ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
July 20, 2007
BY: Arlene Ching (italicized)
Donald Dias, Frances Koo and Mildred Chinen are here today (July 20, 2007, at the home of Donald and Twila Dias in Ewa Beach, OÔahu) and Donald is primarily the one that IÕm interviewing. But IÕm going to ask Donald at another time, to talk more about politics and growing up in ÔAiea. And today, Mildred, Frances and Donald are going to talk about primarily being in old time ÔAiea and some of the different places that they knew. OK?
Donald, what do --- when you talk story with your family and you tell them about old time in ÔAiea, what do you tell them about?
Donald: I tell them about when I was young and growing up as a child. And I used to explain to them, in the language that they can understand. Just a common language. Sometimes we use ÔpidginÕ to communicate with more, because depends on what nationality, makeup we are. Or, we use the ÒQueenÕs language,Ó as commonly called by the newspapers.
But when you were growing up in ÔAiea, in all different camps there were, wasnÕt pidgin more commonly used?
Donald: Pidgin was used very, very much because of the ethnic makeup of the different workers that were assigned to the plantations.
And what were those ethnic mak eup?
Donald: The ethnic make ups were, as history tells us, that the majority of the people who were brought in, were from outside of the United States and they were foreigners. And they came from as far as Japan and China. They came all the way from the Philippines. They came from Europe and as far as Portugal and the Azores, and other parts of the world, including South America, and the majority of the Pacific Islands.
Childhood at Kalauao Pump Camp (1932-1935)
And what about your family? How did your family end up in---settled in ÔAiea? Was it the plantation?
Donald: My father--- who worked for the City & County of Honolulu as a timekeeper, prior to 1931. The mayor of Honolulu---there was change in government. As a result in the change in government and the mayor lost his job, my father also lost his job because they call it the ÒspoilsÓ system. And, uh, whoever was in office, would bring their own people into office. So, it was recommended that, uh, my father seek assistance with Honolulu Plantation which is known to be the plantation in ÔAiea. Which it is. And this was done before I was even here. And, he was fortunate to getting his assignment and getting his family settled. And I believe they settled in Waimalu Pump area, which is known to be the shopping center of Pearlridge Shopping Center.
The pump area?
Donald: The pump area is known to be the Sumida Watercress Farm.
So that pump area was plantation (land)?
Donald: Yes, the plantation was using it to irrigate their sugar cane fields and the surrounding area. And they installed water pump and the natural artesian system coming from the ground, was used to irrigate the different sugar cane fields.
What was your dadÕs job?
Donald: My fatherÕs job for the plantation was to transport the workers in the morning to the various fields that they were assigned to coordinate the irrigation of the sugar cane fields. And then, that was done in the early hours of the morning, I believe anytime after 4:30, 5:00. And then after he got through with his assignment, he would come back and he would pick up the young children, and transport them all to the different schools surrounding the plantation areas, different schools, ÔAiea Elementary, one in Waimalu Elementary. There was one in Pearl City and up by Halawa. And after that, he would be assigned to pick up the elderly people and take them to their different medical doctors appointments.
Was he taking to a doctorÕs appointments in ÔAiea?
Donald: He took them to the ÔAiea Hospital.
What kind of vehicle was he driving?
Donald: He was driving a White. It was a brand of the truck. And it was made up with a cage in the back of the truck. They had one door in the rear of it. And it was wired in. And it had canvas in case it was raining. You could lower the side and stuff. To protect the people sitting inside this truck.
So people would have to step up into the back of the truck and they have benches that they could sit on---
Donald: Right. The whole thing in the back had benches on both sides of the truck. And they would seated and he would take them to the different appointments that they had.
So he was ferrying people in his truck back and forth.
Donald: Yeah. And he moved to meet the various people throughout the entire plantation. And at the end of the day, after the medical appointments were finished in the late morning, besides he ate, he took his lunch hour, is that, he would return them to their houses. And now, school was letting out. He would pick up the different children and take them off to the various camps surrounding the plantation that, uh, they came from. And then, by the time that those finished, he would pick up the different workmen from the fields that he dropped them off in the morning. And that was his regular workday.
