Two bits of Kaaawa history

Here are two bits of little known Hawaii history that put our little community of Kaaawa in the spotlight!

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped in Kaaawa during a round-the-island drive on Thursday, July 26, 1934. The stop in Kaaawa was made during what was reportedly the first visit by a sitting president to Hawaii.

The president was welcomed by teachers and students at Kaaawa School, according to records located by Kaaawa resident, Alan Poh.

This photo of the president’s Kaaawa stop is in Poh’s personal collection.

Somebody had it listed on eBay and I think I paid $4 for it. The photographer was the one who took all the famous Pearl Harbor attack photos and worked for the Navy for years.

This was definitely an eBay score!

1934 Presential visit

Looking at the mountains in the background, the president’s car is in what is now the driveway of the school, or perhaps a bit farther into the field alongside the present school buildings. The camera is looking back towards Kaaawa Valley and Kualoa.

Most accounts of his time on Oahu, like this one, note only that the president was given a “whirlwind” tour of the island before full military ceremonies were held at Schofield Barracks. Kaaawa doesn’t even rate a footnote.

Just for fun, I blew up sections of the picture so more details are visible.

Kaaawa visit

Kaaawa visit

There must be more records of this visit in existence somewhere….

Then our neighbor, Brett Pruitt, was prowling YouTube and found this 1944 video of Bob Hope performing in a USO show for American troops in a location believed to be in Kaaawa. Right here in front of our house in Kaaawa, to be exact. There’s a 4-acre parcel of state land with a natural “bowl” on one side. Neighborhood oral history has always said that was where USO shows were put on during WWII when this was the Kaaawa Military Reservation, a large military camp that was home to troops going through jungle warfare training in Kahana Valley lived.

4 responses to “Two bits of Kaaawa history

  1. Great stuff Ian.

  2. Burl Burlingame

    Tai Sing Loo was the photographer.

    And FDR was the very definition of a sitting president.

  3. Hey Ian… Thanks for digging this history up! We really enjoyed it.

  4. Burl’s correct. The photographer would have been Tai Sing Loo.

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