Plantation Village in Hawaii – museum of Plantation Life

Plantation Village in Hawaii – museum of Plantation Life
Recordings by Dmae Roberts
Date: 11/16/04
2 Discs
Disc 1 – 80:35 – 15 Tracks
Disc 2 – 79:26 – 12 Tracks
Second disc has Pidgin Language class on the end of it.


TRACK 1 – 0:51

DMAE: Test. (tests w/ Richard)

TRACK 2 – 8:09

DMAE: I won’t play. I’ll record you guys.

ESPY: String up your bottle caps. And…crunchy noises. Everybody got one? Okay, then you knot the ends, tie them all together. We call them buzzsaw because when you start playing with it, because in plantation days we never had any buying power to buy toys we always made our own. Okay? So when you get it together, you lock it in your thumb. And you twirl it if you want to twirl it, but as soon as you twirl the thing it buzzes. That’s why it’s called buzzsaw. BUZZING NOISE. And I always tell them it’s good for the girls to get their arms all flexible and the bust line and all that kind of thing. I had a man from Minnesota tell me, before 9/11, he said Espy, I’m going to take this on the plane, but of course now if you take it, it’s a weapon. The boys, when we were young, they used to flatten the cover and sharpen it and then they used to fight and cut the strings of other people. As soon as you tie it tell me so I can help you.

I’m all messed up.

ESPY: Richard, you okay?

RICHARD: Oh yeah, I just, get it wound up.

ESPY: All you have to do is pull it and then close it. Close it there. Just get the feel of my hand, don’t fight me, don’t fight me. All right, very good.

DMAE: I just want to get some of that sound.


ESPY: Bring it around, close your hand. Get the feel of that bounce. Isn’t that neat? Oh, she got it, good girl. Oh she didn’t. as soon as I said it.


ESPY: Here’s another string. You’re not going to give up. You got to put a lot of spin on it.

DOM: I tried that.

ESPY: No, you have to put a lot of spin on it.

DMAE: What do you call this game?

ESPY: Buzzsaw. Us girls, we used to use buttons because it was more safe than this kind. Oh, he’s enjoying it. Totally. It’s very relaxing too, yeah, Richard? Very relaxing. What’s her name, I didn’t get to meet her?

JENNIFER: Jennifer.

ESPY: Jennifer, let it die now, let it bounce back. Now, you, you’re killing it by doing that, give it to me.

Getting frustrated, huh?

DMAE: I don’t think I can play this game.

ESPY: Okay, so you can hang it around your neck and it’s part of your equipment you take home, yeah? This is for you, so when you get the chance.

DMAE: Okay, I’m all tangled up.

ESPY: Okay. So another thing we try to show people are these different edible items. You can taste it now, you have a chance to taste it. The apple, I don’t know where it is, it’s on the tree. The carbola, the star fruit, once it’s cut crosswise, star fruit. Go ahead and taste. Then we have the sugarcane, which is this, and macadamia nut, is that it? Yeah, macadamia. Then we have the pomolo, or what we call the jabun, it’s a grapefruit type. There. We have the pink one and that one so they’re both grapefruit. And this is of course the cocoanut. No, that’s the macadamia nut. Macadamia nut with cocoanut. Let’s see. No, it is macadamia nut. And I’ll let you try cracking some nuts. Okay? Come. Where’s the other one. We usually have two of these to show. In the Filipino house, we usually have our coconut husks cut right in half. And that’s what we used to clean the floors with. We used to scrub the floor, and with the other husk, we used to wax the floor. And once you get the feel of it, pass this on, it feels like a brush, from the coconut. Go ahead, pass it around so you get the feel of it. Now, this is the old macadamia nut cracker. I never saw this one before, but this is what we use to crack the macadamia nut. What you do is place it, and I’m going to have you folks do this, put it under here and then crack. CRACK. And that’s what you got to taste just a while ago. Now everybody try, get the feel of it, don’t be shy because that’s what you do. And while she’s doing that, I’ll be explaining, you folks have seen this. SHAKE. Moses is very good at teaching us how to make this handheld mulimuli, so he can tell us about that.

DMAE: Can you start with your name?

MOSES: I’m Moses Pakaki and I do Hawaiian cultural things. I can explain about the uliuli, which I am holding in my hand. This is from the gourd tree, we have out there and inside the gourd is canna seeds. Canna seeds. I’ll show you the plant after a while. And this is rooster feathers. Put it together and it’s called the uliuli. Hula dancers use it today. SHAKER

ESPY: When the Puerto Ricans came they bring the maracas. The Hawaiians turned it around and made it into the uliuli. So when we get into the Puerto Rican house, we get to see the maracas. Again, the seeds were the cannalini seeds inside. Also, you’ll come across a plant, a tree that we call the hala tree. It’s got a fruit looking thing that looks almost like a pineapple, and it’s all in segments around it. It will burst when it gets orange, almost ripe, falls to the ground. When it dries up, individually, it becomes brushes. So the men, I don’t know.

MOSES: Yes, we use it as a paintbrush also.

ESPY: And then we have the rocks. Ili.

MOSES: Ili ili. This is river rock or beach rocks, and hula dancers also use this when they’re dancing.

ESPY: Okay, so we’ll go outside and see the lalamia tree.

TRACK 3 – 4:26


ESPY: Okay, this is the la-amia tree that you saw the gourd from, and it’s not edible. So you’ll look and see is that it’s such a unique tree. You’ll see some flowers on the branches like here, and you’ll look real close and they’ll have little small ones, teeny teeny weeny ones, as they graduate into big ones. And when they’re ready they’ll fall to the ground, and that is what’s picked up and dried and polished. So again this is the la amia tree. It’s easy to propagate. All you have to do is pick a branch, stick it in the ground, and it will grow. Now we’ll go to the macadamia tree. And I always ask the tourists how many of them have not seen macadamia nut tree, so when we go there I allow them to pick up the nuts and crack it the way we used to do when we were kids, with rocks.

DMAE: Would you tell me your name, I am.

ESPY: Okay, I am Espy Garcia. My real name is Esperanza Gabriel Garcia. And I volunteer here three Mondays a week and I do a lot of cooking and I feed people who go on tour. If they eat my food, I tell them, they’re family, because that’s how we were when we were young. We invited anybody to come and eat with us. So they know me from now on I’m the cook. And people come on Mondays to see Espy do the tour. Okay, we’re now facing the macadamia nut tree. You’ll notice they come in clusters, so you’ll find them on the ground. I think the boy that picks them up does a great job, so he probably won’t leave us anything. See some of them are already skinned. Anybody find anything? He’s been assigned to pick up and I think he’s really good at picking up. I think they found one up there. So it has a skin, an outer skin that we crack first. There. Moki got one. Okay, one of you try it. That one already has split, so you just peel it off and with the rock go ahead and crack it, just like the device in the building. Just enough so you hear it crack. More than that. And we have a lot of trees around this area, a lot of it is mango trees, different variety…CRACK very good. When you hear that sound you’re doing very good. Perfect. That is a perfect cracking of a nut.

JENNIFER: I can eat it?

ESPY: Yes you can. The next I will show you is the veapple tree, and this is very unique. I call that our dental floss fruit because when you bit into the fruit it is so strong, stringy that it will lock into your teeth and you pull it and it cleans your teeth. So if you see any that have fallen, here, one’s already fallen. And I’ll let you touch it and see what I was talking about, how hard the thing is. You get to feel it, see? So when it sticks to your teeth, it is like dental floss, isn’t that great? So veapple. And the smell is the exact taste. It has a beautiful smell. It’s exactly, really scrumptious. We even eat it green, it’s like an apple to us, but because of this, she gots to put her glasses on. So veapple. That’s going to be for the mongoose.

