Hawaiian Senior Center 11/20/04
ROBYNN: …for young people like me to know what our grandparents went through so it’s good to hear all those stories.
GEORGE: We didn’t do bad things but we had a lot of fun doing things. I’m hard of hearing in this ear because when I was young I used to go fishing, catch fish for the family, yeah. So I dived deep water so I punched out my ear on my left side so I gotta apologize if I don’t hear you folks right. I might say funny things sometimes.
ROBYNN: and the other thing is try not to make extra noise….
DMAE: This is like talking to somebody’s ear so if you do this I’ll go ow. Full name. Introduce yourself.
GEORGE: I am George Fujiwara. Born Kilohea Camp, right below Lahainaluna School. I grew up there and I moved to Honokuai Kanakaui Power Plant, we call it. Below Pokuli camp. And I went to Honokowi School from there. And then Lahainaluna School.
DMAE: spellings from you after this… say your age too.
GEORGE: I was born April the 18th 1924. I’m 80 years old this year.
GEORGE: Nice to be 80. It’s a good year to live. To be alive to be 80 years old.
RICHARD: My name is Richard Nagame. I was born in Wailuku but moved to west side, Lahaina, and I’ve lived here all my life and lived in Kenoheahea where he used to live, same area. And I’m 75 years old, born 1929, August. And I had good times, although we didn’t have money. But today, it’s money talk.
DMAE: What does that mean?
RICHARD: You have to get money to go places. Back then you didn’t need anything. You could go up the mountain, you can go down to the beach. Enjoy life. All kinds of things you do without money. And the famous word used to be ‘kapu.’ You go up in the mountain, you see a nice mango, you say ‘kapu.’ That’s yours, nobody take that. I don’t know why because the word ‘kapu’ has very much what do you call, respect. When you say ‘kapu’ that’s yours. When you go in a river, you see a goldfish, you say ‘kapu.’ Whether you can catch the fish or not. It was fine those days. Going up the mountain, eat guava, mango, cactus plant panini, and as far as food we had plenty to eat because we had a lot of fruits then. Today you cannot go up the mountain. They forbid you to go up the mountain.
FRED: My name is Fredrick Heguchi. I was born January 22, 1921 so I am 83 years old. I lived in Pokoli for 49 years. That’s about 7 miles away north of Lahaina. And I spent my most of my young days up there. We used to go up the mountains, like he said we would go up the mountains, down the beach, especially we used to go on the beach. We used to take a rice ball and nothing else and we used to go down catch fish, spear fish. And we used to cook them and eat them together with the rice. And we used to pick up seaweed and bring it home for the family because that was very good for, everybody wanted it. And I graduated Kompuli school, that’s a village about seven miles from here and we had a big community of over 1000 people. We had a public school from kindergarten up to eighth grade and we had Catholic church, a Methodist church, a Buddhist church, and we had a Japanese language school. Prior to the 19, when we had the World War II and after that I went to Lainaluno and I graduated in 1940 and after that I’ve been for ? for 42 years and I retired in 1983.
DMAE: how old are you?
FRED: I’m 83 years old.
DMAE: Can you describe your hat?
FRED: I-L-W, that’s the international longshoremen. We’re a union. The sugar workers were allowed to join the I-L-W, just before 1946 I think. And after we organized the union we had a big strike in 1946 that lasted about 3 months. We had a lot of cooperation from all the workers from all different nationalities, Japanese, Filipinos, Portuguese and whatever. We usually had committees. We used to have committees take care of the fish, go down to the ocean to catch fish. We usually have a farming committee, they used to go up to Kalua, help the farmers, and the farmers used to give us the vegetables that they couldn’t sell and bring it home and we had a soup kitchen and occasionally some of them cooked their own food and bring it to the soup kitchen to share with other people. Sometimes you gotta watch because they’d mix the regular meat and dog meat and you don’t know if you ate the dog food. After that they’d say ‘woo woo, woo woo.’ After this, it was tasted good, so we didn’t mind but the taste is about the same with the regular meat but I know I ate, even donkey meat that’s out in the field. And, we didn’t mind it because food is food as long as you know what it is. But after you eat it they tell you oh that’s ‘woo woo!.’
ROBYNN: You were talking about the different ethnicities working together on the strike. What do you remember about how the different ethnicities got along before the union.
DMAE: Hold on. Sorry.
FRED: We had all kinds of nationalities. We all got together because we didn’t get along because there was some occasion but usually we all worked together. Even after the strike and before the strike because we worked in all different departments in the field and you’ve gotta know how to do that. You can do a better job. So I think we didn’t have any problem with the ethnic groups.
DMAE: People didn’t fight?
FRED: Seldom. We didn’t have much trouble with fighting among the ethnic groups.
DMAE: What about during your father’s time?
FRED: Even in my father’s time. My father came from Japan and he worked in a plantation and they didn’t have any problems, actually because they could speak only Japanese and they still have, they learned a little Pidgin English to explain to the boss this is this so I don’t think we had any problems as far as ethnic groups were concerned.
DMAE: Sometimes management would pit ethnic groups against each other?
FRED: I didn’t notice anything like that when I was growing up because we used to live in a big camp. We used to have camps separated, a Japanese group here, a Chinese group there, a Filipino group and Caucasians divided in all one section. We used to mingle together when we played sports and everything, all the kids.
DMAE: What kind?
FRED: We used to play basketball. We used to get a big…Maui County had Alexander House, they called it Alexander house, and they sponsored all the sports on Maui and we were under their group and we used to have all different weights. Especially basketball, they used to go by the weight. They used to get 85 pound, 100 pound, 120 pound and the beginner’s league and we used to play against all different camps. We used to have Hauna Loa, come up to Pokali and play or we’d go down to Hauna Loa and play. After that we come down to Lahaina and play all the teams from Lahaina, Tiahuea, Crossroad, Kahua. All the camps had their own team and we used to challenge each other and it was really competitive and we really enjoyed it. That was the only way we get out of mischief.
DMAE: what kind of mischief?
FRED: We didn’t have much trouble.
DMAE: Oh come on.
FRED: That’s a regular slang when you say…those days we didn’t have drugs. Most of us never smoked and…
DMAE: You didn’t drink?
FRED: Some people did but not to the extreme. We didn’t have any bars, liquor bars up Pokoli. To get liquor you’d have to come down to Lainai and in those days transportation was a problem because people didn’t have cars in those days. If you miss the car at night you gotta walk home.
ROBYNN: Do you remember how you learned about the ILWU and how you became a member?
FRED: You ask him because he’s a more active member.
ROBYNN: When the union first formed before 1946 how did you become a member?
FRED: We were automatically because they wanted all the sugar workers to join the ILWU and we were willing to join because the conditions were not as good as we wanted. We wanted some pension plan, wage increase, so when the union decided to organize we were all willing to join the ILWU. He’s one of the officers…
ROBYNN: describe the conditions. How did you deal with the working conditions?
FRED: We did a normal day’s work. We didn’t try to cut short anything, we’d just go as we always do because that used to be our livelihood.
DMAE: Is it harder to work for a union? Was there a change?
FRED: I don’t think so. It was better that we have a union because we had a grievance committee where you take any problems in the department. You have your stewards to go and negotiate your problems so I think it was a win win win situation.
DMAE: Did you have lunas at the mill?
FRED: No. the whole plantation was ILWU. I think the clerks had their own ILW but I don’t know.
DMAE: before the union how did you deal with grievances?
FRED: We couldn’t. the boss was the boss. The boss said this is this, you didn’t have any say-so.
DMAE: did anybody try?
FRED: I don’t think so.
DMAE: So if you had any problems…
FRED: The boss was right.
DMAE: Do you want to talk a little about that?
GEORGE: The way the ILWU was brought up. The way I understand, I was younger then. They had to go house to house to organize the union because they cannot stay one place because there’s from the employer looking for these people.
DMAE: Take off your jacket? Thank you. Start again?
GEORGE: Before they organized they had to get in groups, go house to house, because they cannot stay one place and if they get caught they would be fired. So it was a rough time for the organizers, the way I understand. Because if they know you one of the organizers they would fire you out. There’s no union to support you then. But once the union got in, once they tell you what you have to do, say you have to do more things, they have a contract. Each people depend on what the job is they have a job description, you don’t do more than that. So the union was good for the working people.
DMAE: Were there scabs during the strike?
