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My grandparents immigrated from Japan when they were barely fifteen years old. They ended up working the pineapple fields on Oahu. Years later they moved to Hana, Maui, and lived in the plantation housing. I was living in Kaneohe, Oahu, my parents would send me to Hana every summer to stay with obachan and ojichan. It was the mid-fifties.

My grandparents couldn't speak a lick of English and I couldn't speak Japanese. I had to study expressions, hand gestures and tones of their voices to figure out what they wanted me to do. It's funny, I quickly learned what 'bakatare' meant. They were awfully hard working and poor.

Ojichan would take me fishing while obachan would stay and work in the garden, do laundry by hand or cook dinner. There was always something to do. My fishing pole was made from the bamboo branch that ojichan had cut down from the back yard. They also used the bamboo pole to hoist up the clothes line because the twine was so long and low to keep the clothes from touching the grass.

I remember the bathroom. The floor of the shower area was made of a wooden crate. The scent came from a huge brown square soap. Then there was that small tobacco bag that ojichan would re-use to wrap around the faucet to keep the sediments from flowing out of the pipes.

The bedrooms were so little. Each had a futon on the floor, a light bulb with a string hanging from the center of the ceiling. The pillow was made of covered soda caps sewn together.

Whenever it rained, the sound of the drops on the tin roof was so loud. Dinner always consisted of cha-cha & rice, fish and vegetables from their garden. I remember the aroma of bitter melon and squash stewing.

Next door lived my mother's brother and his family. I can still hear their hi-fi playing "LaBamba", "Blueberry Hill" or "Star Dust".

There was a theatre that was opened once a week - my uncle ran the movie reels so I got in free. Ojichan would give me 15 cents, sometimes 20 cents so I could buy a soda pop and chips.

I miss them a lot and every two years or so, my husband and I visit Hana. The theatre is still there, its turned into a general store. The fragrance of flowers and breeze from Hana Bay just brings back so many wonderful memories.

The plantation homes have been replaced with the Hana Hotel and Bungalows that overlook the ocean. Just beautiful! My husband, born and raised in Iowa, has made Hawaii his second home. My mother still lives in Kaneohe.

About Author

I was born in Honolulu and raised in Kaneohe. 1969 graduate of Castle High School. I now live in San Diego, going on 34 years and try to go home to Kaneohe every 2 years to visit my ohana. I'm married to a haole (great man!) and have 2 daughters - one in Chicago and the other in Arizona.

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