Looking Back

History comes alive, in this issue and in the Islands.
Photo by Linny Morris

By definition, a tradition has one foot firmly planted in the past. It’s a tradition of ours at HONOLULU Magazine to designate our November issue as our Holiday Annualthis is our 120th. Why November? That’s the anachronistic quirk of the tradition. Before the jet age, when this magazine was titled Paradise of the Pacific and promoted the Islands to a largely Mainland audience, the magazines were sent by steamship. Thus, the Holiday Annual was printed in November so it would still be timely when it arrived.

The past hands us all sorts of traditions and responsibilities. Our Holiday Annual has traditionally featured our greatest concentration of articles on history and culture. This year is no exception.

In Ronna Bolante’s article, “Bones of Contention,”, we learn that we feel such a collective responsibility to take care of Native Hawaiian burial remains that they are protected by law. This responsibility isn’t always easy to carry out. As Bolante describes, the remains found
at the Ward Village Shops construction site have brought much of that development to a halt. Hawaiian traditionalists, Western archaeologists, developers and state agencies are all wrestling over the right way to proceed, so that our past, present and future don’t trample over each other.

“The 9 Most Endangered Historic Places in Hawaii,” marks the third year we have presented the list, which is pulled together by the Historic Hawaii Foundation in consultation with preservationists and community leaders statewide. The goal is to bring attention to historic structures in need of protection. These architectural ancestors remind of us of where we’ve come from.

Historic structures can also be a difficult responsibility to bear. For example, the Medical Library at The Queen’s Medical Center has made the list this year. The building is a rare, gorgeous example of mid-century modernism, designed by Vladimir Ossipoff, but Queen’s is seriously considering tearing it down to make room for a much-needed parking garage. How will Queen’s measure its obligation to Honolulu’s architectural heritage against its duty to its employees? I’m glad I don’t have to make that call.

Historic eras are like chemistry setsmix a bunch of different elements together, apply heat and pressure, and something new pops out of the test tube. In “The ’70s: Viva la Cultural Revolution,” freelancer E. Shan Correa takes us back to that avocado-colored decade to see what made it so fruitful: more than a dozen major cultural organizations formed back then, from Hawaii Public Radio to the Polynesian Voyaging Society to Ballet Hawaii and yes, the Historic Hawaii Foundation, too. Now, more than 30 years later, we think of these groups as local institutions. It’s amazing to look back at them when they were virtually toddlers, unsure of their prospects, unclear on their course, but certain that they had to do something to make Hawaii better.

One last tradition of our Holiday Annual bears mentioning: Photo essays. Photographer Sergio Goes spent the past 12 months shooting Island celebrations for us, see “Celebrations.” Some of these are truly ancient traditions, such as bon dances and Chinese New Year’s. Others are relatively new. In each of these celebrations, we get together on beaches, in hotel ballrooms, on parking lots, in community centers, to do what people have always done. We welcome the newly born. Remember the dead. Launch new unions. Tell each other that we’re here, now, together and alive, taking our turns on the stage.