Keiki o ka ‘Aina

The Spreckelsville I wrote about a while ago was a world apart from the alluring beachfront community with the same name across the highway along Stable Road.

I lived in a cottage there on the former Frank Baldwin estate when I moved to Maui. It charmed me for a while, when I went to Honolulu to visit my mother, to take a circuitous route to the airport.

To avoid the parking fee, I’d leave my bags at the curb (those were the days), return home to park and then walk back through Kanaha Park. I met the late Colin Cameron, the beloved head of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. and The Maui News, on one such excursion. Ruddy-faced, friendly, he had just come in from a swim.

Stable Road is all rock walls and gates now, of course, not the tangle of old-style houses and open lawns I knew before the jets taking off and landing at all hours of the day and night on the nearby runway drove me mad and I fled to Olinda.

In the 1920s, Stable Road led past the alfalfa barn, the stables for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s horses and mules, the breeding facility for the racehorses of plantation boss Frank Baldwin, and the hospital run by John C. Fitzgerald, Maui’s only veterinarian. HC&S owned the entire stretch of beach from Kanaha to Paia, and there lived members of the Baldwin family, and the plantation’s management elite: office manager D.C. Rattray; mill superintendent R.E. Hughes; and Charles Savage, former head of the carpentry shop.

Sam and Kathrine Baldwin of Haleakala Ranch had a little house closest to Kanaha. Ethel and Harry Baldwin of Maui Agricultural Co., Colin Cameron’s grandparents, had a nice refuge adjacent. Political boss Harold Rice lived down the road with his wife, Charlotte Baldwin. (Rice forever earned the ire of his Baldwin relatives by engineering the move of Maui’s civilian airport from Pu’unene to Kahului after World War II, thus destroying the calm of the beach community.)

The most magnificent home on Stable Road was built by Frank Baldwin’s wife, “Mittee,” the feisty former San Francisco socialite who loved to build houses and loved to entertain.

In 1925, when she and Frank moved down from ‘Ulupalakua Ranch, Mittee built a personal paradise on 4 acres at 600 Stable Road, where a beautifully landscaped garden adorned with tall, swaying palms swept down to the beach. I stood often on that lawn, looking out across the white-flecked bay to Wailuku and the green folds of the West Maui valleys, the blue ship of Molokai sailing in the distance.

Mittee’s cook was a Chinese named Ah Fook. When he left her employ to work for the unmarried supervisors at M.A. Co.’s Paia clubhouse, she replaced him with Kichigo Morimoto, an expert in Chinese cuisine. On damask tablecloths sparkling with crystal, Medallion china and silver, she hosted elaborate dinner parties at which, even during Prohibition, guests were offered drinks from kegs of okolehao.

Into this sanctuary, no plantation worker or child from the nearby camps dared creep.

Kwan Hi Lim grew up at Camp One, son of the minister of the Korean Methodist Church in Spreckelsville. He was the ninth of 10 children, always hungry.

Lim was a smart lad, one of two Asian children admitted to his class at Kaunoa school. His family spoke Korean at home, and his peers pidgin, but Lim noticed that people with the good jobs and the nice cars spoke good English, so he hung around with shopkeepers and learned from them. He excelled at Maui High School despite his kolohe ways and caught the eye of a teacher who insisted that he take the entrance examination to the University of Hawaii. He ranked second in the territory.

One day, Lim’s father informed him that Frank Baldwin, the big boss, wanted to see him. Lim dressed in his best clothes and waited nervously on the bench in front of the camp store until Frank’s big black Packard pulled up.

Baldwin asked a few questions and Lim found himself with a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, money he was careful to repay. With that start, he went on to get a law degree, become a Family Court judge in Honolulu, and a regular on the original “Hawaii 5-0.” Lt. Tommy Tanaka on “Magnum, P.I.” That was Lim.

“Believe it or not, I look fondly on plantation days,” Lim told me in Honolulu some years ago. “People were clean, morally clean. They felt humanity for each other. That’s what I miss about Maui, the clean innocence.”

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

We made a Saturday run to the Central Maui Landfill recently to recycle our Christmas tree, which had lain near the garage for a while, still smelling like the forest even though its needles were brown.

(Yes, we are always the very last in the neighborhood to get around to this. People who take the tree down the first weekend in January we are not. It takes so long to decorate and put up, I favor getting it disposed of by Chinese New Year.)

I like going new places, even if it is a dump, and my inner child found this a happy place. Yellow painted truck tires demarcate the parking lot at the green waste disposal site near the Maui EKO Compost facility. The view of what locals call “Pu’u Opala,” a landscaped mountain filled with garbage – sorry, solid waste – covered with grass and evidently lined with sprinklers.

There’s something about being in an open space on a beautiful day, with other people enjoying themselves, doing something constructive and repetitious. It reminded me of earlier days on Kauai when a friend and I opened a gift shop in an old Chinese general store on the west side of the island.

