By Renée Tillotson
This latest project of Ted Sturdivant’s constitutes true legacy work: Kaneohe Magazine. It’s as if the soul of Kaneohe has found its voice in print. It started with Hawaiian aunties, it opened with a water buffalo.
A contributing citizen of Hawaii since 1968, Ted has devoted himself to publishing, education and serving our island visitors. Aware of his good work, Windward Mall approached Ted in 2018 wanting a magazine for their customers.
Ted asked for a meeting in a small room at Windward Community College to broach the idea to the wider community. To his surprise, 17 people showed up, all in favor of the idea. And the ones with the clearest concept of what they wanted were the Hawaiian aunties. They began describing what they wanted to see, and they wanted real content. They envisioned Ted passing on the stories of Kaneohe, its ‘āina (land) and its kama’āina (local people).
He realized then that “we have a larger need here.” Unlike some of his other publications, this magazine was to be more for the abiding residents than the passers-through. Unless there was a long-ago Hawaiian language newspaper that Ted hasn’t heard about yet – and please contact him if you know of one – Kaneohe has never had a printed medium of its own. Bonnie Beason at Windward agreed with him that an editorial direction would work for this new publication.
As Ted began his research, he began to uncover more and more of the historical depth of Kaneohe, going back to the 1700’s and even 1600’s with the ali’i (nobility) of the area, followed by the arrival of the missionaries, and the waves of arriving immigrants.
Deciding to distribute the magazine via mail to the 96744 zip code, Ted found an extensive area on Windward Oahu to cover: from past Kualoa Ranch to the north, down along the bay past Kahalu’u and He’eia State Park, past Sunshine Gallery and the old Hygienic Market, sweeping through all of Kaneohe town and the Valley of the Temples above it, ending at Aikahi on the Kailua end.
Given the rich historical context in vast and varied landscapes, Ted felt satisfied that he could build an editorial-based publication that would produce new story content for every edition. Primarily an ideas man himself, Ted selected writers who understood the original concept, could give that true feeling of place that Kaneohe desires, and bring a professional, knowledgeable influence to the magazine.
To assess broader support for his (and the aunties’) concept, Ted printed a sample edition. The merchants and other people in the community enthusiastically embraced what they saw, and the game was on. Kaneohe Magazine, here we come!
Although many people envisioned the magazine with a glossy sweeping photo of the Ko’olau range stretching above the town of Kaneohe, Ted came up with a very different concept of his own. He had uncovered a treasure chest of images at the Kaneohe Library: 5 binders of old photographs of the town from long ago. There he found his iconic image that set the tone for all his front covers to come: a black and white photo from the 1950’s of a water buffalo – standing alone in a rice paddy in front of the Ko’olau with hardly a discernible human structure in sight. It was classic, tasteful, hinting at the compelling contents within.
The first edition came out in April of 2019, with 4 subsequent editions coming out every 2-3 months. Ted searches out the story concepts, then passes each one on to his able staff of writers. As a Kaneohe resident myself, I delightedly found the new magazine in my mailbox, water buffalo and all, with fascinating stories within, and the feeling I’d been allowed to peak inside someone’s attic of favorite keepsakes.
By the second edition, a lady from Pennsylvania called Ted from the North Shore, saying her friend’s grandfather Ah Fook Choy had owned that water buffalo! And the Choy family provided more photos to prove it. The buffalo story further unfolded to relate how Cecile B. DeMille had needed water buffalos for his 4+ hour epic film “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston. The Choy’s buffalo answered the casting call, was shipped to Hollywood for filming, and subsequently found a new home at the San Diego Zoo! Ted’s first story just kept giving!
Many of us love the feeling of entering Kaneohe from busy Honolulu, emerging from the Pali tunnel to see Kaneohe Bay stretched out before us in its arcing beauty. The second edition focused on Pali Trails and Tales. Incredibly timely, as the Pali Tunnel was largely shutdown for landslide repairs, we got to see and read about its original construction, with local embroidery of stories of Night Marchers – spirits of Hawaiian warriors near their ancient battle sites – and even a 2018 re-enacted Honolulu Police Department video of a police officer stopping to speak to a hunched over figure walking along the highway, then suddenly realizing the old woman was seated in the back of the patrol car. Spooky.
I imagine that I was not the only one of his readers to be surprised by the magazine’s story of the December 7th, 1941 Japanese bombing hitting the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base before it hit Pearl Harbor, killing 17 sailors and 5-7 civilians. However, for long-time local families, the incident is seared into their hearts. The most recent edition of the magazine includes a follow-up story by 90-year-old Kaneohe (He’eia) resident Louis Andrew Keaulouhiole McCabe. In it MaCabe relates the chilling story of losing both his father and uncle that day to the tragedy of “friendly fire” when he was but twelve. Such an authentic voice.
Further in the same May-August 2020 edition we hear of the “Sweet Sound of Success” with Kanila’s ‘Ukulele, a family business and musical influence in Kaneohe, which enhances the whole community like the proverbial “rising tide” that “lifts all boats” with its own success.
Something old, something new, something borrowed… Ted has come up with a good luck division of the magazine’s content in this way: 30% historical, 30% current, 30% business. I guess the last 10% of the secret formula’s magic comes out of the blue!
Being quite the do-it-yourself kind of guy, Ted personally does special deliveries of the magazine. He prints 25,000 of each edition, mailing them at no charge to every residential address, PO Box and business in the 96744 zip code. If you have a dad like mine who says that a thing is only worth what it costs you – in other words $0 – don’t believe him when it comes to Kaneohe Magazine. It’s worth every dime you never have to spend for it!
NOTE: If you live out of the 96744 zip code and want to receive Kaneohe Magazine, you can subscribe for $6/copy, $15 / 3 copies.
Ted Sturdvant: 808.256.4108
In development: www.kaneohemagazine.com