One of my favorite things is to take a research trip to Honolulu and spend days delving into original documents from Hawaii’s past. It’s one of those needle-in-a-haystack deals. Somewhere in the thousands of files stored in the State Archives or the Mission Houses library are fascinating nuggets of information about places and people, but it takes a lot of digging to find what you want.
And it sure is easy to get sidetracked, especially for me, because after years of studying Maui history, I feel as if people prominent in the community a hundred years ago are personal acquaintances.
I just have to stop and read what Worth Aiken had to say about a teacher in one of the tiny schools found in every little Maui community back then. In addition to being an active businessman and a great promoter of Haleakala as a visitor attraction, Worth was a school agent overseeing the administration of many East Maui schools.
And what a surprise to see that the great Hawaiian composer Charles E. King also worked for the school system, while still finding time to produce dozens of songs destined to become classics.
Their letters are written in the beautiful script of people who had to communicate legibly before typewriters were common, and at the Archives I am able to see and touch the original documents. I’m captivated by the old-fashioned prose and try to read, between the lines, the intriguing human stories only hinted at in these official communications.