Four Mile Drive Into The Past

Local excursion #2 of our Summer of Exploration was a slow, winding drive down the four mile, scenic route that diverts from the highway and runs along the coast, more or less, between Pāpa‘ikou and Pepe‘ekeo.

This used to be the main road, I told my little girl. This is the way people used to go to get to Hilo town a long time ago, I said, and we talked about how the road is smaller and much more winding, and how they must have driven much slower than we do now.

I told her that what’s now Highway 19 used to be railroad tracks, where trains ran up and down the Hāmākua coast carrying sugar from the sugar mills to the harbor, where the big sacks of sugar were put onto ships and sent to the mainland. “To California!” she piped up. Yes.

And also people rode on the train, I told her, and we talked about how there were railroad stations up and down the coast where you got on and off the train. I told her that when my grandmother, “Tutu,” was her age, she used to take the train to go to town with her mother. We both thought about what a different time that was.

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At least to my eyes, it is still a bit of a slower, older time along that four mile drive. I like it. It is quiet there — and while certainly there are probably people along that route living busy, 21st century lives, you don’t see much of that from the road. Mostly you see families living in houses where there families lived for a long time before them, eating fruit from the same trees their grandmothers picked to make jam, playing in the streams.

“Papa’s grandparents were married in that church,” I tell my daughter every time we pass the little church near the Pāpa‘ikou end of the scenic route. Once when we visited new friends near there, we learned that the woman was the priest’s daughter. She recognized my husband’s name and showed us his grandparents’ names in the book her father had kept his records in.

I donʻt know why I feel compelled to tell that to my little girl every time we pass, but I find that I do. Someday, when she looks at that church, she will think about that. Maybe she already does. It will be one more place she has a small connection to, and two people who came before her might feel a little bit more real.

Even aside from its wonderful history, the marked “heritage route” is a beautiful drive. Luxuriant jungle, bridges over streams and rivers, waterfalls right alongside the road…

I told my daughter about the Onomea Arch — a rock formation over Onomea Bay that you used to see from the road, until one day when it fell and was no more. Some artists painting it nearby saw it go.

Lots of things are gone now. But while we live and enjoy our lives here in the present, with what’s here right now, we will remember some of them and take them with us into the future.

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Place Names of Hamakua

We live on the Hamakua coast, a little ways outside of Hilo, and almost every time I drive into town I think about my grandmother, my Tutu, telling me offhandedly once that her great-grandfather had known every twist and turn of that road.

Even when he was in his 80s and 90s and fully blind, she told me, he knew where he was by the turns and feel of the road, and he would call out the name of every small bit of land as they drove by.

Hamakua, Place Names of Hawaii

In the old times from which he came, place was so important, and every small area of land was known and labeled. Things have changed for most of us; I mostly just know “Papaikou,” “Ka‘ie‘ie,” “Pauka‘a,” and a handful of other place names still marked by signs or street names. But there are, of course, so many more places with their own names and characteristics and stories.

Tutu told me about this one day long ago. It was when we passed a place she told me Kamehameha Schools had considered, before deciding to build their Hawai‘i Island campus at Kea‘au. At that time, they were using the old Hawaiian name for the potential Hamakua site, one that hadn’t been used for a very long time.

“I hadn’t heard that name in absolutely decades,” Tutu told me — not since the 1920s and early 30s when her great-grandfather Nalimu had ridden that route and named every individual place along the way.

I wish we could ride along with Tutu Nalimu, and hear and learn all the names. I want my daughter to know about this place where she lives, including the Hawaiian names and their stories.

We’ll have to find a book or an old map that shows us the names, and talk to people who might know, and look up some of the old stories. I’m going to start working on this now as part of our Summer of Exploration.

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Beginning Ukulele Class

Macario will teach a continuing Beginning ‘Ukulele class at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center starting Saturday, June 6.

The series of 1.5 hour classes, which will meet on five consecutive Saturdays at 10 a.m., cost only $25 total for the public and $20 for EHCC members.

Macario's Ukulele Class in Hilo

“You don’t have to know anything about the ‘ukulele,” says Macario, who played music professionally in Honolulu and on the mainland for 16 years. “You need to have your own ‘ukulele and bring a pen or pencil, and that’s it.”

He says he will teach some basic theory and chord structures so students will have the tools to go home and continue.

“I try to keep the class really simple so people can really understand how the notes and chords work,” he says. “I’m trying to give them a roadmap so they can look at their ‘ukulele’s fret board and figure out where the notes and chords are. That way, with a few simple instructions they’ll be able to go home and figure out what the chords in a song are.

“Most Hawaiian songs are really basic, really simple patterns,” he says. “Once you hear those and learn those simple patterns, you’ll start to recognize them everywhere.”

