Interview by Robynn Takayama
ROBYNN: Name etc.
FUZZY: My name is Fuzzy Alboro, Sr. I was born in Lahaina in a camp called Kiavi camp. And the camp I was born in, I was homegrown. My grandma and my dad brought us up in this world. We had two different camps. One was Filipino camp and the other was Japanese camp. But both were Kiavi camp.
ROBYNN: Did your parents immigrate together?
FUZZY: Yes. They immigrated together from the Philippines. They came from Siebo, Bogo. My grandparents and my mom and dad came together.
ROBYNN: Their impression of Hawaii from the Philippines?
FUZZY: To be honest with you, they hardly speak English and we don’t’ speak Filipino very well. I guess they enjoyed it because they worked in the fields, cane fields. And they seemed to, I don’t know if they really enjoyed it but they worked until they retired.
ROBYNN: Vision of Hawaii?
FUZZY: At first I guess before we were born they were looking for themselves and then afterwards when we were raised they started to think it’s best for them to see that we get educated and see what they could do for us and they did their best to try to educate us and teach us what is right and wrong. Which I believe happens a lot to grow what we are today.
ROBYNN: Why Hawaii?
FUZZY: We were born in Hawaii. I was born in Lahaina. So since we were born and raised here, we went to school in Lahaina. The school we went to at first was Kamehameha third school. There was from first to eighth grade. Then from camp third school, Kameha third school we went to Lahainaluna. And from there we went on our own.
ROBYNN: When parents came.
FUZZY: There was a contract when they came to work for the sugar company and they could have gone back to the Philippines but they chose to stay because if they can fulfill the contract they would have been given some guarantee that they would receive the money they put in to come to Hawaii. But my mom and my grandparents chose to stay because I guess they liked it here.
ROBYNN: What work did they do?
FUZZY: They used to work the most hard job in the plantation. They used to irrigate the cane the old fashioned way. You don’t have the pipes. You have to get the cane crash and to irrigate the fields they have to move the cane crash from one line to the next line and that’s a very difficult job because their feet and hands are always in the water.
ROBYNN: Explain again.
FUZZY: You see, when they irrigate the cane fields they have lines. And in those lines they have to have water going through the line. So what they do, they have the rubbish, I guess the leaves. So they fold it up, they band it up, and then each line they have an opening and that opening after the line is filled up they put that cane leaves that they tied up so that the water don’t come down anymore so that it goes to the next line. And that’s hard because their feet and hands is always in the water. So they do that until all the fields that they were supposed to irrigate is done.
FUZZY: I tell you, I remember when I was growing up I remember when I was in the third grade I used to be pretty naughty and when we go tot school we go from Kiavi camp where I was born and raised, it’s about a mile to Kamehameha third school. And then when we started the grade school from first grade until third grade…when I start remembering from third grade because that’s when we have friends, we get together. What we used to do we leave the house we have to wear slipper. That’s a must. But in our camp we used to have a movie theater before but then they convert it into a social hall. And under the building they have a place where we can put our slipper. So what we do, we have a bunch of us camp kids put our slipper under there, go to school barefooted. And that’s a mile walk. But young kids don’t feel anything. So that is one of the things I really remembered my friends in the camp that I was born and raised with. It was a lot of fun for us because we never think about our feet being hurt or cut. We just do it.
ROBYNN: Why not wear slippers?
FUZZY: It’s more comfortable without the slipper. When you wear the slipper when you walk so much the slipper gets brown and dirty, but we get our feet, without slipper it’s okay if its brown and dirty. So we get through school, we come home, we pick up our slipper, put them on and go home. And we don’t get any scolding from our parents. They think we were good boys but actually we were naughty.
