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Talking Hawai`i's Story

Talking Hawai`i's Story: Oral Histories of an Island People

MICHI KODAMA-NISHIMOTO
WARREN S. NISHIMOTO
CYNTHIA A. OSHIRO
Copyright Date: 2009
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqqtj
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  • Book Info
    Talking Hawai`i's Story
    Book Description:

    Talking Hawaii’s Story is the first major book in over a generation to present a rich sampling of the landmark work of Hawaii’s Center for Oral History. Twenty-nine extensive oral histories introduce readers to the sights and sounds of territorial Waikiki, to the feeling of community in Palama, in Kona, or on the island of Lanai, and even to the experience of a German national interned by the military government after Pearl Harbor. The result is a collection that preserves Hawaii’s social and cultural history through the narratives of the people who lived it—co-workers, neighbors, family members, and friends. An Introduction by Warren Nishimoto and Michi Kodama-Nishimoto provides historical context and information about the selection and collection methods. Photos of the interview subjects accompany each oral history. For further reading, an appendix also provides information about the Center for Oral History’s major projects.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6454-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Talking Hawai‘i’s Story: Oral Histories of an Island Peoplereflects the common identity, shared values, and survival of a unique culture that gave rise to and sustained a special sense of community in twentieth-century Hawai‘i. Measured by standards suggested by historian Robert Archibald, this book holds truths and statements that readers can identify with and relate to as representations of a past still meaningful and relevant to the people of Hawai‘i.

    In this book are the experiences and observations of men and women who began their lives in the first three decades of the last century, and who speak not...

  5. FAUSTINO BAYSA HAWAIIANO
    (pp. 1-9)

    At age nineteen, Faustino Baysa left his native Ilocos Norte, Philippines, in 1927 to labor in Hawai‘i’s sugar cane fields. Assigned to Waialua Agricultural Company, Baysa worked in its cane fields, dairy, sugar mill; and from 1931 to his retirement in 1972, the plantation’s hospital, where he received patients, dressed wounds, took X rays, and assisted in the morgue. In 1938, Baysa visited the Philippines, where workers returning from Hawai‘i were dubbedHawaiianos.On a later visit, Baysa met his wife Laurena. They made their home in Hawai‘i and raised a family of six. Until his death in 1979, Baysa...

  6. ABIGAIL BURGESS AND LILLIAN CAMERON A FAMILY TRADITION
    (pp. 10-19)

    Abigail Burgess and Lillian Cameron, of Hawaiian-Chinese-Spanish ancestry, are the daughters of Mary Ann Opulauoho and Robert Hew Len. The fifth child and oldest daughter of twelve children, Burgess was born in Kohala in 1922. Cameron, the seventh child, was born in 1926, after the family had moved to Honolulu.

    As a youngster, Burgess sold lei with her aunt at the Honolulu Harbor waterfront on boat days, when passenger ships would dock or embark. With their family, the sisters also sold lei in Waikīkī and Downtown Honolulu. In the late 1940s, the Hew Lens opened their Lagoon Drive lei stand,...

  7. AGNES EUN SOON RHO CHUN PĀLAMA TO PEARL HARBOR
    (pp. 20-34)

    Agnes Chun was born in Honolulu in 1925. Her parents, Hee Chang Rho and Young Hee Chi Rho, were originally from Korea. Chun lived in the multiethnic Pālama neighborhood with her parents, two brothers, and two sisters.

    Her mother worked in the pineapple cannery and took in sewing to support the family. Her father, who was in poor health, died in 1935 when Chun was a third-grader at Ka‘iulani School. As a teenager, Chun worked summers as a trimmer and packer in the pineapple cannery. She went to Kalākaua Intermediate School, then to McKinley High School, but her education was...

  8. SEVERO DINSON KONA IS THE BEST
    (pp. 35-41)

    Of Spanish and Filipino ancestry, Severo Dinson was born on the island of Cebu, Philippines in 1904. His parents were subsistence farmers.

    Dinson came to Hawai‘i in 1922 to work on Hawai‘i Island’s sugar plantations. In 1924–1925, Filipino workers conducted a territory-wide sugar plantation strike. On Hawai‘i Island, strike camps were set up in Hilo for strikers and their families. In January 1925, strikers marched towards ‘Ōla‘a Plantation in a bid to recruit nonstrikers, but were turned away by police. Dinson, then single, was one of the strikers.

    In 1927, Dinson left the plantation to pick coffee for several...