Now, coming down into the weekends, he also was assigned by the plantation, to pick up the different young people who belonged to the Hi-Y Club, for the YMCA clubs, and take them to their meetings or competitions throughout the leeward side, all the way out to ÔEwa, Waipahu, Waialua Plantation, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Kahuku. And these young people would compete in the various sports, depending on the season, with the other plantation children.
And were these sports like baseball, basketball?
Donald: There were all the sports, with baseball. They were basketball. They were football. But this was the barefoot league. They didnÕt have the high schools at that time. And eventually, when that came down, he didnÕt have those assignments. Schools took care of their own. And this went on until 1941.
So I came into the plantation, I believe, I was born in 1931. In Kalihi. And Ð
May I interrupt for a minute? What part of Kalihi? Were you born, like lower Kalihi?
Donald: I know the exact address, because, thereÕs a little story thatÕs connected with it. ItÕs 728 Mokauea Street. And why I say this is that some years later, I asked my mother, ÒHow come the application on my birth certificate has ÔKapiolani Maternity HospitalÕ scratched out on the address? And it has 728 Mokauea Street?Ó And she said, ÒBecause you didnÕt make it to the hospital! You were born premature. And thatÕs correct. YouÕre born at that address. On the front steps of the house.Ó I told them, ÒOh. Oh boy. Must have been rough.Ó Tell me. I donÕt know. WasnÕt my fault.
Well. Let me ask Frances at this time. How many brothers and sisters are there in the family?
Frances: Two brothers. Three--three sisters. I mean. Yeah. Five of us.
Where are you in that---?
Frances: IÕm number (pause) four.
Do you remember living in this home in Kalihi?
Frances: UhÑyes. A little.
Uh huh. Mokauea Street is between Kalihi Street and ---
(Inaudible. Puuhale Street.)
Yeah. And mostly, thereÕs still just like single-family homes there, which are being replaced by, you know, concrete Filipino-style homes. But, uh---
Frances: I think itÕs about, more or less, the same, in that one area.
Yeah. Yeah. Um hmm. Yeah. Do you remember, um, the move to Waimalu? You know? How old were you?
Frances: Not really.
Donald: Actually, I had a correction on Waimalu. ItÕs not Waimalu.
Donald: Not even Waiau. Kalauao.
Frances: Oh. ThatÕs right. Yeah. Kalauao.
I didnÕt even realize that, uh, there was a Kalauao Pump. Yeah.
Frances: Yeah, Pump Six.
Because that the fresh water, uh, artesian (water) thatÕs coming out of the Sumida (Watercress Farm), is Kalauao.
Frances: Uh hmm.
ThereÕs actually is a sign on the farm there, and it says Kalauao Wells.
Donald: And if you look on the bridge right over there on Kam High---Kamehameha Highway, it has Kalauao.
The stream. But you said it was Pump Six?
OK. Well, how big was that camp?
Donald: It only had four houses and one pump house.
And did the person who ran the pump house, was that, like someone who had lived there? Or was that, someone would just come, and he would just be assigned to work there, you know?
Donald: Well, right next to it, was ÔAiea Hospital.
Donald: So, the hospital has its own hospital rooms for the various patients and the staff that lived on the property. So even though the pumping station was in the lower portion, it didnÕt look like it was huge, and all this land, true, but you couldnÕt put anything on the water that was coming out, so thatÕs why Mr. Sumida worked a deal with the landlord, which was Bishop Estate at that time. Today it is Kamehameha Schools. And they get their lease through that and they worked out a deal, to work it separate. So, the land was just ma kai of the ÔAiea Hospital. And then, right next to it, had some other homes, but was not connected with the plantation.
The ÔAiea Hospital was not part of the plantation?
Donald: It was connected with the plantation, but not contracted. It was separated.
But the land, that the pump was on---Was that plantation?
Donald: ThatÕs plantation land.
OK. And then, before I ask you more questions about the hospital---I mean, what was the camp like? Was it called Waiau Camp? Or, did it have a name?
Donald: No. The Waiau Camp, actually, was further up in the cane field, above---
Near the reservoir?
Donald: Above the golf course. (Pearl County Club)
So this area with four houses and a pump house was---
Donald: Was just a pump station.
Donald: Yeah. Well, actually, Kalauao.
Frances: Oshita family lived there too. Oshita.
Oshita family lived there. OK. So at the time that your father and mother were living there, were all five children born by then, right?