FUZZY: It was a three-bedroom home and it was built by the plantation. They build the homes for people who worked for the sugar company. And it’s a one-by-twelve home and our home was built on stilts because there was a reason for that, I found that out back in 1946 why it was built on stilts. Back in 1946 when I was a freshman in high school there was a tidal wave. And that was a very scary thing for all of us. See, what we used to do is we used to wait where the scale house is for the pineapple truck and we used to wait, and we used to go to school in a taxi, not a bus. And they would charge us fifty cents a day to go up and down, there was eight of us in a taxi so that was pretty reasonable for our family. Plantation doesn’t make much money. Very little money. But our mom and dad was able to furnish the finance for us to go to school. So that’s when the tidal wave happened and when we came down, they asked us to come down right after lunch. And we said why do we have to go down? We never know about the tidal wave. We went home and we had six steps going up. It was on the third step where the water was. The ocean, the tidal wave was pushing the water up. It was up to the third step, that was pretty high. So then we understood why. We were asked to come home. And like when you’re a kid, fourteen, fifteen, our camp was flooded with water. At the time we don’t realize that there was sewage line, a thing under the place where we’re raising and what we did was hey Fuzzy, we go swim. Yet, I was going swimming in doodoo water. But we don’t know any better. After that we start thinking oh, to swim in doodoo water. That was one of the things we’ll never forget. But I wasn’t the only one who?….?
ROBYNN: How many people lived in your home?
FUZZY: We have one sister and four boys. Five of us. And my grandparents at the time were staying with us so there was nine of us in the house. So the kids were packed up in the room and then my grandparents sleep, we have a parlor so they sleep in the parlor and then after that the plantation was able to get my grandparents another house, which was a smaller house, and they lived next to us when they moved. So that was great. We were in contact every day.
ROBYNN: Relations b/w camps.
FUZZY: If I tell you, that’s going to be a lot of fun. They do that because they want to separate the two different ethnic group. And then I guess before time, it’s your ethnic groups that can get together better. In our camp what I remember is my mom used to do the making of the hot water in the camp because we have a community bath and my mom gets through working about three o’clock. We get through school about one thirty, two o’clock. We have to put water, tree branch in the furnace and for a while my mom gets happy because here we are, young kids helping her out. So she does that for eight hours a day. And you have to take a shower as soon as possible when you get home from work because the ones who come late and dilly-dally, they’re going to get cold water. And then they have something, a furo. Everybody dive in there but not beginning to rise we realize maybe some sishi? In there. There are other things that we never realized could have happened. And then there’s a place for the women, there’s a place for the men, but when we were young, going to grade school, we never think about doing something to the girls, so when our parents not around we bathe with the girls. We have fun, we don’t do anything like what the young kids do today. We just don’t’ even think about those things. So that’s what I remember about our camp days. The community bath and getting together with the boys and the girls and we really have a lot of fun with our friends.
ROBYNN: Just Filipinos?
FUZZY: The Japanese do have their own bath. So somebody else does that for them.
ROBYNN: relations b/w Japanese & Filipinos.
FUZZY: Well, we get along. It’s just that they want to separate us. The reason I don’t know. The only reason I can think is they want to separate us because they want to separate the two ethnics group because before then you cannot get married with Japanese, Filipinos you know. You do that they disown you. So maybe that is one reason they don’t want us to get close.
ROBYNN: When did you interact?
FUZZY: When I was in the service, I was drafted into the Marine Corps. When I came home the had intermarriages. I had a lot of Japanese girlfriends. I had a girlfriend, she was Japanese, when I was in high school I took her to a dance and then we share a cab with some other classmates and we go to school we go to a dance. And I was with a Japanese girl, my parents don’t care and her parents was good. So we do that quite a bit when we have high school function.
ROBYNN: What happened?
FUZZY: Nothing. She moved to Honolulu and I was in the service and a few years later I heard she passed away. She was I think in her 30s when she passed away but her brother still lives close to my camp. But that’s about it, my relation with that girl. In school I have a lot of classmates that Japanese, very good classmates. We get together a lot, real fine.
ROBYNN: Why your grandparents came too?
FUZZY: I guess they just want to travel together. They’re not used to going on their own because they can’t speak English very well. My dad could speak broken English so that helped. And my grandma and grandpa speak Filipino and a lot of times we don’t know what they’re saying. Then we had to learn so eventually when they talk to us we tried see what the words are and what they’re trying to say and now I can speak the dialect. I can speak the Visign dialect. For a local born that’s very hard to find. Not many people born and raised in the Philippines talk that dialect. But my brother and I, my older brother and I, we can talk the Visign dialect. So everybody is so surprised, especially the old folks. When they talk to us in Visign we can talk, they’re surprised. Especially that they know we’re born and raised in Lahaina in Maui.
ROBYNN: 1946 sugar strike.
