On this day, August 21, 1959, the United States as we know it was completed with the addition of the 50th State… Hawaii. It is the only state that is completely comprised of islands…volcanic islands. Hawaii has another unique feature besides being an island state. That unique feature is that it is the only state that is naturally increasing in size. Most of us immediately think of the current eruptions of Kilauea, and that is a big part of the grown of Hawaii, but it is not the only cause of the growth.
Not every addition to the Big Island involves an eruption that puts people at risk and engulfs their communities. For decades, Kilauea has experienced continuous lava flows through a vent called Pu?u ???? in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, incrementally adding land to the southeast portion of the island. This continuous flow has added 570 acres of land to Hawaii’s Big Island since 1983, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s most recent update. Unfortunately, the lava has also buried over 40 square miles of rain forest, communities, and historical sites. Hawaii is an ever-changing place, and the lava doesn’t care about such things as rain forests, communities, and historical sites.
The current stories of the eruption of Kilauea has continued to shock the world, but in reality, Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. Still, on May 3, 2018, the volcano erupted dramatically. The eruption occurred several hours after a magnitude-5.0 quake struck the Big Island. With the eruption came lava flows into residential subdivisions in the Puna district of the Big Island. This prompted mandatory evacuations of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions. Scientists have two theories about the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Unlike most volcanoes, the Hawaiian chain sits squarely in the middle of the Pacific plate rather than on a tectonic boundary.
In 1963, J Tuzo Wilson proposed the “hotspot theory” to explain this unusual placement. Wilson proposed that the linear geography of the Hawaiian Islands is due to the movement of the Pacific plate over a stationary point of great heat from deep within the Earth. I have to wonder if that movement is exactly what is causing the current continuing flow of lava from Kilauea. I seems to me that it would be difficult for the lava flow to seal itself when the fault keeps breaking the seal. I could be totally wrong, or I could just be looking at this in a far too simplistic manner. Nevertheless, it seems logical to me. Or maybe that is exactly what Wilson was saying.
Until September 1, 1947, my mother’s family consisted of my grandparents and nine children. When a family is young, you rarely think about the future changes…such as the children getting married and having children of their own. Those years seem far off into the future. Nevertheless, the reality is that time flies, and before you know it, all the children are married and have children of their own. While those years seem to fly by, you just never forget the days when another person joined the family, and the reality is that whether you do it consciously or not, you are always a little bit amazed when you think about the first addition to the family that wasn’t your own child.
For my grandparents, that day came on September 1, 1947 and that additional person was my uncle, George Hushman. The years that followed the marriage of my aunt, Evelyn Byer to Uncle George, were a virtual whirlwind of babies and other marriages. A few years back, we proudly counted our extended family at over 200 people, and at this point I would have to guess the number to be closer to 300 people…if not more, and Uncle George started it all when he married Aunt Evelyn.
Following their marriage, their five children followed in rapid succession. Their first child, a daughter named Sheila Ann, or Susie to all who know her, was born just fourteen months later, on November 14, 1948. Their first son, George Wave was born just thirteen months later on December 13, 1949. He was followed by Shelley Kay on November 8, 1950, Shannon Lee on January 27, 1953, and finally Gregory Wane on April 10, 1954. By the time Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George’s family was complete, there were other children in the family who were married, and the family continued to grow quickly.
Once a family reaches the point of adding the first spouse to the family, the growth really never stops. There is always another of the couples who is having a child, having a child get married, or having a child have a child. As quickly as one becomes a parent, another becomes a grandparent. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill…it grows and grows. Our family has never stopped growing since the day Uncle George married into it. And it will continue to grow as long as time endures. While Grandma and Grandpa Byer started it all with their nine children, it was Uncle Georges proposal to Aunt Evelyn, that signaled the next phase of its growth. Today is Uncle George’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!