GEORGE: Oh yeah, they had a few. But gradually they turned.
DMAE: Who worked?
GEORGE: I don’t know. My time, 58, I didn’t have any scabs but early when they first start they have scabs and then because a company runs everything they told the supervisors to go out in the field and work. That’s when they had to fight. Some people were in jail. I remember that.
DMAE: did some people go to jail?
FRED: Not me.
GEORGE: Some people were in jail because they come in and take them out and I notice after the women came in the picture the whole things change. We had the Democrat party, we had the union, and the Democrat party and the union made Hawaii what it is today. We had far and many places that didn’t have union. I might be wrong but I think I’m right.
DMAE: Can you describe what you mean?
GEORGE: Because of living. You see before the Union started people didn’t have cars, people didn’t own homes. After that they own homes, they have cars, they send kids to college. Big difference.
DMAE: you described that the union did a lot when you were on strike.
GEORGE: Yeah. That was grade school. Every child had a meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And the lunch was not cold. It was hot food they bring to the school or a place where they could get it and have a good meal. After work is done the family goes down to the soup kitchen and has their meal. And in 50s strike we had so much fish (types of fish) to supply strikers. We had lots of veke and abejoh.
DMAE: How hard was it to convince people to go on strike?
GEORGE: Not hard. I don’t think so. Before the strike the workers were fighting for this and because the company’s not giving in they have to strike. And they all vote and usually it’s not 100%, but they have to strike. And usually when they strike they have soup kitchens and all that. When they strike they didn’t give them money but had a soup kitchen where they could cut costs, feed the people with less money. We had a lot of vegetables from the farmers. We also had beef from the farmers because workers went up country to help build the place for the cattle, to slaughter the cattle, and they would give you a whole cow. And all those who went up Kula to work. Oh boy. I was the camp chairman. I used to send people from my area to go up Kula and the Kula farmers were so happy with these people after the strike they gave them extra things. I don’t know what but they gave them extra things. And coming home at the end of the day they gave them extra vegetables to eat but the rest goes to the soup kitchen.
DMAE: Not 100% when people vote to go on strike. What were some of the fears?
GEORGE: You cannot get 100% of anything. But when the strike goes on they have to participate whether they didn’t vote for it.
DMAE: Why would somebody not vote to go on strike?
FRED: They call it stubborn and they don’t see the bright part of what we are doing, what the union is doing for the people. Some of them are hotheads, they don’t see the picture. Like most of them did because the union brought a lot of improvement…
DMAE: Describe working conditions before the strike. How long you worked…
FRED: We used to work 8 hours. The only thing was that the pay was so small. There wasn’t any extra hardship but you got to get somebody to back you up if you get into trouble.
DMAE: Was there break time? Lunchtime? Did they charge you for gloves?
FRED: No. equipment you buy your own.
DMAE: What kind of things did you have to buy? Did you have breaks?
FRED: You had to buy your own gloves. You had to buy your tools from the company, not from the outside, so you’d get them a little cheaper. But we had better conditions that we don’t have to buy anymore.
DMAE: when I was working we had 20 minute breaks every 4 hours, we had a half-hour lunch.
FRED: We didn’t have any breaks.
DMAE: Before the union or after?
FRED: Not even after.
GEORGE: We had breaks. Five minute breaks.
RICHARD: I don’t know. I don’t remember.
GEORGE: Not smoke break. People go and have breaks and they take 4 or 5 minutes. It’s not in the contract but they just go and the boss won’t bother you.
DMAE: What about before the union?
GEORGE: I don’t know. Before the union you can’t do anything. My parents worked long hours. From in the morning to sundown they worked and they walked to work. Some areas they catch the truck. But in those days the hours was long, the pay was small. They used to get free kerosene, free firewood. And free house and medical I think. Medical was real cheap then. Those days plantation medical was the best, not today.
DMAE: What about safety issues?
GEORGE: No safety things. Not until the union come into the picture.
DMAE: did people get hurt?
GEORGE: Oh yeah. People get hurt.
DMAE: Were there injuries?
RICHARD: Not that I…well, most of them is back problems. Been lifting up heavy things. That’s more about the common action that we have because everybody as much as possible didn’t want to get hurt so they tried their best to prevent those things.
DMAE: Describe these pictures?
RICHARD: This is harvesting. See that crane? See the big grab? They pick up the cane and they put it in the share cars on the side and the ladies in the back.
DMAE: Are those women? What are they doing?
RICHARD: After the cranes pick up there are some left over small. They just cut them and put them in the front together. They don’t leave anything back there.
DMAE: When were these taken?
RICHARD: In the 40s I think.
DMAE: And what’s that?
RICHARD: This is called rake. They rake all the cane together so that the crane can lift it up and put it in the car. I used to drive one of these. A rake.
DMAE: And that’s the cane there?
RICHARD: See this is the ladies working behind the crane.
DMAE: What do they do?
RICHARD: They’re the ones who cut the cane and throw the leftover after the crane lift it.
GEORGE: Are they behind the crane or in front of the crane.
RICHARD: Right in front of the crane.
GEORGE: Yeah. Because I did a job something like this. As soon as the crane picks up the load you go right in front and cut it and throw it so the crane can pick it up. That’s not safety. You know the grab comes right, and how big the grab.
DMAE: The grab what’s that?
GEORGE: This is the crane and this is the what do you call it? The grab.
DMAE: The claw?
GEORGE: yeah, the claw. And what happens is the operator has got to be real good. They swing that thing about a foot away. After the union came there’s no such thing. There’s somebody in the front for safety purpose.
DMAE: So it was dangerous.
GEORGE: It was dangerous but we didn’t think it was dangerous.
ROBYNN: Can you describe your housing when you were young?
FRED: The houses were nice houses. They have 2, 3 bedroom. But the only thing was they had the outhouse outside. Some of the houses had them in the house but the most majority of them used to have the outhouses outside, which is a disadvantage. And the houses were really good because they come to repair your house when you ask. Oh such and such something wrong.
GEORGE: Not all the time. Cuz I went with one of my officers into to meet the manager. This was in Lahaina Pump. The parents had a baby and they had a big hole in that bedroom and we say John Schumer the manager got to fix that. The person goes cannot, but my friend and I went and talk and he told them if anything happen to the baby we’re going to turn around and sue you. And the next day that thing was fixed. Jasuh house.
DMAE: So the union had to go in and check on the camp houses too.
GEORGE: No. the people tell them what problem they had. The union would go talk to the management.
DMAE: So there were houses that were not so good.
GEORGE: Not all the houses good. But the new ones are good.
DMAE: Was there running water?
GEORGE: Yeah, there was running water.
FRED: We used to have a public bathhouse right in the middle of the community center, up at Pokoli. It was as big as this room. There’d be a ladies’ room, ladies’ bathroom and the men’s and there used to be one for Filipinos. And the tub was made of cement. It was about six feet deep and about the size of this table and about double of this and they have somebody to make the hot water every day.
DMAE: Drink something…okay.
FRED: And we used to get the doors between the…
DMAE: Hold on.
FRED: Anyway, the other really partition. There was a little door, ordinary door. And they used to make a little hole here and there you know. And they used to go around and look and sometimes they would shoot water. This happened. This is true. This boy was looking and the father come from the back and say hey son, where’s the bucket? You don’t get it. Because the son was peeking and the father came from behind and he wanted to use the bucket to take a bath. And when he turned back he said oh father, he got all shooked up. But anyway, they would do that around here. But I didn’t do it.
DMAE: How were the baths segregated. You said something about…
FRED: They were big long galvanized…
DMAE: You said ladies, men, and Filipinos, what’s that all about?
FRED: There was a different room all separated by partitions.
DMAE: so the Filipinos were in a different one from the Japanese.
FRED: No, the same thing but just separated from the other one so that sometimes when some Filipino girls come take a bath at night there we used to go around and peep around. In Kolohea. We’d just… we had a lot of fun.
GEORGE: The bath was just like a swimming pool. But underneath the water was all the same. You can feel the girls underneath or boys underneath and go back and forth. It was fun to go to Pokoli to take a bath. Where I lived where the Gingopo plant we had all individual tubs. We were more modern. But always a young time in Kolohea you go peeping and the girl sees you peeping and the girl come peep too. Two eyes meet together it’s like girls used to do it and the boys too. Those camp days were a lot of fun. Everybody innocent, but just for fun they used to do that.
DMAE: So the girls peeped too.
