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Our History

In 1888, King Kalakaua issued a royal charter, commissioning a magazine. Then titled Paradise of the Pacific, this publication became HONOLULU Magazine, making it the oldest magazine west of the Mississippi.


“Elderly Hawaiians report that ‘in the old days’ there were no sea birds of any kind on Mokumanu,” writes William Knowlton for Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to HONOLULU Magazine. In 1945, the State Fish and Game Division set a $500 fine for trespassers, and the twin islands became a bird sanctuary as the iwa, bobby and tern flourished without human contact. Knowlton received permission to observe the birds living in “overcrowded, multi-level housing.” “Life on Mokumanu is not so very different from life on the nearby ‘colony’ of Oahu,” he says.


Every month, the Hawaii Medical Association inserts memos into medical expense statements sent to 140,000 patients. These memos are “old family doctor type of wise advice in an easy conversational tone,” notes Paradise. For example, one memo was addressed to “Parents of Adolescent Girls,” urging them to help girls “develop a positive sense of womanliness and self-identity.” Other quirky memos are addressed to “Those Who Are About to Be Poisoned,” “People With Overweight Problems” and “People Who Get the Blues.”


“It’s funny about old books. If you’re hooked, it’s worse than anything else,” says Gay Slavsky during an interview with Cynthia Eyre, HONOLULU’s co-editor. Rare-book appraiser Slavsky was commissioned to catalogue 10,000 volumes belonging to the late Erlinda S. Castle, who bequeathed the books to family members and college libraries. “Before us was the most complete, finest collection of rare books in the state,” says Slavsky. “It was a tremendous job, an appalling job that faced us.” She found everything from a leaf out of the Gutenberg Bible to a first edition of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene. “Just to be able to handle those books was a great experience for me,” she says.


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Honolulu Magazine December 2017
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