Sea captain Wally Thompson from American Samoa visits Honolulu now and then to put his ship in dry dock. He's a native of remote Swains Island and skippers the supply ship that travels to Swains infrequently. The stories he tells about that lonely place are marvelous.
In 1936, a Navy ship came to Swains three times a year to bring supplies. The islanders paddled out in canoes to sell mats and carvings. The Navy cook passed out cups of ice cream. It was the first time one Swains Islander had eaten ice cream. It tasted so good, he ate the cup.
Let's see what other news has come over the back fence lately. ...
Two scientists in California have come out in the journal of American Antiquity with evidence that Polynesians reached America by voyaging canoe before Columbus arrived in 1492.
The scientists are Kathryn A. Klar of the University of California Berkeley, a linguist, and Terry L. Jones of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, an archaeologist. For some time, a number of anthropologists have speculated that Polynesians got to South America and brought back the sweet potato that originated there. But there has been no proof.
Now Klar's linguistic analysis purports to show that the Chumash word for "sewn plank canoe" is similar to the Hawaiian word for tree. Another piece of evidence is the carbon dating of abalone shells from a Chumash headdress by archaeologist Jones that supports the theory.
OUR 'ONO CHINATOWN
You may be pleased to know that not only is Honolulu's Chinatown the oldest in the U.S. but that there are now about 100 restaurants between Fort and River streets, including 25 Chinese, 19 Vietnamese, 10 Filipino and six Japanese restaurants and 13 local plate-lunch emporiums.
Last month Advertiser ace photographer Gregory Yamamoto, on assignment out by Honouliuli Gulch, stumbled across what has to be the biggest sandalwood tree in Hawai'i. As you know, sandalwood can be uncommon. This tree stands 20 feet high and the trunk is as big around as your waist.
BALLAD OF THE UKE
This month we celebrate the 90th anniversary of Kamaka 'ukuleles. The first Sam Kamaka who started the historic instrument company in 1916 was an apprentice to Manuel Nunes, one of the pioneers credited with inventing the 'ukulele in Hawai'i.
The machete, the small Portuguese guitar from which the 'ukulele evolved, was not a Tiny Tim toy but a recognized musical instrument. In 1850 Manoel Joaquim Monteiro Cabral wrote five pieces of classical music for the machete that have recently resurfaced.
A Canadian 'ukulele virtuoso says Cabral was the first in a long line of machete and 'ukulele virtuosos who demonstrated what their favorite instrument can do.
Reach Bob Krauss at 525-8073.