Donald: Yeah. IÕm the youngest.
So, seven people living in the house. Were there other family members living there too?
Donald: Yeah. My older sisters. And my brother.
Frances: Yeah. All five.
Donald: We grew up. We didnÕt stay there too long. I think we stayed there for little over a year. Then they moved us up to New Mill Camp. Which is located in ÔAiea adjacent to the sugar mill.
Childhood in first home at New Mill Camp (1935-1937)
So about when did you move, when did you move to New Mill Camp?
Donald: ThatÕs about 1935 plus. I believe itÕs sometime in 1935. According to my older sister who lives in Las Vegas.
Well, what was it like to move? I mean, if you were a plantation family moving, from a cottage, IÕm going to assume, two bedroom, like, one bath cottage, what? Is that right? Two bedroom? Three bedroom?
Frances: We had three bedrooms and one bath.
Three bedroom and one bath. OK. So that means, some beds and---I mean, what---did the plantation help you move? Or did neighbors help you move?
Donald: Yeah. They helped you move everything. And then, you would have to furnish your own furnitures and stuff like that. But every time, we made a move, for the young children, it was like a circus.
Donald: Well, itÕs a lot of fun! Plus, youÕre changing your surroundings. YouÕre meeting more people. So, you know, say goodbye to the old friends and see you later! And you get to meet new people. So I took it as enjoyment---enjoyable.
Donald: So when we moved up to New Mill Camp. Then we got to know our neighbors, surrounding us in the area. We were right across the street from the boarding house. Why did we call it the boarding house? Because the majority of the workers were all single men, of different nationalities. They all worked for the plantation. They had their own dormitories there. They had their washhouses. They had their furo, so they could take a bath. And, I believe they had a cafeteria area.
Childhood in second home at New Mill Camp (1937- )
We lived there a little over a year. Then my parents told us that we were moving to another house. ÒAgain!Ó ÒBoy! I like this!Ó I donÕt know about my sisters. TheyÕre much older and probably, they got a little upset. But, we moved up the road to the top of the section of where the New Mill Camp was, and they had built ten homes. And these homes were four bedrooms. Two full baths. Living room. Dining room. Kitchen. Washhouse. A garage underneath the house.
The plantation built these big new homes.
Donald: The plantation built all their homes. And what they did from the Pacific Northwest, out of Washington state, plantation ÒBig Five,Ó they had their friends up there. And they would order their lumber in logs, and they would float them, connected together. And have them, come across the ocean, and that way, by it got to Honolulu, the salt water would treat the lumber, and get rid of all the bugs and everything that was in. And then they take it into the plantation. They had their own lumber mills. And they would cut the lumber down to the different sizes. And they would use the lumber to build their homes. And their buildings that they needed to run the operation of the plantation. And each plantation had their own! Here in Honolulu. Not one plantation had one, and the other one didnÕt. They all had the same type of operation.
So at Honolulu Plantation, they could---they had a shop that could do that?
Donald: Yeah. They had their own carpenter shop.
They didnÕt have to go to OÔahu Sugar or a bigger one?
Donald: No. No. The only thing---if they needed metal, they went to Honolulu Iron Works.
In Iwilei, yeah.
Donald: Yeah. And then---the houses had corrugated iron roofs. So they would order the corrugated iron, the size for the roofs. And then they would use that to put on the roof, for the houses. And why, is that, I guess, the corrugated iron, the way itÕs make up, the metal, lasted longer than wood. There wouldnÕt be wood rot. And thatÕs why you used it. And you find out, as you travel throughout the different islands, as you go across Maui. You go on the Big Island. As you go close to plantation areas, you start to see all these corrugated iron roofs. And you know, the plantation was nearby.
So it was a decision by the---I mean, obviously the plantation people, the managers and the company owners. They all to each other.
Donald: I believe it was economics.
Yeah. And so that was the bottom line.
Donald: Yeah. And then they had their resources. They had the contacts. They had the money.
And they knew exactly how they would spend it. And how much would go for the price of one home, to care for one family and how much that family would put out and return the money to them eventually.
So. Your father and mother moved to this home. Did the plantation approach them and say, ÒDo you mind paying more money?Ó Because obviously, theyÕre going to charge more rent, right? If you move to---
Donald: We didnÕt pay any rent.