FUZZY: I tell you, I don’t remember that because I was still in school when they had that. But I remember the one they had in ’63 or ’64. I was involved because I was in the gangs then. I called the division up to find out when the dates are but the old timers are gone, they don’t have it in there, they have it in the library. I call up Honolulu I find that oh, Fuzzy the library is closed. So they couldn’t give me an answer. They say call back on Monday but I say too late, they’re going to interview me today at two. So I just forget, I just guess when we had our strike.
ROBYNN: Don’t remember your parents’ part of the strike?
FUZZY: They were all a part of it because they couldn’t work. They had to stay home. All the fields were closed and all the workers have to stay home and attend meetings and we have soup kitchen. That’s where we have food for lunch and dinner. We make our own breakfast. The one I remember most, I forgot the year, I was a negotiating chairman for the Maui sugar company. There was three sugar companies and I was the chairman and I went for the negotiation. And I remember the strike, it was a three-month strike. And we made a lot of improvement in our contract.
FUZZY: I think that was the early ‘70s or the late ‘60s, I don’t remember that. It was one of the times those days. That’s when I tried to find when it was but that girl in Wailuku tells me oh, Fuzzy our library’s closed and she’s the only one working. I call up Honolulu and oh Fuzzy, the library won’t be open until Monday. I thought oh, forget it then.
ROBYNN: How did you get the name Fuzzy?
FUZZY: When I was in grade school I cut my hair really short. And then I decided to raise it up. And then it stood up like a porcupine and my friends in the camp said hey, look at Faustino. He’s got funny hair sticking up. So they started calling me Fuzzy after that. That’s how I have that name and most of my old friends, they call me Fuzzy. They don’t call me by my real name, Faustino. You say Faustino they say who’s that. So that’s why I use my name Fuzzy.
ROBYNN: Did your mom work in the fields?
FUZZY: Oh yeah, my mom. My dad has a different job. My mom and my grandpa and my grandma did all that, irrigating fields. But my dad, they called them the hapaiko gang. I guess you must know this hapaiko. They carry cane into the cane truck. You see, my home was right below the train track and we always see the train cars and train pass by our house. And how they give the signal is they have a tower, a very high tower. And I remember this guy Watanabe used to be the flagman. They call him flagman. If the train is coming, they make sure no other train is coming out to the field. He wave the red flag then, you know there is danger. And that’s how they communicate. They don’t have what they have now. The phone, we don’t have this. So that’s how they communicate with the trains that brings the fields. And what we used to do, every time the train comes they slow down, they have to stop, we run out there, pull the cane out. We use that for candy. And at the time we have terrific teeth. Honest to god, we don’t have to go to the dentist and when we stop doing that what happen, our teeth get our rotten. And one other thing we really remember, I’ll never forget this as long as I live. When they start harvesting the field right above our house, my mom and dad would get a snack, some blanket, and then after school after we eat supper, we’d go up to the place where he’s working, and then we help him fill up the cane. We take the cane to the long part of the cane trucks and then my dad climbs a ladder and he does all the filling up of the rest. And then we do that until late at night. We even sleep outside. I remember that, we sleep where he was working. See the more cane trucks you fill, the more money you get. It’s called a contract. I’ll never forget forever because we did that every time when the field above our house is being harvested. And we see the men, it’s done by had when fill the truck in the field. And it’s section by section when they do that. That’s how they get the cane into the factory. That I really remember forever because I was involved in it.
ROBYNN: Parents working.
FUZZY: Well, after she got the job for the bathhouse she didn’t work out in the fields anymore. That was her regular job to make hot water for the people who work for the sugar company.
ROBYNN: Was that better paying?
FUZZY: it was a little bit more and not as hard as when you have to stay in the water for a long period of time. So she liked the job, she really enjoyed it. I think she’d get real tired so but it was fun when we were helping her put the wood into the furnace. And we weren’t the only ones. Even my friends who I went to school with come and help us, but my mom never said anything. Just ‘watch out, don’t get hurt,’ she talked to us in Filipino. Don’t get hurt now, so we were careful.
ROBYNN: Your family did well.
