Category Archives: Historical Guides
By clicking on the image below, you can watch a ~9-minute video of a series of short video clips from the 1920’s of Hawaii, interspersed with silent-film era title cards. Not only is it an interesting time-capsule glimpse of a simpler time on the islands, but it’s also an insight into what the rest of America knew about the islands, the foods and customs. Back before you could find certain fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores year round, many people didn’t know what some were, such as papaya. My Swiss mother-in-law remembers when bananas came to Switzerland, and were exotic and expensive; in her house they were only bought for her brother, who was very sick at the time, as a source of energy; that was during World War 2. Once, she confessed stealing a bit of money from her brother’s piggy bank to buy herself a banana.
Back then the world in general also knew very little about strange customs such as “surf riding” (surfing), and the footage of surfers is utterly tame compared to the monster wave-riding considered “for surfers” today! Volcanic activity also seems to have been a fascination; such footage may well have been the first time anyone had seen such a thing outside of volcanic regions; it still had to be described in colours, however, such as “cherry red” for the lava, as the footage was, obviously, black and white.
The image below is of King’s Mansion, in Kealakekua, Hawaii, on the Big Island. I actually lived here in 1986, as a student (my dorm window was the left bay window at the front). The mansion originally belonged to Kamehameha dynasty; thus the name. We had avocado trees in the back garden, and our neighbour’s horses, across a stone wall, would come trotting to the wall when they saw us in the garden, hoping for an avocado; we’d feed them, entertained as they carefully chewed away the flesh around the pit (reminding me of an old man chewing tobacco!), and then skillfully spit the seed aside. In the bottom of our front garden stood a huge banyan tree [if you were standing on the covered lanai (porch) at the front of the house, it would be to your left]; it was a favourite tree to climb.
You can’t get much more “History Undusted” than building a wood, stone and mud hut, complete with a heated floor! Check out this blog, complete with time-lapse video.
I built a hut with a tiled roof, underfloor heating and mud and stone walls. This has been my most ambitious primitive project yet and was motivated by the scarcity of permanent roofing materials in this location. Here, palm thatch decays quickly due to the humidity and insects. Having some experience in making pottery I wondered if roof tiles could feasibly be made to get around these problems. Another advantage of a tiled is that it is fire proof. A wood fired, underfloor heating system was installed for cold weather. A substantial wall of mud and stone were built under the finished roof. It should be obvious that this is not a survival shelter but a project used to develop primitive technological skills.
Time line: 102 days (21/5/15-30/8/15)
Chopping wood, carving mortises, putting up frame: 10 days (21/5/ 15 -31/5/15)
Using a celt stone axe I had made previously (
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