|Taro Patch, Part 2|
|Written by Ed Morton|
Ok den we stay heading towards Kahuku, but before you get there you have to pass Sunset Beach. At that time nothing was around there except cane fields, pheasants and keawe trees. As we traveled along Grandpa would only go about 35-40 miles an hour. Cars would pass us and at times we would have a string of cars behind us. Grandpa did not like to go too fast. I was glad because the slop cans would not move too much. When sum 'body pass, the buggah would give us the "stink face" then cut in real close to the truck, but Grandpa was real akamai, he slowed down wen dey pass so as to not "huli" the slop cans. That is good because I neva like smell "hau'na" from the slop.
At times we would meet the same buggahs down the road and Uncle would giv-em the shaka sign (He was one big bla-lah), so if they like make "pilikia" they would think twice about it. Finally we would arrive at Kahuku; we would pass the old Sugar Mill. This was a very busy area with all the large semi-trucks pulling in and out of the Sugar Mill. Sometimes I would see my Dad on his Shuga-Hoppa (Big semi that hauled raw sugar to be shipped), and he would blow his air horn at us. Grandpa would honk back. I miss those times, especially my Dad and Grandpa.
Kahuku, like Wahiawa, had a lot of plantation homes and a mix of people from all the Pacific, Asia and other parts of the world. Listening to all the different languages, dialects and knowing their customs helped me later in the military and in college.
We always tried to make a stop at Great Grandmother's house. She lived in a very old part of Laie. Some of my family still lives there. She was a very religious person (Mormon.) She loved to do her Temple work and always saw to it that we participated in church activities.
After our visit with Great Grandmother, we continued with our trip to Grandpa's Taro Patch. When we arrived, we had to pass a lot of construction in the area. The Mormon Church had been building the "Church College of Hawaii", later renamed "Brigham Young University" Hawaii campus. Grandpa would drive up to the gate, one of us would open the gate and he would drive in. As we drove to the house we could see the neighbor's Tack House. They had a few horses pastured there.
Grandpa's brother lived on the farm; he was mom's uncle and my Great Uncle. He would greet us in Hawaiian style. Uncle "Kaluna" was a joker and a great animal trainer. He trained all the dogs on the farm and the mule "Puka". Grandpa backed his truck to the "Cooker" and we knew it was time to go to work. The truck backed up to a huge black sooted cooker. It was black from all the wood burned to cook the slop for the pigs to eat. Grandpa would also supplement it with grass grown along the taro patch and some "Pule" from the discarded taro plants. Uncle Simi and I started to unload the slop into the cooker, we had to lift the drums up and pour the slop into the cooker. I can tell you on a hot day, the smell from the drums would make us want to puke, but that's when my Uncle Kaluna would take our minds off the smell. He would play his harmonica. He knew a lot of old Hawaiian songs and the dogs would join in, standing on their hind legs and do the hula. We all had a good laugh and finished the work.
Aftah this we wen unload all the other stuff, and then put our clothes on that we would use at the taro patch. Wen all the work was done we gathered all the glass jugs for water. Grandpa's farm did not have running water or electricity, everything we did was the old fashion way. Uncle Simi, Auntie Ida, Madeline and I would take the glass jugs up to the puna wai, a huge water tank. The water came from the mountains; it was fresh water and oooh so cold. The taste was so good. It was used to irrigate the taro patch which we worked in to pick taro for poi.
The water tank had another purpose. We used it to swim in and bathe. We wen put one wide board up to close off the water flow, then wait for dah water to rise. The tank was about 12 feet deep. Once the tank was filled we could swim. The mountain water was cold. Aftah we wen pau swimming we hemo the board from blocking the flow and we took the water jugs back to the house.
When we reached the house Grandpa was cooking. Auntie and Madeline helped with the cooking. Uncle and I put up the water jugs then changed our clothes. Uncle Kaluna and Grandpa was talking story about the orders we had to fill for the customers who ordered taro. Uncle Kaluna had made beef jerky. Auntie was cooking on an open fire with wood. Had opai and squash for soup and rice. All the food was cooked over heavy grates and racks. While the girls were cooking Uncle Simi and I got out the "Orange Base" and Malolo syrup to mix up using the water we brought back from the puna-wai.
When the food was cooked we ate and oooh how ONO. Just thinking about it broke your mouth (that's if the mosquitos would let you eat). Plenny mosquitos on a taro patch farm where you have water everywhere. Eh! They drive you nuts. Time to burn tires, clean kerosene lanterns and put up the mosquito nets.
The sun is setting and our camp fires are burning down, and we all have full "opu". We turn on the lanterns, check our beds and nets, and then time to relax, play cards, read comic books, or talk story. Aaah! Life was so easy. Always "Hawaii No Ka Oi".
I am from Wahiawa, O'ahu. The stories are from my memories of my growing up in a large family with extended relatives.