Dispatches From Curt — The Island’s East-West Turf Control, A Retrospective

By Curtis Narimatsu

In 1903 our territorial legislature authorized East Hawai’i County and West Hawai’i County, each to be governed by a board of supervisors elected by our citizens, along with our elected auditor, clerk, treasurer, and county attorney (both civil/criminal roles).

The chief executive would be the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, chosen by the Supervisors at their initial meeting. Our East Hawai’i Board of Supervisors first met on January 4, 1904, in our Hilo circuit courthouse (where today’s Kalakaua Park reflecting pond is).

Eugene H.K. Lyman was chosen as Chair of the Board. But because our territorial legislature inarticulately worded the genesis of our two Hawai’i Island counties, our Hawai’i Supreme Court invalidated such statute creating our two cross-island counties, inasmuch no provision was made for their funding and maintenance. Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Chinn Ho’s Ilikai Hotel 1964-2009; Miscellaneous Letters

By Curtis Narimatsu

Hawaii Five-O’s Ilikai Hotel (took) its curtain call (last week).  Chinn Ho’s McKinley Class of 1924 mates pooled their monies together to get Chinn Ho 1904-1987 started in business a la informal percentage shares just as you see w/stock ownership, incl. Statehood era’s greatest leaders [Hiram Fong/Hung Wai Ching].  As godfather of the kids born at the turn of the last century, John Young, said in Ted Tsukiyama’s interview of a lifetime, “In 1924 about 20 boys from McKinley High organized under Chinn Ho’s leadership the McKinley High School Commercial Associates.  Chinn Ho worked for freshlet Dean Witter & he got those 20 boys to give him a certain amount of money every month and that money built the Ilikai Hotel.  They may not want you to know this [because it smacks of star chamber], they’re still in existence [1987].  Of course, most of them died, but they still have this secret hui [club].  Oh my, they were a great team!!” Chinn Ho’s peer Ruddy Tongg 1905-1988 is from Kukuihaele/Waipi`o Valley district, & not part of Chinn Ho’s super club.   Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Mary Kawena Pukui; Pastor Ernest Gomes De Silva And The Scribes Of Hawaii’s Past; Pete Beamer & Doc Hill; The History Of The YMCA Church Bell; And The Cannon At The Old Lyman Boarding School Grounds

Curtis Narimatsu

Curtis Narimatsu

(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Mary Kawena Pukui

Mary Wiggin [Mass. Yankee] aka Mary Kawena Pukui [raised by maternal tutus Pa’ahana from Ka’u, whose bloodline traces back to Pele dancers of antiquity] never took for granted Hawaiiana, inasmuch being bi-racial [like Obama] outcasted her to no-man’s land by society at large.  Unlike today’s fearful/coward separatists Kekuni Blaisdell/etc., Kawena exuded love/compassion/dignity.  She repulsed at politics.  Her destiny, in her own words, is to preserve the past in its actual form, whether flawed or not.  What’s important is not to be today’s kumu, but to be yesterday’s keeper of its customs, whether politically correct or not [per today’s standards].   Do you know that biracial Kawena hanai’d AJA orphan Patience Namaka Bacon [parents died from flu epidemic]??   Pat born 1920 repulses at politics & says that Pat’s destiny is to record original customs of a century ago. Mention names Trask/Osorio/Kekuni Blaisdell, & you’ll see Pat wince [angry mob mentality of these separatists].   I stoke out over unassuming/mild-mannered Pat/Kawena because their strength is in their stoicism/composed countenance.   Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Steadfast And Ever-Faithful GOP Loyalist Elroy Osorio And Some Island Political History


Curtis Narimatsu

Curtis Narimatsu

(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Emil Osorio, born 1898, arrived here in 1910, nephew of mogul J.A.M. Osorio.  Emil is Elroy’s father. Emil got Board of Water Supply job under GOP County Chairman Sam Mahuka Spencer. Elroy Osorio born Sept. 1924 — 84 yrs. old but looks 64 yrs. young, was inspired by GOP County Chairman Jimmy Kealoha to run for political office. 