Days of cleaning were highlighted by runs to the Waimea dump, which was just that, an unfancy place. The field was near the ocean and strewn with yellow daisies. People dropped off all manner of things, so much that we knew people who furnished their house with articles from it. I recall a baby stroller. That dump run meant pau hana and a finale at the Dairy Queen.

A dump run had some good associations for me as we backed up with a row of other vehicles to the 6-foot-high wall of clippings and made our contribution. On one side guys from a yard service company laughed and joked with the bulldozer operator as they unloaded coconut debris from the back of their truck, on the front seat of which sat a six-pack of beer. One vehicle down on the other side, a haole guy with a white beard conscientiously pulled dried rubber tree leaves from a beaten-up pickup.

Next to us someone stood in the bed of a black Toyota Tundra unceremoniously tossing out the remains of two or three freshly cut citrus trees, full of shiny tangerines, yellow oranges and fragrant flowers.

“They still have fruit on them,” I pointed out.

“It’s dry,” he said. I didn’t believe it. When he roared off, the bearded guy and I descended on the pile to harvest the fruit.

“He says it’s dry,” the guy said.

“It’s not,” I said. “Strange,” he said, shaking his head as we picked a shopping bag full while he loaded up his shirt. “Strange.”

Dude! What happened to sharing with your neighbors? Barring that, guess you haven’t heard of Waste Not Want Not, the group that will come to your house, harvest unwanted fruit and deliver it to seniors, kids and the needy? (Call 874-8038 or contact

The recycled fruit looked beautiful on our kitchen counter, filled two glistening bowls with luscious orange and made delicious juice.

As we left the landfill, the avid recycler in our dyad turned left to inspect the row of trees fronting the landfill along Omaopio Road, once festooned with unsightly plastic bags flapping in the wind. “I don’t see any garbage by the side of the road,” he said. “I think the ban was a good thing.”

I have been trained to throw our recyclables into a pile in the garage, which he then tackles every other Wednesday night, dividing into categories. “There’s two bags each, for plastic, metal and glass containers,” he patiently explained. “One bag for redeemables, one for not.” He flattens all the cardboard, pushes the plastic bags into the largest one he can find, and organizes the newspapers. He makes a special trip to Aloha Waste off of Hobron to deliver mixed paper. Last week he fished chicken wire out of a garbage can we share with our neighbor and dragged it to a scrap yard, and the same day scored a brand-new Krispy Kreme bag to replace the tattered one we use for newspapers.

The day ended with a trip to Mana, where the newly installed LED lights felt wonderful compared to the oppressive fluorescents. As we left, we spotted an elderly man on the corner who had dragged a trash can to his shopping cart, where he was, yes, carefully sorting its recyclables.

Sustainable Maui. Maybe step by step we’re slowly getting there.

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

I love walking along the ocean at Kalama Park at sunset.

Turtles bob their black heads up in the waves. Papi’o fishermen monitor their lines. A whale leaps, then again, such a thrill. In the distance, fellow cetaceans spout.

A Tahitian drum clatters and a girl gets up to dance. Kids zoom by on skateboards, new parents take the little ones out on strollers. A local family sets up dinner from the back of a truck. They clown around while a chicken boils merrily in a pot.

All manner of people come out to enjoy the grand event at day’s end. A Mainland couple on the little beach by the river makes a ceremony of it, silent and still. His arms, motionless, embrace the golden orb as it sinks into the sea, tinting the wave tips pink. She kneels quietly nearby. An old woman in a wheelchair is parked by a bench while her caretaker alternately strums an ukulele and swigs a beer.

The park is one of Maui’s oldest, named for Samuel E. Kalama, the Hawaiian Republican who was chairman and chief executive officer of the County of Maui for 20 years, beginning in 1913, according to Tony Ramil’s county history, “Kalai’aina.”

Kalama was a good-looking man, who lived in a well-built Craftsman-style bungalow on Makawao Avenue, painted barn red now, still there. It sits on a rise, the green hills of horse country behind, in an area old-timers call “Kalama Hill.” Kalama was popular with the plantation establishment, as any successful politician had to be in those days, and led the Republicans to solid victories year after year.

Public works thrived on Maui under his administration, and he was a great proponent of the spectacular belt road to Hana, completed in November 1926, and the automobile road to Lahaina carved out of the cliffs. It’s fitting that the long strip of oceanfront parkland that bears his name was constructed to commemorate his death in 1933.

Back then, Kihei wasn’t much more than a row of kiawe trees along the coast reached by a gravel road. A store stood across from the old pier in north Kihei, built to service the short-lived Kihei Plantation.

This was created by Henry P. Baldwin and Lorrin Thurston in 1899, but it went broke and was folded into HC&S in 1908. Fishing boats and the sampan to Kaho’olawe used the dock. Kihei School was where the old Kihei Community Center complex is now on South Kihei Road. Frank Akina drove a truck with seats that brought the kids to school.

According to Stephen Pedro, who lived with his family on Kaho’olawe in the ’30s, Kenolio Road was the main thoroughfare through town. The street was named for George Kenolio, a hand for Harold Rice’s ranch, who had a prominent house in the Kihei ranch camp.

