ones I Used to Know.” These are all small things, I suppose, but multiplied a hundred times they become important. When it comes time to do something on Molokai, the first and last question asked is, “How did they do it last year?” I’m not particularly interested in how


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they did it last year. I want to think about how we are going to do it this year. Along with this lack of imagination comes a rather prevalent sort of unthinking Americanism; a rote patriotism that doesn’t leave room for many questions. Everything gets underway with the pledge of allegiance and a “patriotic” song. I heard it every morning from Sharmen’s classroom across the road, as I sat at my typewriter. The children don’t have any idea what they are saying-—it’s obvious in the way the words stumble all over each other at the end of the pledge—but this doesn’t really matter because they are doing the patriotic thing. It may come as a shock to some of these children one day when they learn that the whole nation, for years, has been stumbling over those last few words. The quiet patriotic ardor found on Molokai may simply be a phenomenon typical of unsophisticated rural America. But I’m inclined to think it has something to do with the fact the people of Molokai, and of the entire state, are relatively new Americans. A great many of Molokai’s people are from foreign countries—or their parents or grandparents are from other countries—and they are acutely aware of the good things America has done for them. They see the many wonderful aspects of life in America through new eyes, and they see no reason to question their good fortune. Like the man with a new car, they will be inclined to admire the chrome and the beautiful upholstery for a long time before noticing that little knock in the engine. This patriotic patina that covers a good deal of the island results in the creation of some rather holy cows. The Boy Scouts, a good God-fearing, patriotic organization if there ever was one, is a prime example. Somewhere around 75 or 80 per cent of the eligible boys on Molokai belong to the Boy Scouts. It’s like buying savings bonds when you’re in the Army. It’s not required, but you better have a pretty good reason if you don’t. A fellow who works for a Molokai company was telling me


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about the company’s policy on use of its little park down by the ocean. “We have quite a liberal policy, but we expect people to ask us for permission. If somebody asks us—like if the Boy Scouts want to use the place for a day or so—we usually tell them to go ahead.” Now that’s hilarious. Because being good to the Boy Scouts on Molokai is about as liberal as rescuing your drowning mother. It’s not liberal. It’s expected. I receive solace in the knowledge that Jerry Rubin once was a Boy Scout. But if life on Molokai sometimes seemed more difficult than in California, it was usually for reasons far more mundane than any supposed lack of creativity or excess of patriotism. Mainly, there just wasn’t much to do. We had grown spoiled in California on a social menu consisting of visits with old and dear friends and excursions to San Francisco or Berkeley for samples of those cities’ delights. Suddenly our old friends had our favorite cities, and our favorite cities had our friends. And we had neither. On Molokai, we were conveniently lumped with a group consisting of mainland haoles who were teaching school. Now, the problem with being a member of an expatriate group in a small town is that the group tends to turn into a sort of small town within a small town. Small towns aren’t really my bag in the first place, and two at one time is difficult. The teachers are banded loosely together by common occupation and some common backgrounds and interests. There were only twenty-five or so members of this sub-community, and the usual topic of discussion when any two got together would be the other twenty-three. A British visitor to Hawaii in the 1870s, Isabella Bishop, commented that gossip was the canker of foreign society on the islands. She may have spent some time with the teachers on Molokai. “By gossip,” she wrote, “I don’t mean scandal or malignant misrepresentations, or reports of petty strifes, intrigues and jealousies, such as are common in all cliques and communities, but nuhou, mere tattle, the perpetual talking about people, and


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the picking to tatters of every item of personal detail, whether garnered from fact or imagination.” Molokai offers the usual technical difficulties of small, isolated areas. Our car sat on blocks once for two weeks while we waited for auto parts from Honolulu. We never knew from one moment to the next if our phone was going to work. Our bill for electric service ran as high as twenty-five dollars a month for a small apartment. And we had to be prepared to spend fifty dollars on air fares if we wanted to get away from Molokai for a while to visit one of the other islands. Then there’s the good side. Along with the inherent difficulties of life in the backwoods came the undeniable advantages. The first and most important advantage of living where there aren’t too many people is that there aren’t too many people. In simple mathematical terms, you become more important. Where you constitute one three-millionth of the population around San

A little shopper at a Kaunakakai market.


