The Spreckelsville I wrote about a while ago was a world apart from the alluring beachfront community with the same name across the highway along Stable Road.
I lived in a cottage there on the former Frank Baldwin estate when I moved to Maui. It charmed me for a while, when I went to Honolulu to visit my mother, to take a circuitous route to the airport.
To avoid the parking fee, I'd leave my bags at the curb (those were the days), return home to park and then walk back through Kanaha Park. I met the late Colin Cameron, the beloved head of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. and The Maui News, on one such excursion. Ruddy-faced, friendly, he had just come in from a swim.
Stable Road is all rock walls and gates now, of course, not the tangle of old-style houses and open lawns I knew before the jets taking off and landing at all hours of the day and night on the nearby runway drove me mad and I fled to Olinda.
In the 1920s, Stable Road led past the alfalfa barn, the stables for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s horses and mules, the breeding facility for the racehorses of plantation boss Frank Baldwin, and the hospital run by John C. Fitzgerald, Maui's only veterinarian. HC&S owned the entire stretch of beach from Kanaha to Paia, and there lived members of the Baldwin family, and the plantation's management elite: office manager D.C. Rattray; mill superintendent R.E. Hughes; and Charles Savage, former head of the carpentry shop.
Sam and Kathrine Baldwin of Haleakala Ranch had a little house closest to Kanaha. Ethel and Harry Baldwin of Maui Agricultural Co., Colin Cameron's grandparents, had a nice refuge adjacent. Political boss Harold Rice lived down the road with his wife, Charlotte Baldwin. (Rice forever earned the ire of his Baldwin relatives by engineering the move of Maui's civilian airport from Pu'unene to Kahului after World War II, thus destroying the calm of the beach community.)
The most magnificent home on Stable Road was built by Frank Baldwin's wife, "Mittee," the feisty former San Francisco socialite who loved to build houses and loved to entertain.
In 1925, when she and Frank moved down from 'Ulupalakua Ranch, Mittee built a personal paradise on 4 acres at 600 Stable Road, where a beautifully landscaped garden adorned with tall, swaying palms swept down to the beach. I stood often on that lawn, looking out across the white-flecked bay to Wailuku and the green folds of the West Maui valleys, the blue ship of Molokai sailing in the distance.
Mittee's cook was a Chinese named Ah Fook. When he left her employ to work for the unmarried supervisors at M.A. Co.'s Paia clubhouse, she replaced him with Kichigo Morimoto, an expert in Chinese cuisine. On damask tablecloths sparkling with crystal, Medallion china and silver, she hosted elaborate dinner parties at which, even during Prohibition, guests were offered drinks from kegs of okolehao.
Into this sanctuary, no plantation worker or child from the nearby camps dared creep.
Kwan Hi Lim grew up at Camp One, son of the minister of the Korean Methodist Church in Spreckelsville. He was the ninth of 10 children, always hungry.
Lim was a smart lad, one of two Asian children admitted to his class at Kaunoa school. His family spoke Korean at home, and his peers pidgin, but Lim noticed that people with the good jobs and the nice cars spoke good English, so he hung around with shopkeepers and learned from them. He excelled at Maui High School despite his kolohe ways and caught the eye of a teacher who insisted that he take the entrance examination to the University of Hawaii. He ranked second in the territory.
One day, Lim's father informed him that Frank Baldwin, the big boss, wanted to see him. Lim dressed in his best clothes and waited nervously on the bench in front of the camp store until Frank's big black Packard pulled up.
Baldwin asked a few questions and Lim found himself with a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, money he was careful to repay. With that start, he went on to get a law degree, become a Family Court judge in Honolulu, and a regular on the original "Hawaii 5-0." Lt. Tommy Tanaka on "Magnum, P.I." That was Lim.
"Believe it or not, I look fondly on plantation days," Lim told me in Honolulu some years ago. "People were clean, morally clean. They felt humanity for each other. That's what I miss about Maui, the clean innocence."
* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.