Students who know a little bit about ‘ukulele are welcome, he says, and he’d be happy to go over subjects slightly more advanced if appropriate, but mostly it’s a class for beginning ‘ukulele players. “I want to keep it simple; a simple class to get beginners started on their way to understanding the music, so they can learn more on their own and progress.”

Currently Macario works as a photographer; see his website here. He also runs an online magazine called Macario’s Big Island.

To enroll in Macario’s five-week Beginning ‘Ukulele class, call the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center at 961-5711. The East Hawai‘i Cultural Center is located at 141 Kalakaua Street in Hilo.

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Wayfinding Through the Storm: A New Perspective on the Controversy at Kamehameha Schools

I just received this press release and am very interested to read this book. What an important story, and what a brilliant idea to put all these people’s accounts of it together in one place. Can’t wait to read it.

Full disclosure: I have written a couple books for Watermark Publishing. But I’d have been interested in this book if it was published on the moon:wayfinding2

Watermark Publishing announces the release of Wayfinding through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993 – 1999, offering a new perspective on the Bishop Estate controversy of the 1990s.  Edited by author-historian Gavan Daws in oral history form, this is the story of the ordinary people at the center of the controversy, who looked deep inside themselves and found the moral courage to risk everything, to come together and stand up for what they believed in—to speak truth to power. 
Over 150 voices—young students, respected alumni, movers and shakers, rank-and-file school employees, novice and seasoned teachers, Native Hawaiians, kama‘aina and fresh faces from abroad—share their experiences of the crisis that erupted at Kamehameha Schools and came close to destroying a historic educational community. In the early 1990s, Bishop Estate and Kamehameha Schools were flourishing. Within just a few years, however, a new all-Hawaiian board of trustees found itself embroiled in micro-management and dubious schemes hatched behind closed doors that erupted in public scandal—ethical, moral, sexual, financial, political and legal—and crossed the line into indictable crime.  Introduced by Daws, Wayfinding through the Storm traces these events through interviews with Nä Leo O Kamehameha—the voices of Kamehameha, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends—along with court transcripts. The text is supplemented and augmented graphically by a wealth of historically significant photographs, cartoons and documents.  

Scheduled Book Events:

Friday, May 22
Book Launch Celebration
Kamehameha Schools, Kawaiahao Plaza
567 S. King St., Kaiona Room
(Hale Makai, 1st floor near Courtyard)
5PM – 5:30PM — Program
5:30PM – 7PM — Book Sale & Signing
Free and open to the public
 
Saturday, May 30, 1PM – 2PM
Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha
Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall
(808) 737-3323
 
Saturday, June 6, 1PM – 2PM
Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha 
Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana
(808) 949-7307
 

Saturday, June 13, 2PM – 3PM

Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha 
Borders, Ward Centre

(808) 591-8995Gavan Daws is the author of 14 previous books, including the best-selling Shoal of TimeHoly Man: Father Damien of Moloka‘i; and Land and Power in Hawai‘i. He is also the recipient of several international awards for his documentary films and has been named a Distinguished Historian by the Hawaiian Historical Society. Wayfinding through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993 – 1999 by Gavan Daws and Nä Leo O Kamehameha is priced at $24.95 in softcover (ISBN 978-0-9821698-3-4) at bookstores and other retail outlets, online booksellers, or direct from the publisher at www.bookshawaii.net.  Contact Watermark Publishing, 1088 Bishop St., Suite 310, Honolulu, HI 96813; (808) 587-7766; toll-free (866) 900-BOOK; fax (808) 521-3461; sales@bookshawaii.net. 

 

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Hilo Vog

Edited on 4/21/09 to add: And an earthquake, too! My visiting friend is having the full Big Island experience.

From the USGS: A light earthquake occurred at 4:58:09 PM (HST) on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 . The magnitude 4.2 event occurred 7 km (4 miles) NNE of Ka`ena Point.

I have a dear friend visiting from the mainland, and today there is big time vog here in Hilo. It look as if you might have to push through the voggy air with your hands in order to walk.

I feel terrible when a friend is visiting our lovely, usually sparkly town and Hilo puts on her all-time ugliest dress.

VogVolcanic fog. It’s stuff that can make your eyes burn and that you can taste in your throat. It can be a huge problem for people with asthma or other respiratory problems. I have a cold right now and I feel the vog in my lungs; fortunately, this will pass.

Thank goodness it is not usually like this.

Hilo is truly one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen. It rains a lot and then it sparkles, and is blue and green in all the right places. The water shimmers. And the gentle tradewinds generally whisk away all the bad stuff, leaving us with air that is crystal clear.

It sounded so defensive today when I muttered that it isn’t usually like this. “It really isn’t.” (Defensive.)

What’s a person to do? We went for a long walk in Lili‘uokalani Park anyway, and pretended we could see clear to the other side.

