September 30, 2012
A Look Back At “The Lovelist Fleet of Islands That Lie Anchored in Any Ocean”
By: Michele Gamble
The Title quote for this post is credited to Mark Twain, a great admirer of our lovely string of Islands. So enamored with our Islands, he actually went “missing” for a period of time. Going Native we call it; but you can not dismiss the powerful effect the mere mention of the words, The Hawaiian Islands, has upon people.
Margerite Pearson aboard the SS Matsonia, 1947
When you mention visiting Hawaii many visualize Hawaii in the 1940’s. It was a fun and glamorous time to visit Hawaii. It took 9 hours by plane back then, or four days on one of Matson’s cruise liners: the SS Matsonia, The SS Lurline, or the SS Maraposa. Recently I had the good fortune to acquire a photo album that depicts a visit to the Islands of Hawaii in 1947. What a joy to see the islands of that time through the eyes of someone obviously enamored with all they were experiencing.
The Album begins with a wonderful inscription describing their arrival in Honolulu aboard the SS Matsonia:
“Will never forget our arrival! Small boats came out bringing lei; musicians singing and playing Hawaiian songs, and Hula dancers; [and] native boys diving for coins. When we docked, the Royal Hawaiian Band was playing, and everyone was there with more leis!”
How exciting it must have been to pull into the harbor next to the Aloha Tower and watch the small colorful boats arrive carrying locals greeting you with sweet Hawaiian songs and beautifully colored leis made from all kinds of exotic flowers. As if that were not enough, as soon as you disembarked from the ship you were greeted by the Royal Hawaiian Band, gloriously bedecked in White, red and gold. More exotic flower leis were given to so that each passenger had lei up to their ears! How fun! How adventurous it must have felt.
Well, gone are the days of diving for coins, and greeting passengers with armloads of lei. Luckily, however, all the airports still have lei stands and you will still see locals greeting their friends and family with lei, so not all is lost. But I confess, I do daydream about those lucky individuals who visited the islands during Hawaii’s Boat Days.