MOSES: It’s our favorite.

ESPY: So when you see our video, it says that the tour will start at the times

TRACK 4 – 0:10

ESPY: Island. We have heritage stones that are shown there, people have donated. Companies, families, so their names are on the plaques. We’re a non-profit organization sitting on…

TRACK 5 – 18:10

ESPY: Who had no families to tend to their graves. And when they had decided they were going to build a subdivision there they dug up all the bones, took this particular rock on a flatbed to its next destination but it fell off the flatbed truck, they had no equipment to pull it up. It stayed dormant for over 45 years, until the H2 freeway was being built. A bulldozer unearthed it. They had someone come back and read the inscription. It said, “Fellow countrymen who have gone before us, this tower is erected for you.” The timing was so perfect that it came back to Waipauhu, 1992 when we opened the village. So as we enter the village now, I always tell the children when they go on tour, we’re going to enter the stomach of a whale, because this is a facsimile of a water flume out in the open. And to keep them busy I tell them we’re going in the stomach of a whale, you need to count the ribs. But, I tell the older people this is the year 2004. Those of us that are grey-haired, fifty pounds overweight, 1800, close to 1900, we’re going to be nice and thin and black-haired again. Okay, come.

DMAE: All right.

ESPY: And Halloween time we like to put webbing here. No electricity, so it really sounds spooky because we put eerie-sounding music here and the echo, and everybody screams. So the children are kept busy. They count one, two, three, four. And only two have counted the exact number, 103. So as we enter the village now, the structures are arranged in order of how they came, how they immigrated to Hawaii. We have the first area which is the Chinese. We have a cook area out here where during the festivals, they would show how to cook in the woks. A sink out there, and then as we face the Chinese structures, we have two original structures on this property. This is a Chinese kitchen, cookhouse. It’s an original structure on its original site. Cornerstone used to be a flagpole. They would raise it and workers in this area knew it was time to eat lunch. Now, a unique thing about the Chinese is that when they eat, and even now when you think about Chinese food, restaurant-wise, you order everything hot, you would never order anything cold. Unless, cold chicken is a modern dish. But Chinese always eat temperature-hot food. So when they were immigrants here, when they went out to the sugar fields to work, they had this one unit that almost looked like a water container. And in the center they had a perforated shelving. They put the food on the top, and out in the hot sun it would heat up the water and again they ate temperature-hot food everyday. So they never missed out on their way of eating. This is a society building. On the top is a shrine. We have plants, now remember the Orientals loved their rice, so they had rice to plant and harvest and eat. Now with this unit right here, how many of you know what this is? CLANG Any guesses?

DMAE: A bell?

ESPY: A bell, no. a Chinese lady who is a volunteer here, who is in her 80s. when she was eight years old, after school, this was her job. Until the sun set. She hated it with a passion because all her friends were working and this was the only thing she did until the sun set. CLANG and that was to chase the birds away from the rice fields. CLANG again, you can take a look into the cookhouse. Again, we don’t let anybody go in because of the termite-eaten structure. You will notice that Chinese were always interested and still are, herbologists. You have shelves that have all kind of herbs, and the lemon and lime jars. They pickle that and people that have chest colds or anything to do with that they would make tea out of it and in the morning, after they had taken that in the evening, all the phlegm would come up. It’s very cleansing. They had a huge wok inside. They would cook all kind of dishes. Soup, noodles, whatever.

ROBYNN: Was it one person for the whole camp?

ESPY: No, they had several cooks working for the Chinese sector.

ROBYNN: Did those people also work in the fields?

ESPY: No, they were stationary, they stayed in one spot.

DMAE: I assume it was all women.

ESPY: They had some women that did work, but they were underpaid as usual. But the women’s work never ended because they’d go home, they’d take care of children. In fact, the children were allowed to go out in the fields to be with the women. So that way they could work also.

DMAE: But women cooked here.

ESPY: Men too. Like any nationality, men are considered to be the best cooks.

DOM: The first Chinese that came to Hawaii were all men. And that was of course their dilemma, of every group that came except the Portuguese, they came as single men, as bachelors. And so putting families together was very very difficult.

ESPY: In China, women were never allowed into their society building but in Hawaii women were allowed to go in. so as we enter the structure you will notice on the wall the Chinese who were the first immigrants were paid three dollars a month, five year contract. We had people from the South keep asking, did they come as slaves? We said no. they had to sign a contract. My papa, who was hired in 1926, he got hired a dollar a day by that time. But he was told that as he got paid they kept some money back so he would have funds to go back to the Philippines when he needed it. My parents took that money in 1956, but paid their way back and then in 1959 my Papa retired from the plantation. And we never spoke English at home, we learned English in school, so I used to ask my Papa, Papa why am I so short? He’d say don’t worry, when you go to the Philippines you get to meet my two sisters, and so when he retired in 1959 my husband in the military we were stationed in Japan. I wrote him and said Papa, if I come to the Philippines will you meet me? He said okay. So when I landed in Manila, my two aunties were there at the airport to meet me, and I was so happy because they were exactly my height. And my Papa said why was I concerned all these years with being short? I said Papa, I know the Filipinos have this pygmy tribe that’s called the Igarot, and when I researched that the pygmies were four feet eleven, average. I’m four eight. I’m a widget. We have a model here that shows this area. We’re now in the society building. At one time, we saw the cookhouse, they had a single man’s dormitory right up here, and we had a dead man’s house or a hospice house and when we were here as little children we used to run around you know how kids usually tease each other, spooky, dead men. They had a Chinese school which eventually became a sewing school which my sister attended. These houses or structures used to be here, and eventually they fell apart. And I used to tell them when the termites finally let go of their hands, they finally collapsed. Eventually they want to put a schoolhouse so we can talk about the one-room schoolhouse that started in the early days. Now if someone came here and wanted to stay overnight but had no place to stay, that is what was afforded him. He would have a hard bed to sleep on and then tatami mat, rice mat. And then he was given some coverlets. Three types of pillows the Chinese had, I call this for the hot-headed person THUMP THUMP, semi-hot-headed. But the Chinese said there’s a reason why we toss and turn when we sleep. It’s because we get hot, our body’s hot, why we move. But the Chinese believe if you have an aerated pillow, you sleep right through the night. Smart Chinese. Now when the men came in they would sit down, talk story, read newspapers, drink tea, gossip, whatever, and then when they felt guilty they would go up to the shrine. Now some of the things on the walls you would notice where they came from. They came to get wood here and then plant rice. Now as Mr. Boylan said, the men came as single, the only women they could marry were the Hawaiians. And this was our greatest mixture of races in Hawaii. When you see someone looking Hawaiian but has a Chinese last name, he would automatically be Hawaiian-Chinese. You see someone with a different feature with a Chinese last name, that’s the blending that started. So we don’t have too many pure Hawaiians anymore. In fact, I know this lady who said her grandmother was the first Chinese woman to marry a Hawaiian man. So it’s really interesting to see how the blend of races came. Moki, what’s your mixture?

MOSES: Chinese/Hawaiian.

ESPY: See, Chinese/Hawaiian and who was Chinese, your Mama.

MOSES: My Mama.

DMAE: How many generations back?

