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"What are you two mumbling about?" asked my Mom. "The Portagees are here for the weekend," I replied. Really don't know why we called them "The Portagees." They lived up St. Louis Heights and went to Saint Louis, that alone in the early 1950s qualified them as being Portagees.

Perry lived down the street. We had been friends since before first grade. Mom used to say we "stuck together like bread and jelly." He knew lots of Portagee jokes. He would sometimes tell them loud enough for Mom to hear, knowing that she did not like to hear them. Mom never said much when she heard them. She just gave us a look that made us stop, then walk away shaking her head.

The Portagees came "down the country" from Honolulu every Friday to spend the weekend at their huge Lanikai beach house. Their father was a dentist so they had lots of things, a speed boat for water-skiing, Columbia bikes with shocks, big Packard car, store bought spear guns, rubber face masks, swim fins for each foot, and other things that we could only wish for. We had JC Higgins second hand bikes, "Biao sling" or a home made door hinge spear gun, wooden diving goggles and one foot swim fin. Boats, water skiing and big car were only for town guys. In the forties and early fifties Kailua/Lanikai was out in the country with a local working class population and we had very little contact with people from town. Sometimes, especially when we beat them in football, the Kailua guys would refer to us Lanikai guys as the Haoles. Never could figure this out, we were about as a racially diverse group as you could find in Hawaii. Perry and I were about as close as you could come to being called a haole and we never thought of ourselves of being one.

The two Portagees, Wayne 15, and his brother Peter 14, went to Saint Louis. Perry and I went to Kailua sixth grade. I don't know why we always referred to Wayne and Peter as the Portagees, I guess we were envious and by linking them to the dumb guys in the portagee jokes it made us feel better. Really they were two good looking guys and an attraction to the neighborhood girls. When they were water-skiing, us guys would hang out a few hundred feet down the beach playing Home Run or Steal Egg, secretly wishing they would ask us to ski, which they never did. The girls would stroll by making eyes, and eventually end up water skiing or riding the boat. Muffy and Ida were good at that. I had a crush on Muffy and it would piss me off when she would go by skiing or driving the boat. Sometimes we would walk by and give them "stink eye" but it never came to anymore that that. Envious and Jealous? Yes we were.

"PORTAGEES I don't like you using that word" said my Mom. "Well, they are," I said. "So are you" Mom replied; "both your Grandmothers are pure Portuguese, your Father and I are each one half Portuguese, that makes you one half Portuguese. With this revelation I stood there stunned with tears in my eyes. Was I really like one of those dumb guys in Perry's Portagee jokes? Except when the Kailua guys referred to the Lanikai guys as haoles, I had never given much thought to my ancestry. Now I find out that I am a Portagee!

Perry loved what he heard, rolling on the floor in laughter pointing at me saying "You're a Portagee, you're a Portagee!"

I don't know what you're laughing at my Mom said to him, "You're also Portuguese. Your family name was changed from Perreira to Perry when your ancestors arrived from Portugal."

Perry thought about it in silence for a while, then quickly came up with "OF COURSE I'M PORTUGUESE AND DAMN PROUD OF IT."


Mom just smiled and walked away shaking her head.

About Author

Born in Honolulu, grew up in Kailua (Lanikai) Kailua schools, Junior and senior years Punahou. 1960 Graduate California Maritime academy. Spent 30 plus years at sea. Remember Hawaii as it was back in the hanabuddah days and not as it is today. Living in SE Texas and coastal Louisiana. Do not make it home often.

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