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I lived in a neighborhood where the corner market was the place that you came in contact with other people from the neighborhood. It was a place where everyone knew each other, not only by name, but they knew your kid's name, their mother's and father's, their grandparent's, their auntie's and uncle's. Everybody that went to this market knew everyone. Outside this market was a bench that people sat at and talk story all the time.

Now during my high school days, my friends and I were the local benchwarmers at this infamous corner market. We would sit there and pass the time away talking stories and waving at people as they drove by. Sometimes they would stop and talk story too. Before you know, it there was a whole bunch of people sitting by this bench and we'd all talked sum mo' stories. The best part of this time was when we'd make fun of people passing by or of each other, mostly of each other. We had some good times and I have many fond memories of many people who lived in this neighborhood.

Saturday always was the day that everyone would show up at the market. Of all the people who liked sitting at this bench; it was the older people that I love to sit and listen to. Their stories, no matter how sad or happy, always got my interest the most. One of my favorite people was Uncle Willy. Now he loved to drink a bit, so it wasn't unusual to see him feeling no pain before 12o'clock noon. He always told the funniest stories about his family. If they knew what he was telling us down at the bench, they would all freak-out. He would talk stink and making fun of one of his family members. They would drive by waving at him and yelling at him to go home. Uncle Willy would say; "there goes that dirty bugger now; boy if I was younger I'd kick his ass. Yeah, that's right, just keep on going, you dirty sucker!" We would tell him to calm down. "Uncle Willy, come and sit on the bench," we said as we all laughed with him.

Then there was Auntie Mary; she was absolutely the sweetest older woman that you could ever meet in your life. She would show up on a Sunday right after church. She would dress in her best Sunday outfit. In those days, it would be a soft flower print or an all-dark colored dress with long sleeves. And her hat had the whitest scarf that was the crowning of her outfit. She told her stories in a soft yet firm and comforting tone of voice that made you feel like she was talking to her own grandkids. Auntie Mary always talked about her younger days. She always wondered how things would have been; if she had done the things she had decided not to do. Things like what if she had married her sweetheart of so long ago. She was the first person that I heard quoted a statement; that I would hear many times throughout my life. "Be true to thyself". Every time I read, hear or see that statement, I think of Auntie Mary.

There was this bruddah that lived above Punchbowl his name was Hiram. He would stop at the market to buy beer on his way home. He worked construction and was always in his work clothes and drinking beer. That's the way we always saw him. We liked Hiram a lot. He was the coolest guy we knew. He had the reputation for being one of the baddest guys in the neighborhood. Often we'd hear that he was a guy you did not want mad at you. Now when I was in high school we called guys like Hiram "Mokes or Moks". I am not sure where this term came from but it was used as more of slang than anything else. This term would always be used in a conversation like this: "Hey, did you hear about the big fight at the Punahou School carnival? There was these drunk guys making trouble and one of them decided to pick on a group of Moks. Boy, did they pick on the wrong group of guys! I heard most of those drunk guys went to the hospital."

In spite of his reputation Hiram had a very funny personality. He would tell the funniest jokes and stories. He had us laughing all the time. One day he drove up to the market wearing a suit and tie. His hair was all VO-5ed. He was looking good as he got out of the car and came around in full view. It took everything we had to keep from bustin' out laughing. There he stood wearing this nice green suit with a button down collar white shirt, black pencil necktie, and wearing yellow rubber slippers.

Someone managed to say: "Hiram where you off to?"

He said: "I get this job interview I have to go to."

"But Hiram, didn't you forget something?" we said.

He checked himself out, looked down at his feet and said "Gunfunit, I forget to wash my feet!"

He jumped back into the car and drove off. We must have laughed a good ten minutes without stopping. Then here comes Hiram driving by waving at us with his right foot sticking out the passenger window. I guess he wanted to show us his washed feet. We were laughing so hard we were falling on the sidewalk. Til this day we still talk about those times with Hiram.

Every time I come home, I go down to the market park across the street. I think of Uncle Willy, Auntie Mary, Hiram and all the friends I made during that time. It's then I say to myself: "Brah, I am such a lucky guy to have had such great hanabuddah days."

About Author

Ronny Esperas' hometown is Wahiawa, Oahu.  He attended Stevenson Intermediate and Graduated from Roosevelt '66. He left the Islands in 1968. Eventually settling in Everett, Washington where he now lives. He makes it a point to go home every couple of years. "... soon I will come home for good" he says.

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