FUZZY: No. We weren’t pretty well off. When I was a freshman in high school my parents moved to Lanai because they were making the main highway. You know the Shell service station where the Safeway is? The stoplight? Right at the corner, the north of the stoplight was where our home was, but when my dad heard that it was going to be demolished he didn’t want to move any other place, and besides he was retiring age already. So if he stayed he would have to retire. So he moved to Lanai and worked in a pineapple field. And I stayed with my grandma until I finished my freshman year. Then I moved to Lanai with my parents because I feel my grandparents couldn’t handle me.
ROBYNN: What do you mean?
FUZZY: I don’t know. As I said, I was pretty naughty. Good kind of naughty. We do rascal things like I hate to say they had the Japanese camp. A bunch of us would go up there and we were peeping toms. They had holes on the wall and what we do is we have a big bunch of us, Fuzzy, come over here. And we’d peep in and see the ladies. I don’t know why we did it; we just did it for fun.
ROBYNN: Peeping into what?
FUZZY: You know. To see them bathe. That’s just one of the naughty things we did. Some of the naughty things. That was how it was. But there are a lot of other things that I can talk about, but I don’t know if you would be interested in hearing. Our camp used to have this dance, Filipino dance. They call them ribbon dance, they call them box dance, and what happen is the girls would sell ribbons to the customers. There’d be maybe six or seven of us. Hey, we’ll get together; we’ll buy all the ribbon. Ten cents each, all the different colors. Soon as they call red, well the red jump on the girl. And then okay another come and jump for the girl. And then they have a box dance. In a box the girl can put cake or even put chicken or bake or whatever they put in the box. You don’t know what it is. And then if the girl is extra pretty they go bid high. And then after the bidding and all that they call up box dance and then the box from the girl, you get to dance with the girl. We call it a boxing dance. That was part of the thing that I will remember forever. And…
ROBYNN: Children of immigrants so it was equal boys and girls.
FUZZY: They were adults. They were adults that worked for the plantation and they saved their money. We know they’re saving money because they bid high for the box. If they like that certain girl, they’re going to bid high. And that’s how we do it. But ribbon dance, as long as you buy the ribbon, even we can go and dance. So that’s how our fun was. And at the time we were pretty naughty. We’d do that and they never bothered us.
ROBYNN: Why do you call that naughty?
FUZZY: Because we’re not supposed to be involved. But we still do it. Because we had fun and these were certain girls that we know and we like to dance with them when the time comes for the color of the ribbon.
ROBYNN: Why weren’t you supposed to do it?
FUZZY: Because we weren’t working people. We were just young kids. But we had money, which our parents give us and ten cents ribbon at the time is expensive. And sometimes our parents give us fifty cents for spend and we use twenty cents for buy ribbon or ten cents, everybody buy one. That’s how we buy all the ribbon because everybody put money in to get it. And ten cents at that time was big money. And we don’t mind spending it just for have fun. That’s how it used to be.
ROBYNN: Describe Risal day.
FUZZY: That’s how Risal day was. On Risal Day we have programs and we do Filipino dance, music, and then I got involved in one of the program one year. They asked the boys if they wanted to dance, so I participated with dance for the people in the community only. Because we used to have a lot of people in the camp. Back in the ‘40s we had almost 2000 workers in the plantation. Almost 2000. And then back in ‘50s there was maybe 1800, 1700 workers. That’s how many workers we had. Then when I got took from the plantation; they ended up with about 500 workers because of mechanization. They don’t, it’s not men that loads the cane up and it’s not a train that brings the cane in, it’s all trucks. And they have the crane to pick up the cane, load them on the trucks, bring them to the factory. So that’s how it was in the early years of my life and what I remember. So.
ROBYNN: thank you. Other memories.
FUZZY: I tell you when we were young kids going to grade school we used to raise chicken, ducks, turkey and we have pigs and we even raise two cows one time. We move from the first place we was to another area of the camp. Same row, but further north. And when we moved there was a lot of open space so we started to raise animals. And we feed the animals before we go tot school. That’s a must for all of us. Otherwise we have to feed them until they’re all done. And when we come home, the same thing. That was the thing for us it was hard labor but it was fun. After thinking that oh we used to eat the chicken, eat the eggs. So it helped with our financial status. We had our own vegetable. And when the cow was ready to be slaughtered we had all the camp people come down and help us slaughter the cow and everybody got so much meat for themselves. That time in the camp you don’t close your door. The neighbor come over and pick up sugar or coffee. When you come home oh, Mr. Alboro, or they call my dad Jimon, that’s his Filipino name. Oh, we come borrow sugar or borrow coffee. Oh, no problem. Next time they bring it back.
