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History: Remember When ...

Author Rich Budnick gives us a refresher course in Hawai'i's history, whether we want to relive it or not.


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Rich Budnick, author of Hawai'i's Forgotten History, read 8,000 newspapers and 300 books, so you wouldn't have to. "This is the stuff that didn't make it into popular history books," says Budnick. The book recounts events that were once front-page news, but have since slipped from memory. A chronological list of events he refers to as "the good, the bad, the embarrassing" begins with the 1900 bubonic plague/Chinatown fire and ends in 1999 with the Xerox shooting, the state's largest mass murder.

Here are some tidbits:

The good:
"Dec. 28, 1943: HSPA [Hawai'i Sugar Planters' Association] scientists announce they are manufacturing penicillin, considered a 'wonder drug' and a 'potent germ killer' of deadly diseases."

The bad:
"Oct. 30, 1917: A silver crown and silver lei atop King Lunalilo's casket are stolen from the Lunalilo tomb by two U.S. Navy sailors, and melted into a silver bar. The silver is returned to Hawai'i on May 23, 1918, by Hawai'i Deputy Sheriff J. Asch. It was found in a Key West, Fl., pawnshop. On April 19, 1918, sailors Albert Gergbode and Paul Payne are arrested and confess in Florida."

The embarrassing:
"Dec. 14, 1963: Several days of newspaper stories report complaints from realtors that Bishop Estate is responsible for unwritten 'gentlemen's agreements' that prevent non-Caucasians from buying homes in Kahala. Bishop Estate denies the charge. Realtors say there is a special desk in Bishop Estate's office where realtors must bring home buyers, allegedly for an ethnic check. If a spouse is absent, the buyer must bring a photo of the spouse or a wedding photo."

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Honolulu Magazine February 2017
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