The trades will come back and the air will clear, and soon everything will be all right again. Tomorrow is another day.

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Dottie Thompson, George Naope, & the Definition of “Resplendent”

Aunty Dottie Thompson and George Na‘ope, together credited with starting Hilo, Hawai‘i’s Merrie Monarch Festival 46 years ago, are both looking frail this year, and both attended the festival briefly on the final night in wheelchairs.

Still, one can always count on Uncle George to look absolutely resplendent.

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Re·splen·dent   (rĭ-splĕndənt)

adj.

Splendid or dazzling in appearance; brilliant.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin resplendēns, resplendent-, present participle of resplendēre, to shine brightly : re-, re- + splendēre, to shine.]

Splendid. Dazzling. Brilliant. He definitely still shines.

 

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Random Drawings for Gorgeous Handblown Glass Vase & Scrapbooking Software

 

mortaravaseOne of my many hats has me, along with Kris Bordessa, operating the website Big Island On The Cheap, a place for all things free/cheap/discounted on the Big Island. And right now, in honor of Merrie Monarch week, we have some contests going on. All you have to do is follow the links to the contest posts, and then enter your name in comments there to possibly win one of our random drawings.

We are giving away a beautiful, and I do mean beautiful, hand blown glass vase from the Volcano glass studio 2400 Fahrenheit

Macario has a photo essay up on his online magazine right now about the 2400 Fahrenheit people. It’s lovely. See it here.

digitalscrapbook

We’re also giving away the computer scrapbooking program Digital Scrapbook Artist – and if you don’t win, we also have a 15 percent off discount code for you to buy your own copy. 

You may rest at night because I give you my personal word that when you enter, we only use your email address to contact you if you win. No shenanigans there.

And if you do mosey on over to Big Island On The Cheap, remember that it’s Merrie Monarch week over there and we have all sorts of Merrie Monarch special features. Enjoy the magic of the hula festival vicariously! See you there.

Both contests end at midnight, Hawai‘i time, on Saturday, April 18th.

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Hula at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and Tears

It’s Merrie Monarch week and it’s absolutely the best week of the year here in Hilo. 

We went down to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel this afternoon and watched the free hula performance by Puanani Crumb’s Halau Hula O Hilo Hanakahi.

5-yrs-crumb-halau-1

It was wonderful. The music, the hula, the crowd. Hula Legend Uncle George Na‘ope was there, wheelchair-bound now, wearing a green running suit, white Crocs and then of course his hat and his wide gold bracelets running up his arm. 

I just love it all. The tiny kids who dance. The older ones who dance and who are so, so lovely. The crowd, appreciating. The smell of the plumeria lei the dancers are wearing. The emotion. The power of the hula. The stories.

Drew Kekaualua was singing with them, Pua’s nephew, and she told a story about how he and his brothers would back up their mother when she used to dance to the song “U‘ilani.”

She said, “But then I realized they don’t really know the song. And I wanted them to know it, so I taught it to them. And then I taught my alaka‘i to dance it. I’ve never seen anybody dance that song.”

She said she told her nephew (who has a beautiful voice) to sing it the way his mother used to sing it; not the way they all sing now.

So they played U‘ilani, and he sang it the way his mother used to sing it, and her alaka‘i danced. Pua dedicated the song to Drew’s mother, Bobbie Kekaualua, who was in the audience.

It was beautiful. It was beautiful. Bobbie stood watching, rapt, her hands making the moves of the hula, a big smile on her face. She was moved. Afterward, she told me she cried.

I absolutely love Merrie Monarch week, when all the focus is on hula, and stories and beauty and all that culture comes to the forefront.

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New York Times: News Without Newspapers

An article in tomorrow’s New York Times is titled ‘Hyperlocal’ Web Sites Deliver News Without Newspapers.

If your local newspaper shuts down, what will take the place of its coverage? Perhaps a package of information about your neighborhood, or even your block, assembled by a computer.

A number of Web start-up companies are creating so-called hyperlocal news sites that let people zoom in on what is happening closest to them, often without involving traditional journalists.

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It’s very much like what has sprung up over at FBI blogs, to which I belong. (And when I say “sprung up,” I mean “consciously created by forward-thinking Damon Tucker.”)

The FBI blogs site it not quite as hyperlocal (the article talks about areas as small as a block). By definition (“From Big Island”) we FBI bloggers are from around the whole island.

I think it’s really a terrific idea. I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that I browse the site everyday and learn all sorts of things that aren’t in the local paper.

From the article:

But many hyperlocal entrepreneurs say they are counting on a proliferation of blogs and small local journalism start-ups to keep providing content.

“In many cities, the local blog scene is so rich and deep that even if a newspaper goes away, there would be still be plenty of stuff for us to publish,” said Mr. Holovaty of EveryBlock.

Sounds familar.

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