Looking out to sea

I took a seat at the table nearest the entrance with a clear view of the road, giving me easy access to escape in case the party got too wild and rowdy. The ladies of the settlement began to arrive, on Kalaupapa time, laden with dishes of delicious home-cooked foods, causing the teeth to swim around in my mouth in anticipation. 

Soon I was surrounded by lovely women (lucky me) like a honey tree in a forest of bears. It was exciting. Here we were gathered in the evening of the day to celebrate and say best wishes to David who was retiring from his post in the National Park Service. This would be a fun evening at the Lions Club Ocean View Pavilion.

The Ocean View Pavilion sits at a bend in the road a little more than half-way to our famous Kalaupapa International Airport. It stands just a few yards from the water where one can look out to sea and, given the right atmosphere, see the island of Oahu off in the distance. Westward Ho! While the view is always beautiful, the winter swells often offer spectacular scenes of breakers a few hundred yards offshore. Sometimes these almost engulf the remains of a ship which went down on the reefs in the 1930s while the crew had been intaking too much “orange juice,” and mistook the lighthouse light for the pier light — or so the story goes. 

According to Valerie Monson, a retired writer/reporter for the Maui News and presently the secretary general of our Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa memorial group, the pavilion was completed in its present dimensions in 1970. It is equipped with electricity, running water and cooking facilities, and across the road are the all important public toilets. It is a place for the Kalaupapa community to gather and celebrate birthdays, picnics, departures and other community or family events. Now it needs a face-lift to highlight the past and to brighten the future. So all contributions to the Kalaupapa Lions Club for this end will be most welcomed and most appreciated.

The night wore on, the music filled the air and the drinks continued to flow. One of the ladies offered me a drink that I had never tried previously. Of course I accepted it — just to be social. It did not impair me in the least. Someone else had me try some Sake and again I resolved to be social — like any good pastor. Then I availed myself of the delicious local foods to settle my stomach. Since I was driving, I refrained from any further liquid nourishment, then I climbed into my paddy wagon and cruised home safely. It had been an evening to remember in Kalaupapa and it comes to mind each time I drive by the Lions Club Ocean View Pavilion. 


Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

© 2020 The Anchor  †  887 Highland Avenue  †  Fall River, Massachusetts 02720