GEORGE: Yeah, the girls peeped too. Your two eyes would meet in the hole, you see an eye on one end, the girl peeping too.
DMAE: Was there courtship? How did boys and girls get together? I want to know.
GEORGE: Always afraid you’ll marry the same camp girl over here. But to us we’re just like family. The girls come to your house. They’re just like your sister, they come play with your sister. We’re so innocent too and then when I grow up I was almost about 18 years old. Never have a girlfriend. Never thought about having a girlfriend when we were young. I was so busy playing sports. They all finish high school the girls go to Honolulu go work or something. I never had a date until I was 20 years old I think. Busy, busy place. …80 years ago, until I was 72 years old. But I was married before that. I had three children. And when I married my first wife, because I was just an electrician and she was a professional woman, she was a registered nurse, the whole town talk about me. How come the electrician he marry a professional woman? You know who told me, I’ll never mention his name. He mock me already, so. But you know Cochua, you know him? He come to me and I was who is the guy talking about me? I’ll punch him in the mouth. And he tell me because I marry a nurse and I’m an electrician and I’m supposed to be ? something, I don’t know. But they put us way down. Those days. Schoolteacher they don’t talk to you, they socialize by themselves. Kind of segregated educated people and noneducated people. So that’s how we grew up.
MAY: Talk about the games you used go to Pokalia and you used to have fights all the time. At football.
GEORGE: yeah, we used to go to Pokalia to play football and we go score. You got to play football ? No more shoulder pads. Okay. You go like this. We come home with broken shirt and everything. Every time we go play Pokalia. Every time you lose they put in big guy and Fred Guy the older one and ….? ….. round out the hill, we used to go up Kolopohai and Kalopai. We used to go. And that was part of the fun. And we’d still go up and play with them, challenge. And we go to Honoa Loa. Challenge the Honoa Loa boys to basketball. Same thing. And Pokoli they get such a big camp so they get a lot of boys. We cannot beat them because all the boys, every time we’re winning I find out they’re older than me. When we’re beating they’re older than us. …..all of them. We play with them and beat them but Fred Guys’ all the big boss up there and he say all you guys you guys there, but Fred cannot play because …? He was a star liner.
DMAE: Is that true you were a star?
FRED: I played a lot in Pokoli. The boss come to school in the morning. And after school we stayed over, we’d practice up the hill. And we used to come down after practice we’d come down to the Bowler? Department and take a shower. Cold shower because they didn’t have any cold water. And from there we’d walk down to Lahaina. And from Lahaina we’d walk down to Pokoli every night. That’s about seven miles away. So I’m just wondering, if they had a 2.0 grade point at that time I would have made it because we didn’t have time to study. So we were fortunate that they didn’t have the 2.0 at that time. But anyway after that after football season the main game that we wanted to win was the fair game, that’s the real rivalry between Lahainaluna and Maui high school. And this happened that year my friend and I, both from Pokoli, scored all the points, 25 points. He made three touchdowns and I made one, so it was a Pokoli day. But anyway at the end of the season he and I were selected to go to the all-star team. Then in track season I used to run the sprints and I was the captain of the track team. But the same thing, we had to walk home. Those days you could count the cars that passed on the road. But anyway, it was fun while it lasted. But after high school I started working at Pona plantation for 42 years.
DMAE: Were the high school team always called lunas?
FRED: Yeah. The Lahainaluna lunas.
DMAE: Why were they called lunas?
FRED: Because the end of the Lahainaluna. Luna.
DMAE: Just sounded good.
FRED: Just short. Lunas.
DMAE: Introduce yourself and tell me where you grew up and if you want how old you are.
VIVIAN: I’m Vivian Ichiki. I was born at Lahaina Pump. There’s no Lahaina Pump now. And I’m 78 years old. What else? I’ve been married for almost 58 years. December makes 58 years. Yeah. And I can tell you how I met my husband. This is 58 years ago he met me at this now they call it Capalua, used to be Honolua camp. There is no Honolua camp now. But we used to go dancing a lot. And he met me there. And one year later we got married.
DMAE: What year was this?
VIVIAN: 1946 I got married. Yeah, one year later we got married and we lived at Honokauai. That’s where he used to be. Right, George? And then we have four children, eight grandchildren. What else?
DMAE: Do you remember what music you were listening to when you were dancing?
VIVIAN: Old, old music so I don’t remember.
DMAE: What kind? What kind of dancing?
VIVIAN: Foxtrot. And you know the funny part. My sister and I used to say we were twins, but we weren’t twins. We used to wear the same kind of stuff, clothes, same material. My husband used to make mistake. He used to say which one is Vivian? Which one is Lilian? He used to make mistake. But he married me.
DMAE: That’s beautiful. Would you introduce yourself?
ANITA: I’m Anita Yomofugi. I was born in Kahua village, that’s right passed the mill. And I’m 76 years old. And I couldn’t finish high school because my parents were poor I guess. So I started work and they used to have that old Pioneer Mill Hospital. So I started working there and then as I was walking home and my husband was driving a bus for the school. So I met him at the corner of the store. And he said he’ll pick me up on the bus. I said no thank you. So I went home by myself. So he started calling. And I began going with him. And I got married in 1953. And then I lost him 22 years ago. And I have three grandsons. One is in Indiana, he just graduated last May and another one is in northern Iowa and he’ll be graduating in May of next year. And the youngest one goes to Kikaliki high school and he’s a basketball player.
DMAE: So what was courtship like?
DMAE: You didn’t go on dates.
VIVIAN: He used to come see me on weekends. You know what he used to come do? Bring me fish. He used to go fishing weekends to just to be nice to my parents he used to bring me fish, big red fish. And that’s how he came to see me every weekend with a big fish and we got married.
DMAE: How did your husband court you?
ANITA: He used to own a restaurant and he made the best noodle in town and when I got married I worked in the restaurant, helping the restaurant and in the meantime I started working at the memorial hospital as an LPN, so I worked from three to eleven. So at eleven o’clock I called him at home to have my saimin? Ready. Cuz I’m hungry after work so he stayed up and waited for me and we had noodles together. And then went to bed.
DMAE: Kind of unusual courtship rituals. Do you want to tell me how you courted your wives?
FRED: No need.
GEORGE: I meet my new wife here. We married eight years now, May. And I was shopping in Nagosaku because I was cooking for my family because my first wife died and I was living with my son and his five children and his wife. So I did all the cooking. And I was at Nagasaku shopping, I met the mother. The mother says hi George, I said hi, she says have you met my daughter, I said no. This is May and this and that and you know me my mind I go oh. Would you like to go to dinner tonight May? Nope. And I go home and I say you first you don’t succeed you try, try again. So that was Saturday I think it was. So Monday I called her again, I said May would you like to go dinner tonight. Well, okay. So she played hard to get, I took her out to dinner and there was it. The mother had no chauffeur or nothing, so the mother got mad at me. She said you know you took my chauffeur away she can’t go anyplace where she wants to go all the time. That’s how I met May. We’ve been married eight years. Been happily married. So far.
DMAE: Did boys and girls have sex before they were married? What would happen if they did.
VIVIAN: My parents used to say ‘never sleep together’ so we were clean. With girl and boy.
DMAE: Were people chaperoned?
DMAE: So nothing happened at the bathhouses?
VIVIAN: No. Because we all be together so nothing can happen. Boys one side, girls one side. But we have to be good girls.
DMAE: Were the boys, did they have to be good boys?
GEORGE: Oh, naturally.
DMAE: I don’t believe you.
MAY: I have to say something about Fred. You know he and his wife shared the same bedroom from day one, the day they were born. Ask him why.
FRED: No. My wife was born January 17 and I was born January 22nd, the same year. So we were in the maternity ward when our parents gave birth to us, so that’s what May said.
DMAE: So you knew each other growing up.
FRED: Oh, we lived in the same camp so we knew each other.
DMAE: When did you know you were in love?
FRED: I don’t know. Who knows. When I was going to high school I didn’t have any girlfriends because in those days you didn’t have to be boyfriend-girlfriend. Everybody was friend. Not like now in high school. Eh, that’s my girlfriend. But not in our days. You talk to a girl, that’s not your girlfriend. It was real normal relationship. Just friends.
VIVIAN: Everybody was clean friends. Do everything together, swimming, go up a mountain, hiking like that. But nothing happened. Clean.
