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Preserving history

KAPAA – A group of proactive citizens wants to ensure the history of Kapaa never fades away.

That’s why they’ve formed a small committee and are compiling a photo and story book, so the legacy behind the Eastside town can’t ever be forgotten. 

Marta Hulsman, the site manager at the Kapaa Neighborhood Center, is one of the history-preserving champions. 

“I got a call out of the blue four months ago from Arcadia Publishing saying they wanted to do a history book,” Hulsman said.

A lightbulb went off. Hulsman thought why not turn the publishing opportunity into a fundraiser for the senior center? But there was an even greater purpose.

“If we don’t do this, our kids won’t know any of this history,” Hulsman said. 

But they are having trouble finding photos for the book. 

“Our first deadline for submitting images to the publisher was in July and we sent them 10,” Hulsman said. “We need more images, postcards, maps and drawings, if anybody has them to contribute.” 

Thus far, the committee’s challenge is finding photos for the book since hurricanes have washed away many of the visual memories of the community. They’ve been relying on images they scan at the Kauai Historical Society and the Kauai Museum. But that costs money for each. 

As far as stories go, Hulsman has been delighted to discover some folks in the know about the good old days. 

“I’ve been getting the seniors in Kapaa to sit down and I’ve been picking their brains,” Hulsman said. “Hearing their stories has been so neat. Stories about the pineapple canary that was where Pono Kai is. Kapaa was a swamp back in the early days. It all started with poi. Then the Chinese came and there was rice. We keep uncovering more and more stuff.”

She added that the town of Kapaa started out as the entertainment center for the immigrants who worked nearby.

“There were pool halls, alcohol, women and three theaters,” Hulsman said. 

Linda Moriarity, who was born and raised on Kauai, lives in the oldest house in Kapaa.

She stepped up to serve on the book committee. Other history book committee members include Marta Hulsman, Wilma Chandler, Linda Kaialoa and Andy Bushnel. 

They are banking on the hope that people will be curious about the history of Kapaa. 

“We think people will want to get the book and see photos and say, ‘Look, that’s my aunty in the picture.’”

Deadline for completion of the book is January 2015. Proceeds from sales will benefit the Kapaa Senior Center. The price will be $21.99. 

If you have photos from the past of Kapaa or stories to share, contact Marta Hulsman at kapaanc@kauai.gov or call 822-1931.

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