“But what about the Westside, Rita?”
That’s what my friend asks me every now and then, especially after he’s read my latest column.
It’s understandable. Formerly from Oahu, he now lives on Kauai and spends much of his time enjoying his Westside friends’ fascinating tales about the “good old days.” He is convinced TGI readers would enjoy them as well.
The stories his friends share seem to be about many things: fishing, golf, the plantation era, the war years. They are about events that made history and the people who made them happen.
But it is also understandable that many of my columns relate to the Eastside. I have lived in Wailua and then Kapahi for as long as I’ve lived on Kauai. I went to St. Catherines, graduated from Kapaa High, attended church here. I watched movies in theaters in Kapaa and Lihue; danced at bon dances here, and spent summers camping and swimming at beaches here.
What’s more, the job I loved was here and so was “my” newspaper. It’s only natural that I would write about the memories that were made here.
That said, there is no question that every area on Kauai — North, South, East and West —has charm, history, and stories worth telling. Every area is uniquely different, amazingly so for a 533-square mile island that is just 33 miles wide by 25 miles long.
It is impossible to make a dent in the stories and memories Kauai has to offer or for any one person to write about them all, no matter how much they want to or how much time they have.
That is why there have always been so many fine columnists and reporters writing for The Garden Island newspaper about our island’s history and an incredible variety of topics and subjects: Courts, and the community; education, and the environment, churches and commentary. These and much more are all found in the pages of this newspaper and have been for years.
What is challenging and frustrating for an editor and a writer is knowing there are so many stories out there and to have no way of finding out what they are. Unless you lived here or had a kupuna who did, how would you know that there once was a time when Kapaa would reek of fermented pineapple trash and byproducts that came down the Kapahi ditch system and ended up behind the town. Where did they come from? The only thing I know for sure is that it happened every pineapple season and it was awful.
Unless you lived here then, how would you know that a huge whale washed up on an Eastside beach at the same time that Elvis Presley and crew were filming “Blue Hawaii.” Which did you go to see? Elvis or the whale? That was the dilemma.
How would you know unless you heard the rumors from kupuna that there reportedly was a time when the Spouting Horn would blow salt water spray so high it damaged the nearby canefields and the plantations blasted the blowhole and made it bigger and the problem was solved. Fact? myth? Only those who were there then know for sure.
And how would you know unless you were there that Kauai kids loved the Mickey Mouse Club which was featured at Lihue Theater every Saturday; or that Kikkaida once came to Kauai Theatre; Willie Nelson once played at the Roxy Theater or that Frank Sinatra was at Hanapepe’s Aloha Theater.
And how would you know unless you were there about the year that fishing went crazy around the island; that for weeks, Kauai fishermen were coming in with bigger and bigger yellowfin tuna. 180 pounds, 200, 250, and finally the whopping 312-pound fish caught by a Westside fisherman.
There are stories like this everywhere; there are stories about people who matter everywhere.
Editors are constantly fielding complaints about the amount of Associated Press stories run in newspapers. Most are run because they are informative articles that subscribers should read.
Once in a while, though, they may be used to fill space. Most editors would much rather prefer to run stories about the island and its people if they had them.
If you have or know of a story you think others would enjoy, please share it with Editor Bill Buley or any of the columnists and reporters whose names you see every week. You can even send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t promise to write about it but I definitely will pass it on.
One thing though, if you recommend a story about a person be aware that many are not always willing to be written about. Recently, I have had three people politely decline publicity because they are too humble or modest or don’t think they would make an interesting story.
If you are a subscriber or a longtime reader, you can help make The Garden Island the best that it can be. As I said before, there is no guarantee that a story you suggest will happen but I know for sure if it won’t if you don’t even try. Aloha.
Rita De Silva is a former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.