FRED: We used to at night. Stay up at night and play games at night. With hide-and-seek and all the girls and boys. But nothing happened. Just be friendly and you had fun. That’s what it was all about in those days. No such thing as my girlfriend or my boyfriend.
GEORGE: When I was growing up I come from a family of nine and I was the second oldest in the family. My family, my dad was so smart, he know how to make it sure that girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, nine of us. I was the oldest boy. When my dad died, before he died he said ‘everything is for George.’ For me, I was the oldest boy. That was the Japanese, the old custom. And none of my sisters and brothers said, nowadays they take you to court and fight for this but in those days no more money, a little bit. But what I did was because I had a motel business in Hono Koai I started off. I bought property down there. Everybody told me I was crazy. I bought down by the beach. One point two acres, beautiful by the beach. Was from a schoolteacher, Mrs. Jose. And even the Judge said I wouldn’t pay the kind of money you pay, you crazy to buy that place. So I went home to my wife and said everybody thinks we’re crazy, what should we do? oh, we’ll just hang on and let’s promise each other what happens to you and me we’ll keep it for our children. So when hotels start coming up, all in Hauna Koa area, a lot of people offer me prices. $32,000. oh sell it George, it’s lots of money and people were selling. All Lapili side, that’s all Lapili side they develop over there and the, but I didn’t sell. I said no thank you and we’ll just manage fine. Old Maurice sees me and he says I offer you 80,000. if somebody offer you more, let me know. And I say no, it’s not for sale. And I tell my wife this is a lot of money but you know, we promised each other yes, we keep our promise until today. She passed away already but that’s how I develop my place and that’s why I had my place. So I gave all my sisters and brothers, they divide whatever money my dad left for me. It’s few, you know, just a little bit that they divide among each other. And when I sold my two Be? And my Halehuna Resort and I’m leasing the place now and I got a pretty good income from that. I sold two units over there. So I gave all my sisters and brothers so much. So they all thank me and say oh, we didn’t know Santa Claus was in our family. They were happy. So I keep my family happy all nine of us. We visit each other, we’re very happy family. And but when I was going to school, being the oldest boy I had to go to work when I was 16 years old I had to go to work. And this guy was my idol. He was the star from Pokoli, all kind of athlete and me I like to play sports too so when I went freshman year, the coach Hollingdon at that time was you see, I was walking all that time with all the class here comes this, Fujiwara, I look back yes sir, I want to see you down the ballpark this afternoon. I say coach, I cannot, I live down in Honoa Koa, it’s too far for me. I cannot, I have a way home. Don’t worry I fix you up with transportation. So that day I went down to the ballpark, all the boys were surrounding me, training in track shorts and everything. He help me with my shoes and long pants. He tell me run the 60 yards, Fujiwara, with the boys. I says okay. I roll my pants up and everything. He says okay, go! I run, I beat all them. 60 yard record was 6.9 in a ? or so, 6.7 in the muscle room. I run only 6.9, never been trained, the first day. Because we country boys we run all around the place. So we were always in good shape. So when I went back to school my dad wouldn’t tell me, he was too proud to tell me that I had to leave school. My mom told me when my second year, when I was in. so the principal came to see me. Called me in the library. It was a study hall. Lot of people in study hall the kids, go in a back room. And I thought what I did, he’s going to beat me up because he was rough, you know. That principal was hard, all-American tackle, big. Strong. And he beat up the kids, if the ball was this much he’d give them licking and all. You can do those things. I thought oh, maybe he’s going to beat me up so I keep away from him. I sat down. All the kids looking at me like oh, what the hell he did now? So. He tell me I hear you’re pretty good Fujiwara. You go to class every teacher will help you. I said oh, that’s so but I was thinking why but I still remember her name, Mrs. Foster. Remember Mrs. Foster? She was built, this teacher. Was built. Oh, big built. So I was studying and trying to concentrate and she came and laid on my shoulders and her breasts was right on my shoulder and I felt, I’m kind of a young kid, and I felt shame. And she didn’t mean nothing, she was trying to help me. Oh, but that was oh boy. I got to tell the boys, oh the good stuff happened to me today, oh what? And then one day so I have to leave school and when coach Hollingdon see me downtown, with the best miler in the island, Chutomo Ito, you remember? At the camp we used to live. He was riding a bike and he saw me and the coach saw me. ? ? What? Come back to school. I say I cannot, I gotta help my family. He says you stay with me my house. You go to school from my house. I say coach, I can’t do it I say. My family gotta eat. So that’s how I left school. I cannot go back to school and when I went to Las Vegas the family got together for a family reunion and all this intermarriage so blond kid, blue eyes, but he’s still a Fujiwara, he’s got my name. And they call come by, we want you to tell how you grew up. So I went up and tell all the family how we grew up and I told them you kids are lucky today that you can go to school. If you can go to school, go to school now, don’t forget. Cuz Grandpa George cannot go to school and I could have been maybe somebody more important. I played during the war for ? of course, Evans was coaching that time. He don’t believe, before they hit the line I tackle them down. I play left end. Defensive. And then I told all my family that and today they all got scholarship for going to school. With this try, so I thought that was good. My sister tell me oh George that was good for telling the kids to stay in because they think go no need education but now they all get scholarships. So make me happy too. What I told them about.
ROBYNN: Describe your home life on the plantation.
GEORGE: My home life was very, my wife and I run the business for ten years…
ROBYNN: Back up.
DMAE: Before you were growing up.
GEORGE: I was what do you call it, midwife baby. Old babasan we used to call them, that small coop she used to run up and down and go, anyway I was born in Kiolahuea and I was a very sick child. My older sister and I the doctor says no hope and so my mom took me to the Inare kamisima, it’s a Buddhist. And she prayed and that’s the reason I’m alive until today. And when I used to go to Honolulu there was an Inare kamisima near the football stadium, that’s the only place I could find. I went to look for that church because my mom said when I was twelve years old, go and pray because that’s how you were saved and I never forgot that. So when I was grown up I went down to Kolobo and my friend Stefan Alama, he’s a funny guy. So we went down and looked for the church. Oh, this is the church so they find out it was a lot of money back in the 40s. so I donate $5 and we went hey, that’s not the church. The church they look alike. That’s the wrong church I gave the money. Go back and take the money back. I used to get a lot of fun with him but anyway.
DMAE: Describe what your house was like.
GEORGE: Plantation house, yeah, we live Lakaina house, when the wind blow the dust come right through the house because the house was old. And then that’s the reason why when I got married we cannot live in the house with all the kids and my older sister, I remember her, when she graduated eighth grade she had to go to work. She was thirteen years old. And apparently she was very intelligent. The teacher would write a note saying this girl had to go to school because she’s very intelligent but she couldn’t go to school. And she used to go to babysit and once a month she’ll come home. On the weekend. She get $3, that’s the only kind of job you can get before. She come home and give my mom $3, she go in the closet and cry. Until the next day that she got to go back, the people will come and take her to work. It was so sad.
DMAE: Did anybody go to college?
GEORGE: No, none of us. But my sister and I worked and we sent all my sisters and brothers to school. Seven of them. They all graduated high school. But I went back to school when I was 34 years old because I had a wife who was a registered nurse and electrician, no more education this and that. So.
DMAE: How big the house was.
GEORGE: Three bedroom house. And it’s an old house. But…
DMAE: Describe the camp.
GEORGE: Kilohuea Camp.
DMAE: what would the pictures be of the camp?
GEORGE: Kolohuea Camp. We used to live in like… just a camp where they had a bathroom and a camp over there too. But we had a home, I was living in a Hawaiian Camp. And we had our own bathroom that my dad made. With nine children, we couldn’t go walking way down at the other end. So we had our own bathroom and the toilet in the house too.
GEORGE: Oh, talk about meals. We raised chicken and vegetable and we had our own pig too. And when we killed chicken, I eat ten bowl of rice because I could eat. You know the Japanese bowl of rice, I eat ten of that. If vegetable, I eat two or three bowls because the food junk, you know it’s all vegetable. If you get meat you have one of that and you nibble on it, eat plenty rice and nibble on it and vegetable and that’s all you eat. I grew up on that. I didn’t know until today, I was, no wonder I was healthy when I was growing up. I was not fat. It was health food I was eating. Look at today. All the people that eat all the garbage they eat and you know.
DMAE: Did you always have plenty of food.