MOSES: We couldn’t go back. It was I the 1700 we couldn’t go further back than that because we had been told the records had, the building that had the records had been burned, so we couldn’t go back. So I don’t know whether my mom, she had Chinese father or what.

DMAE: 1700s really? Were there Chinese here in 1700s?

DOM: They came individually that early. But they don’t come as an industrial labor force until 1852. that’s when the first contract laborers came. But the first sugarcane was cultivated by Chinese. I believe that was on Lanai. And that was 1802, if I’m not mistaken, something like that. And then industrial cultivation began later in the 1830s. But the Chinese were really part and parcel of the whole Hawaiian sugar story from the beginning.

DMAE: Because it was growing wild, the cane was growing wild.

DOM: But processing the cane was what the Chinese contributed, and it was an extraordinary contribution. I think one of the things that’s fundamental to understand about the coming of the labor force was the decline of the Hawaiian population. The Chinese came, the Japanese came, the Filipinos came and the Koreans came. Because the Hawaiian population, like so many indigenous people, when they were introduced to foreign diseases, foreign microbes, they began dying off at a very rapid rate. Estimates differ between 250,000 to 800,000 Hawaiians were here and by 1900s when Hawaii was annexed to the United States, it was down to 39,000. Now that when you need an industrial labor force, means you had to import labor, and that meant Chinese and Japanese and Portuguese and so forth.

ESPY: The first sugar mill was up on the island of Kauai. 1835 was the first. But the Chinese, they did come. The knowledge was there to do sugarcane. He brought the crystals to form it into the sugar we know today. Okay. Let’s go upstairs to the shrine. STAIRS DOOR

ESPY: We have many plants planted around for all the different ethnic groups. A lot of the mangoes are a variety, so you can see some mangoes already forming here, with the flowers on it. Our shrines, the Chinese would come in and the first thing they would do is go into the right door to get the incense. And put it to the altar and burn it. Then they would go through the respective gods, you name them, they’re here, and I don’t know them all. Mercy, longevity, happiness. But the women would come and go to the left cubby-hole, and the center is the goddess of fertility. So that’s where they would pray to have a good conception, a healthy baby, good pregnancy. Now with the center god here, we call it the rice god, the thunder god. The Chinese children were always reminded that they were to eat every grain of rice in their bowls. If not, he will come with a hatchet and a spike.

DMAE: Who’s talking?

ESPY: Again, the pomolo that was shown, that you were eating in there, this is their sacrificial food. You’ll always see them at the altar of a shrine. So we have the furnace here. The Chinese believe in putting paper money, not real money to burn and they believe the ashes you create, the more blessings you will have during the year. We have this little boy that the Chinese people tell their children to honor their mother and father that he was so mean to his mother and father and his mama was deathly afraid of him. But he had a change of mind when he saw a bird’s nest and you know how birds open their mouths to be fed? He realized his mama was always good to him. So he had a change of heart, wanted to ask for forgiveness from his mama, started to walk toward his mama an his mama was deathly afraid of him. She ran in the opposite direction, ran into a tree and died. So with his outstretched arms, Chinese children are reminded to always honor their mother and father.

DMAE: I think somebody made that story up.

ESPY: I think so, but that’s a good story. We have some trees that are Chinese in origin. I don’t know how many of you have eaten Li Chi. Lung On. A unique feature about these trees are you know the Li Chi is a bumpy, bumpy fruit. You would look at the tree and know that is a Li Chi because the fruit is bumpy, the tree trunk is smooth, it’s opposite. The Lung On is a smooth fruit, but the tree is very bumpy, bumpy. Opposite.

DMAE: This building is original.

ESPY: Not this.

DMAE: Which one was original?

ESPY: The cookhouse. The other structures you’ll see were constructed by a lady architect. She had blueprints and some, we’ll see the outdoor house, the bathhouse, that was from plans that they had from the mine. Some of them were just thought about and then they worked with some things. But every structure has been put on copies of other houses on different plantations in the islands. So as you see them you’ll notice that’s where they came from, different islands.

DOM: An extraordinary architect named Spencer Linewebber..

ESPY: A lady.

DOM: …yes, and Spencer is one of the really extraordinary historical preservationists in Hawaii and she’s done a number of things before she did this. But she and her crew went around to each one of the islands studying extant plantation houses, trying to get a precisely the right measurements. Their research was fantastic. And the building required really first-rate craftsmen to do it and carpenters of the highest order. But Spencer Linewebber is quite a genius. She, and this I think is her masterpiece, her village.

ESPY: Come, let’s go next to the Portuguese.

DOM: They wanted originally to move old buildings here. But they found that most of them were not in sufficient condition to do it. They were going to move old plantation houses but it just didn’t work. Most of them were too far gone, or termite-infested or rotten foundations or so forth. So with the exception of the cookhouse and a Japanese shrine that we’ll see down the way, instead they had to go the route of replicating, what a village looked like. Although remember, historically the buildings were separate. You would find Chinese living with Chinese, Japanese living with Japanese, Filipinos living in a Filipino village, Koreans living in a Korean village, but Estrada will talk about that, I’m sure.

DMAE: Hold on a second. Let me change arms.

TRACK 6 – 0:30

ESPY: This is our coffee plant. We have, you’ve heard maybe the expression Kona snow. On the big island, when the coffee starts blooming it usually blooms on the branches and it opens to white. So it looks like snow had landed on the plants. A coffee bean, normally when you pick it, when it’s hand-picked it’s called premium coffee, which is what Kona coffee’s all about and why it’s so expensive. So when you open something like this…

TRACK 7 – 1:23

ESPY: …chosen for the Portuguese house and the Puerto Rican showing the separate kitchens because they believe by showing this if the kitchen should burn they could still sort of save the main house. Let’s come inside the kitchen. When the Portuguese were hired from Portugal, Madeira, Azores islands, they knew they were going to stay. So they brought big items with them – crocks, to pickle their bakaladi codfish. Woodstoves and the storyline behind this house is there’s a mother and father, son and daughter. Papa and son would cut the wood for the wood-burning stove, and the Portuguese were very famous for making bread. So they had the bread oven, which is called the forno. Mama and daughter would make the bread dough. Papa and son would make the fire in the forno. And it’s like sliding in pizza in here. And Papa would test to see if the oven was ready by throwing water and if it splattered nicely it was ready. Cover it, you might see some geckos.

DMAE: You have geckos out here?

ESPY: Oh plenty. And at the end of the day when the bread was all done and the ashes had come down, they would put it into this trough and people who were raised orchids…

TRACK 8 – 5:54


ESPY: …Now I always tell people what do you think this is? Any guesses?

ROBYNN: Toilet.

ESPY: Okay. When this item first came to our museum, I happened to open my mouth and said what a beautiful one-handled casserole dish. I never saw something that beautiful because remember now, I’m a laborer’s daughter, and this is what I saw. I had nothing to compare it with but that one. I would never sit on something beautiful. And when I take children out they go Miss Espy, what did you use this for? And I say you don’t see any toilets in our houses. So these are night chamberpots. It’s night. At night when you want to go to the bathroom, you have the notion to go. You cannot make it to the outdoor, you have to use this. And so they say Miss Espy, what do you do with it in the morning? I say throw it on the plants and the plants get fat. But…

DMAE: So who used that kind of chamberpot?

ESPY: Portuguese, the ones who were supervisors. Another feature I would like to ask you all is what they used for stuffing their mattresses? Anybody hear that sound? Any guesses? RUSTLE

ROBYNN: Leaves?

