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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10 thoughts on “Aloha, Washington

  1. 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.

    • @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…

  2. My aunt and uncle owned the Aloha Tavern 50 some years ago. They lived in a trailer out back.
    My cousin for a time had a house by the Aloha sawmill.
    Does anyone know who owns the tavern today? Thanks Stix

    • My mother was born and raised in Aloha, her daddy being killed by a classic “widow maker” when she was a teenager. She is now 95 and wants to go visit where she grew up. Probably nothing there but moss and rust, but she is determined! Records indicate population of 69 – anyone know someone living in Aloha, Washington???

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