  9. HENRY K. DUVAUCHELLE HARD WORK AND PLEASURES, TOO
    (pp. 42-49)

    Of Hawaiian, English, French, and Irish extraction, Henry Duvauchelle was born in 1903 in Honolulu, the third of Edward and Annie Duvauchelle’s thirteen children. In 1904, the family moved to Pūko‘o, Moloka‘i, where Edward Duvauchelle worked as a self-educated lawyer, county road overseer, deputy sheriff, postmaster, rancher, and commercial fisherman.

    Henry Duvauchelle attended Kalua‘aha and Kamalō Schools on Moloka‘i; and Kalihi Waena on O‘ahu, where he lived with his maternal grandmother. He graduated from Honolulu Military Academy and studied for a short time at the University of Hawai‘i. During school vacations, he would return home to Moloka‘i.

    Duvauchelle worked for...

  10. MARTINA KEKUEWA FUENTEVILLA HĀNAI GRANDDAUGHTER
    (pp. 50-59)

    Hōnaunau, noted as an ancient pu‘uhonua or place of refuge, was the birthplace of Martina Kekuewa Fuentevilla. Born in 1908, she lived with ‘Ana Lo‘e Ma‘inui and Mākia Ma‘inui as their hānai granddaughter. Hānai, which means “to raise, feed, nourish, sustain,” also refers to the Hawaiian guardianship system in which a child is raised from birth by a foster parent or grandparent. Fuentevilla’s early life centered around traditional farming and fishing. She found her first job as a tobacco farm worker and married coworker Leon Fuentevilla in 1927. Martina Fuentevilla was also an entertainer, song composer, and hat weaver. When...

  11. ERNEST GOLDEN LIKE GOING TO HEAVEN
    (pp. 60-68)

    It was 1943, and Ernest Golden, a newly hired civilian defense worker, had been at sea on a crowded troop ship for eleven days since his departure from San Francisco. As the ship cruised into Pearl Harbor, Golden suddenly noticed the changing colors of the ocean. “It was,” he remembers, “like going to heaven.”

    Except for a short time spent with his grandparents, Mississippi sharecroppers, Golden grew up in Athens, Georgia, where he was born in 1923. From a very young age, he was driven to leave Athens and the South, to escape segregation and discrimination.

    After the war, Golden...

  12. ALICE SAITO GOUVEIA A BRAVE ONE
    (pp. 69-79)

    Alice Saito Gouveia was born in Kaupakalua, Maui in 1918. The second oldest child, she helped tend the family’s pineapple crop and care for her younger siblings. Her father, an independent pineapple grower in Kaupakalua, died in a field accident in 1925. At thirteen, Gouveia worked in her uncle’s store and garage in Ha‘ikū. There she performed kabuki in the garage, which was converted on special occasions to a hall for movies and shows.

    She later did housework for several families. After her first marriage in 1937, she worked simultaneously as a school custodian, laundress, and poultry farmer. In 1948...

  13. VENICIA DAMASCO GUIALA FROM CLASSROOM TO PINEAPPLE FIELD
    (pp. 80-87)

    Venicia Damasco Guiala, born in 1913, was the eldest daughter of a farming family. She received her teaching degree from St. William College in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines; and, between 1938 and 1949, taught English, Tagalog, and home economics in rural schools.

    In 1947 she married Ruperto Guiala, a pineapple field worker who had returned to the Philippines from Hawai‘i. He decided to go back to Hawai‘i, and in 1949, she left the teaching profession to join her husband on Lāna‘i.

    They moved to O‘ahu when he was transferred to Dole Corporation’s Wahiawā plantation in 1952. Four years later, Venicia...

  14. ROBERT KIYOSHI HASEGAWA UNITY OF THE FAMILY
    (pp. 88-105)

    James Shunzo Hasegawa immigrated to Hawai‘i in 1918 to attend Hilo Boarding School. He returned to Japan to marry Fujie Yamamoto. They were parents of five surviving children, including the eldest, Robert Kiyoshi Hasegawa, who was born in Hilo, Hawai‘i in 1923.

    The Hasegawas lived on Hawai‘i Island and Maui before relocating to Lāna‘i, where James Shunzo Hasegawa worked for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company [later Dole Corporation] plantation. He was active in the Japanese-language school, Buddhist temple, and Japanese community organizations.

    Six months after the start of World War II, James Shunzo Hasegawa was taken into custody by military authorities...

  15. LEMON “RUSTY” HOLT THE RASCAL OF WAIKĪKĪ
    (pp. 106-115)

    Lemon “Rusty” Holt, the third child of seven born to Augusta Helen Lemon Holt and Edward Holt, lived on the Lemon family estate in Waikīkī, from his birth in 1904 until his departure in 1930. Of Caucasian-Hawaiian ancestry, Holt gained recognition for his football prowess at Kamehameha School and the University of Hawai‘i. Later he became a postmaster, personnel department head, and store and apartment manager.