ESPY: Leaves, any one else? Any more guesses? Corn shucks.

DMAE: Say that again?

ESPY: Corn shucks. Hear that sound? But it’s cool, it never stays hot.

DMAE: Is it comfortable?

ESPY: Yeah. The only thing wrong is that it makes the sound. Okay, now we’ll go and show you the outhouses. I call them our two-seaters because mama would have to go with baby. If not, baby would fall down inside. Here’s a two-seater. Okay?

DMAE: How many people had outhouses? Did they all have them?

ESPY: Well, everybody had but we, on Kauai we lived in a plantation camp of 11 houses and we had eight stalls and running water, so it never stunk. My girlfriend who lived three miles away, they had that one unit and you have to kind of close your nose. But this unique thing, during Christmas, the plantations always had this beautiful festival to recognize the workers, especially the children. We had brown paper sacks. It had an apple and an orange, some hard candy, some nuts. But each fruit had this soft tissue paper that became our once-a-year soft toilet paper. Because we used to use Sears’ catalogue and all that stuff. Okay, what do you folks know about this? Any guesses?

ROBYNN: Water pail.

ESPY: Water pail, any other guesses?

DMAE: Garbage pail?

ESPY: Slop pail. They would put the slop. Go ahead continue for me.

MOSES: Normally families raise their own animals like chickens and ducks and also pigs. So this was the leftovers. The pig farmer would go through the camps to pick up all this slop can we used to call it. Slop can, and he would take it to his farm and feed the pigs. And that’s what this is for. You notice it’s always hanging up next to the kitchen.

DMAE: You okay?

ESPY: Yeah. Now we have a washtub. Mama used to take laundry from the single men in our camp and two fond memories my brother and I had. After she sprinkled the clothes we would pounce on it, sit on it, and press it down. But at night when everything was empty, mama would tell us ghost stories. And my brother and I would sit in there and cover ourselves up, you know how kids are, and get really spooky. Again, this is the Puerto Rican kitchen. You come in here… the Puerto Ricans love their coffee GRIND so they would grind their coffee beans or pound their coffee beans POUND now. the difference between this stove and the Portuguese stove. The Portuguese stove had a chimney to go out. This doesn’t have any. So if this were in operation today, the walls would be black with soot, because the only ventilation would be the door and the windows. Cow-cow tin. Each working person that worked out in the fields took a cow-cow tin, the lunch pail. Cow-cow meaning food in Hawaii to eat. Bottom half was always rice. Top half was the main dish. And this is what they shared out in the fields while they were working together. And that is how we started to learn eating different ethnic groups’ food. Even neighbors shared with each other, and then we started to acquire their taste. If Mama had time she would take her multi-layered lunch can and go out to the fields with the children and have a picnic with Papa. That became a neat things. All the different paraphernalia came from different families that shared it with us here in the museum. Okay, let’s go into the Puerto Rican house. Now, with the Puerto Ricans…

TRACK 9 – 19:46

ESPY: We had a spittoon at one time and my Papa chewed rope tobacco. He never spat in a spittoon, he spat around accurately. And this room is a part of my life. This is how I was raised when I was little. On a hammock. We bought…

DMAE: Can you describe that?

ESPY: Yeah. We bought 100 pounds of rice and after it was empty Mama would clean it, starch it and everything and put the ropes, and with the plantation houses there was no ruling or anything, we used to pound nails in all over the place for anything, and 100% cotton, it was never hot. So I have a niece who’s 51 years old now, Mama used to raise her like this, put an extra tension cord or rope to her toe, and as she pumped the singer sewing machine, it would rock Rowa to sleep. Again, it’s such a beautiful thing.

DMAE: Can you describe how it’s made?

ESPY: Uh huh. This is the rice bag that’s joined together here, and then we would rope it, crunch it here and tie a knot, make it on both ends and then loop it here and knot it so that the weight of the child would never make it fall or anything, it’s beautiful.

DMAE: Nobody ever fell out?

ESPY: No, because you’d put usually a stick here to keep it inside. We have, I guess they’re Catholic so that’s a communion outfit. Dead spaces were always closets because we don’t have what you have today stuff closets where you have so much clothes. We have maybe five pairs of clothes and that was it.

DOM: Actually there was another use of that rice bag. Yeah, tell them.

ESPY: The pants. In fact, today it’s a big thing, people are looking for rice bags to make those things, because it’s very expensive now when they do find rice bag shorts or pants.

DOM: My wife’s grandma, Ramell, from Kahuku, all of her, long after she had enough money to buy regular underpants she still made them out of rice bags.

ESPY: Us, we used to have feed bags that were very colorful. That was our underclothing.

ROBYNN: Can you talk about the first house we saw, the communal house and these were individual houses.
ESPY: But the first one was a shrine on the top and a society building. That was not a Chinese house at all. In the museum when you look at the first houses were grass-shacks. You’ll see pictures of that. That was the first houses that people came to. That was not this kind of structure.

DMAE: This was actually a pretty nice house.

ESPY: We had different houses, but the only thing we could not show here, because our kitchen was floor. Dirt floor. None of the houses could be shown that because of the building codes.

DMAE: So they wouldn’t actually have a floor?

ESPY: Some would have but our kitchen was not, until they could put cement. But quite a few kitchens were dirt floors but we could not depict that because of building codes for this particular…

DOM: This plantation was built, Waipauhu plantation was built at 1900. after which there were territorial restrictions and so on about what plantation houses had to be. And remember there was barracks, almost all plantation villages had barracks, because the guys came as bachelors. So the Filipino camp that I ever stayed in was at Papakeo camp and we stayed in a bachelor’s house, which was nothing but single rooms for bachelors, or single rooms that they could share. But there were no, they didn’t have families. And so it was a barracks, basically. And that’s what you saw that Espy was showing you that was planned to be built, or had been beside that Chinese shrine. But these are family houses. I think she’ll show you one bachelor’s house down the road. Filipino.

ESPY: One feature about this particular plant is its called the Ahshwetee or Anato or we call it Lipstick plant. We were never scolded to use this because it’s very prolific and polish one off here and it’s a soft poky poky thing but when you open it and pop it out, see these red seeds? You pick it up, put it into your fingers and voila. There’s our lipstick. And so. The main use of it though was we use it for cooking. It takes the place of saffron. Saffron is like 88 dollars an ounce. This one, you’ll find the main use of it is you’ll see the black ones, the seeds are harvested, they even sell them in the stores.

DMAE: You missed her doing the lipstick.

ESPY: Okay, we’ll try. After we pluck it from the tree, you squeeze it from your fingers like that and there’s the lipstick. All like that. We used to even take kids around and they make Indians, but I had a couple from Germany and the wife said she never put makeup on and the husband said put it on and she did and he said my, you’re beautiful. It was so neat, because it’s natural, it will come off eventually during the day, it’s awesome. But the main reason is cooking. The Puerto Ricans cook it with their rice, to make it golden. We Filipinos like to put it in meats and so forth. And I do a dish that’s called appretava or pocesantes. It brings this golden hue to the vegetables and the meats and also for the rice. I do a lot of cooking so I usually don’t buy the seeds, I buy the powder form already. So again, it’s the lipstick plant. Anybody want to try lipstick? Now when the Puerto Ricans come together, the first thing they want to do is dance, is music. So the starting line behind this house, the orchestra is in the living room, the women are sitting in the bedroom, the men are out here. So as the music starts each man knew which lady he was going to pick as his partner, goes to the bedroom, picks his partner, go out to the barte, this is the dance floor. And like I say, when we hold the Puerto Rican festival, they are the last ones to leave the premises because they would start in the Puerto Rican house, keep on going, playing music, they reach the parking lot, they still play. You want to close the gates, they still go out because they just love their music. You cannot get rid of these people once they get started. Okay. We have cassava or tapioca plants. Here. And then the ground tarot. Now we come to the Japanese duplex. Two families live in that house, when we go to the side I will show you the pomegranate tree. Avocado tree, cherry tree, and then the bathhouse. A family furo, or bathhouse. I would like you to go in there and check it out and see if a sumo wrestler can fit inside. They say they need a crane to get them out. They would heat the water from the side underneath to warm the tub. Go ahead and look at it, those of you, go ahead.

