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How many of you remember the Yamaguchi Store on Lower Main Street in Wailuku, Maui? We used to see Mr. Yamaguchi feed his koi fish through the screen door in the back of his store! They were the largest and fattest fish I'd ever seen! Some were gold, others orange but the majority of the fish were white. He must've had close to 150 fish in a small, cement kiddie swimming pool! We always had to ask permission first before we could look at his prize fishes. I could tell he took pride in raising them!

Mrs. Yamaguchi was skinny, always talking so fast with her glasses hanging down the bottom of her nose. Sorry to say, their kids were kind of spoiled in those days running around the store helping themselves to whatever they wanted. I used to think, " Boy, dey need good likins", but Mrs. Yamaguchi never scolded them ( I understand now Roy has become famous!!! Good for you bruddah!) .... instead she was paying attention to the neighborhood kids that would loiter.
My grandpa and grandma used to live right next door and I ran errands for them. One day my grandma ( full on "buk-buk") sent me to Yamaguchi Store fo buy "my yoh nis". She kept saying that word over and over again. I couldn't understand what she meant. She said "You go and pind it!"

So, clueless at age 9, I walked to Yamaguchi Store and asked Mrs. Yamaguchi, "Wea da my yoh nis?" She led me to the salad dressing department and picked out a bottle of Best Foods Real MAYONAISE! "Oh ", I said, "May yo naise"... feeling sooo dumb. After buying a box of japanese candy, da kind dat look like paper and melt in your mouth; which made me feel better, not as dumb... I ran home and told my dad what happened. He, my mom and grandma when bust out laughing. I'll never forget that. I'm glad Mrs. Yamaguchi understood what my "apo-mama" was trying to say!

Yamaguchi store was the hit for all us kids! They had good kine candy of which my favorites were Mary Janes, Fire Cracker balls, Lipstick, Sugar Daddy and Big Hunk. Not to mention crack seed and li hing mui! The smell of the store held a mixture of Lau-lau, boiled peanuts and dried fish. Though Yamaguchi store was not famous for ONE particular food, it was a local store where the same people from the neighborhood would come and shop, and talk story and the kids would put a nickle in the merry-go-round or horse ride right in front of the store. They were the good old days because you never know WHAT or WHO you'd find there. It was a sad day when Yamaguchi Store closed.

Even though Yamaguchi Store is no more, the memories I grew up with will remain... especially the funny ones!

About Author

I was born on Oahu, raised on Maui. Attended Wailuku Elementary, Iao Intermediate and Baldwin class of '76. I have lived in New England for over 11 years but manage to keep Hawaii's memories alive by sharing it was my kids and remiscing with ohana. My husband Garrett and I are now in the ministry spreading God's word.

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