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Francisco, you suddenly constitute a massive one six-thousandth on Molokai. With this immense increase in personal stature come a host of marvelous privileges: the use of uncrowded highways, the sight of star-spangled skies through a smog-free atmosphere, free access to virtually unused beaches, peace and quiet for your nights and simplicity and beauty for your days. I can’t thank Molokai enough for these advantages. I have spent too many years commuting on freeways to ever forget the experience or to ever fail to be grateful when I set off down a Molokai highway and find I am alone. And there are no traffic signals on Molokai. You can actually take off from Point A in your car on Molokai and expect to reach Point B in about the same amount of time it took you last time. Since I have moved to Hawaii, I have not once heard the expression “rush hour.” I am sure there is no equivalent in Hawaiian. I’ve grown accustomed to going to the beach or to the Kalaupapa lookout or to the falls at Halawa or the extreme east-end highway or most any other of the lovely spots on Molokai and having it to myself. When we have visitors from the mainland, we learn again, through their eyes, just how lucky we are. A mainland newcomer can’t escape a mild feeling of furtiveness as he sits alone on the guardrail at the Kalaupapa lookout, taking in the magnificent view. There’s nobody around; the place must be closed; surely the guard is going to show up any second and throw me out. Do you know there hasn’t been a robbery on Molokai for fifteen years? Maybe never. Certainly, there are burglaries now and again. The island is not without crime. But no one is going to accost you and take something from you; that’s robbery. This may seem like God’s ordained pattern to a longtime resident of the island, but it’s pure miracle to a city person. Sharmen dropped her wallet once, without realizing it, on the main street in Maunaloa. It was immediately returned by the finder. After we finally caught on to this scene, we hardly ever had occasion to


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lock the door on our house or on our car. The few exceptions were primarily for the peace of mind of our visitors from the mainland. These people should read the following remarks from the report of Hawaii’s Chief Justice William Lee for 1852. They are appropriate to Molokai today: “In no part of the world is life and property more safe than in these islands. Murders, robberies and the higher class of felonies are quite unknown here, and in city and country we retire to our sleep conscious of the most entire security. The stranger may travel from one end of the group to the other, over mountains and through woods, sleeping in grass huts, unarmed, alone, and unprotected, with any amount of treasure on his person, and, with a tithe of the vigilance required in older and more civilized countries, go unrobbed of a penny and unharmed in a hair.” For me, Molokai has been a land of opportunity. Molokai is still frontier territory. Just about everything has been tried back where I come from. The only thing you can do is go to work for somebody else, do things his way, and end up in the old 8-to-5. But Molokai, as a frontier, has nothing but room for new people and projects. That’s why I was able to start my newspaper, a project that brought me more satisfaction and good times (and less money) than any job I ever had. One of the things you have to admire about Molokai, and the whole state of Hawaii, is its peaceful mixture of so many cultures. Forty-five per cent of the people on Molokai are Hawaiian or part Hawaiian and another 35 per cent are Filipino. The Japanese account for 9 per cent, Caucasians for 6 per cent, and other groups, including Chinese, for 5 per cent. The blacks are just barely represented, with one man on the entire island. I won’t say all these groups hit it off like brothers all of the time. But there is a climate of mutual respect that keeps the peace nicely. There’s a tall, lanky and likable corn farmer from Iowa named Kaye Waldorf who lives on Molokai now. He told me that


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one of the reasons he decided to come to Molokai was to give his kids a chance to experience just this sort of racial and cultural cooperation. This was a good experience for a white man like me—to be in the minority for a change. To get a chance, for once, to be on the receiving end of a few pious platitudes about racial cooperation. To be able to sit in on the meeting of a Molokai club and hear the Japanese-American official tell the new Caucasian members: “We accept people no matter what race, religion, or creed.” What I probably like best about Molokai is the way its people seem to accept strangers. The people have not yet contracted that favorite disease of civilized nations, fear of the stranger. Molokai is officially nicknamed the “friendly isle” and it sounds like a real PR shuck. But it turns out to have a good deal of truth. You might think the aversion of a lot of islanders to the hippies belies their friendly reputation. But not necessarily. I think a lot of the people on Molokai are nervous because of the longhairs’ reputation and because of the thought of being invaded by a horde of these unknown creatures. But there are plenty of indications that individual longhairs—as individuals, not hippies—are being accepted without question by many local people, just as they accept everyone else. And the island’s nonchalant acceptance of its homegrown mahus indicates that social deviance is not necessarily a sin or a crime on Molokai. I feel I can always go anywhere on Molokai and find beautiful people. Like the fellow who waved at me when I crossed his land to get to the beach, instead of cussing me out. Like Jesse Dudoit, who sat down and talked with us for an hour the first time we met him at his refreshment stand; or the fisherman who spontaneously offered to let me use his net whenever I wished; or the man who asked me in to the birthday party for the Filipino baby. Like a hundred other people who did not know me, and


