It's been 75 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hawaii became a very strategic place during the war for the Service people who had missions in the Pacific. Close to 200,000 service men and women trained and rested on Maui. Makawao School is the site of the old Army Hospital. Since so many military were in Makawao town and at near- by Camp Maui in Haiku , the need for a gathering place grew.
Ethel Baldwin rose to the occasion and opened the USO in January of 1943. She leased a vacant store front and decorated it in a ranch theme, creating a very homey atmosphere for the lonely servicemen. They offered pool and ping pong, reading and writing stations, a cozy fireplace, books, musical instruments, conversation, refreshments and radio.
The Hostesses played an important role in the entertainment of their guests. They ran a tight ship while providing a home away from home for those stationed on Maui. Some entertained with music, and caring conversation for those recovering from, or facing battle.
By August of 1944, 100,000 service men had visited this important establishment and enjoyed the hospitality of our Upcountry residents. Once the war ended in 1945, the USO closed after serving so many.
Our current exhibit at the Makawao History Museum displays some of the original decor of the USO, most especially featuring a very large painting of a ranch scene by Arm Sgt. Nicholas Zuraw. Darrell Orwig expertly restored the painting, we reframed it and it is the centerpiece for our current exhibit. We will have the exhibit on display until the end of the year.
A bit of important history of our wonderful Upcountry community.
Aloha, until the next time, Cherie