GEORGE: We always had enough food. Mom always cooked enough food. We used to eat 100 one of rice one month. Every month we buy 100 pound rice.
DMAE: What about your parents’ days? Did they always have plenty of food?
GEORGE: Oh yeah. My dad. One thing with my dad. When he come home from work my mom would always serve him first. He’d sit at the end of the table, my mom sit down on the other side. She’d scoop out all the rice and stuff and my dad eat first. Not eat first, but get the first bowl, and then it’d go right down and all around. My mom eat less. Sometime she didn’t have anything to eat. Now I see she eat less, but at the time you were growing up, you were hungry. You got to eat fast because we got nine kids.
DMAE: what about when your parents were growing up?
GEORGE: Oh those days were poor so everything was hard, nothing was easy. Mostly things were some time when I go fishing I give my neighbor fish, they give me vegetable and most exchange stuff. That’s how we grew up. At the camp we’re all one family. If I want car, I’m making garage, next thing you know the whole neighborhood will come and finish the garage in one day because there’s so much help. That’s how the camp people were all one big family. Not today because today everybody’s so busy.
ROBYNN: were your parents Essei? Your parents immigrated? Do you why they came to Hawaii?
GEORGE: My dad came to Hawaii when he was twelve years old by himself. He got a contract with a sugar plantation. He came on a boat by himself. It took one month and he said a lot of people were sick and dying the ocean was rough. They went to the big island, Hawaii, and from there they say the Maui plantation would pay him better so he stow away and came to Maui when he was young. He worked in a field and he said you get your senior moments…..he worked for the sugar mill over there….
DMAE: Which mill?
GEORGE: Panai mill. And then when he was about 28 years old he got a picture bride. My mom is a picture bride. My dad is Hiroshimakay. My mom is Okiyama but I guess somehow they were friends. He looked at that picture, send them over. And they were married forever. Not like today they think they love each other, one, two year they divorce. But they were married until they passed away and raised nine children.
DMAE: Was your mom surprised to see him?
ROBYNN: Do you know anything more about that process?
GEORGE: My dad, I wish I knew him more. All he did was go to work. 30 days a month, 10 hours a day. I hardly know my dad. I know my mom better. That’s the reason. I don’t know too much about my dad’s life. The only time when he stay off once a month he and I go fishing. Ten o’clock at night. He used to work shift. So ten o’clock at night I wait for him and he and I go fishing and we catch Mampelo, Opachi, enough for the family for one week, fish. That’s how we survived. Fish and rice and vegetable. We never realized it was good for us. Oh, fish. Or oh, steak. With chicken and stuff, pork chops. And who would have thought it. Even camera. I don’t have picture of myself when I was young because we couldn’t afford a camera, we were so poor. And I tell you one thing too. This guy came to take a survey, about two years ago. That schoolteacher, the Japanese boy came and said oh, I’m looking for everybody my age and I write how I grew up, this and that. And when he came to collect, a month later he came back and said George, I like your story the best. I say why. He say you were the poorest kid in Lahaina. He look at me and smile. I say I was the poorest kid in Lahaina.
DMAE: Did your mom talk to you about being a picture bride?
GEORGE: I know her more than my dad but she was busy with nine children. She had to wash clothes and you know in those days you got to wash and boil them so I help her make the fire and stuff like that. So we have a little bit of conversation but…
DMAE: Was she surprised when she saw your dad?
GEORGE: She came and agreed my dad was okay so they got married. He was 28 and she was 18, they were ten years apart.
ROBYNN: Did she live in a farm area in Japan?
GEORGE: My grandpa was a big man, very strong, and they used to carry three bag of rice on his shoulder and walk miles to go and sell the rice so one day he bought a horse and the horse kick him in the stomach and he died.
DMAE: That’s not funny.
RICHARD: I thought he was going to carry the horse.
GEORGE: I thought that too. But the horse kicked him in the stomach and he passed away.
ROBYNN: Did your mom know what it was going to be like?
GEORGE: No, she didn’t know anything. She just came to Hawaii because before this no more choice. When they tell you you get married you have to go. So having nine children, you don’t know your parents too much. I’m the oldest and I go to work and she’s raising the children at home.
DMAE: Must have been hard for her.
GEORGE: And she used to make gardening carrying the baby on her back. They call it obie. Tie it on the back. And she’s digging in the back. I used to come home from work, I was 16, 17 years old I’d say oh, mom, let me go dig. And my dad too he used to go dig. I come home from work and I’m tired too. Come home from work and I see him sighing and chopping wood to make the food. Hot water for the food and taking a bath. So I used to let him rest. I used to be a pretty good boy, I don’t know.
ROBYNN: Did he describe the work?
GEORGE: Oh yes. My dad come home tired and this and that so he told me George, when you grow up I want you to be a tradesman, because that’s the best paying job in the plantation. So that’s the reason I became an electrician.
DMAE: What did your dad do?
GEORGE: he was a boilerman, he used to make steam. Like Fred does down here, make steam for the generator operated by steam. So that’s the kind of job he had. When he got old he was a janitor in the mill.
ROBYNN: you were saying you didn’t have any photos. How did your dad get a picture for the wedding bride?
GEORGE: I never did see the wedding picture, to tell you the true fact. We couldn’t afford a camera these days. I was the poorest kid in Lahaina.
DMAE: How did your dad get a picture?
GEORGE: I don’t know.
DMAE: They must have paid somebody.
GEORGE: They must have had, but I never see them. Oh, I think I see once, black and white picture from way back. We’re talking about almost 100 years ago. So yeah, I saw them. They had one picture and…I don’t know what happened to the picture. He was young. All dressed up.
DMAE: Did you work in the plantations at all?
VIVIAN: No. I work in the pineapple field. I was born in Lahaina Pump. My parents worked in the sugar cane and after that we moved to Hona Lua, it’s Kapalua now. And we worked in the pineapple field and my father used to drive the model T and take us to the field and we harvest and in those days we had a contract. You had to take so many acres of pineapple. So we work hard.
DMAE: Can you describe the work?
VIVIAN: pick pineapple?
DMAE: What kind of tools?
VIVIAN: yeah, we pick by hand. Put in the bag, I think, I’m not sure. And then another truck come and take all the pineapple, take it to the cannery. But that was hard job. We were poor. We couldn’t buy anything and poor so we used to take in Filipino laundry. Weekends my sister and I used to wash clothes by hand. Palm and boil it and hang it up. That’s how we used to make money. And we used to raise our own vegetables in our backyard. And we used to raise chickens. The only thing we bought was meat from the plantation. That was a treat. Buy meat from plantation. But we were poor so we raise own vegetables. Even to buy milk we couldn’t buy. So poor.
DMAE: What does meat from the plantation mean?
VIVIAN: Oh, before used to be bornon packers? And they used to slaughter their own pig, way down by the beach was a slaughterhouse. And we’d go down there and buy however many pounds we need. And no refrigerator so we had box like a refrig…ice box. Get the ice and put the meat on in a burlap bag. That’s how we used to keep them.
DMAE: Do you mean from the plantation store? What was the store like?
VIVIAN: Yeah. The store is still there, you know.
DMAE: A working store?
VIVIAN: Yeah. They have bentos like that and I used to live behind the store. And in those days Japanese camp, Hawaiian camp, Filipino camp were all separated. Our manager didn’t want all together. So the store is still there and they’re making good.
DMAE: The manager didn’t want you together?
VIVIAN: No. different nationalities all separated.
VIVIAN: I don’t know why. But we worked together.
ROBYNN: why did your parents immigrated?
VIVIAN: I don’t know how they came, but they came to Hawaii to make money. And after they made money they thought of going back to Japan, which they never went back. They stayed here, raised a family. Four of us, five of us. And we all got married. Of course my parents died a long time ago.
ROBYNN: Did your mom work in the fields?
VIVIAN: Yes. In the pineapple they picked pine. That was a hard job. So as soon as they retired they moved to Honolulu.
DMAE: I don’t think a lot of mainlanders know what a pineapple field looks like.
VIVIAN: The people think pineapple plants grow like that. They think the pineapple grow in the grand. No, pineapple grow on top. So we used to pick, put in the bag, leave them there, the truck come and pick them up.
DMAE: So you have to bend down a lot.
VIVIAN: Oh yeah.
ROBYNN: Don’t forget it.
DMAE: Describe what you wore picking pineapple?
