Katharine Fullerton Gerould.

Hawaii; scenes and impressions online

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HAWAII : Scanes and Impressions















Printed in the United States of America

Published September, 1916

G. H. G.

8464 66


Of all the books that have been written
on Hawaii, the pages that follow consti-
tute the least pretentious. Mine, indeed,
is a book at all only by accident of phys-
ical form. It boasts no architectonics,
scarcely even a beginning and an end. Its
sole unity is the unity derived from being
the record, by a single pen, of some of the
experiences of a single month. It wanders
almost consciously; it leaps from the gen-
eral to the intimate and particular with no
apology, with hardly even a transition. In
that sense, it is ragged — ragged like almost
any month of life.

Yet it falls already, for me — that brief
season — into a memory that "composes.'*


In that month, thick-packed with happy-
adventures of eye and ear, it is hard for
one's nostalgic mood to recall one jarring
note or one unlucky tint. The remembered
sweetness of Hawaiian voices has haunted
each sentence as it was written; palms
should droop over every page; the white
Pacific surf should beat round every mar-
gin. It has, in memory, the unity at least
of a curious and varied perfection. I have
tried not to vex the pages with history or
statistics — except where such are registered
first of all by one's own senses, or dog an
impression unescapably. "Information" I
have tried modestly to leave to the ency-
clopaedic mind. But — and here is my only
defense — if I have contrived to suggest a
tithe of the beauties of that "loveliest fleet
of islands," to inspire one creature with an
effective desire to go and taste for himself,
I can claim one virtue. The half is not


told; and Hawaii waits with open arms,
under the Southern Cross, to give more
than I have even hinted. My great fear
is simply that I have not hinted enough.
These pages are the wandering record of
a month — with how many crowding plea-
sures, social and aesthetic, of necessity left
out! My context is richer than my page;
my memory than my manuscript. If you
travel undominated by a fixed idea, it must
be so. Only those under vows can defy
the unexpected and make of their days a
pattern. Our adventure was rich, brief,
an unforeseen and beautiful motley. A
full third of the little book goes to descrip-
tion of a place most Islanders ignore, a
place as untypical and "special" as any
in the world: the Leper Settlement on
Molokai. That in itseK would destroy
"unity"; though it is positively the finest
of our memories.



Nor is there even unity in the group to
which I owe thanks. But I beg that all
those who know that I have reason to be
grateful to them will take to themselves my
tacit acknowledgment. Explicit, it might |
seem to be oddly shared. At all events, to
those who, in their different ways, made
the adventure possible and made it what it
was, I humbly offer the record — in the
phrase of the prophet, "a basket of summer

K. F. G.



Honolulu: The Melting-Pot .... 1

By- Ways m Hawah 59

Ka.laupapa: The Leper Settlement on

Molokai 119



Distant view of the federal experimental station,

Kalawao Frontispiece


Honolulu harbor 8

The Kanaka is amphibious — all his life, naturally in

and out of the water 12

Rice-field and cocoanut-trees 18

In the gardens at Ainahau 22

Diamond Head from Tantalus — Oahu .... 28

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu 84

Good golf is provided at the Oahu Country Club,

Honolulu 36

Ape-ape — Pohakumoa Gulch 44

The Pali— Island of Oahu 56

Kalihiwai, Kauai 64

Cane flume on Hawaii 68

Onomea, native village on Hawaii 76

lao Needle in lao Valley — near Wailuku ... 88
[ xiii ]



Haleakala, looking across Koolau Gap from one of

the small inside craters 92

The narrow-gauge railway between Kahuku and

Hauula 100

The Sacred Falls of Kaliuwaa 104

Brother Joseph Dutton at the grave of Father Da-
mien 132

Homes of the better class of lepers on the island of

Molokai 144

Smiday morning in Kalaupapa 156

Father Damien's church, Kalawao 160

The Baldwin Home for boys at Kalawao .... 168

The compound of the superintendent and physicians

at Kalaupapa, showing the Pali in the distance 170

Kalaupapa from Pali 174

Map showing travel routes among the Hawaiian

Islands At end of volume




THEY have a name in Hawaii for
such as we — malihinisy newcomers
— ^in contrast to the Island-born or
the Island-bred, the "old-timers," who are
kamaainas. In any account of foreign
places not purely aesthetic and sensuous,
there should be a residuum of confessed
ignorance. The foreigners that drift to
usward on fickle wing, then write books
longer than their total sojourn with us,
are our malihinis; and we all know with
what seas-full of salt we take their ac-
counts of America. A traveller must flat-
ter himself that his eyes have caught the
truth, or for very shame he could not
write. But we malihinis of a month must
have inevitably, in the background of our