Oh, you didnÕt?
Donald: Nope! To my knowledge, we didnÕt pay any rent at that time. And this didnÕt come unto a later date.
So. Up to the time we moved into the big home, which was the latter part of the year. I believe it was close to November of 1937. They moved into the last of the big homes. And then, uh, we had a bigger yard. And you could look from the home. Look straight into Pearl Harbor. You look straight into Battleship Row! And that is where our house sat. To today, it sits right there. And then, when you look out, you can see all this. And it still exists today.
Who are your neighbors? Did they---
Donald: Next door neighbor, and because we were in a row, was the Muraki family.
Frances: Hideo Muraki.
Donald: And he worked, I believe, in the metal shop. And he was good friends with my father. And the next house, there was a road in between. Plantation road that went down into the valley. And right there, the house, continuing on, it was the Torres family. And he had, I think, was three sons and one daughter. And Mr. Torres worked in one of the machine shops. And next to Mr. TorresÕs house. I forgot where it was---
Donald: And whoÕs that Hawaiian family? Spencer?
Frances: Uh. Further down.
Donald: Yeah. There was another house after that. Mr. Spencer and his family. And uh, his two sons became police officers. And then, going actually, all ten houses, we knew who the people were. But then, today, my sister Frances lives in our family house. Till today.
OK. So when you lived in that home, did it have an address?
Yup. The address was in the back of the house. And they assigned it to ÔÔAiea Heights Drive.Ó
Oh. So they had already used the name ÒÔAiea Heights DriveÓ in the 1930s, and um, they gave you, like a street number?
Frances: Yeah. Because we had the homes going up to the ÔAiea area.
Donald: Because the street that came down, in front of the two houses, our neighborÕs house, it was the fishermanÕs house. I forget his name. And uh, what was the Hawaiian name?
Frances: Hakina. No. Oh. Kaulainahee. Yeah. My property starts from Kaulainahee. Because my driveway comes in from Kaulainahee (Street). And right across the street, is Hakina (Street).
Um hmm. Now, are you on level lots? Or is sloping?
Donald: Sloping. And why this was all done. The plantation had it in the works that they were going to sell the house. That was not made public yet. When theywere subdividing all of this, and giving the different addresses. Accordingly. Because prior to that, you had a house number, and thatÕs your address. House number. New Mill Camp. With your name. And thatÕs it. And we didnÕt have that, over there.
And eventually, after they named the street going mau ka ma kai, you find it out ten houses. That those people get their addresses after that. So theyÕre using the house numbers. Like Mr. Torres, them, going down. Because, what happened, is that, at a later date, they moved our neighborÕs house, up in the corner, where the fishermanÕs---
They moved the house, itself?
Donald: Yeah. Moved the whole house.
But at that time, in the later thirties. Already, the richer, more affluent people were living on ÔAiea Heights Drive?
Donald: Yeah. They were above us on ÔAiea Heights Drive. Going all the way up into the hills.
But you were among the first families to live in homes that were not just in the camps itself. But above it. And you were living on ÔAiea Heights Drive, like these other people?
Frances: But that was part of the camp, though.
Donald: Yeah. We were part of the camp.
OK. But you still considered yourself living in New Mill Camp?
Donald: Yeah. Right. And then, the war came. 1941. ThatÕs another story. At another date. And then, toward the ending of Honolulu Plantation, they said---there was a big announcement. Plantation announced. It was selling out its property, of the plantation in 1948. Which they did. But they already notified the landowners, who was going be able to buy. And who was going to be able to stay on the property. And who was going to be able to stay on the land. All others, that didnÕt get this notice, would have to move within thirty days.
Wow. ThatÕs a short period of time.
Donald: Shortly thereafter, there was the strike of 1949.
But the strike wasnÕt just at Honolulu Plantation?
Donald: No. The strike was in town on its transportation portion of the HRT. That was a big strike. But then thatÕs when the plantation decided, we might as well pull the plug at the same time. To soften the cushion. Which they did. And not much the unions could do. They squawked loud. And threatened a lot of things. But ----
Did your father come home and talk about this? Or was it just---
Donald: No. No. That was none of our business for the children. No. Then we heard all kinds of stories in the camp. And we just kept it to ourselves. And then, he didnÕt even tell us to keep our mouths shut.
