…bark at the moon
Hawaii in the 1920’s & 30’s
The following is based on some reading and alot of hearing about the history of the various islands, especially Hawai’i and Kaua’i. I may be wrong about certain things, but I reckon I’m close enough for RPG stuff.
1: Much of the arable land on all the islands was given over to plantations/ranches raising everything from pineapples to coconuts to sugar cane to cattle.
2: Honolulu was and still is the largest town in Hawaii. As of this year, it has a population of just under 372,000. The next largest town is Hilo with less than 47,000 people. Back in 1920, both towns would have been significantly smaller. You can figure most towns probably had less than 5,000 people.
3: The United States had a sizeable military presence on Oahu, with far less of a presence on the other islands.
4: Despite the fact that less than half of the population was caucasian, they were in charge and racism was the order of the day.
5: The native Hawaiian population was probably less than 7% of the total population. Much of the non-caucasian population was Asian, mostly Japanese and Chinese. Other ethnic groups included Filipino, Portuguese, Mexican and various Pacific Islanders.
6: On the Big Island (Hawaii) there was and still is a huge cattle ranching presence centered mostly around the Parker Ranch, which is the biggest cattle ranch in the United States. These cattle ranches and the towns that formed around them were surprisingly like their counterparts on the US mainland.
7: As today, the islands were a hot spot for tourists, especially wealthy ones. In the finer hotels, the nightlife was no doubt swingin’. I’m not sure if Prohibition was in effect in Hawaii, but even if it was, it was no doubt roundly ignored as it was in the US.
8: Being centrally located in the Pacific, the islands were a major stopping point for ships of all kinds.
9: The more remote areas of the islands were even nore remote than they are today. It’s probably a safe bet that illegal activities took place there.
10: Most towns were not unlike small towns the world over…there were churches, shops, saloons, brothels, schools, etc. Architechturally, most buildings were built of wood with corrugated steel roofing.
11: Remember that Hawaii had and still has a much more limited variety of mammalian and reptilian life that most other places. There are no snakes, no lizards other than geckos, very few toads & frogs and few small or large mammals.
12: Hawaii was exotic and different. As such, it surely attracted adventurous sorts of folks looking for excitment and thrills (to say nothing of fortune & glory).