Mike Baldwin ’52

Jim Lipman and Judy came upon a letter to the editor of Archaeology magazine written by Mike Baldwin. It is reprinted below along with its accompanying photo.

1952Baldwin-MikeA Cowboy Remembers

Thank you for your article “Ballad of the Paniolo” (.January/February 2016).  I was born on Maui in 1934 and spent much time at Ulupalakua Ranch, which my grandfather Frank Baldwin had acquired in 1921. Ikua Purdy, who is mentioned in the first paragraph, came over from Parker Ranch to be head wrangler and saddlemaker at Ulupalakua.  I knew Ikua and roped on one of his famous saddles when my dad gave me his in 1945.  Ikua also braided a rawhide lariat for me.

About 25 years ago we were at a Cowboy Artists of America show in Phoenix and I recognized a painting of Hawaiian cowboys, titledCalf Roping at the Puuwawa Ranch, from the saddles and stone wall.  I looked up the artist, Fred Fellows of Montana, and asked him if he knew my cousin, Freddy Rice, then manager at Puuwawa–which of course he did. That encounter led to the creation of a bronze sculpture of my saddle for the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association.  I still have the saddle and the bronze, and currently a local Tucson artist is finishing a painting of the saddle for me.

As Samir S. Patel writes in the article, this is a great example of ethnogenesis. It is a unique mix of Hawaiian, Hispanic, American, and Asian cultures.  All our hands spoke Hawaiian and I was fortunate to grow up understanding some of the “old ways.”  Our accountant, storekeeper, and head cowboy were Japanese, while the rest were pure Hawaiian. A museum has opened on the Big Island dedicated to the paniolo, and there is a large bronze of Ikua Purdy near the entrance.

I still think of the early dawn cattle drives on the slope of Haleakala, the sounds of the blacksnake whips, and the cattle lowing. Thanks to ARCHAEOLOGY—I am a longtime subscriber—for refreshing these memories for me.

Michael Baldwin
Tucson, AZ

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