minds, the patient, quizzical smile of the
kamaaina. The malihinVs dearest hope is
not to turn that smile to a frown. This,
as of obligation, from one who has but
passed, to those whose roots have struck
deep in the gentlest soil of earth. . . .

To most people who have never been
to the Islands, and who have never con-
templated going there long enough to
get up a Hawaiian dossier, the name of
Honolulu suggests, perhaps, half a dozen
things: sugar, surf-riding, volcanoes, lets,
missionaries, and foi. I doubt, at all
events, if the list is much larger; and I
am not sure that to include both leis and
foi is not to be too generous. I am not
speaking of sophisticated creatures on the
"Coast" who, whether or not they have
run "down" to Honolulu themselves, can be
glib about friends who have run "down."


Certainly we knew originally little more
than the list suggests. But knowledge
somehow bursts upon one when one is
contemplating a specific journey: the de-
tached air of the steamship clerk and the
railway agent breed in one a kind of know-
ingness. Long before we saw Diamond
Head we had made a hundred traveller's
choices, and could be glib, ourselves, about
Island problems. We had made out not
only that Honolulu was the tourist's para-
dise — our luggage-labels said so — but also
that it was a paradise with a grievance.
Free sugar, the seaman's bill, the prevail-
ingly yellow tinge of the population, and
the perishing Hawaiian were all familiar
formulae before a single maile wreath had
been flung about our necks. There were
Island people on the steamer; and wherever
Island people are met together, to pass the
time or to instruct the stranger. Island


problems are hot in the mouth. To talk
about the insularity of an island is to be
tautological; but the insular American on
Oahu is more insular, so to speak, than the
insular Englishman in London. England
is the centre of an empire; but Hawaii is
the mere outpost of a republic: a Terri-
tory, something as helpless in the hands of
Congress as a ward in chancery is help-
less; bent therefore on self-preservation
solely, and on keeping up its own little
state and luxury in its own little mid-
Pacific Eden.

Islanders are not interested in the " Great
War" — not as we of the East understand
interest: their newspapers confess it. Very
few of them are interested even in a possible
Japanese complication; Mexico is as naught
to them. So far, they but accentuate the
general indifference (excepting always Cali-
fornia's an ti- Japanese frenzy) of the States


west of the Mississippi. Though the Is-
lands look so Oriental, they are in many
ways Western of the Western. Not only
are they not internationally minded; they
are not even nationally minded. They
are almost more "sectional" than the
"solid" South or the State of Utah. Life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for
the Islander, are bound up in sugar. Hinc
nice lacrimoe.

Yes, the grievances of this paradise
stir one to wrath on the steamer — though
they sink into the background after one
lands and the pleasures of the eye are
pre-eminent. Except, that is, as the griev-
ances touch one personally. The coast-
wise shipping law touched us nearly:
thanks to our inability to pick and choose
among steamers, we could not stay to see
Kauai. It is maddening to see good Jap-
anese boats steam out half empty, and


to be restricted — now that the Pacific
Mail steamers have had to stop business
— to one overcrowded Hne. The mys-
teries of sugar, in all their detail, I could
not hope to penetrate; though I thought
it quite clear at the time that Hawaii
cannot compete with Cuba. Thence re-
sulted a wry-mouthed admiration of our
doctrinaire democracy. Is it not like us
(one asks with tearful pride) to fight Spain
for Cuban freedom, and to crown that
activity by presenting Cuba with the
world's market for cane-sugar, destroy-
ing our domestic industries? The war is
temporarily keeping the Hawaiian cane-
fields from tragic fallowness; but free
sugar may well outlast the war. Let no
man say we are not altruistic. "The
gray beard of Uncle Sam" (I scribbled
frantically with Honolulu harbor spread
prismatically before my eyes) "is as wild



in the air as ever Don Quixote's." As for
the Japanese, no Islander will give any
real comfort to the chauvinist. There is
no Yellow Peril. They begin saying it a
little past the Farralones, and they are
still saying it when the rosy pallor of
Diamond Head first takes your breath
away at dawn. Then you drift into waters
that are like the harbors of a sunset sky;
the more acrid chapter of preconception
ends, while the sweeter one of experience

