A college journalism professor once cautioned my class of ‘Pulitzer-prize-winning- wanna-be’s’ that we’d likely begin our newsroom careers writing obituaries. For that reason, we were to both read and write them as classroom assignments.
When the resulting collective groan clearly indicated the task sounded worse than death itself, he added:
“That obituary is likely the last story that will ever be written about that person – it might be the only story. . .and everyone’s story is important, so write it well!”
Decades later, I still regularly read obituaries – everywhere we go. And to illustrate my journalism professor’s point, today I want to introduce you to some of the folks I’ve ‘met’ in the obituaries during our stay in Hawaii.
If only I’d have met them in person . . . oh,the stories they could tell:
A couple weeks ago, we tried for the first time, Honolulu’s Liliha Bakery’s famous coco puffs. Back in 1987 the baker there was assigned the task of creating a new cream puff; he filled the shell with chocolate filling and topped the creation with Chantilly frosting. The bakery that had sold a couple dozen puffs daily back then now sells hundreds of these gems daily. Kame Ikemura, 80, was the baker who created the morsels, I learned from his obituary which appeared not long after we’d tried the pastry.
Returning from a day-trip to Maui on Sunday our flight followed the coastline of Molokai,.You can’t see Molokai and not remember the stories of it’s Leper Colony and famous Father Damien. Sister Richard Marie Toal served those leprosy patients as well on Kalaupapa for more than 40 years – even for five years after she retired; until a stroke hindered her ability to do so. She died on Sunday, age 96.
Others I’ve ‘met’ didn’t have large write ups but their stories were likely just as interesting. . .
“age 101, retired Dole Plantation worker. Born Philippines”
“age 80, retired Del Monte Company papaya packer. Born Hilo.”
“age 87, retired candy maker for former Hawaiian Holiday Macademia Nut Company and field worker for fomer Manakua Sugar Company. Born Kukuihaele, Hawaii”
“age 92, retired lei maker. Born Honolulu.”
“age 93, retired master lau hala* weaver and teacher. Born and died in Kuakini Medical Center, Honolulu.” *(tree leaves woven into baskets and/or mats)
“age 103, homemaker. Born Honolulu.”
“age 89, retired Royal Hawaiian Hotel bellman. Born, Maui.”
“age 87, retired assistant bell captain Kona Hilton Hotel and coffee farmer. Born, Hawaii.”
‘age 84, retired jewelry saleswoman at several Kaanapali Beach hotels. Born Tokyo, Japan.”
“age 85, retired Hawaiian Airlines crew scheduler, Born, Hawaii.”
“age 83, retired Pearl Harbor Navel Shipyard boilermaker and Korean War Veteran. Born, Honolulu.”
“age 83, retired surfer and surf board maker. Eva, O’ahu.”
“age 88, former noodle factory worker. Born Honolulu.”
“age 96, Territory of Hawaii Board of Health employee. Born Honolulu.
Nearly all of these folks were born and died in Hawaii. Some lived a full century here, others almost that long. They were part of a generation born:
* Shortly after Hawaii became a U.S. Territory in 1900.
* After the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole) was established in 1901 and the first pineapple was planted by James Drummond Dole in the Wahiawa countryside.
They would have been children or teens when:
* Earl Derr Biggers wrote his Charlie Chan book, “House Without A Key” in 1925, giving life to Honolulu’s famous fictitious detective.
*When the Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in 1927.
*When the first inter-island flight took off in 1929.”
They would have been young adults when the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. And heading towards middle age when Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959.
Everyone does have a story – and that’s what makes travel so interesting ~ the people and their stories.
(And you know what? My professor was right about those obituaries!)
And that’s it for Travel Photo Thursday. Stop by Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair-by-photo-travel.