VIVIAN: Picking pineapple we wore those long hats, only the face, eyes can see. We cover our face because the pineapple is tall, the plants. We get all poked so we wore long-sleeve shirts, my mother used to make all the shirts. Long-sleeve shirts, even the pants, and toppy, what you call it, toppy. Shoes, Japanese shoes. Not like nowadays you have nice kind of shoes. No, long-sleeved shirt and we used to put another sleeve over because pineapple is so poky it hurts. And we didn’t have goggles those days. Now you have to wear goggles. So of course the face get all poked from the plants, it hurts. But that’s how we grew up.
DMAE: How long is the pineapple season and how many hours did you work?
VIVIAN: Pineapple takes about two years before they harvest it. From the time you plant and until the time you can harvest, I mean the fruit before you harvest.
DMAE: How long days did you work?
VIVIAN: We had contracts so it’s up to us how many hours you want to work. But after that no contracts so I used to work in the pineapple fields when I was twelve years old, pick pine for eight hours, and then later on I started to work in the cannery.
DMAE: Hard to be a kid and work so hard.
VIVIAN: But we had to.
DMAE: Did other kids work too?
VIVIAN: Yeah, in those days everybody had to work.
DMAE: Eight hours?
DMAE: All your friends?
VIVIAN: Yeah, all the people who used to work. Eight hours work. Go home and work in the garden, raise vegetables.
DMAE: How much did you make?
VIVIAN: I really don’t know how much I made but my husband said he was paid twenty-five cents a day on the plantation. Twenty-five cents a day. Everything was cheap so twenty-five cents is big money.
DMAE: How much did twenty-five cents buy?
VIVIAN: A lot of things. Rice, one bag rice is how much today? Those days was maybe one, two dollars.
DMAE: Still sounds like really hard work. How long did you work in the fields?
VIVIAN: Until I got married.
DMAE: How long is that?
VIVIAN: About fifty-eight years ago. No, actually I worked in the cannery when I got married. Until they closed. It cans no more now.
DMAE: So from age twelve to how old?
VIVIAN: Until I got married at about twenty years old.
DMAE: For eight years?
VIVIAN: yeah, about that. That’s long. Work hard too.
DMAE: Did you have any physical problems.
VIVIAN: We don’t go doctor so I don’t know. Muscles strong.
DMAE: You might have back problems.
VIVIAN: No, I don’t think so. I was strong.
DMAE: Had to be. What was your house like?
VIVIAN: We had a three-bedroom house with the toilet outside. We had to go out to use the toilet and at nighttime it was so dark we used to be afraid to go. It’s not like now, right in the house. And the floor was dirt and we used to cook our rice outside. Outside stove with the woods, but it tasted good. And we had regular three-bedroom house. We had five in the family. My brothers left the house early after they graduated Lahainaluna. And I graduated and went to Sunday school because we didn’t have enough money to go college. After that I got married.
DMAE: Did your parents talk about when they were growing up?
VIVIAN: I don’t know. They came from Japan. From Kumamoto. So actually I don’t know what kind of life they had.
DMAE: Were they connected to Japan? Did they send money home?
VIVIAN: I don’t think they send money because we didn’t have enough money too.
DMAE: What did the camp look like?
VIVIAN: I was brought up at Honolua camp, its Konolua now. the teenagers used to get together and in those days, war days, we used to entertain the service people.
VIVIAN: Dancing. And we used to make food, lunch for the service people. Just someplace upcountry. Where was that camp? Haiku? So we used to invite them every weekend, and have dancing, feed them lunch, and they go back to the camp. We the girl scouts.
DMAE: Boys had sports. What did the girls do?
VIVIAN: We used to play volleyball too. I’m short so I used to get sprained all the time. The ball hit here you know.
DMAE: What else?
VIVIAN: We used to hike all the time. Go up the mountain. Pack some lunch and go hiking. No cars in those days. You can’t do that now, it’s trespassing. But it was fun, go hiking, entertain the service people.
DMAE: Did you have irrigation ditches here?
VIVIAN: Yeah, pineapple had.
DMAE: Did kids play in that?
VIVIAN: We used to go hiking and play in the water. And that’s the water we used to drink. Now you can’t do that.
DMAE: Anybody get sick or drowned?
VIVIAN: No. but we used to see rat or mongoose drowned.
DMAE: What was it like when you were growing up?
ANITA: We used to help my mother wash clothes and then we used to saw wood because the pine mill used to supply the wood so we used to saw and somebody cut up the wood to use it for heating up the bathtub. And while we were doing laundry after hanging up and my mother said after you do all that a Chinese man will be coming with peanuts and so we look forward to see the man because we can have something to eat.
DMAE: What was your house like?
ANITA: We had a three-bedroom house. We had four girls and one brother and you can keep the door unlocked and neighbors come over and put food on the kitchen table.
DMAE: sounds like everybody had three bedroom houses. Is that normal? Didn’t have a room to yourself.
ANITA: No, we had to sleep together and some people had to sleep in the living room if they wanted to be alone.
DMAE: Did you have toilets outside?
ANITA: Um-hum. We had toilets outside and at night I said somebody should come with me because I have to go out in the dark.
DMAE: Who would be out there?
ANITA: I don’t know. It was dark so we were afraid.
DMAE: Are there mongoose or lions?
ANITA: No, we don’t have any lions or tigers.
VIVIAN: Two-legged people.
ANITA: Somebody might be hiding there and as soon as you go to the bathroom they’re hiding and we don’t even know so we wanted somebody to come and watch while we’re going to the bathroom and they can take us back.
ROBYNN: There was a Filipino strike on Maui in ’37 do you remember that? No.
ANITA: We were too young. Do you know the Filipino strike?
RICHARD: Those days they had different group strike. That means Filipino, they could never win the battle. Because one was working and the others on strike. Until Jack Hall came to Hawaii and organized all the workers into one union. That’s when they had the big strike of 1946. and they won that. I didn’t work at the time but the union won and they made a lot of good for the workers. They had no money, although they had to pay for the house, they had to pay for the medical, and no firewood and kerosene then. But I think that they were far better off because the company was paying them so little. And after that you could see the people going to school. You could see them get cars. And some of them start to buy house, because of the union, it became what it was today.
DMAE: Why was it hard to organize before then?
RICHARD: The company control everything. If you go and organize they know, they fire you out. So how can you organize? You have to hide and do that.
DMAE: Did people get fired?
RICHARD: I don’t know, but I know people that organized, they told me they had to hide house to house to talk about how they’re going to organize.
DMAE: Describe the police and the plantation.
RICHARD: Oh yeah. The plantation control everybody. Even the police. After the unions came in the picture you can see the changes. They turn around for the working people, not until then.
DMAE: How did they work together?
RICHARD: The plantation tells the police, they tell you what to do. So they have to do what the big people, that’s the big five.
DMAE: When did that change?
RICHARD: After the strike. Slowly it changes.
DMAE: So the police were hired by the plantation owners?
RICHARD: No, they’re county workers. But who runs the county? The big five! The plantation.
ROBYNN: You were talking about the war. Did military folks change things in the plantation?
FRED: I don’t think so.
RICHARD: The only thing I can tell you, during the war. Lahaina became like a ghost town, all the merchants moved to Oahu where all the business was. So Lahaina town was like a ghost town when all the people left.
DMAE: Is that when the Chinese left?
RICHARD: No, the Chinese left long before that, because they are smart people, business people.
GEORGE: Oh, about politics. I was going to say what he was saying, just what he was saying. Like when election time comes, when I make 21 years I can go vote, so my boss tell me you can go vote and I say yeah. So my boss says after lunch, we going to take you to go vote. So we have no choice because you cannot go against the company because if you go against the company your dad lose his job. There’s going to be no place for him to work? Either that or bolin packers. So you have to be very careful like my company said you know the big five control this whole island. When I go to vote, the boss go to take you. And before, without my malawa? There’s a building where you vote and he came look inside what you are doing so you are so afraid. He tell you, you vote for this man and this man is Republican, because Republican control Hawaii before. So you are in there you gotta vote for that man because you are afraid if he catch you, for your family no more job, yeah? So that is true and when the big strike came to us, before that you don’t see intermarriage. When the big strike came all nationalities got together, we want the strike, as you say, and then we start to see intermarriage. The people I think they understand each other more than before. Because the company keep separating all the camps, everyone in different camp to keep us away from be one. That’s why when the big strike came, we became one, that’s why we won the strike, and that has made a lot of improvement for the community.