    In 1985, at a robust eighty-two years of age, Holt related his childhood experiences and family history to researcher/interviewer Michi Kodama-Nishimoto for COH’sWaikīkī 1900–1985: Oral Histories.Kodama-Nishimoto recalled the vintage football and...

  16. JENNIE LEE IN A BASIC PERSONALITY OF LIKING PEOPLE
    (pp. 116-128)

    Born in Kohala, Hawai‘i in 1921, Jennie Lee In is the youngest child of Kui Sung Lee, an immigrant from China who came to Hawai‘i to work in the sugar cane fields, and Tung Moi Lim Lee, who was born in the Islands.

    At the age of six or seven, after In’s mother died, the family moved to the Kauluwela/Liliha area of Honolulu. She attended area schools and graduated from McKinley High School in 1938. In then matriculated at the University of Hawai‘i, receiving a bachelor’s degree in vocational home economics in 1942 and a certificate from the School of...

  17. MAE MORITA ITAMURA AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
    (pp. 129-137)

    Mae Morita Itamura was born in 1905 in Nāhiku, Maui. When her father became ill in 1923, she quit high school and worked as a gasoline pump attendant for Kitagawa Motors in Spreckelsville. The following year, she clerked at Tam Chong Store in Lower Pā‘ia.

    A few months later, Itamura became a bookkeeper at Maui Dry Goods in Lower Pā‘ia. When Maui Dry Goods opened a liquor department, she was placed in charge of it. While at Maui Dry Goods, Itamura took on side jobs in order to support her family. She worked as a touring theater group organizer, an...

  18. EMMA KAAWAKAUO WAIKÏKÏ, IT’S PART OF ME
    (pp. 138-147)

    Emma Manouaokalani Kaawakauo was born in 1927 in Honolulu, O‘ahu. Her mother, Emma Manouaokalani Kaeo Kaawakauo, was a longtime teacher at Waikïkï Elementary School. Her father, Elias Kahoohuli Kaawakauo, was a printer and news composing room supervisor for theHonolulu Advertiserand theParadise of the Pacificmagazine.

    The Kaawakauos lived in the Hamohamo section of Waikïkï for more than thirty years. Emma Kaawakauo attended Waikïkï Elementary School, St. Andrew’s Priory, and Graceland Junior College in Iowa. In 1955, she began her thirty-plus years in state government as a clerical worker

    Michi Kodama-Nishimoto interviewed Emma Kaawakauo for COH’sWaikïkï, 1900...

  19. ROBERT KAHELE THE SHARECROPPER
    (pp. 148-153)

    At the end of a road that runs through Honoka‘a and Kukuihaele towns is remote Waipi‘o Valley, located on the northwestern coast of the Island of Hawai‘i. Taro, cultivated in the valley for subsistence since at least the 1500s, became a cash crop in the nineteenth century. The recollections and observations of Waipi‘o Valley residents and workers were recorded in 1978 by Vivien Lee and Yukie Yoshinaga in COH’sWaipi‘o: Māno Wai (Source of Life).

    One of those interviewed was Robert Kahele, who spent most of his life taro farming in and around Waipi‘o Valley. Born in 1917, Kahele grew...

  20. MOSES W. “MOKE” KEALOHA PROUD TO BE PĀLAMA
    (pp. 154-163)

    Moses W. “Moke” Kealoha was born in Honolulu in 1928. His mother, Maria Kekai Gardner Kealoha, was a homemaker; and his father, Enoka Kealoha, a carpenter and painter.

    Moke Kealoha grew up in the family’s North School Street home, in the rough-and-tumble West Honolulu district of Pālama. To Kealoha’s regret, the home was sold to the territorial government in the mid-1950s to make way for the Lunalilo Freeway.

    The youngest of sixteen, Kealoha attended Likelike School, Kawānanakoa Intermediate School, and Farrington High School. After his military service, he went on to the University of Hawai‘i, University of Miami, and Columbia...

  21. HELEN FUJIKA KUSUNOKI FOND MEMORIES OF WAIKĪKĪ
    (pp. 164-173)

    Helen Kusunoki was born in Honolulu in 1918. Her parents, Sakazo and Hisako Fujika, raised five children and founded the Unique Lunch Room, a popular Hawaiian food eatery on the Diamond Head end of Kalākaua Avenue.

    Kusunoki attended Waikīkī School and Washington Intermediate School. She completed her formal education at Tsurumi Jōgakkō in Japan. She returned to Hawai‘i in 1939 and married Jules Kusunoki three years later.

