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Aloha, Washington

Aloha Tavern

There was no town there before the big Hawaiian set up camp not far from the shingle mill where he worked. The loggers were terrified of him on first sight. He was big like the trees out there and truth be told, they were scared of the trees, too, no matter how many they brought down. But whenever they got close to the islander, the fear just left them, his smile was always welcoming and when the pay came in, he’d set up a fire and invite anyone who was passing by to join him for whatever he had available – sometimes it was salmon, sometimes he got lucky and shot an elk.

Because he’d been injured by a load that got loose during the Pacific crossing, he couldn’t work his way back to the islands as a sailor and he never saved up enough money to buy a passenger ticket. But he talked about the place all the time, about the palm trees and his family and the aloha spirit and the sun.

He died without ever making it home, but something about him stuck to the place. When the mill business was big enough for the crossroads to warrant a post office and a general store, they named the town for the greeting the big Hawaiian gave everyone who passed by his camp.

Hey, it could be true. The tavern was shut tight and there was no one around to ask but two gray muzzled dogs. They barked at me for a while and then, headed back to where the sawmill was turning to rust and moss.

[Postscript: The internet has the real story, here.]

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7 Responses to “Aloha, Washington”
  1. Hilarious – you really had me going.

  2. who needs real stories, when mythologies are so much more enchanting?

  3. Carol Brown says:

    For more aloha spirit, you gotta go eat at the Kauai Family Restaurant down on 6th avenue south. maybe there will be an orchestra of ukeleles playing. maybe they will be singing. loud. maybe there will be hula dancing. or maybe just a group of jolly people (many of whom LOOK like they’re from hawai’i) chowing down on island food.

  4. Karan says:

    Nearly the right story for the wrong town – Kalama, WA

    • @Karan: I confess, I actually knew the story about Kalama. I photographed the festival there one year that celebrates the connection between the Hawaiians and the Kalama tribe. Some people might have based this fictional post on the Kalama story…

  5. Niko says:

    Awww… I liked your story so much better than the real one. Aloha!

  6. jennifer says:

    Great picture…and story! I love places such as this that really make you want to KNOW the history of it.

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