|Growing Up in Lai'e, Oahu|
|Written by Teddy Kamai|
Growing up in the early 60's to the 80's was a time, in Lai'e, that I will cherish forever. I remember big family gatherings, church functions, playing softball or basketball at Lai'e Park. Tackle football on the beach was against anyone who wanted to take us on !! And you know..we never did lose a game !! Playing "hide and seek" in the Lai'e cemetery...eh no worry..we didn't step on any graves!!
I was just a country boy who took everything for granted because all around me there was so much to enjoy...Lai'e had so much to offer. We had the whole Lai'e mountains and the Koolau range to explore on foot, back packing to Lai'e Falls or on bicycles up Scrambling Hills, jumping dirt mounds or just racing down the mountain from Pine Forest.
We always appreciated the beauty and bounty of fruits like mountain apples, vivee, guava,lilikoi, mangoes, plums and bananas. We had the ocean and the famous Lai'e Bay to surf. Those big white waves from the middle of the bay were perfect for me, my younger brother, Dale and friends like David Stant, Kenneth Kaio, and Paul Nihipali to name a few. We also had "Goat Island" another famous surfing spot for us guys and the locals just in front of Malaekahana Beach Park.
Oh ...and don't forget the Lai'e Point ! We used to thrill the tourist by jumping off the ledges. Da Kia's, John and Bill Naeole, Randal Navarez, John John Nauahi, Da Kanahele's, Da Moe's, Da Tapusoa's, Da Alisa's, Da Pukahi's..to just name a few, would leap off the cliff and make big bomb or one swan dive.
And of course, there's our favorite eating places, like Uncle Sam Choy's and Charlie Goo's store. Every day, before we catch the bus to Kahuku Intermediate and High School, we stop by one of these stores and buy our favorite "small kid time" breakfast.....Pake cake, the chinese tea cookie and chocolate milk..eh..Broke da mouth!!
We also play a lot of make up games like...PANI...you need 10 old soda cans..and you set 'em up in a pyramid..gotta get 2 teams of players even on each side..and one small dodge ball. Ok..now..the object of the game is that each player gotta set the cans up in a pyramid before getting hit with the ball or try avoiding getting hit with the ball. You can catch the ball and bring in a team mate that was hit with the ball earlier. This game could last all nite...I wonder why we all got up late for school the next day!
Another game we played was "chasing master". We did not have any boundaries, so this game went on all nite too...again late for school the next morning !!
There are so many things we do in Hawaii that is so unique. No other place in the world can compare to it. Take New Years Eve and the Fourth of July with all the fireworks..firecrackers, bottle rockets and aerials for days. Halloween was the best for kids living in Hawaii. We would fill a whole duffle bag with candies and treats. Your mother would put them all in candy jars so you don't eat them all in one sitting. Then there's Thanksgiving and Christmas..family gatherings with all the local food you can think of.
We made kalua pig, kalo, sweet potato, kulolo, ulu, kalua turkey and chicken in the imu for just about any occasion..Broke the mouth !! That was the fun part of living and growing up in the country of Oahu.
Then there was times I used to sit back and listen to my dad, Ezekiel Kamai Sr.,everybody called him "Eassie"...play the guitar in the old style slack key..and boy he was AWESOME. I wish I could have learned more from him. He has passed on now..and left only these few memories of what's it is like to grow up in Hawaii.
I'm proud to be Hawaiian and I will always be until the day I die. I will never forget what I learned during my small kid time in Lai'e.
Teddy Kamai grew up in Lai'e, Oahu and graduated from Kahuku High School in 1981. He served in the military in Germany, Italy, South Korea, Maryland and Arizona. He and his wife, Kahili, are now stationed in Japan. Teddy enjoys playing sports and playing Hawaiian music on his guitar. Each year he and his wife return home to Lai'e to enjoy family, food, music ..."just to appreciate the Islands."