Monday, March 23, 2009

MTM, Honolulu Living History

Moonlight Hawaii, Vintage Postcard

"Nothing had prepared me for Honolulu ... It is a typical western city ... It is the meeting place of East and West, the very new rubs shoulders with the immeasurably old. And if you have not found the romance you expected, you have come upon something singularly intriguing. All these strange people live close to each other, with different languages and different thoughts; they believe in different god and they have different values; two passions alone they share, love and hunger. And somehow as you watch them, you have an impression of extraordinary vitality" Somerset Maugham in 1921



Honolulu Harbor, T.H. (Territory of Hawaii)
Post Card
"The further I traveled through the town the better I liked it. Every step revealed a new contrast - disclosed something I was unaccustomed to. ... I saw cottages surrounded by ample yards, ... I saw luxurious banks and thickets of flowers, fresh as a meadow after a rain, and glowing with the richest dyes ...I saw huge-bodied, wide-spreading forest streets ... I saw cats - Tom cats, Mary Ann cats, long-tailed cats, bobtail cats. . .individual cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes. . . and all of them sleek, fat, lazy, and sound asleep ... I breathed the balmy fragrance of jessamine, oleander, and the Pride of India ... I moved in the midst of a summer calms as tranquil as dawn in the Garden of Eden ..."
Mark Twain on Honolulu

Today, a modern city surrounds Diamond Head

"Honolulu - it's got everything. Sand for the children, sun for the wife, sharks for the wife's mother." Ken Dodd





Reading a historical novel that bears the name of one's Home Town is an unusual experience. Well, Brennert's Honolulu is as good as I could have hoped for. This is what they call a "page turner," except that I'm enjoying it too much to hurry! There are wonderful sentences to linger over, and savory bits of Honolulu history that illuminate my hometown ever more deeply and richly.
This author also animates the thoughts and emotions of women characters so well that it is irresistible for me to identify with Jin, the heroine. Frankly, I see many parallels between her immigrant story and mine. The story of Honolulu is the story of those who came here from far away - beginning with the voyaging Hawaiians themselves.
Hawaii continues to lure many. Some she expels outright. She seems especially to test those who wash up here determined to stay sight unseen, especially those of us like Jin and myself with no "back" to go "back" to.


Life here is very hard, until one day you wake up and realize how much this place has become a part of you (and vice versa); how much you love Honolulu Town and her people, and that you could never live anywhere else for the rest of your life. You passed the purification, been humbled, been hanai-ed (adopted) become "local."


It was very difficult to pull myself away from the story this morning, but as my day would take me into the Historic core of my town, I was (in a real sense) still in it's setting. Walking today on streets named in the novel, I saw and knew not just what was so pungent before my eyes, but my own taxi memories of nights long ago, things vanished, and landmarks that remain. Now, thanks to Brennert, the people and places of even older times are all around me too.


There's no other place exactly like this place, my hometown: Honolulu!
A L O H A! Cloudia















17 comments:

Greyscale Territory said...

Love your reflections on Honolulu. Wonderful to see a gathering of viewpoints!

Kay said...

I guess I was always the country girl having grown up in Waipahu. Honolulu was always the BIG city and seemed so far away, its buildings so huge.... until I moved to Chicago.

Bubblewench said...

I just adore you and your posts! Your photos are always so peaceful, loving and amazing.

RiverPoet said...

Oh I love the Ken Dodd quote!!!

peace - D

debra said...

It's interesting to read quotes about the place in which you live and see how you connect to them. I'd love to visit Hawaii some day.

Daryl said...

By the time I do get to visit I am going to feel like a native, thanks to you!

Heff said...

Jeez. I could vacation in your Header !

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I'd love to read the book, when I have some time to read!

Wonderful evocative quotes and post - sounds like a magical place, Cloudia.

Barbara Martin said...

The Ken Dodds quote was fun.

Such a relaxing post, just what I needed: an escape to a tropical island.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love to read old postcards. They sometimes remind me of blog comments.

Akelamalu said...

I love saying H.O.N.O.L.U.L.U. it's a lovely word and conjours up exotic images in my mind. :)

Travis Erwin said...

I have a good friend who collects postcards and has a book of vintage Amarillo cards coming out soon.

Jenn Jilks said...

Warmth and moving water. Amazing!

Junosmom said...

It is interesting to hear you talk about becoming local, becoming accepted. Our town is something like that, even though in Kentucky. There are people whose families have always been here, whose names are on street signs and buildings. Yet, with growth, this sense of being a true and real resident, is going away. Few people can claim anymore that they were born and raised here.

Barrie said...

I laughed out loud at the quotation from Dodd! Ha!

Cloudia said...

aloha & thank you all SO much for your kind attention and interesting, warm, comments!

Paula and Skip said...

What a place to call home town. To make me want to spend holidays there.... at least. Paula