In the nineteenth century, before the days of insecticides, Honolulu was Bugville Unlimited. Floor mats were infested by fleas and roof thatch hid roaches, scorpions, and at least two kinds of centipedes. At night mosquitoes whined and dined. It was a wise person who inspected his or her clothes before dressing.
All these little charmers also migrated to the interisland schooners along the waterfront; aboard them the roaches could chew the callouses off your feet while you slept. The only practical way to clear out the insect menagerie was to sink the schooner in shallow water, drown everything, and then bail out the vessel. This was a long and tiresome job, but effective—for a while. Then the whole cycle would begin again.
By Richard A. Greer