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I should start by saying my parents were divorced. My brother and I went with my dad and my sister went with my mother. I was five years old. I was born in Wahiawa and my brother in Honolulu (Kaiser Hospital). We left our home on the point of Waimea Bay just inland of the famous landmark missionary tower in the sixties. To this day, I think it was the worst thing we could have done. To own that land today at that site. Ho man! After hearing of a mudslide coming within inches of the house from the mountain where Waimea Falls is, I guess it could have been a scary alternative. But still!

We moved to Huntington Beach, California. Occasionally, my brother and I would stay with our mother and sister. We later moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Finally, my brother and I moved back to Ewa Beach on Oahu with our mother and her new husband. And so my Ewa Beach childhood began.

We lived in the townhouses across the street from my new elementary school, Pohakea. It was also across the street from the beach. To this day I don't know why or when, but I don't remember ever feeling out of place or new to the islands The exception my first day of school in the third grade. I guess everyone has an initiation to go through at some point in their lives. This was mine.

I was inside my classroom on the second floor about to go outside for recess. I was able to find out that a bunch of the local boys were planning on "welcoming" me in their own way during this time. It is during these times that the way you react will set the course for you the rest of your life. I saw the group of boys trying not to be so obvious as they were getting set. I braced as I stepped onto the dirt field from the steps, knowing what was about to happen. There were about ten of them. All of them jumped on me and did a "pile-up". I sucked it up and let it happen. I showed them I could handle it and we were friends from that point on.

Later that same recess, a samoan boy was throwing a paper airplane he made (or took .. kapu'd). It landed by my feet, so I picked it up and handed it to him. As soon as I did, he punched me in the nose. I had to go to the nurse's office to stop the bleeding. After school, I met with my older brother as he was walking from school and told him what happened. I told him I was going to follow the boy home and take care of it. I wanted him to go along in case he had other friends with him. We followed him home on our bikes. When he got off his bike and started walking to the front door of his house, I ran up to him and punched him in his nose. He ran inside crying as we took off on our bikes. I never had any other problems from that point on.

I grew up in such a diverse area. My neighbors had two Samoan sons that were exactly our ages. We became the best of friends, as I did with a "Popolo" boy named Junior, and other Haole, Oriental, and Filipino kids. Together, we would have many adventures and life experiences together.

My cousins, Aunties and Uncles from other parts of the island would visit or take us to the beaches, where we would bodysurf, eat shave ice, ling hi mui, manapua and malasadas. Oi, the food was the best. You see, I happen to be a Portugee born in Hawaii, with a Korean step mom (and family), a Filipino step dad, with a whole mix of other nationalities thrown in. So I would eat Portugee bean soup, Portuguese sausage and eggs with rice, Portuguese (Hawaiian) sweet bread and malasadas, spam and eggs, spam wrapped with nori (seaweed), sushi, seaweed soup, miso soup, kalamungi soup, dried/smoked fish, kalbi, kim chee, bul kogi, char siu, kook su (Korean saimin), rice balls with ume inside and garlic chicken wings, seeds, papaya, mango (in shoyu also), kalua pig, mac salad, raw squid (gumbo), dried cuttlefish, as well as American made foods. Hey, mixed up, but well worth it to this day! I can cook up a storm now!

Then there were the holidays in Ewa Beach! Santa riding down the road on a firetruck throwing candy and wrapped prune mui to all the kids; firecrackers at New Years and 4th of July (although I almost blew my hand off when someone threw one that landed in my hand); Christmas going door to door playing the ukelele and singing "Mele Kalikimaka". Then there was Memorial Day, where my sister and I would celebrate our birthdays together (mine was May 27th, hers May 31st ).

There were also the life changing experiences. Once I was playing hide and seek. I found myself standing right on top of a red ant pile in the Hibiscus bushes. They started crawling up my pants and biting me. I ran towards my house brushing them off, stripping off my pants as I stepped into the door. My mom brushed the rest off and sprayed bactine on the bites. To this day, seeing ants or beehives freak me out and make me itch all over just by seeing them.

There was a luau that will always be in my mind. You see, us kids were taken over to someone's house by the ocean's edge. I don't remember where. I watched the adults shave the pig's belly and then stab the pig in the neck. All the kids were supposed to chase the pig, trying to catch it as it ran around the yard squealing the entire time. When it was finally caught (I now know it was so the blood would drain out faster) the pig was put on a table, slit, gutted and then prepared for wrapping then put into the ground for slow cooking. Later, it was brought to our house and slowly turned over a fire. I remember eating the crunchy skin (pork rinds) and the rest of the feast. I ate everything but watermelon. I never could eat that!

Then the final memory of that time: The last day of school was a good one. It was my turn to help serve the rest of the kids lunch (students took turns serving throughout the year). I remember, it was shoyu chicken, rice, mac salad, milk,and orange exchange. We were given plenty loaves of sweet bread that day to sell to raising money for our Maui trip the end of the school year. Little did I know that day was going to be the last day of my time in Hawaii. I was told that we were going back to the mainland to visit my dad for a while.

I watched my brother walking to the car in front of the school. He had just come from his last class. He had experienced the Hawaii custom of saying goodbye (Aloha). He was kissed by his teacher on the cheek along with every other girl in the class, who all wore lipstick that day to leave their mark on his cheeks. He also had many leis (flower and kukui nut) around his neck. As for me, I sold my last two loaves of sweet bread to a cop that drove by me on the street. My money went to someone else so they could go in my place. To this day I have never been to Maui. I will go there sometime.

I was able to go back to Hawaii in 1986 to visit my mother, sister and brother through my job. We made sure it was a great time and even visited my old school and house where I could remember the best time of my life!

About Author

I was born in Wahiawa (1963) then moved on to California, then Virginia (been here ever since). I am married to a wonderful woman, Ruthie, of 22 years and have three beautiful daughters, Mary Elaine (21 yrs, living in Panama City Beach, Florida now), Amanda Elika (17 yrs), Cristie Amorine (13 yrs). I work in the marine engineering field. I still bodysurf whenever and wherever I get a chance. I will return to Hawaii someday (hopefully to stay!).

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