Well, people talk. I mean, of course. But personally, your fatherÕs kept these things to himself and only talked it with his---
Donald: Yeah. He talked with my mother and thatÕs it.
With other adults.
Yeah. And we wouldnÕt explain any of the ÒA-ZÓ about the dealings of the plantation.
Or express to you how he felt? Or---
And I got to know more about it, as I got older. WeÕd learn a little bit more, a little bit more. And when I got older. ThatÕs another portion.
Yeah. Could I backtrack and ask you about your mother for a few minutes? During this time, did she work for the plantation?
Donald: No. My mother. When we moved, she was a housewife. Always. From Kalihi. And on the plantation, with the early years. Until the war years. Then she got a job, working at Waimano Home. In Pearl City. As a caretaker. And she would work with patients up there. And quite a few of the females on the plantation. We found out later. They were nurses. Clerks. And they all worked up there. Quietly, without telling each other what they were doing.
Why was that?
Donald: I guess it was such a good thing that got the help of the plantation again. And then. You donÕt say too much. DonÕt worry about it. And it was a silent thing. You donÕt talk about it.
Yeah. And then, this went on, until the outbreak of the war. But thatÕs another story. Because she continued to work for government after the outbreak of the war.
And just to close off this side of the tape, your mother is the Hawaiian side of the family.
Frances: My mother is pure Hawaiian. SheÕs from the island of MolokaÔi. Born and raised.
Donald: My father is mixed. Half Hawaiian. We never knew how much Portuguese we were, other than our last name. WeÕre Chinese ancestry and a little bit of English. That I know of, because, our ancestry on my fatherÕs side is English ancestry. (End of tape one, side one)
ÔAiea before World War II
(Tape one, side two) WeÕre look at the road book over there. And IÕm looking at an OÕahu map book, uh, 2003 edition, of ÔAiea on page 59 and 60.
Donald: Yeah. And then you started. Moanalua Road and ÔAiea Heights Drive. And thatÕs the beginning of ÔAiea town. Now, Moanalua Road has many, many lanes.
But itÕs still the same road that it was all these years. And that hasnÕt been modified. Only the lanes have been widened. But the road and the design of the intersection have not changed. ItÕs sloping and itÕs going uphill. I donÕt know what the percentage of grade is.
But if I was standing at the plantation store, across the street, and looking up. I know what I would have seen on either side, but I want to know how steep---
Donald: OK. If you go towardsÑLook towards the Honolulu direction. You would see Moanalua (Road) and ÔAiea Heights Drive. If you look across from the store, there used to be big banyan tree. And the taxi stand---the taxis used to park underneath the tree. In front of the store. Right off the road. And the store was in the background. And itÕs like---almost like a three story building, but it actually was only two story. And you walk up the front steps, you go into the main store. ÔAiea General Store. It was like you walked into the old---
Like ArakawaÕs (ArakawaÕs in Waipahu on Depot Road, a general store in business from 1909 to 1995)?
Donald: Yeah. Like ArakawaÕs, which is wide-open with all the counters like this, and you would have all the display of goodies over there. For the different departments. Linen department. They sold stoves, you know. Stoves. Charcoal stoves.
Were things neat and organized in there?
Donald: Yeah. It was---and they would have prices on it. Including, ah, lunch tin.
Oh. The aluminum kine with the lid on it.
Donald: Yeah. Because the school children had to take their own lunch from home.
I know that adults could have credit at the store.
Donald: And they also take, uh, their lunch. Now that was the ÔAiea General Store. And then the credit, that you lived off the plantation, they had a little tablet book with your name on top. And they had a bongo number. And this bongo number---the adults used it. Not the children. ItÕs that they would use it to buy things. They didnÕt have enough money to pay it off. They would mark it in the book and they would give you credit. And the next closest payday, you would settle with the store.
And how often was payday?
Donald: I believe it was twice a month. Yeah. And they would get paid, out in the different areas. They had a paymaster for the business office. And then they took the payroll out to the workers. Out in the field. In the different areas, where they paid you. They would be accordingly.
But your father didnÕt have to do that. That wasnÕt hisÑ
Donald: Well, he went into the paymasterÕs office. Even though he worked, uh, out of the business office. With his doings and his stuff.
