Friday, February 17, 2012


Happy Birthday Maui News

by Larry Geller

The Maui News is 112 years old today. They commemorated it with an article, Program showcases publications from past: Maui News’ first issue available on Web; paper marks 112 years (Maui News, 2/17/2012).

Happy Birthday, Maui News!

The Maui News article linked to a scanned copy of the first issue (click here).

I love reading old newspapers. It’s like entering a time machine, a chance to experience the history of a place, particularly if you have been there or perhaps still live there. This first issue did not disappoint.

If you click over to page 3, there is an article about the arrival of the plague on Maui. The disease was not well understood, and the reaction consisted of rounding up the usual suspects and then burning the district where they lived and worked to the ground. A snip:

Dr. Wood immediately took charge of affairs and by noon on Monday the detention camp was ready for its occupants. Over 200 Chinese, Japs and natives were fumigated and dressed in new suits, and at two o'clock the procession quickly moved out to their new quarters.

Scarcely had they reached their destination before everything was prepared for the destruction of their old quarters. At three o'clock a cloud of dust and broken timbers leaped into the air, accompanied by the savage roar of dynamite; then another and another, being the exterior houses of the doomed district. Soon dense volumes of smoke, through which pierced yellow shafts of flame, told that the work of destruction was begun. In two hours the whole block from the Kahului saloon to the Custom House was a heap of glowing ashes. The breeze was from the sea and no trouble was experienced in holding the fire within the prescribed district.

Honolulu’s Chinatown suffered a worse fate when the wind shifted and a massive fire destroyed everything.

[These days we have YouTube, which turns out to be a much more economical way to get rid of the rats than burning the place down. At the time of the Maui News article, the method of transmission of the disease was not understood.]

That was page three. On the first page is an aggregated article from the Cleveland Leader about obesity!  It included how-to instructions, depending on whether the reader wanted to gain or lose.

Fat and Lean

Scientists with the government in Washington assert that American men are bulging in the middle because they eat wheat and oats in one form or another. Men with large stomaces are frequently proud of the distinction. Often they stand with their hands on their hips and their coat tails pushed back. The side elevation may be startling to the beholder or may be entertaining or may engender covetousness. It all depends upon the point of view. But stomachs are largely a matter of food and drink.

If you want flesh around the hips and abdomen eat sugar and starch--wheat,oats, fresh bread, cake, pie, preserves, candy, ice cream, potatoes, heave soups, fat meat, nuts, butter, cream, oyster patties, goose livers, beans and bananas.

If you are already too lare, diet, diet, diet and then begin all over again. Crucify your appetite; go into a strait jacket; array yourself in sackcloth and ashes. Live on lean meat, eggs, fish and raw cabbage. Drink hot water. Walk five miles before dinner. Starve in the land of plenty. Become irritable. Watch the hungry and fierce look grown into your face. Go to the scales every day. Dream of banquets. In three months your clothing will not fit you. Oh, it's great fun for the tailor and the doctor. --Cleveland Leader

Another front-page story describes the assassination of a Mainland governor. The front page also ran ads, a practice that somewhere since then fell into disapproval but is sneaking back into vogue these days.

Take a trip back to Maui in the year 1900 by clicking one of the links above.


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