Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1950s – Diamond Head opens to the public, the Waikīkī Shell opens, Pan-Am jet service to the Islands and Statehood. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world
West Maui was considered a ‘window to the world’ because this area has seen the comings and goings of rival chiefs, kings, missionaries, whalers, government officials, the military, sugar and pineapple plantation owners, early labor immigrants, celebrities and travelers for centuries. The stories of West Maui give a bigger perspective of the world, than we would otherwise have, and helps us to expand our view and broaden our understanding of the world.
Probably there is no portion of the Valley Isle, around which gathers so much historic value as West Maui. It was the former capital and favorite residence of kings and chiefs. By whatever means (vehicle, transit, bicycle or on foot,) exploring West Maui, and embracing the scenic beauty, natural features, historic sites, associated cultural traditions and recreational opportunities, will give the traveler a greater appreciation and understanding of Hawai‘i’s past and sense of place in the world.
Shuichi and Taneyo Fujiwara, immigrants from Shikoku, Japan, were in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake. The lost everything they owned in the earthquake and went back to Japan. They were returning to San Francisco, stopped in Hawai‘i and decided to stay. They purchased a nearly 1-acre property on Alewa Heights and opened Shunchoro Teahouse (Spring Tide Restaurant) in 1921. “A customer named Yoshikawa used to come here during the day for tea or beer.” Takeo Yoshikawa, a Japanese spy, arrived in Honolulu on March 27, 1941.
“I assumed my job was to help prepare for an attack on Pearl Harbor and I worked night and day getting necessary information.” “(M)y favorite viewing place was a lovely Japanese teahouse overlooking the harbor. It was called ‘Shunchoro.’ I knew what ships were in, how heavily they were loaded, who their officers were, and what supplies were on board.” The government took over Shunchoro Teahouse during World War II and converted the building into an emergency fire and first-aid station. It later reopened and later changed its name to Natsunoya Tea House.
“(T)ake possession in our name of Palmyra Island, … not having been taken possession of by any other government or any other people by erecting thereon a short pole with the Hawaiian flag wrapped round it and interring at the foot thereof a bottle well corked containing a paper signed by (Zenas Bent) in the following form viz: ‘Visited and taken possession of by order of His Majesty King Kamehameha IV …’” (Bent did so on April 15, 1862.) Later legal decisions note that ownership of Palmyra was held privately, initially in the name of Bent and Johnson B Wilkinson.
Palmyra Atoll was a part of the Territory of Hawaii prior to Hawaii’s entering the Union on August 21, 1959. Congress expressly excluded Palmyra from the State of Hawaii by section 2 of the Hawaii Statehood Act. Palmyra Atoll is situated 960-miles south by west of Honolulu. The atoll has an area of about one and one-half square miles with numerous islets in the shape of a horse shoe surrounding two lagoons. It was named after the American vessel Palmyra, who sought shelter there on November 7, 1802. Title is now held by The Nature Conservancy. It is an incorporated Territory of the US.
“The Territory of Hawaii has a high death rate from (tuberculosis) as compared with most mainland cities. … The County of Hawaii has the highest rate of the disease of any of the counties in the Territory.” The treatment of those afflicted is carried out by seven institutions, including Pu‘umaile Home in Hilo. “Pu‘umaile Home is the only institution for the care of tuberculosis in the Territory that is maintained solely from Territorial funds. One hundred and twenty-two were admitted during the year, with 68 Patients remaining at the end of the period, just double the number as compared with the previous year.”
The original Pu‘umaile Home was built in about 1912 at a site that is now in the vicinity of the old terminal building at Hilo Airport. The Hilo Airport was dedicated in February 1928 and in April 1938 a new facility was constructed at the end of Kalanianaʻole Avenue (at what is now Lehia Park.) Some incorrectly suggest that the hospital washed away by the 1946 tsunami; however, it was spared. The hospital remained on the shoreline until 1951 when it was relocated into new facilities on the grounds of the Hilo Memorial Hospital, above Rainbow Falls. Shortly after (1955,) Pu‘umaile was combined with the Hilo Memorial Hospital to establish Hilo Hospital (now Hilo Medical Center.)