DMAE: Oh, it’s teeny.

ESPY: In our neighborhood on Kauai our Japanese neighbor had a huge one. And when we were young, we were not told the right way to take a bath. We got scolding and spankings because you are to bath clean outside and then go in and soak. You never scrub inside there you are clean and then go in and stuff. So we’ll show you the community bathhouse. Now, as we look at this duplex, two families, kitchen, bedroom, living room. Okay? Let’s go inside, oh outside there is a rice cooker. Come on. WALKING

ESPY: Any guesses what this is? CLANG This is shave ice. Here’s the razor part. Shave the ice, it gets filled, put it inside your cup and put your syrup on. Now this was our bento or lunch can when you used to go to school. You open it, main dish, the rest was rice.

DMAE: Not a lot of food.

ESPY: That is a lot of food when you think about it. And we had a sliding device here and it had chopsticks, but because it’s an open museum it got stolen. Now with the Japanese they love to make sukimono or pickled vegetables in their crocks. They would put their…this is going to make a big noise. CLUNK And that was to press down on the vegetables so when it was ready they would put it into the respective crocks and eat accordingly. And they would heat the iron on top of the gas kerosene stove. And they would iron on the table. They had a pantry. And as we go to the bedroom, you will see the futon, which was their mattress. Again the tatami rice mat was the rug, actually. And then you have, we never had electricity in the early days, so to iron we used charcoal iron. Mama would use big charcoal to iron the denim, and the embers to iron the soft clothing. Next to it is a sprinkling device. On the very corner there is a flint gun where you would kill mosquitoes and cockroaches. We show that this lady of the house would be earning some kind of money by making people some kind of clothing and get paid for it. In the living room we have what they call the zuntongs, or little pillows to sit on. They have the shrine there. Usually all the Japanese houses have games to play with. Now, if you were a stranger, just passing in front of the house and you said I wonder who lived here, you would know right off the bat who was living in this house. Just by the footwear that was left on the outside. Japanese. Ah, Japanese house. They would have games to play, beanbags, and most of you would know this abacus. When we were stationed in Japan for four years I knew how to add, subtract multiply. Now I don’t know. I know five, ten, that’s about it. In this family they had what they call tanimoshi, a savings and loan system where they’d put money aside and then when they need the money they would bid for it. This one bid nine cents, this one bid eighteen cents. So the higher bidder got the bulk money. And that is how they could afford to buy typewriters, and sewing machine. But you have to know the people who are involved in this because if you bring in a stranger they might just take the money and go away. I have friend who have been in together for fifty years and they have so much money that they could go around the world. But when some of them take their bulk money where do they go? Las Vegas. Trying to make more money.

DMAE: So only one family lived in this house?

ESPY: One family here, one family there. But you don’t know how many children because the more children, they all slept together. Again the futon, the kimono, hard-headed pillow and the dresser drawers there. Now in this particular kitchen, the man of the house here was a machinist in the sugar mill, invented a saki warmer and hibachi unit because the Japanese do not drink saki cold from this blue bottle. They always heat their saki until it’s warm. The reason for that is it produces extra kick by drinking that, by heating it up. And he sold them for five dollars. And our next stop is the tofuya where they made tofu. How many of you eat tofu? Like it, very nourishing, a lot of protein.

DMAE: Do you usually go through this quickly?

ESPY: What I’m doing for you is nearly the whole tour. Not quite but almost. So you cut short if you want it. The proper way of making tofu is they would soak the beans over there and then grind it – it’s a hand-operational grinder. And then they would strain it first and then with a coagulant they would cook it in a wok. And then after that they would put it in a rectangular box with cool water and that’s when they would cut the tofu into blocks. In the meantime the children would have gone to the village or the camps to take orders, or sometimes the papa would go down the street with his cans hollering tofu, tofu, and at one time it used to be ten cents, twenty-five cents a block. Today it’s almost three dollars, but the same nutrients are still there.

DMAE: Who made the tofu?

ESPY: Usually a Japanese family would run a business like this, we still have Japanese families that do that.

ROBYNN: How would they obtain facilities?

ESPY: That depends on where they were. They would ask permission from the plantation to have a tofu house and that’s how they would make the structures for them so that’s how they could operate the business.

DOM: There’s a wonderful novel my Milton Kuriyama called ‘Five Years on a Rock’ which deals with a young woman who has married into a family, a Japanese family, and not treated very well, as often happened for young Japanese women, but they ran a tofu house and she just worked herself to death making tofu every day and selling it throughout the Japanese camp. It’s a wonderful novel.

ESPY: Next stop, the Japanese Christian house. As you enter the door, there’s footwear on the left, a scripture on the wall, and we have a food pantry. Any guesses why they put cans on the leggings. No guesses? That’s to avoid the cockroaches or ants from getting into the pantry. By putting either water or oil.

DMAE: Because they can’t climb up?

ESPY: uh huh. And that’s what I do with my cat’s food. I put the dish in water, outside, and ants don’t get into it.

DMAE: that’s a good idea.

ESPY: I don’t have to do that to my dog because he wolfs everything up. Because you did not see the video, they show a video there that talk about picture brides. They came from Korea, Okinawa, Japan. The men were very divisive when they knew they could get picture brides. They sent pictures of themselves when they were much younger, so when the ladies on the other end saw the picture she would say oh, nice looking man, I think I’ll marry. One lady shared about her grandmamma who came to the immigration, met the man she’s intended to. He had sent the picture of himself when he was 25 years old, he was now 45. she was only 19. she wanted to go back but to save face she had to stay and marry the guy. To save face for the family. And so they were almost twenty thousand women came as picture brides. I have a girlfriend, we play mah jong together, her mother was a picture bride. But when the picture brides started to come, the men had already developed a carousing lifestyle, gamblers, drinkers, so when the women came they were abusive. Children came, they were still abusive, so managers said that lifestyle has to stop. So he hired Arevena Okie to start teaching them about Christ, they got bibles translated into Japanese, the children were allowed to read and write and know about Jesus, and that in Hawaii became the start of the YM and the YWCA. It put back some semblance in the family order by them teaching about Christ.

DMAE: Your friend whose mom is a picture bride, is her mom still around?

ESPY: No her mom died.

DMAE: But your friend is still around.

