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Growing up with Grandma and Papa in the 70's was the best. Papa worked as a foreman for a steel or iron works company. Not too sure the name of the company. Grandma stayed at home and did the house stuff. Mom and Dad were divorced. Mom lived close by at the Circle Jade building in Kaimuki, across from the original W&M. She worked nights driving the Wiki-Wiki bus at the airport. Dad was a truck driver. So that's why my older sis, younger brother and myself lived with Grandma and Papa.

Grandma and Papa bought their house in Palolo Valley with cash. No such thing as 20% down payment and excellent credit. Just save money and buy one house. Papa built a stonewall on the side of the house. He stabilized the footing of the house by digging under the house, laying steel frames underground, and pouring concrete around the house. No such thing as getting "association approval". Papa did it because Palolo was known for its landslides. He told his neighbors to do the same, but they didn't. He also told the City and County that the stonewall they built alongside my Papa's wall was going to fall cause it wasn't built properly. The wall was weak and will eventually fall down he told them. But the C&C not going listen to one Hawaiian, they have educated men working on the job. We'll guess what! The next heavy storm, down went all the neighbors homes and the stone wall that the C&C built. My Grandma and Papa's house and stonewall was the only thing that withstood the landslide. My papa was one akamai Hawaiian.

We could see Papa in his 2-door Toyota Corolla station wagon coming down the hill coming home from work. By the way my Grandma had a yellow 4-door Toyota station wagon. Both cars bought new and paid with cash. No such thing as monthly payments. As soon Papa drove in the driveway, my job was to grab a glass and cold Primo from the fridge. My brother's job was to would turn on the radio to KCCN AM (no such thing as FM). My sister would bring out the plate sashimi and place his lucky strike cigarettes on the table. This ritual happened everyday like clockwork. We would all sit together on the table, Papa enjoying his beer and raw fish, Grandma with her journal and receipts for the day.

Grandma was Hawaiian-Chinese and kept the finances. She taped every receipt in her daily journal to keep track of spending. She was an amazing lady. Then we would eat dinner. We would speak only if we were spoken to. No talking at the table. We had to mind our manners at the table. You know the motto, "Eat whatever was put in front of you." Don't even try to make a face or sniff your food. A gesture like that would get you good lickens. When we were done eating ALL the food on our plate, we would say, "Excuse me from the table". Grandma or Papa would check our plate to see that we finished everything and say, "You're excused". We then washed our own plate and cup and retired to the parlor.

Now the trick is to instill the same values and discipline in today's world with our kids.

Of which, unfortunately, I had no luck.

The house is still the only house on the left hand side of the road. A green pasture occupies the area where houses once stood. C&C came back several more times to repair the ever falling stonewall. After years of continuous repairs they finally "got smart" and put up metal rails. Papa's stonewall is still standing strong and durable.

I am proud of my Grandma and Papa. They were hard working people, lived the American dream. They didn't need to make millions, live in the most extravagant area, have the biggest home, or felt the to need to keep up with the Jones' or Kaiser's. They lived the simple life. That's what I crave.

About Author

Helene Fernandez is originally from Kaimuki and Palolo, Oahu. She has lived in California and has recently moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. "I really miss seeing the ocean", she says.

lordy agustin
Love this story. I remember your grandma and her dollar poker on christmas
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