Elroy Osorio (many years back)

Elroy Osorio (about a decade or so ago)

Next to GOP Bernard Akana/Wendell Kaehuaea, GOP Elroy is a perennial candidate/loser, but ever-faithful GOP loyalist.  Yet, Elroy won 90% of Keaukaha [DHHL] votes vs. Dem Shun Kimura for mayor 1964.  Elroy asked dying GOP Sen. Doc Hill to succeed Hill in 1970, but Hill picked Hill’s inhouse business “hanai” son Scotch Henderson.  Elroy’s biggest shock was when Dem Aaron Chung beat Elroy for Elroy’s incumbent County Council seat.  Like Barack Obama, Aaron crested on youth & verve.  Elroy’s other shock was when his sole identity group, his one-only GOP, picked Dem turncoat Harvey Tajiri over Elroy to tiff vs. Dems for mayor in 2000.  GOP’s Kona haole faction dismissed Elroy as an old fart has-been.  Opportunist Harry Kim then entered the fray & wiped out Tajiri in the GOP primary.   Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Big 5’s Davies/AmFac Cartel Over Groceries; Territorial/State Sen. William ‘Doc’ Hill; Grassroot Pride; And Public Trust Doctrine

(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Big 5’s Davies/AmFac Cartel Over Groceries

To break the haole stranglehold over supply/distribution of groceries, Issei Tomiji Yamamoto formed Hawaii Grocers Co-op, made up of buddaheads, whose offices first were in the Volcano Arena off Kumu St. next to Waiolama Canal, then behind today’s Duke’s Kilauea Shell off Lanihuli St. (after the 1960 tsunami destroyed Kumu St. bldgs.).  Point is that non-haoles couldn’t get brand names, except for Fujimoto Trading (Rich Imai bookkeeper), which had earliest links to get brand names from Stateside manufacturers (canned milk/etc.).  Isamu Kanekuni was Grocers Co-op’s bookkeeper.  Yasu Iwasaki’s wife is Fujimoto Trading kazoku.  Here is how Fujimoto Trading undercut haole overlords — plantation store ledgers show purchase of kamaboko/fishcake from Fujimoto, but it’s really canned milk.  Since Fujimoto bought via bulk shipment from Mainland U.S.A., Fujimoto was able to sell canned milk way below Big 5 costs.  Thence, plantation stores made larger profit than buying “inhouse” via overlords.  Economy of scale (to overcome Big 5 largesse). Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — A Biographical Sketch Of Jimmy Arakaki; Former Eight-Year Council Chair Weighs In On Reorganization


(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Hilo High’s Class of 1958 stole the Honoka’a “Dragon,” so to speak.  Our kids born 
1940 that graduated in 1958 include Kea’au Paul Bunyanesque Jimmy Arakaki,
mega-developer Roland Higashi [Ed Case’s point man], gorgeous Lorraine Rodero
Inouye from my native Wainaku village [camp 3 Sankai], Waipahu icon Cal Kawamoto [from Honomu], & solon Bob Makuakane.  Harry Kim belongs w/this peerage but was born in 1939.  Jimmy

Former Eight-Year Council Chair James "Jimmy" Arakaki

Former Eight-Year Council Chair James "Jimmy" Arakaki thinks the recent reorganization successfully pitched by freshman council members Dennis "Fresh" Onishi and Guy Enriques was "kinda stupid, actually."