DMAE: People did not intermarry before the strike?
GEORGE: My dad tell me I take you to Japan, you can marry a girl from Japan. I say no, I want to stay here, I want to marry a local girl here. You got to marry your own kind before this. They come from Japan they stress on that…
FRED: My parents were strict on that. You marry in racial…
RICHARD: But the later years, everything changed. They go school, they grow up, they get married. Even the parents don’t want. Not all of them, but some of the parents don’t want. But they still get married.
DMAE: In the early years they married Hawaiians and that was okay.
RICHARD: I wish my son-in-law was here. He would tell you plenty. He told me election time, when you go in and vote, they know how you’re voting.
RICHARD: The plantation, the supervisor, whoever, watching.
RICHARD: He can explain. He say the way that thing is set up, he know which way you’re voting. He can explain to you better, not me.
GEORGE: Talking about organizing the union, I went to a couple of meetings with my friend and I and I hear this guy Louis Goblack, Jack Hall went to a meeting, we got to hide and have meeting. They are so intelligent these men. That object can be black, when they finish talking, you see then it’s white. That’s how smart they are. that’s why they were brand for being communist. You remember? All the union ILW union top officers were all branded communist. So I really glad they came because I used to make 11 cents an hour, 88 cents a day and I was paying a mortgage of 125 dollars a month and I make only about 17, 18 dollars a month. Good thing my wife was a nurse so she pay for things. The company kept us so broke so we cannot get away from here. They kept us broke so we pay our bills and stay here, no place to go, no extra money to go. But as the union came in we got increasing wages so the children started to go college and that’s the reason why I sold my two units as I said to educate my grandchildren. Because I want them to be better than me. So I have eight grandchildren, one great. And I ? and May understands that and now she got a problem too with her grandson going college too so she understands how hard it is the experience of today. I have two going college and my son has five children. He make two-in-one. One girl and one boy, the same year, ten months apart. I never taught him that. I was so upset, I look at the wife, oh boy, she’s pregnant again? I told myself, your wife pregnant again? He say yeah, we going to have another one. Ten months apart. So now they suffer. They’re going to college and that’s the reason I sold my unit and helping my grandchildren so they can do better than me in their life.
ROBYNN: How was strike organized?
GEORGE: during the strike? During the strike I was a fisherman. Because I was a diver fisherman. So all the people who fish went fishing and all the people who make garden go help the vegetable up there and bring home vegetable and get the fish. And the year we have the strike it’s amazing what happened. There were tons and tons of Oheoheo, the red fish. Tons of fish, it never happened before in the history of Hawaii, I don’t think it happened. Because we strike, I think somebody must have looked down on us poor people. We caught tons and tons, we lived on the fish.
RICHARD: And the veke. Vekeula. People in Oahu call them Vekeula.
GEORGE: Yeah, and the Veke, the one with the stripe, you dream. You get bad dreams. You never know, you watch out really. But it’s funny you know, my tenants from the mainland, the guests come over, and I go out to Lene at night and I catch Veke with the stripe you eat that you get bad dreams. I eat that fish and I can’t sleep all night. Somebody choke my neck how many times, you can’t get up. Because you eat the fish. The fish is kind of poison. My friend from the mainland eat that. Oh that big I enjoy it, but I didn’t say anything. They ate and I say how was it? Oh, very good, catch some more. They never get the kind of dream I get. I don’t know why, it never hit them, mainland people.
ANITA: Hallucination. You know why, after they eat the fish they used to come to the emergency room and they said they ate the fish.
GEORGE: A lot of people had mysterious death too.
DMAE: What was the name of the fish?
GEORGE: Akuaveke we call them.
ROBYNN: What else did people do during the day during the strike?
GEORGE: They made garden.
DMAE: What did the women do?
VIVIAN: Kitchen. They had the soup kitchen.
RICHARD: Different committee. Soup kitchen, soup kitchen. I was one of the camp committee who send people up to Kula, have some go to the soup kitchen work. So I know quite a bit what happened at the time. So when the fish came they divide that and give some to the…
DMAE: Wait for Fred.
GEORGE: That’s why Fred eat dog and all that stuff.
RICHARD: We had so much fish, we used to give them to the other strikers. Like Punene. Wailuku sugar. But at one point the Kula farmers, if we give them vegetable they’re not going to like us because they don’t like the Wailkulu sugar and HNS workers. Because they work five days a week. The people from Lahaina go seven days a week and they do good job. So they used to get a lot of things outside of what they give to the union.
DMAE: Pineapple wasn’t involved in the strike too.
RICHARD: No, that was different. Pineapple had strike, but never worked the way we worked, I don’t know about them.
DMAE: Was there a strike?
VIVIAN: We had. After I got married we had a strike. Because I did, what you call that, hold a sign and walk around, picket. I did that too after I got married. But we didn’t have soup kitchen or go fishing or nothing like that. It didn’t last too long, the strike.
DMAE: Was it hard?
VIVIAN: Yeah, no income. No paycheck.
DMAE: Did you win?
VIVIAN: I guess so. We got higher wage, I think, that was why we strike.
VIVIAN: That was after I got married. 1946 or after that.
DMAE: Right after the sugar strike. Maybe it had an influence?
GEORGE: I think everyone come and say Hawaii so beautiful because people like us in the ’46 strike we got all the different nationality together. Before that we never socialize. So we made Hawaii beautiful. Just think about it.
FRED: That’s why they call it the melting pot.
RICHARD: It’s because of the Democrat Party and the union. Together. They brought Hawaii to what it is today. The Democrat Party, when the union wants something, they will give them. They have to go to legislature and pass laws. But the union was so strong and the Democrats was more of the working people anyway, so they would give so the things had changed a lot from the big five time and when the union came in.
GEORGE: I hate this to come like the olden days when this was controlled by the Republicans. Because I hate to go back to the olden days when you associate with only your own kind. That’s why I used to get in a lot of fights before, when I was growing up.
DMAE: What kind of fights?
GEORGE: Maybe I don’t like you guys, oh this oh this, oh lick the Filipinos, oh lick the Japanese. When I was growing up we did a lot of fighting before because everybody hate each other. They make people hate each other when we’re Republicans. Control by Republican. We’ve been controlled by Democrats 40 years or more. So everybody’s, it’s more together, more harmony.
ROBYNN: How did they make you hate each other?
DMAE: What did they do?
GEORGE: Two jobs. Certain nationalities get all the good jobs and this and that, so we think what the heck, I can do better, why did he get the job. So when you go out drinking you see the guy you say oh, that’s the guy so you say hey, you know you, you think you can do better than us? You get into big fight. That’s how we used to get before, yeah? But now, because it controlled by. I’m a Democrat but I vote for the man. I voted for Regan, I voted for Bush. I’m not ashamed to tell you, but I’m a Democrat. I thought they were good, but that’s why…
DMAE: Who got the good jobs?
GEORGE: I tell you most of the mainland people come to Hawaii because they were white and they got the good jobs. They don’t know about the job but they the boss. You cannot, we cannot manhandle them because we would lose our job. But when the war came, and the strike came and we all, the strong Democrat, everything this and that, then we had some rights because we are Democrats, we are Democrats. We’re not afraid to say we’re Democrats. Because we’re all together. And when the strike time came they beat up some of the workers because they wouldn’t do some irrigation job and the guy who beat them up went to jail so the whole union went to stand in front of the courthouse and support the people who got beat up in that fight. Stuff like that. We were so strong that they start to respect the union. That’s the reason why we all got confidence and we start to speak up. We’re not afraid to speak. Before we cannot say anything. They slap your hand, say oh today we slap your hand, you get one slap too. So…
DMAE: was it the haoles who got good jobs or other nationalities too?
GEORGE: If you were haoles, you would get a good job because it was controlled by Republicans, they were the haoles, all the big boss. As time went by, all the intermarriage, haoles married locals and that, and came Democrats strong, that’s why we have intermarriage too because we became Democrat. Before then no, they keep us separate. Was different. Everybody was happy when was different nationality. Before when was Republican, control no, they were all segregated.
DMAE: So when you had fights was it Japanese against haole?
GEORGE: No, not against anything. But the local guys it was always, the haoles come from the mainland. He your boss but he don’t know nothing. How is he your boss? He don’t know nothing. So some of the haoles they marry local girls and oh, you know that guy, they get mad too because they democrats now too. But they still bring over haoles.
