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From Chief to Kahuna


Chief Electrician R.L.Cooke (left), on unidentified ship with crew member.

Wilhelmina said that he was considered the fastest telegrapher in the Navy.

For years attempts had been made to install radio receivers that would enable the patients of the Kalaupapa Settlement to hear radio. All previous attempts had failed. Often called "the loneliest place in the world", the settlement was completely cut off from the rest of the world.

After the Navy, Chief Electrician R.L. Cooke was hired by the Mutual Telephone Company of Honolulu to head their wireless department. He was sent to Kalaupapa to make another attempt at installing the receivers.


Chief Electrician R.L.Cooke (right), in boxing match.



Mutuals Put On Slugging Fest

The “Has Beens,” a ball team composed of most of the executives and department heads of the Mutual Telephone Company and many of whom had not played a game of ball since Hector was a pup, were challenged to play a five inning game for a Chinese dinner by a bunch calling themselves “The Bust Eggs Aggregation,” most of the players being members of the telephone company’s Commercial league team.

     The game was pulled off yesterday afternoon: the “Has Beens” winning in the last half of the fifth by a score of 9 to 8. Moiliili Park has not seen so much fun in a long time.

      It was a real slugfest, only two free passages to first being allowed one off each pitcher. The hits were so numerous the scorer got writer’s cramp putting them down. The old-timers played like the stars they used to be.

     Manager Hummel, playing second base for the winners, was all to the good, and even had the nerve to steal second, much to the surprise of Messrs. Mara and Quinn. Assistant Manager J. M Pierce, who played first for the winners, was in a class by himself. Doc Cook, pitching for the winners, had something on the ball besides the cover and showed some of his old-time form.

      Captain Jack Quinn changed his pitchers twice, but the old-timers laced out everything that was sent down the alley, and overcame the three run lead with two down at the end of the fifth.

      The lineup was as follows:

     “Has Beens” - F. G. Hummel, 2b; J. M. Pierce, 1b; J. C. Ramey, 3b; En Sue, cf; A. Asam, ss; Doc Cooke p; H. Zerbe, c; C. Holloway, lf; P. F. Pung, rf, and A. Rees, sub.

     “Bust Eggs” - Fun Luke, lf; J. Quinn, ss; C. Chang, 3b; Mara, 2b; You Chung, 1b; A. Markham, p; Camacho, cf; Tominaga, rf, and Halemano, c.



Lonesomest Colony in Hawaii Hears KDKA Programme and Many Other Stations

Enjoyment that radio broadcasting has brought to those isolated from the rest of the world is shown in a communication just received at Station KDKA, from the Kalaupapa leper settlement on the Island of Molokai, Hawaii, said to be the loneliest place in the world.

Recently under the personal supervision of R.L. Cooke, superintendent of the wireless department of the Mutual Telephone Company of Honolulu, two radio receivers were installed in the leper colony. The radio sets were equipped with AC power amplifier which was installed in the amusement hall; while another set for ear phone reception was installed in the superintendent's home.

The first time the sets were placed in operation, KFKX, the repeating station at Hastings, Nebl. was received repeating KDKA's programme. Then a few minutes later KDKA was picked direct. Later KDKA was again received with such good volume that the music and other entertainment could be heard about 100 yards outside of the hall.

There are about 600 people in the Molokai leper settlement. About 400 were present for the first radio night.

In the future these afflicted people, outcast from the remainder of the human race will at least hear from the outside world through the medium of the radio wave. Radio broadcasting has again proved itself the marvel of the present century.


Cooke Regarded Highly Because Of Radio Skill

Looked On As 'Kahuna' of Unusual Power By Leper Settlement

Some surprise is being expressed in Honolulu over the selection of R. L. Cooke, radio expert, to succeed John D. McVeigh as superintendent of the leper settlement, Kalaupapa, Molokai, but there appears to have been an excellent reason for the choice made by the territorial board of health.

It seems that Cooke succeeded in overcoming some radio problem at the settlement that had baffled everyone else, with the result that the older Hawaiians there came to regard him as an "akua" or god, or at the very least, "Kahuna" of unusual power.

As about "half of the battle" of governing the settlement lies in winning the confidence, good will and respect of the unfortunate inhabitants, Cooke appeared to be the logiacl man and received the indorsement [sic] of McVeigh.




