Friday, February 9, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 9, 2001

Lindberghs found peace and solitude in Hana

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Staff Writer

When Anne Morrow Lindbergh died this week, the ripples of personal loss spread all the way to the tiny town of Hana on the eastern coast of Maui.

For six years at the end of the 1960s, and before Charles Lindbergh died in 1974, the famous couple were a distinct and cherished part of the rural Hawaiian community.

Hana town took the Lindberghs in stride, giving them respect and the distance that had often eluded them elsewhere. In turn, it became their haven.

The aviator — one of the most famous men of the 20th century after his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic — could be found rummaging for nails in the back of the old Hasegawa General Store, where he sometimes hit the wrong light switch and doused the lights up front.

His wife, meanwhile, was a regular at the town’s single beauty parlor, or sitting cross-legged learning to weave lauhala with her friend, Anna Kahaleuahi.

After Lindbergh bought the property in 1968 from his Pan American buddy, the late Samuel Pryor, the couple, and sometimes one of their five grown children and even a grandchild or two, came regularly to their stone cottage in Kipahulu, down a winding lane and through an overgrown patch of wild sugarcane.

It was a rough facsimile of a Swiss cottage where they’d lived after fleeing the United States in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of their first child.

Invariably, Anne would dot the cottage each morning with brilliant hibiscus blossoms, picked from the profusion of bushes on the Pryor’s property next door.

Hana was to be where Anne could write, her husband thought. And he built the cool back room with deep-silled windows so she could look out at Haleakala.

Of the two, Anne was the better-known writer, primarily because of her sensitive "Gift From the Sea." Many of the themes in it were drawn directly from the family’s dinner-table conversation, with its free-flowing ideas, daughter Reeve Lindbergh once told an Advertiser reporter. In her mother’s waning years, Reeve became the family spokeswoman.

While her father wrote of values, Reeve said, her mother wrote of values gleaned from daily life.

"Each of them was the other’s main creative force," she said in that earlier interview. "They had tremendous influence on each other. I don’t think she would have written without him · And he wouldn’t have written as he did without her."

While Charles insisted Anne have all the modern conveniences in Hana, including a dishwasher and clothes dryer, he was usually loath to crank up a noisy generator to make them work. The dishwasher sat silent, eventually just another storage place for dishes.

After his death, Anne visited Hana and Kipahulu less and less often. It had become a place of "unfulfilled dreams" for her, her daughter has said, "a place of great sadness."

When she did come back, it was a brief visit with just time enough to stand next to her husband’s grave in the Palapala Hoomau Congregational Church yard at Kipahulu, not far from the graves of several of Pryor’s pet gibbons.

And time enough to see old friends, including Henry and Marie Kahula, the Pechins in whose cottage they stayed during Lindbergh’s final days, and David "Tevi" Kahaleuahi, the Hawaiian cowboy who had overseen the digging of Charles’ grave.

"He’s there and the Spirit of St. Louis’ is there," Kahaleuahi once joked, laughing hard at his own humor and gesturing at the expansive size of Lindbergh’s grave.

Tevi, with his leathery brown skin and a no-nonsense attitude, was Lindbergh’s fishing buddy and one of his best friends. Tevi’s wife, Anna, was one of Anne’s.

Lindbergh spent his last week in Hana, after begging his New York doctor for permission to be flown to Maui and buried in that remote wildness.

Bedridden, he orchestrated the details of his death and burial. His body was not to be preserved and his coffin was to be made of rough-hewn eucalyptus from the Hana forest.

He wanted the grave to have good drainage, and he carefully engineered its details even as he met with Hana’s only doctor, Milton Howell, to consult about how much morphine he needed each day to be pain-free but alert.

With Anne, he chose a favorite biblical passage for his gravestone:

" ... If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ... " Around it he wanted smooth, ocean-washed iliili stones.

And when he succumbed to cancer on an early August morning, his wife was by his side in a room painted robin’s egg blue, just as she had been with him in the cockpit as they mapped Pacific and Asian routes together for Pan American in the first years after his Atlantic crossing.

Lindbergh’s plan was for his wife to lie beside him in the grave at Kipahulu upon her death.

But Anne Morrow Lindbergh told close friends that she didn’t want to be buried there. That question, like many others involving the Lindbergh legacy, will now be left for others to decide.

Lindbergh thought his burial in Kipahulu would put him far from the eyes of the world, and that, in death, he would finally be left alone.

But in the years immediately afterward, visitors from far and wide made the trek to the grave of an American hero.

In the next year alone, an estimated 50,000 people drove the winding road to Hana and then to Kipahulu, bringing an unwelcome focus to an area that has been called "The Last Hawaiian Place."

In the years since then, townspeople have stripped away any information that could lead outsiders to the grave, hoping the passage of time will lessen his impact on their quiet way of life.

More recently, the Lindbergh home has changed owners twice.

The Lindbergh family has tried not to take a stand either way and has become more distant than ever from the quiet place where one of the world’s most famous men hid from fame.

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