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Living in Kunia, plantation style! Kunia is a little community between Schofield Barracks and Waipahu. My life living on a plantation as a camp kid was really simple. We had nothing to brag. All the houses were the same color (mostly green and white). If you lived in the dark grey roof and white houses you were living in what we called the "moe betta houses", betta known as the "boss houses".

To live in Kunia your parents had to be working for the pineapple plantation. There were benefits about living in Kunia. You had nice clean air because of living near the mountains and ono water. I wonda why? And the rent was cheap! According to my faddah he said the rent was $32.00 a month. You cannot find that kind rent anywhere!

You could charge at good ole Kunia store. Yeah Kunia store, if you no watch what you buy that store can take your whole paycheck. They always took out what you owed them first. Imagine they use to sell day old pastries at just bake prices. Most of the goods in that store were sold at mark up prices. I guess that's how they made their money. With us poor ole plantation people that was our only store and for convenience you had to pay the price, I guess.

There was also an elementary school for the kids to attend. It was a small school strictly for grades kindergarten to six grade. The cafeteria did not have a place for the kids to eat, like other school cafeterias, so we use to pick up our plates and walk back to the classroom to eat our lunch. We sometimes ate outside on the picnic tables during nice sunny days. Our lunch was cooked by one cafeteria lady who also baked those delicious butter cookies and sweet buns. When you were in grades four through six you were drafted to work in the cafeteria. There were usually two workers along with the lady who ran the little cafeteria.

The part I liked about working in the cafeteria was after you were done the cafeteria lady would give us some of those delicious cookies to bring home.

If you went to Kunia school then you remembered the covered wagon. It was our bus to take us to excursions. There was May Day and Christmas programs, working in the garden and selling your crops, we also had one janitor who took care of the maintenance of the school. Those were memories mostly every one who lived in Kunia as a camp kid had.

Yes living in the plantation was good fun. Everybody knew each other. We was like one big family so we watched out for each other. One of the bad things about living in Kunia was that we didn't have bus service to go to the nearest town which was Wahiawa. You either had to learn to drive early so you could drive yourself there (which most of us did) or have someone bring you to Wahiawa or be gutsy camp kids and learn to walk to Wahiawa!

I remember walking through the fields then coming out near to where the hill leading to Schofield Barracks. As a camp kid you learn to rough it up most of the time. We use to go in the fields and walk up to the mountains to play at this place we use to call "Three Rocks". We use to carve our names on the rocks to let people know we was there. Then we would climb guava trees or poka trees (also known as Lilikoi) and pick up some of those fruits. We knew how to watch for mountain pigs by checking their tracks on the dirt road.

As a camp kid living in Kunia you most likely would be drafted to work in the pineapple fields at an early age mostly likely 15 years old. Because you live in Kunia you have to make your parents proud by being able to work in the fields and work in one of them hubba hubba gangs. Better known as "Contract Gangs". They be working most likely at nite in a pick pine gang and making contract mostly every nite. I was in one of those gangs.

We was the wahine gang better known as "Tamba's Gang". There was Norma, Carmen, Rosalinda, Conchita, Marsha, Lorraine, Margaret, Stella, Katherine, and myself. We worked at nite. We was the girl gang to beat. We use to average at lease 25 or more crates a nite. I think we even picked over 35 crates one nite, so that made us the girl gang to beat! People didn't like working with us, because sometimes we didn't rest at the road break, like most gangs do. We knew we wanted to make contract and make money. Every little extra money we made we can brag when we got our paychecks. Believe me picking pine was blood money! It was hard work. It is one work I will never forget. It was hard to spend your money, because you knew how hard you worked just to get that money. Those were my days living in a plantation as a camp kid, it was nice and simple.


About Author

Sandra Samson Thomas was born and raised in Kunia. After graduation from high school she attended Cannon's Business College and Honolulu Community College. She married Dwight LaFrance Thomas from San Diego, CA and they have 3 kids and 4 grandchildren. After traveling the world with her husband who retired from the U.S. Army, she worked for the Federal Government as a Human Resource Specialist. She has since retired and now lives in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

HS girl
Thanks for sharing your story! I currently work at the little Kunia school because my company is using it for the Head Start program. I can just imagine how life would be by reading your story. Very nice! I would also like to know where three rocks is located just to say i was there too =) Have a good one.
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