Hawaii is a melting-pot: that is the
first thing, perhaps, to strike one, humanly
speaking. The strictly Polynesian effect
lurks rather in the air, the foliage, the
sky and the sea: the ever delightful, never
conventional decor of the Pacific island.
True, you find, now and then, tucked
away under its coco-palms on thunderous
shores, a Hawaiian village all complete


with its taro-patches, its fish-nets, its out-
rigger canoes drawn up on the sand, its
lazy hfe, and its innocence of English.
But you have now to go far afield for such.
The bulk of the Island population, as
every one knows, is Japanese — some 90,-
000 as against some 24,000 Hawaiians and
an equal number of "all Caucasians."
Then come Portuguese (for some reason
not reckoned officially as Caucasians) and
Chinese, nearly even in the census lists —
23,000 and 21,000, respectively. Part-
Hawaiians (a motley breed !) and Filipinos
pair, farther down, with some 14,000 each.
There are a few thousand each of Porto
Ricans, Spanish, and "all others."

Yet this melting-pot is not depressing
like that which you get the full sense of,
say, on lower Fifth Avenue at noon. In
Hawaii, save for a few Russian peasants,
there are no Slavs; there are no Jews;


there are virtually no negroes; there is
no Levantine scum. The Mediterranean
coast, from Gibraltar to Sicily, from Sic-
ily to Jaffa and Crete and Constantino-
ple, is unrepresented; Central Europe and
the Balkans have sent nothing. No Ru-
thenians, no Slovaks, no Lithuanians, no
Armenians, no Huns. A few Greek hotel-
keepers serve to make life tolerable in the
smaller towns; but in numbers the Greeks
hardly count. Even in Honolulu the white
man is in a visual minority; and outside
Honolulu nearly all the faces are yellow
or brown. The Hawaiian melting-pot at
first is picturesque; it ends by being lova-
ble — and being missed. Even the pessi-
mist may find comfort in the fact that the
Oriental has no vote. The fat babies in
rainbow kimonos will have them; but
that story is for another day. The Anglo-
Saxon is still dominant.


The Hawaiian has the ballot — and in
consequence the Hawaiian vote is the
largest in the Islands — ^but his vote will
pass with his existence; which means that
he will not long trouble the polls. Civili-
zation has killed him, as is its w^ay: vice
and disease came in with the sea-captains
and sailors of all the globe, and the mis-
sionaries finished the work. As far as
one can make out, the missionaries were
more responsible than Captain Cook or
the New Bedford whalers, for the Hawaiian
is dying, quite literally, of clothes. Tu-
berculosis, pneumonia, and bronchitis are
what carry him off in far the largest
numbers. The race is not weak or de-
generate: it is, physically, magnificent in
strength and beautiful of feature. But
the Kanaka is amphibious — fishing, surf-
riding, swimming, he is, all his life, natu-
rally in and out of the water. It is one


thing to cover yourself with palm-oil and
let the Pacific spray run off you in shin-
ing drops while you rest on the sands; it
is quite another to keep your wet clothes
on as you go about your business on the
shore — but it is to ask too much of Poly-
nesian intelligence to request it to see the
difference. If clothes are good, they are
good, wet or dry. If you do not yourself
perceive the initial beauty of clothes, you
cannot be very sophisticated about their
uses. The Kanaka is not up to Sartor
Resartus. That the Polynesian has never
employed his keen aesthetic sense on the
matter of dress is proved, I think, by the
fact that the native women still univer-
sally wear the holoku — a shapeless Mother
Hubbard gown which the most tasteless
Puritan could not condemn. Tradition
says that the first missionary ladies, in
mad haste to dress their converts, handed


