Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.

The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.

Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Florida and Japan.

Chapter 105

Diamond Head, Easter Sunday, 1923

“What’s at stake is what type of Nisei citizens will be voting — those molded in the American tradition in public schools, or those indoctrinated by the Buddhist-run, so-called language schools?”

Square-jawed Walter Dillingham was holding court with Hawai‘i’s power elite this Easter Sunday afternoon in his library. His fawning audience ignored the clacks of mallets striking a wooden ball followed by a whistling swish across the perfectly manicured pitch. The sprinkle of raindrops pinging open bay windows drew no notice. Still wearing his riding boots and form-fitting polo shirt, Dillingham paused to let his words sink in as his commanding eyes snuck a glimpse at the continuing polo exhibition. Outside, women adorned in their Easter finery held dainty umbrellas over fancy bonnets and cheered the Farrington and Dillingham polo team riders competing in an exhibition match. A rainbow stretched from the tip of Diamond Head into the far end of Dillingham’s pot of gold, called La Pietra — a half-million-dollar Italian Renaissance villa inspired by the fabled Medici family’s 16th century Florence residence.

While Walter Dillingham believed in the Bible and in the prerogative of the white race to rule the planet, including the lesser races in America, he was a practical man who accomplished big tasks — erecting the dry-docks at Pearl Harbor, draining the wetlands of Waikïkï to create the Ala Wai Canal, building hotels, and clearing land for O‘ahu’s largest ranches and sugar plantations. Dillingham believed that any problem simply required study — picking the best solution and making it happen, like closing these un-American schools and bringing the Japanese labor force to its heels.

His father was not a missionary descendant like most of Hawai‘i’s elite, so he married one. Seaman Benjamin Franklin Dillingham landed in Hawai‘i in 1864 and fell ill, so his ship sailed on without him. He procured work at a hardware store, soon bought it and wooed his missionary mate. In debt most of his early life from land purchases, he made his big score founding the Oahu Railway that created the foundation of the Dillinghams’ wealth and power.

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