Eric Alfred Knudsen
Eric Alfred Knudsen (July 29, 1872 – February 12, 1957) was an American author, folklorist, lawyer and politician. He is most known for his writings and collections of short stories of and about Hawaiian folklore and culture.
Eric Alfred Knudsen was born in Waiawa, Kauai, Hawaii. He grew up and lived on Kauai. His father was Valdemar Knudsen, a west Kauai sugarcane plantation owner. He was educated at Mason's School in Auckland, New Zealand and Chauncey Hall in Boston, Mass. He graduated from Harvard in 1894 and Harvard Law School in 1897. Knudsen was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association in 1898. He subsequently returned to Hawaii in 1900 where he was admitted to bar but did not practice.
He became manager of Knudsen Bros ranch. He served in the Territorial House of Representatives, the Hawaii Senate and on Kauai as School Commissioner and as Chairman of the Kauai Board of Supervisors. He was also a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives and served as its Speaker from 1905–1907. Knudsen was a delegate from Kauai to the 1904 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He retired from politics in 1932.
Away from politics and at home on Kauai, Knudsen would return to the pastimes he liked best – hunting and enjoying the unspoiled outdoors – and he probably knew the mountain trails of Kauai better than anyone in his day, blazing one of the earliest trails to the summit of Mount Waialeale.
Later, during World War II (1939–1945), which brought thousands of soldiers, sailors, and Marines to Kauai to train before going to war in the western Pacific, Knudsen traveled from military camp to camp with the local USO, telling mainland-born GIs his Hawaiian tales and legends. Knudsen (called "Elika", Hawaiian for "Eric") became known as the "Teller of Hawaiian Tales," when his placid voice could be heard in the Islands over KTOH radio, located on Ahukini Road in Lihue, while he narrated his tales of Hawaiian cowboys, and ghosts, and journeys into the mountains of Kauai, and those legendary times when the Hawaiians and their gods mingled on a daily basis.
So popular was Elika's radio program, that its sponsor, the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Honolulu, offered to mail reprints of each story he told over the radio, and over the course of one year, 50,000 reprints were mailed.
Knudsen had visited Iolani Palace with his father when he was about 12 and meeting the "Merry Monarch," King David Kalakaua, who was a good friend of his father's. In 1911, during his heyday as a politician, he had the honor of taking Queen Liliuokalani to lunch in Honolulu. No ordinary lunch, according to a newspaper account:
Queen Liliuokalani was resplendent in an imported creation of lilac brocade draped with silver platinum lace veiled by chiffon ... jewels were worn, fashioned of Indian tiger claws, filigree gold and pearls, a neck piece, drop-earrings, brooch and tiara
Eric A. Knudsen Trust
He established a trust in 1922 to provide stewardship over 3,000 acres (12 km2) from Mount Kahili to Poipu Beach on the south side of Kauai. Located on Knudsen lands from Koloa to Hawaii Route 50, the Hawaiian Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) of Wellington Ranch still raise cattle on the south side of the island of Kauai.
- Hawaiian tales told by Teller of Hawaiian Tales (1945)
- Kanuka of Kauai (1945)
- Spooky Stuffs: Hawaiian Ghost Stories (1974)
- Teller of Hawaiian Tales (1946)
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