ESPY: Yeah. She’s the one who got me involved in volunteering. But anyway, I brought in this young man, one-to-one tour, and he said Miss Espy, that’s my grandpa’s chair. I turned back and looked at him and his eyes welled up with tears. He says that’s my grandpa’s bed. I said how do you know? He said he was a college student in Chicago and the family had written him that grandpa had died, they didn’t know what to do with some of his furnishings so they donated it to us. So he said when he was little he used to jump on grandpa’s lap – and I always believe that when people start sharing their stories their life stories, it just touches me and encourages me more to be a docent or interpretive guide and talk about these things, because people who have come from the mainland who lived in mining towns, farming towns, they had the same paraphernalia, and it’s awesome when someone says oh I have that in my house, my grandma left it to me, or my mama or something like that. It’s so awesome when you talk about that. But one day I had a dozen Spanish people in this room. They said Espy, where’s the Spanish house? I said well, you folks came to Hawaii just a smidgen and then left to go California to make wine and beer and you didn’t leave anybody for a heritage group. Moki belongs to the Hawaiian heritage group. He does a lot of things with Hawaiiana. I’m with the Filipinos, whenever we have anything I get involved. I said you Spanish people didn’t leave anybody so we couldn’t build a house for you folks and talk about it because nobody’s Spanish. But I said in order to have you folks feel good and remember that we remember you folks, they built a grape arbor. So they were happy. So I said when it starts to fruit we think about you folks. Now we go outside. We have this huge tree, like it’s the African tulip. It has red flowers. And with the red flowers comes a little pistil that’s loaded with supposedly stinky water…

TRACK 10 – 1:34

ESPY: …we would make sailboats out of our pods. Here’s the sailboat with sails on it, we’d put it in the ditch. He would be on one bank, I would be on the other bank. My boat would go down, his boat would go down. And some of it are little, some are even shaped like canoes. We didn’t have to buy anything so. I had a minister come by he said Espy, can I get twenty-four of these little ones? I said sir, you won’t get it from this tree because it gives off big boats. I said there’s a tree down there that if you pray, you might get it. So sure enough when we reached the other end he found exactly twenty-four. He was so happy! I said see, when you pray it works. But isn’t that awesome.

DMAE: What kind of tree is it?

ESPY: this is the African tulip tree.

DMAE: And so you guys, what was the ditch?

ESPY: We always had an irrigation ditch where they had the water go to the different parts of the sugar fields and it was right outside our house, so we had a running swimming pool from the time we were little. We could go in but there were a lot of fishes in there too but it was fun. You can’t do that nowadays because everything is polluted. We’re off to our…this one gave off its last food so they have to prune it again. Those of you that got to see the star fruit this is the tree here.

TRACK 11 – 0:01

ESPY: here…it was…

TRACK 12 – 4:54

ESPY: …benches here for talk story, little stool there for a baby to sit on and the families would be telling, talking. They would have the different paraphernalia, the old cash register, the razor that they would sharpen on the leather strap and they have the seats for that and the chairs for that. So how much did it cost to have a haircut?

DMAE: Thirty dollars.

ESPY: No. My husband still insists on going to a barbershop. He doesn’t want to go to the bisexual kind.

MOSES: Eight to ten dollars.

DMAE: Sorry. Mainland costs more.

ESPY: How many of you know what that tree is? This humungous tree? Anybody know? Of course, Moki would know. It’s called a tamarind tree. We eat the young fruit before it had the seeds come out. The children would lick it, put salt on it, and eat it. It’s really tarty like lemon, it’s scrumptious. When it reaches the medium stage we would harvest it and we Filipinos would cook it and boil it and then strain it and the broth underneath would make soups, oxtail soup, pigs soup, fishtail soup. When it was ripe, we would make it into candy. Come and taste candy, come. Before you get wet. And this is the crown flower that I was talking about, each individual flower is a crown. And that’s where the… so we’re coming now into the family furo or where the, this is the women’s section.

DMAE: This is like in picture bride, because they were right next to each other.

ESPY: This is where when we were little we would swim underneath and get a scolding by the men and the little boys would swim over and get scolding by the women. So let’s go see what the men’s side looked like.

ROBYNN: And what is that?

ESPY: We’re going to play our boats. Somebody grab one each. Richard.

DOM: There’s some over here too.

DMAE: Is this pretty authentic?

ESPY: Yes. This has been copied from one that was in the town of Waipahu. Mr. Suzuki who had an accident in the sugar mill had his arm amputated, so the manager said Mr. Suzuki, you and your sons take care of the community furo and pipe in the hot water at five o’clock, so by the time they came at six they would be able to take a bath. COUGHS
This is how they came. They came with a basket, hard soap, washcloth inside, a water dipper, towel. So they were to bathe clean on the outside, be completely clean, wash everything, and then they were allowed to step on and soak.

DMAE: Can you describe what it looks like?

ESPY: It’s almost like a rectangular portion with the partition wall but underneath, anybody can go underneath, because that’s where the water would flow all together. Aha! He’s already playing with the boats. So the water would be piped in and then it would be nice and hot in here. The water would flow on the outside as you bathe on the outside, and then it would go into the trough and go out of the building. So everybody pick up your boats and like Mr. Boylan did, you are to put your rudder, no, backwards. You see the point, go backwards. Because that way your boat will go forward.

DMAE: Who invented this game?

ESPY: The plantation kids did. I guess the older people, for us to play. We call this our kamobuko stick. And then you would put it inside and let it go. Dudu dudu dudu dudu, go go go. And this is why they always tease me. They say Espy, how come your tours take so long? I say I get all my people involved in everything and everything cuz they love it. The grownups say can we play some more Espy, I say go play.

DMAE: The rain..

TRACK 13 – 10:36

ESPY: …and if you’re an old movie person you will guess the pin-up. The lady pin-up.

DMAE: Rita Heyworth and Mae West.

ESPY: No, that one is Lynn Sheridan. How about this one? Take a look inside. Heddy Lamar. Okay, everybody in this room. The Filipinos during the Christmas season we make paro. And sometimes we make kits so people can make their own or we would teach them or make for them and they would pay us. And this is usually hung outside the door during Christmas. Sometimes they would put lights inside of it. And annually we’ve had a festival where there’s a great pageant, the University of Hawaii people come and they have this searching for the inn. They walk through the town, come through searching for the inn like when Mary and Joseph they wanted to stay in the inn so she could give birth to Jesus, and that’s the play all about. But when I came into this particular room, the other ones all had pin-ups. There was Ann Sheridan, Heddy Lamar, and Mae West. Of course when I came in this room before being a docent I didn’t even know what the word docent meant. It’s interpretive guide. I looked they said oh, no pin-up. I looked at this picture and said I know that man, that’s Reverend Santa Ana. I used to attend the church that he was preaching at it was called the Waipahu Filipino Evangelical Church. I looked at some more pictures and sure enough, the framed picture, remember I talked about a sister who was attending a sewing school. She was front row, right. I looked at that picture, I said oh my gosh, if that’s my sister then I have to be in that picture. I am in that picture. I was thirteen years old and that was fifty-seven years ago. I’m seventy. Oh, next week Monday, a week now, I’m going to be seventy-one, God willing. I’ll let you guess, where’s Espy in that picture? Go ahead and guess.

DMAE: This picture?

ESPY: Yes, the black frame. Moki knew I was in that picture.

ROBYNN: This one?

ESPY: No. Second row with the black bow.

RICHARD: I thought so. You’re the shortest one.

ESPY: Yeah. I said oh my gosh. It’s always been there. Ten years now, it’s been there. Because when I walked in here I was so shocked. That’s my sister, I must be in there. Now, Filipino custom, my mama believed in piercing the baby girl’s ears at three months old. My mama never pierced my ears until after that picture was taken so I asked her, mama, why did you wait till I was thirteen. She always said look for the strong point of a child. She said you’re going to play all your life, play, play, play. I was a tomboy. I took after my brother. and sure enough, thirteen years ago I took up golf. So I am still playing.

