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ISLAND HISTORY: Original Coco Palms Hotel employee Andrew Kane

At the opening of Kaua‘i’s Coco Palms Hotel in 1953, one of the first people manager Grace Buscher (1910-2000) hired was Andrew Kane (1923-91).

Andrew Kane was the hotel’s maintenance man, but he also participated in ceremonies that Grace created at Coco Palms.

During the torch lighting ceremony, which took place at 7:30 p.m. every evening at dinnertime, a conch shell would be blown and men wearing malos would jog through the coconut grove carrying lighted torches, stopping along their way to light cans filled with kerosene that illuminated the darkness.

But in order to get Kane to wear a malo and beat a drum at this ceremony, Grace had to bribe Kane, a beer lover, with a weekly case of Primo.

Kane also carried a lighted torch during the tree planting ceremonies that Grace inaugurated in 1955, in which people she chose would be invited to plant a young, sprouted coconut in the coconut grove in their honor.

Webley Edwards, who hosted the “Hawai‘i Calls” radio program for 37 years, was the first person to be honored by Grace. And in 1985, the year she retired from Coco Palms, the final and 125th person she honored was Princess Abigail Kekaulike Kawananakoa.

David Penhallow, the author of the “Story of the Coco Palms Hotel,” wrote: “Andrew Kane was both a challenge and a source of pride. When Andrew couldn’t be found at the hotel working, Grace would jump in her Jeep and barrel down to the Pau Hana bar in Kapa‘a and pull him out. Andrew’s buddies could hear her Jeep coming and would yell to Andrew, ‘The Old Lady is coming,’ and Andrew would beat it back to the hotel, and when Grace returned she’d find a smiling but loaded Andrew filling cans with kerosene for the nightly ceremony.

“Grace could never stay angry at Andrew for any length of time. She did fire him periodically, but that would only last for five minutes.

“Andrew also told her (about) the legends of Wailua and hiked her up to Opaeka‘a Falls to hear Night Marchers, the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors, beat their drums.”
Source: The Garden Island

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