    The Kusunokis resided in Waikīkī for thirty-four years. Since 1981, they viewed Waikīkī from their hilltop home in St. Louis Heights. Helen Kusunoki died in 1999.

    Michi Kodama-Nishimoto interviewed Helen Kusunoki in 1986...

  22. FREDERICK P. LOWREY BUILDING A BETTER HAWAI‘I
    (pp. 174-190)

    Frederick P. Lowrey, the oldest of Frederick D. and Leila Lowrey’s six children, was born in 1911 in Honolulu. He grew up in Mānoa and was educated at Punahou School, Phillips Academy, and Harvard University. In 1934, Lowrey started as an inventory clerk at Lewers & Cooke, Ltd., where his father, and grandfather before him, served as president. Lowrey left in 1935 to attend Harvard Business School. On his return to Lewers & Cooke, he worked in various capacities, including personnel department manager, manager in charge of operations, manager in charge of government sales, and corporate secretary. Lowrey was appointed...

  23. ERNEST A. MALTERRE, JR. SUGAR PLANTATION MEMORIES
    (pp. 191-200)

    Ernest A. Malterre, Jr., of Portuguese, Hawaiian, and French ancestry, spent most of his life on sugar plantations. He was born on Hawai‘i Island, in Onomea, a community eight miles north of Hilo, where his father worked as a plantation overseer.

    When the family moved to Waipahu, O‘ahu, Malterre joined O‘ahu Sugar Company. Over the course of forty-nine years, Malterre was a pump worker, field supervisor, irrigation overseer, assistant housing administrator, and employee relations supervisor. He retired in 1979.

    Volunteer work with the Waipahu Community Association, Waipahu Cosmopolitan Senior Citizens’ Club, St. Joseph’s Church, Boy Scouts, and Friends of Waipahu...

  24. STANLEY C. MENDES TOGETHERNESS WAS THERE ALL THE TIME
    (pp. 201-210)

    Stanley Clifford Mendes was born in 1931 in Āhualoa on Hawai‘i Island. He was the only child of John Mendes, Jr. and Josephine Souza Mendes. The family moved from Āhualoa to Kapulena, then to Pa‘auilo into a housing area called New Camp. Stanley Mendes attended Pa‘auilo School until the eighth grade.

    In 1944 he began his forty-year career in the sugar industry, first with Hāmākua Mill Company and later, through company mergers, with Laupāhoehoe Sugar Company and Davies Hāmākua Sugar Company. He retired in 1984.

    In 1952 he married Kathleen Doris DeRego of Haina. They raised five children.

    The closing...

  25. FRED HO‘OLAE PAOA MY KĀLIA HOME
    (pp. 211-218)

    The seventh of twelve children, Fred Paoa was born in 1905 to Henry Ho‘olae Paoa and Florence Bridges Paoa. The Paoa family residence sat on an approximately one-acre lot—now part of the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel grounds—in the close-knit neighborhood of Kālia in Waikīkī.

    After attending Waikīkī and Ka‘ahumanu Elementary Schools, Paoa entered St. Louis College, a preparatory school, graduating in 1924. He earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Hawai‘i in 1928. Paoa joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1932 as a patrolman and retired in 1968 as assistant police chief. At the time...

  26. IRENE COCKETT PERRY INTERWOVEN MEMORIES OF LĀNA‘I
    (pp. 219-229)

    Irene Perry is the sixth of eight children born to Robert Cockett and Rose Kahikiwawe Cockett. At the time of Perry’s birth in 1917, her father worked as a foreman for Lāna‘i Ranch, overseeing the cattle in Keōmuku.

    Perry attended Keōmuku School until the family moved permanently to Kō‘ele in 1928. She completed her education at Kō‘ele Grammar School. In 1934, she married Dick Perry, a Hawaiian Pineapple Company employee.

    Irene Perry worked at the company’s daycare center and also operated her own bake shop, supporting her two daughters and parents after her husband’s death in 1950. When her daughters...

  27. ALFRED PREIS INTERNED: EXPERIENCES OF AN “ENEMY ALIEN”
    (pp. 230-238)

    Alfred Preis was born in Vienna, Austria in 1911. After graduating from high school in 1929, Preis traveled throughout Europe and later returned to Vienna to study architecture. In 1939, he and his wife, Jana, left Nazi-occupied Austria for Hawai‘i—a destination they chose after seeing movies about the South Seas.

    Upon his arrival, Preis worked as a designer for Dahl & Conrad, Architects. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, he and his wife were interned in Honolulu for several months as enemy aliens. In 1943, Preis opened his own architectural firm. Alfred Preis is perhaps best known as the designer...