DMAE: That’s so weird that you saw your picture here.

ESPY: That’s so awesome. Okinawan and Korean are there and the last one is the Filipino house. We’ll go ahead and…

DMAE: This wasn’t the Filipino house?

ESPY: This was single men. And that particular tree, that long tall stem, that was not here in Hawaii when Jose Mapion came. He wrote his son who was coming to Hawaii and said son, bring the seed of the kalamungai tree, but do not put it on your person, because they would boil your clothes in Hong Kong to get rid of whatever diseases you have. So he put it in his guitar and that’s how we have our tree. And the other ethnic people call it our Filipino flagpole. Because we eat the beans, we eat the leaves, the flowers from it.

MOSES: You can always tell, when you go to the community, you can always tell which house has the Filipino family, because they have a tree just like that.

ESPY: That’s our trademark. Here’s a sumo wrestling rink. In the days of royalty, not only Japanese performed for Hawaiian royalty. Here is my favorite fruit tree, the sour sap. I call it a puffer fish because if you touch it, it feels like a puffer fish. This is another tree we eat from. This is called the pias. It takes the place of lemon or vinegar when you cook because we use it for cooking fish. Now when the Filipino men worked out in the fields they wore shoes and when they wore out they were the first ones to recycle their shoes, cut it up and as we enter the door, the shoes are cut into slippers. And you know how little girls like to put feet inside and clod hop, you’ll see the slippers as we go into this. This is the last ethnic house and then I’ll show you highlights of the other structures and then we’ll head back, okay? There’s our slippers, from the shoes. Now this man has become a supervisor, so he has indoor plumbing, he has telephone, he has refrigerator. All the niceties of being a supervisor. Again I wanted to show you folks the coconut where we scrub our floors and waxed our floors. Just like that karate kid, wax on, wax off. Now the story of this house is they’re having a baptism of a baby, so the baby clothes are on the bed. Mama will be wearing her formal tero. Papa will be wearing his formal bar tagalog. They always celebrate with a party, so when you go into the kitchen, they will show you all the dishes they put up. The mancala, is a game that originated in Africa. My mama was so good at it nobody could beat her. And you could not count the beads or shells or whatever you put in there because she had a photogenic mind, she just knew how to burn you and beat you.

DMAE: How do you play?

ESPY: You count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. one of these is going to be somebody’s house. This is going to be my house, that’s house for the other person across from you. So you work the beads or shells or whatever you have and you keep going. So if I died on the other side, oh no I didn’t die because I still have, you just keep going. And if you accidentally put in his, it’s his to keep. And you keep going like this and now I die in here, I take mine and the one across from me and it’s mine. And it’s the other person’s turn. It’s so awesome. In the room, that’s almost a replica of the things my mama used to do. In a bundle over there is the clothes of the single man that have been finished. We children would take it to the respective single men because she took in laundry and everything was done. She would iron on that, let’s see, that blanket, the army blanket on the floor. That is almost a replica of my mama’s charcoal iron and also her sewing machine. In the kitchen we have a false pig that they’re supposed to have roasted, and then they have many various dishes to give to the guests that are coming. On the first Saturday of December I’m going to be an active person where I will be grating coconut on a grater like that and talking about making a special rice dish with the sugar, sweet rice, boiling water, grating the coconut, putting it in a cheesecloth, squeezing it, milk, coconut milk, put into with the rice, and with banana leaves baking it, and it becomes a beautiful rice dessert. And I will have the rice for them to taste.

DMAE: You’re going to do this in December?

ESPY: December 4, I think. It’s a Saturday. They’re trying to make it a live…all the houses will have a demonstration. Not only cooking, washing clothes, they’re trying to have a live…that’s a nice one. Well, this is the area that my mama taught me how to cook. And why I love to cook because my mama was an excellent cook. She had all these cow-cow tins that the single men used to bring and they would give special orders for special dishes that my mama would go ahead and do it for them and that’s how she made extra money too. She taught me first when I was little the safety of the kitchen those were sharp, those were hot and all that, but also she told me you must remember smell and taste go hand in hand. Once you have perfected that, you will be able to cook for two people, one hundred, two hundred, so I’m a Christian cook, I cook for Christian camps 125 people from Sunday to Friday, breakfast, lunch, supper and snack, and that’s why on Mondays when I cook I cook so much food, I cook for the staff. Whoever I take out on tour I can feed them. So automatically I can feed easy 60, 65 people. But afterwards everybody, staff and mah jong group, they take food home and they don’t have to cook food that night. That’s how much food I cook.

DMAE: And you still do that?

ESPY: I still do that. But it depends now. People call now and say is Espy there, yeah, I’m coming. Okay, as we go out this door we have this kumright tree. This is a cherry tree that we eat from and pickle. You may see some…

TRACK 14 – 0:30

ESPY:…plantation store. This is the infirmary, which is the dentist’s store, the doctor’s office. We have a regular bathroom now which they had to put in, because this is far away from the museum. And then the last structure there is our social hall. So you can go glance through it if you want, I usually do that with people. Do that and I’ll meet you there in three minutes. I’m going to the bathroom.

TRACK 15 – 3:32

DMAE: …everything at the plantation store?

MOSES: This is where you do your shopping material. Your food. Canned goods, everything that you need.

DMAE: Where did you grow up? Which camp?

MOSES: I grew up on Maui in a town called Hikea. But I wasn’t really in a camp. I was surrounded by camps. They had Filipino camp and Portuguese and Japanese, so all of my friends that I went to school with were plantation children. My father worked at Borderfelt?.

DMAE: What was that?

MOSES: They went out in the sugarcane field and they set traps, because there were a lot of rats. And so they had to set traps so just to keep they had the plague over here too in those years so that was one way to keep the rat population down. They had men guarding the field and they set traps.

DMAE: How far Chinese ancestry?

MOSES: Way back. I’m just Hawaiian. Just a plain Hawaiian.

DMAE: Any of your family work on plantations?

MOSES: None of them. But I knew a lot of them. All of my friends were plantation like I said, plantation children and I grew up with them so I went to their house, I went to their stores, I went to their camps and so I…lot of socializing. It was good growing up that time because they still had the sugarcane train. They still had animals that towed the sugar cane cars and things like that. If you know about sugarcane growing.

DMAE: Sorry, about the trains?

MOSES: They had to burn the sugarcane fields to get rid of all the loose leaves. And of course the rats and things like that. And they had to come down with the tractors and haul the cane away to the mill, to the sugar mill. So I was surrounded. Where I lived we were surrounded by the sugar fields, so it was interesting.

ROBYNN: Do you remember the strikes that happened?

MOSES: I was too young when they had the strikes. The strikes that they had at that time was in 1937, I was only seven years old and didn’t know anything about the strike.

ROBYNN: What about the 1946 strike?

MOSES: No nothing because it was the war years and we were more interested in knowing about the war so we didn’t pay attention to all the union and the strikes and things like that.

DMAE: Were you in the military?