Arakaki’s beginnings were fraught with failure/rejection — Jimmy was an orphan who was raised so  lovingly by Jimmy’s deceased dad’s immigrant/Issei Okinawan/Uchinanchu parents.  No Jimmy’s biological mom’s family/kazoku did not raise him.  Jimmy learned humility/compassion from his even-handed grandparents.  But as a hormonal teen, not wanting to be pegged as having been raised by old farts,  Hercules-handsome Jimmy was known as the bull/protector of old Ola’a/Kea’au village.  Honomu’s toughest hombre/Uchinanchu Earl Nakasato born 1942 remembers Jimmy Arakaki as the warrior prince of old Ola’a, revered as fearless among Jimmy’s villagers a la Bibilical warrior prince Gideon.   Jimmy moved to O’ahu after high school and returned to Hilo in 1978, where today he is a most prosperous insurance mogul.  But in 1978, Jimmy sold funeral plans out of old Dodo Mortuary’s cavernous building [built in 1923, with the first mortuary elevator on this island] in the center of the block on Ponahawai St. between Punahoa St. & Mamo St.  Ever at heart a defender of the everyday commoner, Jimmy’s virginal foray into politics played out in Ola’a earthy fashion.   Developer Blackfield Ltd. wanted to raze/do urban renewal of today’s farmers market bounded by Ponahawai/Punahoa/Mamo St. corridor. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Habeas Corpus; Square Nishimura; Harold Kay; Harbor/Rail Man Walter Dillingham; Sugar Industry Leader Robert Hughes; Baseballer Kolten Wong; Balance; And Post Scripts Regarding The Pahoa YBA Hall, Etc.


Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

 Habeas Corpus 

Our U.S. Constitution says that “the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended unless in cases of rebellion or invasion when the public safety may require it.” [Article I Section 8]   Which is why Hilo’s Judge Delbert Metzger 1875-1967 was constrained by Order 57 12/7/41 that forbade writs of habeas corpus/jury trials, vs. Metzger’s friend Hans Zimmerman 1942.  Presciently, esteemed scribe George Will, proponent of limited government, considers Korematsu’s internment 1944 among the worst decisions in our history, akin to Dred Scott 1856 which  validated slavery [Blacks are not citizens] & to Plessy v. Ferguson 1896  which affirmed racial segregation.   Correctly, George Will regards Chief Justice John Marshall as our greatest jurist & Marshall’s Marbury v.  Madison case 1803 as our greatest case [validated judicial review of executive & legislative branches].   Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Building Supply Stores; Volcano Block Building; Hackfeld Warehouse; Hilo’s Water Supply; Cattle in Hawai’i And Scores Of Post Scripts



Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Building Supply Stores

Charles E. Richardson (Kanaka educator Martha Wakefield’s dad) had his supply store where today’s Hilo Dry Goods/Salvation Army bldg. is.  His lumber yard was across Kam Ave. on the makai side toward the ocean.  Hilo haoles formed Hilo Mercantile Co. & bought out Richardson in 1897, building what is today’s Hilo Dry Goods bldg, & adding on in 1913 what was formerly Richardson’s original store that housed the U.S. consulate before 1893, immediately next to today’s Kress Bldg.  Hilo Mercantile had the first elevator in Hilo in 1897, w/Dodo Mortuary having the first mortuary elevator here in 1923.  Big 5 Theo Davies Ltd. bought out Hilo Mercantile in 1920 & then monopolized bldg. supply houses  along with new AmFac [took over German National-seized WWI Hackfeld].  Theo Davies office was SE corner Waianuenue/Keawe St., & its newly acquired lumber yard was makai side of Kam Ave. across Kress Bldg., formerly Hilo Mercantile (formerly Richardson) lumber yard.  Davies took over Hilo Mercantile’s added baseyard at what later was the Hilo theater site Kam/Pauahi St.  C. Brewer was at Volcano Block on Waianuenue (1914, former site of Volcano Stables) mauka of today’s Cronies’ Restaurant (former Hilo Drug bldg.). After Davies (ruined by 1946 tsunami) & AmFac (ruined by O’ahu bad mgmt.) pulled out from Hilo, HPM Bldg. Supply became our biggest bldg. supplier. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — ‘Plymouth Rock’ Of Hawai’i Beneath Our Kailua-Kona Pier; How Kalakaua Park Came To Be A Park; Hilo Iron Works; Destiny Maker Chiyoko ‘Nancy’ Takayesu; Backdrop; Romeo Rocky Higa; And Gloria Miyashiro Kobayashi

Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

“Plymouth Rock” Of Hawai’i Beneath Our Kailua-Kona Pier

On April 4, 1820, our first Congregational missionaries landed on lava rock that lies beneath today’s Kailua-Kona pier complex, a year after kuhina nui/highest counsel Ka’ahumanu abolished kapu [rigid class hegemony].  They were inspired by Henry Opukahaia, whose martyrdom also inspired Statesman Henry Clay, among our great abolitionists, whose greatest devotee is Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipator.   Ka’ahumanu’s brother Kuakini was Hawai’i Island governor 1820-1844, who dismantled Kamehameha the Great’s Kamakahonu royal residence/seat of government/Ahu’ena heiau & turned these sites into a fort.  Kamakahonu site is today’s King Kamehameha Hotel [first neighbor island hotel w/an elevator 1960]. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Leadership; Self-Applause; D.C. Wayfinder Jesse Shima; Everybody’s Equal; Japan’s Tiger of Malaya; Japan Consulate List; Detached Enlisted Men’s List; Italy’s Gothic Line; And African-American Soldiers


Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)


Earl Finch, 1915-1965, died a broken man, in spirit/body.  Where was the 442 leadership to take care of our boys’ savior/messiah?  Only Uncle Willy Thompson’s 2nd Batt. hdqtr. co. puts flowers on Earl’s grave every Memorial Day.  — Curt


Uncle Willy Thompson‘s invocation as 442 State Prexy in a recent message to members expresses that “our keynote speaker was retired Major Gen. Antonio Taguba — we were humbled to hear him describe Tom Brokaw’s definition of the Greatest Generation as epitomized by the Nisei warriors of WWII.”   Sheez….   Did anyone else besides Uncle Willy applaud forgotten prophets Earl Finch or John Tsukano long after the war was over? Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Homelani Cemetery Originally For Haoles; Theaters In 1931; William H. Reed; Onekahakaha Beach Park; Kawananakoa Hall; Honaunau City Of Refuge; First Hilo Hospital; Wainaku Sugar Camp 2; And Shipman Ranch

(Editor’s Note: Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Homelani Cemetery Originally For Haoles

Homelani Japanese Memorial

Homelani Cemetery was founded as Halai Hill cemetery by our First Foreign [haole] Church where today’s downtown Sack N Save is in 1871. Ironically, as our need for cemetery plots grew, our Nippon/Issei immigrants became Homelani’s major expansion bldg. contractors [Kametaro Fujimoto founder of HPM Bldg. Supply][Hisato Isemoto, founder of Isemoto Contracting]. Luso/Portuguese Manuel Gomes became Homelani’s greatest caretaker, serving over a quarter century a century ago. Eventually Homelani became chop suey in ethnicity, w/Haw’n burials [Haili Church]/Nippon burials [Hongwanji Church]/Chinese burials [Chinese Community Church]/Portuguese burials [Portuguese Christian Church]/Filipino burials [Filipino Congregational Church in Papa’ikou]/Korean burials [Korean Christian Church]/etc. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Bible Thumpers; Mango Tree Brothel; Grooming For Great Leadership; From Princeville Corporation on Kaua’i to Hilo — Our Kamehameha Statue; Ehren Watada — The Army Waited Till President Bush Left Office; And Times Have Changed

Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Bible Thumpers

Ironically, religious folks I really look up to are those Pentecostals who are as compassionate & loving as their Faith professes.  Kindred souls like Dean/June Edmoundson of Honomu’s Mr. Ed’s Bakery [former Ishigo Bakery], dyed in the wool Assemby of God types, as is Pastor Roy Kim, who ministers/evangelizes along the Hamakua coast [Pentecostal].   I do not know who is the fundamentalist preacher who harangued Tiffany Edwards Hunt about my article on the crucifixion of homosexual Matthew Shepard in her highly informative Big Island Chronicle website, but erudite/sage Dean Edmoundson says that Jesus is the loving Son of God, to love everyone, regardless of circumstance, no matter how extreme our hostility/feelings are vs. the maligned/outcasts in society.   Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Paradox; Imperialism Like An Adolescent; Hilo Drinking Water; The Ever Dominant Luso/Portuguese; Hypocrisy; Joseph B. Lightfoot; And Human Nature Good & Bad

Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)


Buddaheads born before 1920 generally dismissed Inouye as urusai/irritant — hot- tempered SOB.    Yes, my dad 1913-1998 couldn’t stand Inouye/Nelson Doi, whom Dad lumped together as loudmouth monoshiri.   The ILWU especially loved Hiram Fong, which is one reason why Burns lost to Quinn ’59 — Jack Hall/Bob McElrath/George Martin/Eddie De Mello & ILWU honchos forgot about Burns & instead went all out for Fong. 1950 Con Con –   buddaheads were not peaked politically/organized.   Burns’ cell gang [civil defense head 1951/basement of Honolulu Hale] was not yet existent, so Burns’ 442 boys were not yet his spiritual progeny.   Thence, the 442 boys like Masato Doi born 1921/Tsukiyama also born 1920 were Stateside on the GI Bill or working to support  their burgeoning families.   The 100th conscripts were also apolitical, being rank/file blue collar boys. The 100th’s leaders for a new social order, Sakae Takahashi/Young Oak Kim, were preoccupied w/their own destinies — Sakae jockeying for Lt. Gov. under Oren Long 1950, Kim back in his LA home city trying to pay his bills. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Inspirations for Tsunami Museum; Indonesian Earthquake/Tsunami 2004 Exhibit; Reed’s Bay On Banyan Drive; Akiko’s Buddhist Bed & Breakfast; And Chin Chuck Road In Hakalau

Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old

 plantation days & untold heroes.)

Inspirations for Tsunami Museum

Wow, I got complimented for recognizing 4 individuals who made the Tsunami Museum what it is today –  members of the community who inspired the creation of the museum are Tuck Wah Lee [former Miss Hi Brenda Machado’s husband’s ohana] & Steamy Chow, & the leaders who keep the museum running today are retired Trib publisher Jim Wilson [whose wife Audrey Takaki lost her maternal grandparents in the Shinmachi deluge of 4/1/46] & retired Hilo High principal Donna Saiki [Harpo’s wife].   While as-expected Hiroshima-ken/district descendants like Kalaoa/Papa’ikou native Teruo Morigaki kept jibber-jabbering about themselves [“eye” trouble] even after their life stories were recited on screen, I made sure to let the packed house know the reason they’re in the cavernous fete is because of [as Eddie Kaukali describes] individuals who ensured the welfare of all folks along the coastlines, namely the ferocious foursome above. Read more

DISPATCHES FROM CURT — Akira Kurosawa; Ethnic Make-up Of Laundry Owners ; Hilo Was The Only Major Town Without An Airport In 1923; Ho’olulu Park; Kaumana Cave; Hilo’s Long-Forgotten Father Louis Boys Home; And Today’s Island Chevrolet Is Built Up On 10 Feet Of Fill


Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa

Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Akira Kurosawa

Kurosawa’s father belittled him for being a sissy artist, not the samurai that the father/brother were.  Yet, amid failure/rejection in little boy Akira’s heart, Akira goes on to ennoble the samurai as no one else has ever done to date!!   Never marginalize a measured/contemplative little child.  Never.  Kurosawa comes alive!   Read more


(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

What sadness this day brings.  Bunny Brown would’ve  passed out from Trib scribe John Burnett’s alltime tribute to Bunny.  It helps that John “JB” is our musical pundit. I got Bunny enshrined into our Big Island Sports Hall of Fame for Bunny’s ferocious softball pitching, second only to O’ahu lad Tom Hugo Sr. in the pre-windmill windup era. Bunny actually was a multi-sport star, excelling as among our best-ever hoops playmakers & football punters.  But Bunny is immortalized as among our Aloha State’s greatest vocalists and entertainers.   Read more