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Small keed time, I used to watch and listen foh da ol' timers play enny kine instruments an' I wen cum jealous, you kno'. Den some guys like James Ke, Sam Pua, John Gali, dey could really jam. So I onny used to listen an' watch.

Wen our muddah and Faddah wen make, us wuz all small kids an' we wen go live with our grandparents. Ho boy, life wen get hahd fo' me; dat kupuna kane was one strick buggah an if I no get home wen he say be home, plenny pilikia. Fo' him, no means no, an' no can talk back.

Plantation towns no get much fo' small kids so we gotta find ways fo' good fun. So one time my big bruddah said, "E, go join Boy Scouts, good fun, dey go camping, hiking ( da same as walk feet), down da beach and up da forest an' erryting. So I wen join an' fo' me wuz good fun cuz dey had boxing gloves and I could punch people hahd and not get in trouble. An' da best part wuz we went  camping up by Makanau mountain fo' one week. Ho wuz good fun! We make fire wit' rubbing stick, cook hot dog an' talk chicken skin story night time.

Da bes' paht wuz sumbuddy wen bring one ukulele. An' I tink wuz William Tsukamoto, he could play not too good but he wen kno' sum chords. ( I say William becuz dose days if you had nickname as okay, becuz we call full name, not Bill, Jack, Jim an' like dat). Anyway William said, "La dis, dis on A secon' A, den G secon' G, aah you know what I mean. E, no laff, as how he wen teach me. As not funny, you kno',

Plantation kids no mo' money and no can get money, you kno' what I mean? So I wen borrow sumbuddy ukulele an' wen keepum long time. I practice C secon' C, etc. an' da kupuna kane wen get tired an' he yell at me, " Why you onny play gittara?" So I wen play onny away from da house. Afta dat now I can jam with da guys. An' dey wen say, "E. wen you wen learn how fo' play?" As wen I knew I wuz in, kno' watt I mean?

So wen I had to give back da ukulele i was kine'na nuha. Because what I going do? So one time I went to Hilo an' saw my big sistah and I wen make sad face an' told her, "Ho boy I need one ukulele!"  (Big subtle hint, yeah?). Mo' worse, she nevah said nutting. Not too long aftah she wen cum fo' visit an' wen bring me one nani koa ukulele hand made in Kulani prison. Da Buggah wuz nice an' errybody dat play wen like borrow mine but I wen cum real manini an' tell'um, "E, no ack as not fo' lend."

So wen I wen join the Army I wen stay in da mainland an' den one time dis small haole lady wen ask me if I play ukulele an' she tol' me she wuz goin' open one halau. I thought you gotta be kidding, this small haole lady with white hair and white skin. No way. But I went and was I in for a surprise, that wahine could oli, kahiko hula, ipu hula, ili ili, auawana etc etc. You name it as we say, "She can!" Worse, when she played ukulele, she called out,"Vamp, D7 G7 C. What the hell is a D7 G7 E7 stuff? I had to learn the real chord names. But then as the late great Gabby Pahinui said, "I only play how I feel." when he was asked how he played.

For all the good musicians from the aina, they are the artists. Us locals, we just play how we feel. We just kanikapila, Right on, bruddah! Aloha nui.

About Author

I was born in the village of Hilea (where Mary Pukui was from) mauka from Punalu'u black sand beach on the Big Island. I lived mostly in Na'alehu, spent most of the war years in Papaikou and back to Ka'u. I wen join the army after pau high school. Lived in Northridge California, owned an Ad Agency, PR and Marketing but today, I kanikapila when I can. Mostly I practice and teach Tai Chi and Chi Gong (you can see me on youtube: Tai Chi Maku).The old-timers still call me Boy but I'm uncle Maku to most locals and Maku to others. A hui hou!

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