Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 6, 2022

ʻO ʻoe 2022

Viewing an old video restored digitally with color added was a fantastic thing to see.

I watched the details of each Hawaiian face from this rare footage in 1906. It is the celebration of the opening of the Kohala ditch. Every person on the piece of celluloid is dressed in their best finery, and the women's hats are of the kind that one sees in old photo albums belonging to Hawaiian elders or perhaps in a museum collection. 1906. Even if someone was just born that year, today, they would be at least one hundred and six years old. Not one person in this film is alive today, but they are resurrected for a mere twelve minutes. Men and women ride along on horses while others walk, and all are Hawaiian. 1906. Queen Liliʻuokalani is still alive. Eight years have passed since the death of Princess Kaʻiulani. Prince Jonah Kūhiō is in his thirties, and in two years, his brother Prince David Kawānanakoa will die of pneumonia in San Francisco. All these facts are running through my mind while I watch the footage again for what could be the millionth time, except something strange happened. Everyone is walking along or riding a horse while the film is rolling as they usually did, but suddenly they stop and look directly at me. Their faces are solemn as if they are beholding a diety which has manifested before them. The men, women, and children remove their hats, bow, and then stand and continue as they did before. I screamed with fright that I fell backward over my chair and hit the floor hard. I scrambled out of my house and took a long drive. Maybe I have been watching much too much of this old footage. A month later, I got enough courage to watch it again, which was no different than before. Nothing changed; no one stopped from the other side of the film to look at me and take a bow. Perhaps I was hallucinating? That is what I keep telling myself anyway.

Credit: West Hawaii Today

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