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We was living Lusitana Street behind the Board of Water Supply in dem days. The houses were close together between the mango and fig trees growing tall and bushy. I neva know it den but we wuz what you call today one "blue collar" neighborhood.

Charlie Freitas was one custodian at Central Intermediate School. His wife worked at Young Laundry. They both left early in da morning at the same time. Like clock work his Plymouth Belvedere would start up at five thirty. I could hear his cigarette cough and creaky car springs moan as he lowered his big frame into the driver's seat next to his small wife, Mugsy with her cup of coffee and da Honolulu Advertiser in her lap. I could see all dis from my bedroom window in the grey blue dawn of a Punchbowl morning.

The Chun's lived next to Charlie dem. One Pake family with five kids. Gary was my age. Him and me walked to school together most days. Gary's fuddah and muddah had one shop down Chinatown. I think was noodle shop because da fuddah always came home with his white pants, white shirt and white apron. He looked like he was playing in flour. His hands, arms and face appeared to have been dusted in da stuff. Gary's muddah sometimes gave my muddah one box of cake noodle. I recognized the box from the boxes I saw in their garage stacked up all flat, wrapped in plastic.

And so it was in the neighborhood, working families of humble means going about their lives in the quiet hum of the city. Behind us was Moses dem. The fuddah was one bus driver for Honolulu Rapid Transit...we called it HRT or Da Bus. Dis was before Frank Fasi came along and officially named it "Da Bus". Once in a while Moses' boy, Sammy and me would walk down to the car barn down Alapai street to Beretania and catch his fuddah's bus. We would ride all day in da summer time up Tantalus, Round Top and Papakolea. Wen da fuddah would stop for one smoke break, me and Sammy go inside da Pake store and buy Black Jack Gum and Cracker Jacks, da one wit da toy inside. Oh yeah, and Creme Soda!

My muddah was working at da Royal Hawaiian Hotel in dem days. It was the Ed Kenny and Beverly Noa Show in the Monarch Room. Summertime on a Friday nite, my fuddah would take us down da beach outside the Monarch Room and we would watch the show from the beach. Chasing sand crabs on the beach as the sun set off Diamond Head. Watching couple ole guys with metal detectors walking at the water's edge looking for treasures.

Sometimes Emma Veary and Alfred Apaka's son Jeff would sing. Jeff's father had already make and everyone hoped he would follow in the tradition of his father. The rich vocals of those wonderful voices rode the gentle trade winds over the sand and danced among the white caps of the warm pacific ocean of Waikiki. Once in a while a shooting star flashed leaving a trail in the velvet canopy sky.

You know what? We neva know we was blue collar! Custodian Charlie Freitas wore one white t-shirt and jeans to work. Mrs. Freitas wore her "Kalakaua Bowlers" shirt to work. Mr. Chun always had his white shirt. Moses had his HRT green shirt and my muddah always wore her black and white uniform. No one I knew wore blue collar!

So wea did that come from? Eh? I like know. Somebody some wea came up with the color BLUE. Eh, I don't have anything against blue but it seems to me that blue didn't describe the working class of people I grew up among.

We were certainly more colorful den that. At best you can say we were KALAKOA COLLAR ... and even NO COLLAR when we walking around without a shirt ..except Mrs. Frietas, of course, when she was hanging clothes in the back yard with her bathing suit top and shorts. Now what kine collar was that?

In dem days all the color collars blended in. I don't think any of us stopped to think what kine color our collar was. We were COLLAR BLIND. Somehow, I think that was also the reason we all got along so well. All the nationalities and cultures exsisted side by side in the easy harmony of the local lifestyle in Hawaii all wearing anykine color collars!  Eh, try check right now, what color your collar stay. I bet'chu it not going be blue! And the color of the collar becuz you neva wash your neck no count, gunfunnit!!


About Author

Kamaka Brown is on staff with AlohaWorld. He is a writer, entertainer and motivational speaker. He performs stand up comedy at clubs, concerts and entertainment venues in Hawaii, Las Vegas, the West Coast and Pacific Northwest. His comedy page can be found at kamaka.alohaworld.com

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