It ended in Kalama Park, and between the park and the school, there wasn’t much going on in between. Most reached the Hawaiian community at Makena via the road down from ‘Ulupalakua. (It’s closed, but still exists.)

The park’s main features back then were a wide, sandy beach and an old windmill to pump water for the lawn. The beach was destroyed shortly after World War II ended when the county asked the Navy to blow up parts of the reef in a misbegotten attempt to carve out two swimming channels and a keiki pool.

This they did, but the tide sucked the sand out through the openings until one day there was no beach. In 1971, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that putting a revetment of boulders along the water’s edge would bring the sand back in. But the opposite happened until there was no longer any beach in front of either Kalama Park or Halama Street.

It’s almost dark now.

Outriggers from the Wailea Canoe Club skim to shore in the enchanted twilight, turn sharply, edge in backwards onto Cove Beach. Surfers and paddle boarders make use of the last light. Their dark silhouettes stand out against dolphin-shaped Kaho’olawe, slumbering in its blue bed to the southwest. People stop, hushed, contemplating the ever-shifting display of color and cloud.

Evening stillness descends on Kihei’s blissful lee.

Thank you, County of Maui, for yet another public works project, the Kalama Park beachwalk (revetment walk?), this concrete path that has opened up the joy of the sunset to us all.

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

Call me silly, but I love a nice waiting room. I think they’re important. There you are, vulnerable, nervous about seeing the doctor, and if the environment consists of ratty carpet and piles of ancient magazines, that’s a professional I’m not likely to patronize.

I want an initial impression of competence. I want visual confirmation that the person I am going to see is up to date and willing to put some effort into me.

Last year I decided to give the Aloha Eye Clinic in Wailuku a try and was cheered when I drove up to the building, white, with a Spanish-tiled roof replete with photovoltaic collectors.

I was immediately comforted by the blazing fire of the royal poinciana tree in the entry courtyard, ringed with attractive benches from which one looks out into the ever-changing glories of ‘Iao. There were lots of windows and comfortable chairs in the waiting room, and a courteous, efficient front-desk staff. Plus, it wasn’t freezing.

Dr. Mia Carson’s former office in Makawao pleased me as well. The waiting room was sunshine-yellow, with an expensive mobile, kids’ play area, a trickling fountain and paintings of waterfalls. Once there was even an om painting on the wall. It was consciously “media free.”

I must say, people seem to love a certain doctor but his waiting room to my mind is a prime example of how to drive patients away. It is small, dingy and dark, with artificial flowers and no reading light. The bathroom door down the hall clangs behind you like a prison cell.

I went in there on time for an appointment one day and found 17 people ahead of me, almost all of them playing games on their cellphones. I fled from the bath of electromagnetic radiation to metal folding chairs in the hall, and sighed with relief to encounter two women reading magazines.

I moved to the end of the hall when one of them started playing a game on her cellphone, and then became aware that I was sitting by the exit. Just a few steps and I was out the door, fleeing to a competitor.

Listen, guys: It’s not that hard.

Dr. Charles Soma’s office is decent. Clean, nice light, acceptable artwork, no key necessary for the bathroom. The office building on Wakea Avenue where Dr. Patti Endo practices has a soothing, leafy courtyard in which to wait. Dr. Rob Mastroianni’s waiting room in Pukalani is nicely lit by southern-facing windows. It has comfortable chairs and an aquarium, nothing fancy but OK.

The waiting room of the dentist Dr. Chris McNeil is a delight. It features works by local artists, including photographer Bob Bangerter and painter Kim McDonald. (McNeil gave away my favorite McDonald painting of an old church to a patient who attended it as a child.) He’s put killer surfing pictures of Jaws in the dental hygienists’ room.

Dr. George Martin’s office in Kihei is restful, with comfortable chairs in Hawaiian print and PBS softly playing, a good thing since chances are high your face is going to get burned, or worse. One is cheered in the treatment rooms with the wild collection of signed surfing and waterman photos contributed by his many fans.

My favorites are home offices – probably illegal. What’s more comforting than a cat?

Interior designer Barbara Hanger agrees with me about the importance of waiting rooms. “The environment sets the mood as to how the professional views their clients. A neglected waiting room gives a feeling they don’t really care.” A nice waiting room, she thinks, is “part of whole health.”

This is not a hard and fast rule, of course. Behind a beautiful waiting room chronic disorganization can lurk. Some old-timers may feel more comfortable in an office that’s a little weather-beaten.

Here’s a case in point. I needed to see an acupuncturist in Honolulu recently, and asked a friend for a referral. “I can’t remember his name or address,” he said, “but it’s on King Street. You pass Alan Wong’s and then there’s a car parts place and a Chinese bakery. Turn in there.”

That is how I found the acupuncture and herb shop of Gong Hong Au, a former cardiologist in China. Buses roared by as I waited on a folding metal chair before a battered old display case. Then I was ushered into one of two tiny but spotless treatment rooms with narrow beds without the benefit of comfy face cradles.

There, for $49, Dr. Au fixed me right up.

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at