Oh. ThatÕs how he would get his assignments too.
Donald: Well, he would have to take things in town, for the business office. Take a lot of paperwork for the main banks, I believe, and do the business for the plantation besides his regular assigned deliveries and dropping of people, and stuff.
Yeah. So did he work seven days a week?
Donald: I would say he worked about----something like that.
Mean less on the weekends? He had his regular---
Donald: He would schedule. He could modify sometimes heÕd be off on a Saturday. Sunday, heÕd be off in the afternoon. But in the later afternoons, he would have to go pick up the boys from their---- either, uh, games that were dropped off earlier. And then theyÕre all coming back home.
So, since they didnÕt have cell phones (laughs), I mean, did he use a telephone sometimes?
Donald: OK. ÔAiea was located out in the country. And the zone--- we had to talk to the operator. Yeah. We were out of the zone of, uh, Fort Shafter or Moanalua. So we were out in the boondocks. And then, if you want to call beyond that zone, you Ôd have to ring the bell. And then you talk to someone down the line. If they would answer. If not, you try later. But if you to call beyond that, you have to talk to the operator. I believe you get charged or stuff. Long distance.
For your fatherÕs job, did he have to use the telephone a lot?
Donald: No. Most of the dealings, he dealt with the office. Because, where the sugar mill is, there was another office over there. And thatÕs the office that he worked in and out of too. Also.
So where your father would work--- if I looked at this map, and I know where the mill was, where was his workplace in the map of the mill?
Donald: OK. If you look on the map of the mill over there. You see the building of the Hawaii Sugar Planters (former Hawaii Sugar PlantersÕ Association building, now Hawaii Agriculture Research Center), thatÕs where his office was. ThatÕs where his office was. That building was not there. That was put in many years later. The plantation was part of the sugar mill complex. And thatÕs where he parked his truck all the time. Right there in the back.
So, when he finished work, would he walk home? Would he take a shortcut from his office?
Donald: Oh no. He had his own Model A car! He would drive it to work, if my mother wasnÕt going to use it. And then he would park it over there and go work with the plantation truck, until the end of the day, then come home with it.
HeÕd drive home. OK.
Donald: LetÕs say that, even though we lived on plantation, we lived comfortable. Yeah. Lot of things, you know, people didnÕt know, especially, no rent. That I knew of. Until later date. Now after the plantation was sold. Ah yes, the rent came out.
Do you recall how much the rent was?
Donald: Well, it varied for the different people in the house, so---
Was it based on the house? Or was it based on the workerÕs salary?
Donald: I couldnÕt say for the people who were paying the rent to the plantation. When they sold, they sold directly to my parents.
Oh. You mean your parents signed the deed. And the house was theirs, and the land?
Donald: Yeah. And then, there was a note on the house. And we paid the note to the bank.
Was the bank, the Bank of Hawaii?
Donald: I believe it was.
Yeah. Right there in ÔAiea.
Donald: Yeah. A few of the people decided not to take the ÔsweetheartÕ deal. But they were upset because they could no longer live there.
Well, you said that the sale of the homes occurred, um,--
Donald: In Õ48.
And the plantation strike was around that time.
Donald: Yeah. Right after that. When the plantation found out anything. Because it belongs to the ILWU (International and Longshore Warehouse Union) now. The longshore workmen people.
Yeah. But since your sister is here. I just wanted to ask a few, like, everyday kind of things about the plantation. Can I just give you a break for a minute? OK? Do you mind me asking a few questions, Frances, about just going to school? (More questions about her recollections)
Frances: Walking to and from school.
How far away was the school from where you lived l? (More questions about the route)
Frances: I know you walked down from where the theater used to be. And cross over to where the shopping center is now. I donÕt think there were any ditches then. We didnÕt have to cross any ditches. I know there were steps coming down because--- Oh. We had to pass over rail--- the railroad---
The railroad for the mill, yeah?
Frances: Yeah. It was right over there where those homes are.
I heard that the mill used to have, like, um, what to do call it? Siren? Or what was it that used to do---
Frances: The whistle.
The whistle was for starting work. But it also told you that school was going to start too?
Donald, Frances: No. School had their own system.
But you could hear the mill whistle at the school.