ROBYNN: Was the cow community?
FUZZY: No, it’s our own property but we don’t buy feed for the cow because it’s keave trees, keave beans and all that. So we pick up the keave beans and then we feed them koa leaves. They get healthy with all that kind of food. And then the pigs we have garbage. We call it garbage from our neighbors because they don’t raise pigs. We do. And then the chickens, we have chicken grass and we buy chicken feed and mix it up with the grass. And we don’t have much expense on the animals really. And the ducks eat anything. Eat garbage and anything you throw in there they’ll eat it. I never realized that. But chickens are a little bit more different. Little bit more sophisticated.
ROBYNN: Who provided land for the animals?
FUZZY: The plantation. See, before the immigrants came they built homes for the people that were going to work for the company. That’s why it was great for the plantation doing that for us. Otherwise they wouldn’t have workers. If the workers had to find their own place. All the camps, all the village that had sugar company, all the homes were built by the company. They built the homes for them so we get a place to stay. They don’t charge us anything. Free water, free house. Only electricity we pay but it was very small electricity. That’s it. And of course we go fishing during the day when we were kids. We have to go fishing. Have our own net. We bring home fish and our parents are happy. So we support our needs by doing all that. So things that you can’t forget. It’s very difficult to forget because the hard life, the hard work we have to do. To go to college, I was in college for a couple of weeks but financially I wasn’t able to get help. It’s difficult to work and go to college. That’s why I didn’t finish. Then. I came back. I was in Lanai ’47, ’48, ’49. Then I graduated in ’49. ’50 I came back. It was 1950, June the 20, 1950 I started working for the company. One year later, in ’51, August, I was drafted in the Marine Corps. But then I was working one year already for the company. When I came back I had my job back.
ROBYNN: Other options besides sugar?
FUZZY: I used to work for the cannery. That was when I was in high school. I could have worked for the cannery. I didn’t like the job. I was working for Dole Company for a while but I didn’t like it because there wasn’t family for me in Honolulu, I had to stay by myself. And I’m not used to by myself. So I came back to Lahaina, worked for the sugar company. Everything was hard, because working for the sugar company’s a dirty job and very difficult. I tried all the different jobs in the company. I was fertilizer man. I repaired pipes for the irrigation. They call it the brown gang; I used to work for the brown gang when I came back to work. And in the brown gang we make pipes for put in the fields so they can be irrigated. And I used to dig ditch. I was a mediator and I was a fertilizer man and I tried all the different jobs in the plantation so I know how life was in the plantation. It wasn’t fun. Then back in ’83 I became an electrician. Well, at first I was a pump tender, then I worked for the sugar factory as a clarifier, juice clarifier. Then I worked in a research department. I used to be a chemist in the research department. Then there was an opening in the electric shop but I had to take an ICS course. So I took the course, after one year, I got my certificate to be a journeyman electrician.
ROBYNN: Tradesperson after many years.
FUZZY: Then I became a tradesperson. Until I got hurt back in ’83. I fell in a well about 100 feet deep. I worked as an electrician about eight years, then I got hurt. So that’s why my career ended because I was really planning to run for politics in ’83 but when I fell down, a lot of people thought I was a supervisor. A lot of people I was meeting with, union meeting and convention and all that. When I went back, for a while they said I thought you were a supervisor. And I said no. And I told them I got hurt. And they were surprised. They thought I was really going to be a supervisor. The supervisor never make good pay. The job we have as electrician we make more than them and we have overtime. So why should I accept being a supervisor with headaches.
ROBYNN: Plantations providing housing until ‘46. Was it hard to find your own?
FUZZY: No, because I stayed at my grandparents for a while because they were still in Kavai camp. And then afterwards they had homes when I came back in ’53 after I did my tour with the Marine Corps. I went back to the plantation, they offered me a place to stay. So the place I’m staying now is the one that they offered me and then I bought the place back in ’69 or something, ’70. I bought the house. So I have a six-bedroom house now, because my family got bigger. So where I’m staying now I’ve been there over 50 years. This December 12 my wife and me will have been married 51 years.