DMAE: Did anybody go to jail?
RICHARD: One or two days jail, that’s all. Because they bail them out.
GEORGE: So now things changed and its so beautiful, paradise. But I hope it doesn’t change because Republicans are starting to, I hope they don’t change the lifestyle again because I don’t’ want to go back to old days, I hated it. Even if Republicans or Democrats control by the island everybody should get together and be humble and be nice to each other. But I see the change already. Even some of the local guys, I say you know, if that guy is a man, good thing she is a woman because otherwise I’d punch him in the mouth because she is a Republican. People change parties and they become very strong. They think because it’s coming to control by the Republicans. I’m glad this year they’re Democrats. I hate to go back to the old days.
RICHARD: If things go the way it’s going, it might go back to where the people got to fight like hell again to organize themselves again, like there’s no union. Too many people working is too close to the management. They benefit more than the workers.
DMAE: You all have grandchildren. Is there something you would like the young generation to know about the plantation days?
GEORGE: Understand more. Right now they don’t.
GEORGE: Like the new Filipinos who come over here. They have it made. We fought for all the houses that their parents get, they bought them cheap, they move over here. This is paradise for them. They take, they can do whatever they like and they turn against us. Republican. And they don’t know what happened before their days. This kind of thing would be good for them. They understand, oh this what happened and they be more neutral. Right now they are just one. I am a Republican, I am a Filipino.
DMAE: If you could tell the next generation one thing what would it be?
RICHARD: About plantation? I can tell them that when I start working in the fifties, I made $2000 a year. Now you make $2000 a month. So you get everything on your silver platter now. so they don’t know how hard the working people, their parents went through. They cannot see. You have to talk to them individually and try to convince them because otherwise it’s not going through their head. Young people think they know everything.
DMAE: Did you when you were young?
RICHARD: No, I went fishing all the time. I was too much concerned about everything. I went fishing a lot. Like they said they never had girlfriends until they were in their twenties? I was one of them. I went fishing more than anything else.
GEORGE: You know, I go talk story with the younger guy, down at Nagasako, the younger guys. I go over there and say hello, they don’t even look at you. The older people. They don’t respect older people today like how we respect older people. The younger generation are funny. And when you buy soda pop they say you have to go over there and buy your own, we treat, the lifestyle is so different, I don’t understand the generation today. They’re funny. You tell them something, they don’t like it, they walk away. I talk about somebody, this man is a very important man so he wants to come and talk to you, they don’t want to listen, they walk away. They know it all. You can’t tell them nothing these young guys. That’s why they don’t know nothing.
DMAE: What would you want young people to know about the plantation days?
FRED: I like sleep.
VIVIAN: Oh, I can’t think. Maybe you.
RICHARD: I can tell you something. You know how good you are, working for the company, and if the boss doesn’t like you, you good for nothing. And I see that with my own eyes. Because I’m a person who do my job the way it’s supposed to be done. But if the boss can see me screw up, he’ll give me a warning paper. But the same person can see someone sleeping on his working hour, come down and talk to the other workers, say he’s sleeping, but nothing happen. So you can see the difference. It depends who you like and whether they’re good or not doesn’t matter.
MAY: Their life was hard but they had very happy times too.
DMAE: Any other questions? Last thoughts? Good bye? Oh I know, did you guys sing songs in the pineapple fields? No?
VIVIAN: I didn’t know about music. But after I got married and several years we joined the karaoke, we started singing.
FRED: The only singer is right here, George.
GEORGE: We do the volunteer work. May and I and people with us too, and I play ukulele or guitar or whatever. We have a group of hula dancers. May, she’s a hula dancer. We keep ourselves busy. Busier now than when I was, what do you call it, working. Busy, oh. Cruise ship come up, we entertain over there. Hotel, at the wedding, at the funeral.
DMAE: Do you sing?
FRED: Oh yes. He’s the main singer.
DMAE: Can you sing something? Just a little bit.
GEORGE: Yo tomate kutasai./ Please excuse me while I cry / Seems sayonara means ‘goodbye’ / And no one ever told me why. / Sacuaras in the spring / When our hearts from song to sing / Basakurahe’s gone away / And so has our love so they say / Yo tomate kutasai / Please excuse me while I cry / Without your love I would die / Please never leave me, kutasai.
RICHARD: You’ve got three hula dancers right here.
MAY: And a harmonica player.
DMAE: We’ll have to come back to have a show. Any last words? Thank you.
VIVIAN: This is going to come out on a tape.
DMAE: We might come back in March. Maybe you’ll think of something else.
GEORGE: Are you from the mainland?
DMAE: Yeah, Oregon.
GEORGE: Must be cold up there.
DMAE: Now, yeah.
DMAE: Would you tell me a little bit what it was like at school and they used to hit you?
GEORGE: When I was going grade school, first or second grade, I was pretty good size so the teacher cannot handle us but we used to get, if somebody not in the class, the teacher would stand by the door of the classroom, had a yardstick three feet long, and the pointy side he would hit us on the head as we walk out going home, so every day I would go home with a big lump on the head and when I go home I cannot say anything to my mom and dad because they say you were naughty so that’s why you got a licking. It’s not like nowadays where the parents protect them and everything but in our days our parents always back up the teacher so, I hated to go to school because I’m going to get a licking. ….we speak Pidgin in class we used to get scolding and some time we would get spanking in class if we speak Pidgin. So it was difficult because that’s how we learn when we were growing up. Speak Pdigin. At home my parents speak Japanese to us and when we play in the camp together we speak Pidgin and because the other kids talked Hawaiian or Filipino or whatever our language get mixed up and we talk Pidgin and when we go school it’s very difficult for us when we started school so that’s the way, we still get licking all the time and we hated to go to school when we were younger but as we get older the teacher cannot spank us because we’re pretty good size and we can protect ourselves and one time it happened this teacher would hit you for nothing. So here we have to clean room after our school and these two guys were cleaning the room, one guy was sweeping and one guy was mopping the room. And this guy saw the teacher come in so he was sweeping so he sweep fast and move on the side. But this guy mopping didn’t know the teacher was coming in. so this guy was mopping, the teacher came in and spank him, hit him for nothing. He get the mop, he hit the teacher right in the stomach, the teacher fell to the floor and these two guys were so scared they took off and they thought they killed the teacher and they never go to school for three days and the police came and they investigated and they were for sure they were going to reform school, but they found out that the two guys, two students were right and let them go. This is the kind of life we grew up. Children today are lucky that they’re so easy. The parents with all the rules and laws they get to protect the kids. They’re spoiled, we had all the discipline.
DMAE: All the kids spoke Pidgin. Right?
GEORGE: Yes. We all speak Pidgin because we’re all local kids. And when I first met the mainland people we call haoles they talk like hey, how can we understand them because they talk. Their good English and stuff, what they talking like? So vice versa what they’re talking, they don’t understand us either. So it was kind of funny. I grew up when my haole friend was with me and he asks me one day George, what kind of language is that, I say English and he said no, you folks talk different kind of language. I don’t understand you folks. We’re talking Pidgin, that’s why.
DMAE: Do young kids talk Pidgin now?
GEORGE: The kids, they speak a little Pidgin, not that much like our days. They speak very good English nowadays. My grandchildren does anyway. Because I don’t talk Pidgin to them either because going into the hotel business I meet a lot of people and talk to a lot of important people. I once knew the richest man in LA. Charles C. Offer. And I learn a lot from him about a lot of things, trust, wills, and stuff. And how to invest and stuff. That’s the reason I made my home over there. I paid it in cash. I hate to brag but I learn a lot from these many people.
DMAE: You should brag, you did very well.
GEORGE: And people say from being the poorest guy in Lahaina and now I’m doing well and now when I go out with my friends I know how hard it is for them too because coming out from the sugar camp and now they have their own home. They have children, grandchildren. So now when we go someplace and play music or something, let’s go eat something and they don’t want to go but I say come on, I have a little bit in my pockets so come share with me and then they come because I went through Lahaina life because when I used to work I never even had money to buy soda pop even. The first ice cream I ever ate when I was twelve years old. And I eat one orange and one bottle of soda for New Years. Japanese people celebrate Christmas, nothing. We’re Buddhist, we don’t celebrate Christmas.
DMAE: Thank you.
GEORGE: Extra. A lot of things you forget.
<Outside, talking, walking out>
Good Ambience :30