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ISLAND HISTORY: Old-time assistant Lihu‘e postmaster Yoshiake ‘Dick’ Hiramoto

Yoshiake ‘Dick’ Hiramoto (1902-76), the son of Japanese immigrants Seijiro and Samayo Hiramoto, was born at Lihu‘e Plantation’s Kilipaki Camp, once located opposite the plantation’s sugar mill on what is now Haleko Road.

The original residents of Kilipaki Camp were Gilbert Islanders employed in the late 1800s by Grove Farm and Lihue Plantation that Hawaiians had named Kilipakis, but when the Hiramotos resided at Kilipaki Camp, their neighbors were mostly Japanese.

Seijiro was a Grove Farm carpenter, but after work, he also traveled by horse and buggy to surrounding communities, peddling medicines to replenish his customer’s kusuri (first aid) bags.

Later on, Seijiro Hiramoto also became the proprietor of Hiramoto Store in Kilipaki Camp, which sold general merchandise.

Then in 1927, Yoshiake’s parents moved to Waipa Valley, where they cultivated rice, operated a rice mill and raised truck crops.

Yoshiake attended the old Lihu‘e Grammar School uphill of Kilipaki Camp, where the Water Department building now stands, and graduated from Kaua‘i High School, Class of 1923.

Following graduation, he joined the Lihu‘e Post Office as a clerk and was present when the current Lihu‘e Post Office building was dedicated on May 6, 1939.

Featured in the dedication ceremonies was the placing of a copper container in the recess of the cornerstone of the building behind a plaque.

The container held a copy of the “The Garden Island” newspaper, the dedication program and photos of the staff of the post office, Congressional delegate Sam Wilder King and Postmaster General James Farley.

Martin Dreier (1887-1953), Kaua‘i’s only Jewish resident, was Lihu‘e’s postmaster at the time.

In those days, mail arrived from Honolulu at Nawiliwili twice weekly by steamer and was delivered by truck to the Lihu‘e Post Office.

Mail was then transferred from Lihu‘e to post offices around the island, or held for hand delivery to postal patrons, or placed in wall boxes for customers to pick up.

Kaua‘i didn’t have home mail delivery prior to 1954.

Yoshiake Hiramoto retired as assistant postmaster in 1964.

He and his wife, Doris (1906-81), had three children: Dr. Clay, Dr. Jay and Marsha Hiramoto.
Source: The Garden Island

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