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Fun in the calm waters of Kaunakakai Harbor. who had no reason to do anything but ignore me. These are Molokai people. But no matter how many people I meet on Molokai, and how nice they may be to me, Molokai could never be my home. I might live here for fifty years, but—like Petronello Bicoy on the east end—I would always have that feeling that my home is back where I was raised, back in California. I was always very conscious both of being a part of, and at the same time apart from,


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Molokai. Even in the moments that I felt a great love for the island, I realized it could never be my island. It belongs to those who understand and accept its quiet, sometimes exasperating, old-fashioned and mysterious ways. I’ll always be a stranger here. As I knew they would, my nostalgic feelings for Molokai began the minute my newspaper folded and we knew we would be leaving. Technically, nostalgia is a longing for things of the past. But I swear you can be nostalgic about an event even while it occurs. When you are talking with someone you realize you may never see again; when you are doing something you know you may never do again—these are the times you suddenly see what is happening through the eyes of the future. As things happen, they are taking their place in the context of your life. Even as I am riding home with Mariano Acoba and his friends from the Peace Picnic, drinking a warm beer, I am remembering how much fun the ride was; as I sit on the grass at Halawa Valley, talking with James and Summer and Bill and Vicky and Johnny, I am recalling what a beautiful day it was. Sharmen and I are building a pyramid of sand on a big beach that is ours alone, and a nostalgia for this moment comes over me because I know the moment will never come again. We are drinking a beer on the lawn in front of Richard Marks’ home at Kalaupapa, and I am watching us in my dreams. Even as I am exchanging pleasantries with the girls at the Friendly Market, I am looking at them in memory. Sharmen and I are walking through the pineapple fields behind our house. Thirty miles to the west, Diamond Head stands out clearly, bathed in the quiet, diffused light from a lowhanging sun hidden behind clouds. The sun sets, but continues to send its rays out into the sky all about us. The sky above Oahu turns slowly to yellow. Behind us, in the east, a rainbow has formed, framing the islands of Lanai and Maui. The sky is alive


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with clouds, yellow nearest to the sun and ten shades of pastel pink near the rainbow. It is a fairy tale sky, rosy, demure, translucent. From both sides of the sky, mysterious objects made of cloud—spaceships, mythical beasts—chase lazily after the sun. A thin horizontal patch of turquoise persists in the yellow-turninggold-turning-red sky above Diamond Head. The rainbow disappears, and the colors in the east turn uniformly blue, then darker blue, then dark. In the west, the atmosphere reflects redder and redder and redder. The sunset is blood brother to our Molokai. The sunset, too, has a startling beauty; a beauty marred for us by telephone poles standing like sentries between us and this loveliness, like memories of yesterday and far away keeping us from enjoying the here and now. The sunset, too, has the look of illusion, of magic, for it is quite outside our experience. Peopled by strange shapes, exciting to the senses, hypnotic, mysterious, ephemeral: we are standing in the middle of all this. But we never forget we are merely spectators. The last horizontal stretch of color above Diamond Head turns blood red and is extinguished.


F RESH

OFF THE BOAT after a sixteen-day sail from San Francisco to Hawaii, Don and Sharmen Graydon settle in for a nine -month stay on the island of Molokai. Thus the plot of this breezy nonfiction report: a city boy goes to the country and is variously charmed and exasperated by what he finds. Certain things are different: for starters, the language, the climate, the food, the culture. Don trades misunderstandings with a Filipino barber, wrestles with pidgin, hobnobs with hippies, is labeled a “dumb haole”; he learns with a laugh or a grimace to accept the many versions of the “real” Molokai. Written in 1970, Away from It All is one young man’s take on a rare and special place in a time long past. Join him for the fun.

Don Graydon on Molokai, 1970. Graydon ran the short-lived Molokai Reporter newspaper and then founded the Maui Sun, published through the 1970s. He later took up reporting and book editing in Seattle—but nothing has ever compared with the adventure of newspapering in Hawaii.

On the cover: Girls at play, east Molokai Photo by Don Graydon, 1970

Yellow Submarine Press Index, Washington

Away from It All: Molokai  

A lighthearted, revealing look at the people and places that made this Hawaiian island the proud and resilient community it is today.

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