A Letter From Doc Cooke to Commander I.S.K. Reeves
(Copied as close as possible to the original typed letter.)
My dear Skipper:
May I preface this letter by waiving a preliminary hearing and pleading guilty to the charge of abusing a very much treasured friendship - - - I have before me your October 15th letter which I have been trying to answer for a long period of time, however, as you drift along through the following paragraphs you will perhaps find some excuse for my customary delinquency.
As I may have written you before, we swung over under new control as of July 1st. 1931 from the Board of Health to the Board of Leper Hospitals and Settlement, and naturally, the period of new adjustment has been somewhat strenuous for us all, especially when combined with the largest building program the Settlement has ever experienced. Our new Board is composed of some of the finest ment in the islands and the General Supterintendent (Harry A. Kluegel) is the former City Manager of Sacramento and a very good friend of mine.
On one of his visits earlier in 1931 the Governor asked me if I thought I could spend $300.000 in Kalaupapa if the opportunity presented itself - - - assuming the matter to be more or less a matter of levity, I replied with a well known three letter word indicating acquiescence - - - but he wasn't joking, and very promptly unearthed certain funds that more than made good his threat. Well: you can imagine the resultant activity, we have to date completed a new "shops" building, housing blacksmith, plumbers, carpenters, painters and battery charging plant in a fine unit constructed of concrete tile and transite roofing, glass monitors etc. which is in geographical line with and corresponds generally with the new modern, electric laundry. The diesel powered plant has been enlarged and the entire city wired and illuminated. New sound equipment (duplicate installation) has been operating for some months in the moving picture theatre. Fourteen new cottages have been added to the McVeigh Home, a new dormitory, social hall and dining room and kitchen is nearing completion in the Bishop Home (you can imagine the happiness of the Sisters). A $50.000 general hospital was started this morning and will house all medical activities under one roof. A new and modern, electrically operated ice plant has been completed and the poi factory completely renovated, reroofed etc.
A new concrete (90ft) breakwater is partially completed at the landing and the new landing field (near the lighthouse) is coming along very well. I have constructed a group of new two-bedroom cottages at various points in the city and the next project will be the survey for real roads - - - so you see that with about six separate groups of contractors on the job things have brightened up quite a bit.
The fates, deciding that I had too much leisure time on my hands, took a hand in the game and, on the morning of Jan. 5th. I snapped out of my beauty sleep at 4:30 AM to the music of the distress whistles of the S.S. Kaala (see photos attached) which made a very fine attempt to come ashore and land her heavy cargo., she succeeded in getting over the reefs for several hundred feet about half way between here and the Lighthouse and then gave it up as a bad job. The Interisland Co. has just abandoned her as a total loss, cargo and all and I had about forty "houseguests" to care for during the attempts to salvage something.
Dr. L.F. Luckie, of whom I wrote you before, I believe, is still with us as Resident physician and Dr. Geo. B. Tuttle as Assistant, don't recall if you met Dr. Tuttle or not. They will be mighty glad to move into the new hospital I'm sure and it's about time too.
Haven't seen Handsome Hagood for some time but the last time I saw him he was the same old matinee idol and "cold sober" (belive it or not) he seems to be mixed up in civic matters just at present, from what I draw from the local papers. I haven't been in town for six or seven months but evidently things are in quite a turmoil over there and it looks as though the long-overdue housecleaning was about to begin., the special session of the Legislature is due to begin Monday (18th) and they will certainly clear matters up if they half way live up to their expressed intentions.
I enjoyed very much your picture with the "circus" horse and must admit that you seem to be "sitting pretty" or is it a "double" riding him? and that reminds me - - - in the pen-ultimate paragraph (that means next to the last) of your lst letter you speak of the fine shooting there and then employ a semi-colon and state that you killed 37 marsh hens one day and 34 the previous day - - - remember, I have watched you shoot and am therefore moved to inquire just how this happened - Isn't there a law against poisoning wild game???
Billie and the kiddies are just fine and as this is transcribed I hear them battling over the evening prayers in their room., the boy (now well over two) is more or less the boss-of-the-road and feels it necessary to inject much original matter in this prayer business. Say: that reminds me, how are those wonderful boys of yours, I mean the two we met at Pearl Harbor?? The good Lord will take care of the aviator -v- AND HOW -v-
If you still feel that a change-of-venue is essential to your well being, why not come back out here and help make life a bit more cheerful for some of us? You will surely admit that you could "go farther and do worse" and you and I have much "unfinished business" before us., We get so d---- lonesome for you'all sometimes it seems as tho' we will see you again sometime and, if we can ever see our way clear to taking a trip to the Mainland (it's been 17 years here for me) we will certainly put the big circle "O" around your locality - - and, we'll be see'in you - -
Sincerest Aloha-nui-loa to the family and don't forget that you now owe me a letter.
R.L. (Doc) Cooke