Jan. 1912: Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to HONOLULU Magazine, explains the art of the hula to readers, chiding visitors who misinterpret the dance as lewd or vulgar. “There is nothing wrong in the hula—it is the physical embodiment to [Hawaiians] of poetic sentiment,” Paradise writes. “Unfortunately, many strangers ... almost invariably look at it through the unscientific eyes of narrow modern prejudice. Perhaps to the impure all things are impure, but if the auditors of the hula could absorb the Hawaiians’ own spirit of the dance, their own views would undergo a vast change for the better.”
Jan. 1922: Paradise of the Pacific profiles 67-year-old Joao Fernandes, Hawai‘i’s first ‘ukulele player. In 1879, Fernandes, then 25 years old, had emigrated from Portugal to Hawai‘i. His dexterity on the braguinha, a precursor to the ‘ukulele, appealed to Hawaiians, helping to spark the instrument’s popularity in the Islands. Even ali‘i frequently requested Fernandes to perform for them. “We would go to the king’s bungalow,” recalls Fernandes, photo at left. “Lots of people came. Plenty kanakas. Much music, much hula, much kaukau, much drink. All time plenty drink. And King Kalakaua, he pay for all!”
Jan. 1952: Five years before the Pali Tunnel was built, Paradise of the Pacific explores how O‘ahu’s windward side transformed from a weekend retreat into a community where people lived and played. “A large proportion of the population is composed of young couples building or buying their own homes,” the magazine writes. “Since they can enjoy most of the conveniences of urban dwellers such as shops and markets, good roads, theaters, restaurants, schools and kindergartens, plus the added quiet the country affords and its uncrowded beaches, it is easy to understand their enthusiasm.” The photo at right captures Kane‘ohe’s bustling main street.
It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.