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From Our Files – May

HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific, chronicling the Islands since 1888.


May 1921: "Prison! What mind-pictures are conjured up by the word! With what sense of horror it fills us," writes Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to HONOLULU Magazine. But a visit to O'ahu Prison (photo below) in Kalihi dispelled the magazine's notions of life in the local penitentiary, which included a library with more than 1,000 books, a cheery visitors' room and well-kept cells and dormitories. "Indeed, one of the most vivid impressions one gets is that of brightness, airiness and spotless cleanliness: how different from the noisome, dank penal institutions of a generation or so back," the magazine says.

May 1931: The Hawai'i Tourist Bureau estimates that 660,000 lei are sold in Hawai'i each year, at around 25 cents (about $2.77 in 2005 dollars), notes Paradise of the Pacific in an article about May Day in the Islands. "The boy friend doesn't send the girl friend a corsage to wear to a dance in Honolulu. He buys her a lei instead. The corsage has become almost extinct in Hawai'i, the more graceful and becoming flower lei taking its place." In the photo at right, lei makers sell their goods in Honolulu.

May 1946: Paradise of the Pacific visits McKinley High School and marvels at its ethnically diverse student population, photo top, next page. "The faces of the students indicate that the majority have forebears in the Oriental countries of the Pacific. People often wonder, are they taught and do they develop faith in the American way?" Yes, the magazine concludes, pointing out how students raised more than $150,000 ($1.5 million today) in war bonds over three years, participated in numerous blood drives and worked in the sugar and pineapple fields. "They had learned what was meant by cooperative effort under wartime conditions," Paradise writes. "Democracy lives at McKinley."

May 1961: While many of Hawai'i's teens head to the beach in their spare time, a growing number participate in high-school civic activities, such as the YMCA-sponsored Hi-Y Model Legislature, reports Paradise of the Pacific. "This experience offers 400 teenaged legislators invaluable training in the workings of American government. During Easter vacation, the teens gather at the University of Hawai'i ... [to] discuss and debate bills formulated by each Hi-Y club's senator and two representatives." One "youth governor" of the Model Legislature was Kaua'i High School student body president Eric Shinseki, photo below, who went on to become a general in the U.S. Army and its 34th chief of staff.

May 1971: HONOLULU Magazine profiles the beloved Rev. Abraham Akaka, shown below on the steps of Kawaiaha'o Church with President Richard Nixon after a service. Akaka tells the magazine that churches have evolved in recent years, tackling more issues that are relevant to its members, such as race, poverty, pollution and the ongoing war in Vietnam. "I think in every time of chaos there appears a new form of puritanism: people who believe something and are convinced that this is the way," Akaka says. "A lot of people who call themselves radical would be horrified if you called them puritans, but they stand for something—they lay their lives on the line. As much as Ralph Nader may irritate sometimes, it is out of his kind of belief and probing that something new will come."
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