over the patterns of their own nightgowns.
A race (I submit) that has stuck faith-
fully for nearly a hundred years to the
model of our great-grandmothers' night-
dresses — ^for "best" as well as for every
day — is a docile, an admirable, a lovable
race, which "vaunteth not itself and is
not puffed up." It is almost a pity, too,
hygienically speaking, that the grass house
has become unfashionable. It is engaging
of the Kanaka to build himself a wooden
shack to live in because white men live in
wooden houses and provide such for their
laborers; but there is nothing particularly
amiable in opening your windows at night,
and, since his fine tact is all social and not
in the least scientific, he does not open
them. The grass house ventilated itself,
and the wooden shack does not. Hence
more tuberculosis, more bronchitis, more
pneumonia. The women hang leis about


their necks, and all the men wear flower-
wreaths round their junk-shop American
hats. To the charm ancestrally perceived
they are faithful; but they have never
learned to improve on Caucasian ideas.
They have accepted the brutal fact of
clothes, just as they Christianized them-
selves en masse; they have accepted the
silly American standard of the wooden
house. But you must not expect them
to go further: you must not expect them
to like to work, or to care how their fool-
ish clothes look (if we were made to wear
barrels, I dare say we should feel a like in-
difiference to fashions in hoops and staves)
or to think about cubic feet of air.

It works the same way, I fancy, with
religion. **They say what they think
will please you," was the report of a
hamaaina who came of the old mission-
ary stock and who had worked much
[15 1


among Hawaiians. Of course they do:
they are poHte to the death — hterally.
The idols were officially broken, by royal
order, even before the missionaries ar-
rived; and when the missionaries came,
the Hawaiians embraced Christianity about
as simply as France did under Clovis.
They are Christians, and have been, now,
for some three generations; but they will
not build where there has been a heiau*
and their propitiatory offerings to Pele
line all the sombre trail to the Sacred Falls
of Kaliuwaa. Every kamaaina can give
you some authentic tale of some one who
has been kahuna-ed — ^prayed to death.
Officially the kahuna is proscribed: there
is a price on his head. But the authentic
tales are there; and indeed I have seen
lost villages where a kahuna would be very
safe from the short arm of the law.

* A native temple.


Such docility, such unwilHngness to be
rude, such indifference to the logic of the
laws by which the natives must now live,
do not make for self-preservation. They
make for listlessness, for forgetting stren-
uous traditions, for seizing the day, for
making leis, and singing sad and idle mu-
sic by the incomparable Pacific. Politi-
cally the Hawaiians have no hope: Amer-
ica has absorbed them; they know they
are dying, though they do not quite know
why; but they have not enough stern-
ness or strength for the black pessimism
that Stevenson recorded among their
cousins, the cannibal Marquesans. The
old meles and the old hero-tales are nearly
forgotten, as are the old hulas. A few
aged men and women can still sing and
dance in traditional fashion for their aged
Queen — but there is no one to whom they
can pass on the words of the songs or


the motions of the dance. The new songs
are different — lyrical at best, never epic;
and the new dances might perhaps de-
light a cabaret, if any cabaret could con-
ceivably be allowed to present them. I
have seen a native hula in a country vil-
lage, in full swing after hours of feasting;
and the muscle-dancing of expositions is
innocuous beside it — though far more dis-
gusting because not spontaneous. The
old hulas were different: were stately and,
I dare say, a little tiresome, with their
monotonous swaying and arm-gestures re-
peated a thousand times. Only a very old
person now can dance in the earlier fashion ;
you could easily count up the Hawaiians
who know the meles; and there is just one
man, I believe, left on Oahu (if indeed he
is still living) who can play the nose-flute
as it should be played, to the excruciation
of every nerve in a Caucasian body.
f 18 1

From a photograph by R. W. Perkins

Rice-field and c-ocoanut-trees.