December 30th, 1925

It was his third marriage and her second. She had been born and raised in Hawaii and so knew the culture and people, which would make her integration into the leper settlement much easier. He was funny, mechanically inclined, and good with people; she was serious, a hard worker, and probably very much in love with him.



KALAUPAPA,Molokai, Jan. 3

According to vital statistic reports the death rate of patients in the settlement has decreased considerably in the past year, owing to the improvements made in the medical department here, which is under the jurisdiction of Dr. Allen B. Potter, successor to Dr. H.K. Marshall as attending physician of the settlement.


     The people here have much to be thankful for. First their many thanks should be extended to the territorial board of health for its perfect administration in problems relating to clean streets, pure food supply, checking multiplication of mosquitoes, sewerage and water supply.

     Second, they should give their thanks to Dr. Allen B. Potter, medical adviser, for his wonderful performance in our medical department and the great changes performed in our hospital which has come up to a high standard of sanitary conditions. This is considering our dispensary and other medical resources. We find him a man who has proven his ability and is deemed worthy of our consideration and praises.


     Third, we give our thanks to our superintendent, R. L. Cooke who has done everything within his power to co-operate in order to make the settlement a pleasant place olive in and bring it up to its present sanitary condition.

     There is at present an unspeakable gratitude and appreciation among some patients.





Kalaupapa, Molokai, July 5, 1926

Editor The Star-Bulletin

Sir: Kindly spare a little space in your column “Letter From the People” for this letter of mind concerning the first anniversary of Superintendent Cooke here.

A large reception was given in the honor of the superintendent here, celebrating his first anniversary. The reception was supported with music by the Kaqlaupapa band and glee club. Refreshments were distribute among the patients.

It was declared a success and one of the most delightful gatherings staged here at the amusement hall in many years. A correct estimate of attendance was bout 250 patients.

The first on the program was a grand march and then presentation of floral wreaths to both superintendent and attending physicians. Speeches were also recorded for both of them.

The hit of the evening was a special speech in the English and Hawaiin languages by the superintendent.

Several song competitions were given, everything went along smoothly in the eighth rule of sociability with music, cheers, songs and flowers and other tokens of appreciation. There was also a special selection by the choir of the Latter-day Saints and the closing song was “Aloha Oe.”

After all is said and done, I firmly believe it was the champion of all receptions in good humor, zest for a good time, in a general all around Happiness.





Editor The Advertiser:

     In a former published statement regarding Prohibition enforcement, a most unwanted situation was described. Last week we completed our rounds of visit to the five large islands by going to Molokai. Will you kindly give us space to note on beautifu exception to our former findings?

     In the Settlement, both at Kalaupapa and Kalawao, there is both a will and the work shich reduces the odoriferous fumes of "swipes" to a negligible quantity. "Swipes" we were informed is fermented slop tinctured with dead flies. Mr. R. C. Cooke, the alter superintendent, is determined to make the Volstead Law the most respected statute which his policemen enforce.

     The next evening at Kaunakakai, a drunken man attempted to hand us a baby he was carrying, which incident compels the assertion that the seven or eight thousand acres comprising the Leper Peninsula, stands in lonesome isolation as the near Sahara dry spot of all the Hawaiian Territory.

Cordially yours,


Acting Superintenden




Superintendent Selected In 1925 Resigns As of December 31, 1927


R. L. Cooke, appointed superintendent of the Kalaupapa settlement in 1925 has tendered his resignation from that post effective December 31, 1927. Action of Dr. F. E. Trotter in accepting the resignation was approved by the board of health yesterday. Cooke’s resignation was tenured in writing May 10 of this year and accepted by the board of health on July 8.

Cooke’s letter was formal notice and did not include his reasons for resigning. It was directed to J. D. McVeigh, director of the bureau of leprosy and reads:

“Kindly present this as my resignation as superintendent of the settlement effective December 31, 1927. Please accept my sincere appreciation of your kind cooperation and assistance during our official association.

Dr. Trotter presented the letter to the board without comment. In replying to the settlement superintendent he wrote: “You are advised that it is with regret that this resignation is accepted.”

Before assuming duties as superintendent of the settlement, Cooke was connected in an executive capacity with the radio department of the Mutual Telephone Co. here.

Dr. R. L. McArthur of Seattle, recently appointed assistant medical director at Kalaupapa, arrived yesterday to assume his duties in the near future.

Leper cases pending before the board yesterday were considered. Sixty-nine patients on parole were ordered examined for complete release. One was ordered back to the settlement at Molokai.

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