  28. ALEX RUIZ ALWAYS A REBEL
    (pp. 239-247)

    The second of ten children, Alex Ruiz was born in 1914, in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. His parents moved to Manila when Ruiz was still an infant. Ten years later, the family returned to Laoag, where Ruiz continued his schooling.

    In 1930, at age sixteen, Ruiz immigrated to Hawai‘i. He weeded fields at Kōloa Plantation on Kaua‘i and lived in the plantation’s Filipino Camp. He soon transferred to the sugar mill as a machine operator and later worked in the laboratory.

    Ruiz switched to order taking and delivery for Kōloa Plantation Store in 1933. After a stint in the U.S....

  29. JOHN SANTANA YOU’RE YOUR OWN BOSS, NOBODY BOSS YOU
    (pp. 248-256)

    John Santana was born in 1906 in Kohala, Hawai‘i Island. His father, Domingo Santana, and mother, Enancia Santana, emigrated from Puerto Rico in 1901 to work on sugar plantations. In 1928, the family moved to Kona and took on contracts as coffee pickers. Later, John Santana worked as a road worker, night watchman, school custodian, and school bus driver. In 1945, Santana began his own coffee farm on leased land in Kahalu‘u, Kona. He married Mary Rivera in 1937, and the couple raised nine children, a niece, and an adopted grandson. Santana died in 2003.

    COH’s Warren Nishimoto interviewed John...

  30. ETSUO SAYAMA CIVILIAN IN WARTIME HAWAI‘I
    (pp. 257-270)

    Etsuo Sayama was born in Nu‘uanu, near Downtown Honolulu, in 1915 to Shosuke and Etsuyo Sayama, emigrants from Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan. After Shosuke Sayama died of influenza in 1922, Etsuyo Sayama and her three children returned to Japan.

    With the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act about to take effect, she brought Etsuo back to Hawai‘i in 1923. His sister, who died the following year, and brother remained in Japan. Sayama’s mother married Matsuki Tamura in 1929.

    Etsuo Sayama’s formal education, except for first grade in Japan, took place in Hawai‘i at Kauluwela, Kawānanakoa, Central Intermediate, and McKinley High Schools, and the...

  31. WILLIE THOMPSON WORKING COWBOY
    (pp. 271-279)

    William “Willie” Thompson, third of eleven children, was born in Kula, Maui in 1902. His father, Charles Thompson, was German; his mother, Annie Ah Quin, was Hawaiian-Chinese. On his family’s ranch, Willie Thompson farmed vegetables, milked cows, and trained horses. At age eighteen, he left for Honolulu, where he groomed and exercised polo ponies for the O‘ahu Polo Club. He later became a cowboy for Kona’s McCandless Ranch. Beginning in 1924, Thompson worked in construction, first for a private contractor, then for Hawai‘i County. Initially elected to the Hawai‘i County Board of Supervisors in 1942, he served intermittently until 1968....

  32. KAZUE IWAHARA UYEDA THE STORE THAT CARRIED EVERYTHING
    (pp. 280-294)

    Taketo Iwahara and Ryo Shishido Iwahara immigrated to Hawai‘i from Hiroshima, Japan. Iwahara Shōten, the family store, was located at King and Iwilei Streets in the ‘A‘ala district of Honolulu.

    Born in 1917, Kazue Uyeda is the oldest of four children. After graduating from Central Intermediate in 1932, she studied in Japan. She returned in 1937 and married in 1943. When her father was interned in World War II, Uyeda and her brother operated the store until the government closed it in 1944.

    Michi Kodama-Nishimoto interviewed Kazue Uyeda at the family-run Uyeda Shoe Store in 1993. This edited narrative is...

  33. EDITH ANZAI YONENAKA RECOLLECTIONS FROM THE WINDWARD SIDE
    (pp. 295-306)

    Edith Anzai Yonenaka, the fourth of ten children, was born in Kahana Valley, O‘ahu, in 1919. Her father, a sugarcane farmer, and her mother, a homemaker, were emigrants from Fukushima, Japan. The Anzais lived in a housing area called Tanaka Camp.

    In August 1941, Yonenaka and members of her family started the Ka‘a‘awa Vegetable Stand, later renamed Ka‘a‘awa Store, which prospered with the patronage of military personnel during World War II.

    She married Harold Yonenaka in 1952. That same year, she began a twenty-eight-year career as Ka‘a‘awa’s postmistress. Retired in 1980, she spent her time helping the Ka‘a‘awa Community Association,...

  34. APPENDIX: CENTER FOR ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS
    (pp. 307-312)
  35. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-314)