Regular work is almost an impossi-
bility to the Polynesian; therefore he is
seldom, if ever, to be found in the cane
or pineapple fields. He is very strong,
and makes an excellent stevedore; and
that employment suits him, for he can
leave it and come back to it as he chooses.
The ships come in from Australia and the
South Seas, from the Orient or round the
Horn; and whenever they come in or go
out, there is work a-plenty. Until his
money is gone he can exist beautifully,
singing to his ukulele and washing down
his raw fish and poi with square-face.
He makes occasionally a good chauffeur;
but the regular profession most dear to
him is that of policeman. To stand di-
recting traffic at King and Fort Streets,
his beautiful poses plastiques legitimized
by authority, is as near heaven, I fancy,
as a serious-minded Hawaiian can get.


In Honolulu — and Honolulu draws to
itself, magnet-wise, all the interests and
activities of Oahu — the white man is more
in evidence than anywhere else on the
Islands. That is natural. It is the social
and commercial metropolis, the capital,
the traditional home of most of the mis-
sionaries, the residence still of the Queen,
the centre of military and naval business,
the pre-eminent port of the Islands. In
Honolulu itself the melting-pot seems to
seethe most hotly; for the white man is
there in numbers to remind you of the
extraordinary foreignness of the other hu-
man beings who frequent the paved streets,
ride on the familiar trolley-cars, and pour
out of the "movies" at the classic hours.
Away from Honolulu you often forget the
white man: the tropics beat in on you
more vividly; the great tree-ferns rise
mysteriously above your head; the surf is


the surf of the South Seas; the world is
wholly different; and it is very curious and
exotic of you yourself to be white. Save
for the mental mirror all people carry about
with them, one would forget one was. But
Honolulu is American, very. It is even
part of its charm that it should be so; for
there is nothing pathetic, no savor of ex-
ile, in the resolute dominance of American
ways. The Islanders are not backward-
looking, like (we are told) Englishmen in
India. Honolulu is "home," and they
look as little to the mainland (save, now
and then, sardonically to Washington)
as the Westerner looks to the Atlantic
coast. They have not even had to com-
pound with the climate, for the climate
is quite simply perfect. They can afford
not to seek their greatest comfort; for,
after all, it is impossible to be very uncom-
fortable. It is the tourist, the visitor, who


wears Palm Beach clothes and soft collars.
The business man of Honolulu dresses as
the business man in New York dresses —
tweeds, starched neck-gear, and all. Most
men wear black evening clothes at dinner.
A certain amount of white is worn, of
course; but the general impression of the
visitor from the temperate zone is that
these folk do not live up to their privileges.
As for their houses, I should positively
hesitate to say how bad Island archi-
tecture is, if so quintessential an Islander
as Mr. W. R. Castle, Jr., had not said
it before me. Life in Hawaii is lived un-
der the palm and the mango, the banyan
and the poinciana, the algaroba and the
monkey-pod. The great hibiscus hedges
are as high as, in England, the border of
ancestral yew; the night-blooming cereus
hangs in multitudinous clusters over your
garden-wall; the scent of ginger is heavy

From a photograph by R. W. Perkins.

In the gardens at Ainaliau.
Life io Hawaii is lived under the palm and the mango.


round vour lanai; the orange and the hme
bloom in your compound, and the guava
runs wild by the wayside; your yard-boy
eats his dinner under a banana-tree. A
garden is old in ten years; in thirty it has
become a tropical forest, a gigantic and
fragrant gloom. But the houses breathe
none of all this. They are hardly ever
even Southern in type — low and pillared
and wide-verandahed. The architecture
of Hawaii is uncompromising; it is — for
want of a better word let me say evan-
gelical. It stands rigidly by the worst
traditions of the nineteenth century; it
is the same that disfigures our New Eng-
land streets and stultifies the fine situa-
tion of many a Western town. Two stories
and sometimes three; scamped porches set
about with jig-saw decoration; colors that
must make the gentle Jap swear ritually
as he patters by in his immaculate kimono :
[23 1


the kind of thing that is quaint and endear-
ing in Portland, Oregon, but which, in the
full sweetness of the Trade, is simply the
Great Refusal. Not much better, from
this point of view, is the newer house,
half timbered or of tapestry brick; for if

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Online LibraryKatharine Fullerton GerouldHawaii; scenes and impressions → online text (page 1 of 7)