Maui Then and Now is back! After a marathon of book creation followed by various technical glitches, I’m happy to return to this blog, my way of sharing the things I’ve learned about Maui history (and other odds and ends).
I’m especially happy to report that the aforementioned book-creation marathon resulted in a book that will be available in December: Sugarcane Days: Remembering Maui’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company. It’s a nostalgic picture book about the “glory days” of HC&S, soon to harvest its last field of cane and shut down the old mill forever.
I’m aware, of course, that some people are not nostalgic at all about the end of this industry, and I assure them that I do indeed know about the bad things resulting from sugar’s dominance. But there’s always more than one side to a story, and this one is looking at a very particular angle. This book is for those who remember affectionately what Maui was like in the mid-20th century, when labor unions had improved working conditions and wages, the labors of parents and grandparents had created a good life for their kids, and the plantation was the center of the community and the creator of much of its infrastructure.
This book came about because of another book I was working on, The Story of Lahaina. I needed a particular image and, knowing that the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum had a lot of pictures, I gave them a call. Sure enough, they had what I needed. While I was there, museum director Roslyn Lightfoot mentioned the photo collection the museum owns and said she’d been thinking of telling me about it because I might want to do some books with the pictures. Knowing what goes into even one book, I was willing to consider only a single one, but I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of these photos. They are black-and-white, taken by masters of that genre who worked for the company’s HC&S Breeze, a little newspaper published in various formats between 1948 and 1968. I thought about it for a week, talked to a few friends, and decided to take the plunge and go for having the book finished and on Maui before the end of the year.
I’ve published several of my books, under the business name Maui Island Press, and was just finishing up details on The Story of Lahaina, so I knew what I was in for. I also have spent a lot of time looking at old pictures and researching Maui history, so I also knew what that would take. This project would be a challenge, because I found out about these photographs in July and needed to have finished files to the printer by early September if it were to arrive back on Maui in time for the closure of the plantation and for the Christmas season.
For the next two months my life consisted of eat, sleep, exercise, and work on the book, with few exceptions for a social life. The Lahaina book, probably 90% complete, went on the back burner. Toward the end, when designer Cynthia Conrad and I had spent many hours tweaking the finest details of the Sugarcane Book, I asked if she’d be willing to keep going full speed ahead to finish the Lahaina book as well.
So both books went to the printer, and both will be on Maui around the first part of December. You can see their covers at right, and soon you’ll be able to click through to read more about the contents and how to order the book through Amazon or find it at a bricks-and-mortar store on Maui. I’ll be speaking to Rotary clubs and anyone else who wants to hear about either of these books, and I’ll be holding some signing parties. As details are set, I’ll post times and places. I hope to see lots of friends along the way!