Postmaster Martin Dreier was Kauai’s only Jewish resident

Martin Dreier supervised the Lihu‘e post office as postmaster from when the present Lihu‘e post office was dedicated on May 6, 1939 until his death in 1953.

Dreier, who was born in Hungary in 1887, had a thick Yiddish accent and was notably the only Jewish resident of Kaua‘i during his day.

“Don’t vorry. I guarantee you’ll make it. I control the entire Jewish wote for the whole island,” he once jokingly assured a businessman running for public office.

During his tenure as Lihu‘e postmaster, mail arrived from Honolulu at Nawiliwili early in the morning twice weekly by steamer and was taken by truck to the Lihu‘e post office.

Some mail was then transferred from Lihu‘e to post offices around the island, and the remaining mail was alphabetized before 11 a.m., when postal patrons would begin picking up their Lihu‘e mail, since Kaua‘i did not have home delivery of mail prior to 1954.

A small portion of the mail that remained was placed in a number of individual wall boxes rented by a few residents and businesses, but the majority was hand-delivered to patrons who came in person to the post office.

Postmaster Dreier would eyeball patrons walking towards the post office, and by the time they reached his counter, he’d already identified them, located their mail, and had given it to his clerk to hand over.

Whenever Dreier or his clerk knew a patron was unable to get to the post office, they would hand that patron’s mail off to the patron’s family members, friends or neighbors for delivery.

Special Delivery mail needed to be delivered ASAP.

If the addressee had a telephone, Dreier would call them, but if there was no phone, he would pass the urgent mail on to a neighbor for delivery, or have his clerk deliver it by bicycle or car to the addressees’ house.

Dreier and his Hawaiian wife, Maria Kealoha Dreier, a schoolteacher at Lihu‘e School in Pua Loke, and their children Mary, Hermine and Richard, resided in one of the homes then lining the Kapa‘a side of today’s Rice Street.

1 Comments
  1. Darryl Perry October 15, 2020 2:10 pm Reply

    The Post Office is/was such an important part of our history and it’s people like Mr. Dreier who added a personal touch to an otherwise very business-like environment. That’s one of the reasons, Kauai was so different from the other islands.


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