MOSES: Yes. I ran away. I went into the military because I didn’t want to work out in the sugar cane…



TRACK 1 – 0:17

DMAE: testing

TRACK 2 – 5:37

ESPY: …for the unions. The early years they tried to have unions but it failed and they were not strong enough. But when they had the big people from the mainland come and get everyone together to be unionized that they met all the needs of the sugar plantation needs of the workers. But now, because being paid the highest laborers they were not making that profit margin that they used to so they had to go to third-world countries to get cheaper labor. And that was the start of the closing of all the different plantations. Until now we only have two. One on Maui and one on Kauai. The Robinson is a private company. And so when my Papa came back with my Mama in 1973 for the last time, he was so shocked. Because he left in 1959. All these areas that were sugar fields are all housing now. they had freeways and oh he just couldn’t believe how Oahu alone has grown to what it is today, after statehood and everything. But here in this particular room I share about my life, the greatest legacy left to me in the plantation life was the hospital. When I was young, 1952 I had an appendectomy done by the sugar plantation doctor and in 1972 when I was married almost nineteen years I had a complete hysterectomy done at Tripler, my husband was in the military. And when you’re married long enough to someone when he came to my recovery room I could tell something was wrong, by his body movement, I said Clark what is wrong. He said oh nothing, nothing. I said please tell me, I really sense something wrong. He said well, he said that the surgeon went over my same surgery from where I had my same appendectomy done and I was so badly scarred from that surgery that’s why I never conceived. I went through a state of trauma, shock you name it, but he held me at that moment and said Espy, remember what I told you before I got married, I don’t believe in divorce, and whatever comes into our marriage we have to work at it. And so he left me at that and it just haunted me for so long. And then in 1979 we both became reborn Christians 1983 went through marriage encounter and in that encounter you’re taught to communicate through love letters. And my first love letter to him was I am now sharing the greatest insecurity that I never shared with anybody – not my family, not my best friend who lives in Hale, nobody. And that is someday you’re going to leave me because I never gave birth biologically. And again he reiterated about no divorce and stuff like that. And then he said you know my sister, his younger sister Carol below him had given birth to seven children, six girls and a boy, all different men. She married the guy who gave her the boy, adopted the youngest girl who came to stay with us not too long ago. Got picked up for drugs, went to jail. Then he said you know the other five, I said yeah, I do. He said do they love my sister? Their biological mama. I said no they don’t. he said why. I said because they were given away when they were babies. And then he told me the most beautiful thing his heart can handle. He said Espy, you’re a Christian woman now, you’ve learned to love, love everybody and anybody. And he supports me 100% now in my cooking ministry we call it. I cook and I give away. I never ask for anything and it’s such an awesome thing to have somebody back you up. All these years and last December, 19, we celebrated our golden anniversary. And so I have been blessed with someone who has, of course, in the Filipino house, in the kitchen, I explain how I met my husband-to-be. My auntie had given birth to the first triplet baby girls at Wahiwa General, June of 1950 when I was sixteen years old. She had hemorrhaged so Mama said Jane you come stay, Espy will take care of the three babies. No cribs, so we put them all in three dresser drawers. So I took care of them June, July and August and I got physically exhausted. So the wise woman my Mama she said Espy, go to Kauai, rest your body before you start your senior year of high school. So I went off with my best friend, here comes my future husband to visit. And you know how teenagers are, you see these young men. So I go back to Oahu and he writes if you can come and stay with us to go to mechanics school. I approached my Papa. I said Papa I met this young man on Kauai. He said oh, what’s his name? gave me the third degree. I said his name is Marcelino Garcia he said, oh yeah, he can come stay with us. I said why Papa? He said his father and I came from the same hometown in the Philippines. I know his mama. I know the ten children. So I wrote him and he came. The day he arrived before he entered the house, my Papa is pointing at me and telling him, I don’t want you to have any ideas about my daughter. That was so sweet. But that night he tasted my cooking. Later on I found out he told all his friends I don’t care how long it takes or what, I’m going to marry this girl. But because I had made a commitment to my family about finishing school, getting a job, and then getting married, he waited until I was twenty. I think God made the stomach and the heart close to each other. You make this happy, this stays happy. So I finalize my tour a lot by that way. And then we walk back down, okay? Thank you for being a good audience…

TRACK 3 – 0:00
TRACK 4 – 7:52

MOSES: …left a good opening. It’s just so we could see out. Or people could see in as we are in the structure. People outside might be waiting and it was just an idea to see how the grass was attached to the house and also a window, so we can see out or they can see in. it was built in 1999. about that time. It took four of us to build this structure. It’s a halal. A meeting house or canoe house. Or haleva’a. va’a is canoe in Hawaiian and halal is a building that housed the canoe. Halal is also used in the hula dancing. The halal is a school for dancing. The structure is about 20 feet by 30 feet. 20 feet by 40 feet and it’s about 45 feet high. And it’s, they use palm leaf for the covering, for the roof, and this post, and all the wood we use in here is called. It’s pine wood. Pine wood.

DMAE: You store the canoes in here?

MOSES: We store the canoe in here.

DMAE: But it’s also a meeting house.

MOSES: In a community close to the beach, this would be used to house the canoe. But for the up, they would use it for a meeting house or a school to teach hula dancing.

DMAE: Is this a replica?

MOSES: It’s a replica of another time, yes. You might want to look at that. That’s how we plant our tarot. Tarot is very important in the Hawaiian culture. Now, this pond has been redone. It was at one time all of this area had tarot fields but then it got overgrown through neglect. People didn’t want to do any tarot planting because it was labor, it was hard work. And so finally now a fellow farmer brought his tractor and started. These are all tarot. This water grown tarot is best used for poi. If you heard poi. Hawaiians would use this type of tarot to make poi. Polynesians or Samoans would use dry-land tarot not to make poi, but they would cook it and eat it that way. We’re Hawaiians, we’re the only ones that make poi out of the tarot.

DMAE: Did you grow up with Hawaiian food? Like what?

MOSES: Well, tarot, fish, things like that. Pig, well, pig is when we do it Kalua pig, underground cooking, we also did that, yes. But other than that we ate like everybody else. Rice and canned goods and chicken and things like that. Meat.

DMAE: What holidays did you celebrate?

MOSES: Kameameha Day, birthday. Any holiday that is a birthday of our Lei we would celebrate, beside ordinary Thanksgiving, Christmas and things like that.

DMAE: Do you speak Pidgin?

MOSES: Not in the sense of Pidgin during the plantation days, no I don’t.

DMAE: What kind?

MOSES: It’s a mixture of Filipino, Chinese, Puerto Rico, Portuguese, all of that put together and most of the words that they use are Hawaiian words, because most of the people that they involve with or get in contact with were Hawaiians and they picked up Hawaiian words and put them into their language. So when you hear people talk about Pidgin English it was, I can’t explain, the only thing I can say is it was all the words the Chinese would use a certain word and beside English they would add it into the English language. Filipino did the same thing, Hawaiian did the same thing. It was included into the English language.

DMAE: So you speak that.

MOSES: I try to speak better English because that’s the only way you can communicate with people. Mainlanders. When I went into the military, before I went into the military people used to tell me how come you talk like that? I said like what? You try to talk like haole. And I said why not? My parents talk to me that way, why not speak that way? Although they could speak Hawaiian. But they spoke English also. So when I went into the military I started to talk to other guys from the mainland and when they heard other local guys speaking they would come up to me and say I really don’t understand what he was saying, and I’d try to interpret what the local guy was saying. And..

DMAE: So you can speak both ways.

MOSES: Not in the plantation way of speaking.


DMAE: But you understand because all your friends were…

MOSES: Right. There’s a few video..

TRACK 5 – 0:19

MOSES: …that would have someone speaking Pidgin English.

DMAE: Which ones?

MOSES: It’s like …

TRACK 6 – 0:01

MOSES: …the local language…