Frances: For the workers. Um hmm. Because itÕs right close by.
Right. And you could also hear the sounds from the---- Were there other sounds too? Other than the sound of the whistle?
Donald, Frances: Yeah. The trains. Hauling up the cane.
Donald: And then when the mill would start up, the generators inside the mill and everything, would be rumbling and everything. And the sound coming out. And you would see the raw cane going in, up the chute, being washed and everything. Then they grind it all up. Then it would disappear. So then, later on, you would see the trucks come up on the side and----
So youÕre sitting in the school. But are you kind of like watching whatÕs going on?
Donald: No. ItÕs inside the building.
Frances: In fact, we only had windows on one side. Because there were walls.
Donald: And the roof sloped down.
And was the school like, with galvanized iron roofs? Was it regular roofs?
Frances: I donÕt think so. It was regular.
Donald: Had that red, yeah?
Frances: Yeah. Red rooftop.
But the color of the wood was----red?
Donald: Was it clear? Little more expensive wood.
Yeah. And the school. Um. It wasnÕt on the ground? I think itÕs raised above the ground because you had to walk up steps?
Frances: Maybe one or two steps.
And each classroom, um, different grades?
Frances: We had about two classrooms for one grade, I think. Or was it one? A-B-C. Three?
Frances: A Class. B Class. C Class.
Oh? In each grade?
Frances: Um hmm.
But when IÕm looking at the class pictures, itÕs like theyÕre holding numbers. Is it the classroom number?
Frances: Probably room numbers.
Did they use the same room numbers for each---you know?
Frances: For different grades.
But the following year, would that classroom pretty much be used for the same grade?
Frances: I think so. Yeah. I think so.
Did you wear a dress to school?
Did your mother make sure you were wearing dresses? Or you just liked wearing dresses?
Frances: We were not like children of today, where you can wear shorts to school.
Really? Girls didnÕt wear shorts? OK. Always wearing a dress. Is there anything elseÑ
Donald: IÕll tell you about the dress (code). I had to wear button up shorts with matching shirt.
What! To ÔAiea School?
Donald: You know, like you see the ÒOur GangÓ comedy.
Somebody was ironing and washing clothes!
Donald: Yeah. We had a women do our laundry for us. Take care of the interior of the household. Do the starching and ironing. But I went to school like that, all the way to the ninth grade. And I didnÕt like it. Because I looked like ÒMortimer Snerd.Ó (Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen had a character named Mortimer Snerd in a radio show from 1936 to 1956)
Frances: Well you had shorts on. Only the style was different in those days.
Donald: Yeah. But I had button up shorts on my matching pants and mother used to buy the outfit from Yat Loy Clothing down on King Street and Nuuanu (Street). Right? Yat Loy?
Frances: Yeah. Nuuanu and King.
Donald: And when I transferred to school down to Central Intermediate, that first day, she let me out of the car. I didnÕt want to go into the school! Everybody was laughing and ÒLook that boy!Ó And I was a ninth grader! I was already turning into a man already!
Well, remember. I saw that yearbook picture. So I can kind of put the shorts on the face.
Donald: Yeah. And then we were well dressed actually. Plantation kids. You know, we werenÕt sloppy or anything. We didnÕt just wear coveralls. You wore proper school clothes. Now, if you went to Japanese school, later on, you would have to change your clothes to your black pants, your white shirt. Depending on what the occasion was.
Frances: We had our own handmade, what you call, school bags. Yup. It was made so your arm slid inside the strap. The strap went across your chest and the bag hung on the side of your body. With books inside.
So all the kids have the same kind of bag? And would you buy it at the store?
Or people would make it?
Frances: Make it.
Donald: Make it at home. And then, when the war came, you had to include your gas (mask) bag.
Oh yes. Because you had to carry that.
Frances: You see, itÕs something like this. With a handle over here, where, you know, you can open this up over here. And the handle would be on one side, this side. You can put your arm in. You know, like this.
Donald: And your lunch tin in there, too!
And isnÕt the lunch tin, oh, about this big?
Donald: Oh no. Small.
Oh. The smaller one.
Donald: Just enough to feed you.
Frances: Small, like that. Yeah!
So what kind of schoolbooks would you be taking back and forth? Were they writing tablets?
Frances: Yeah. Writing tablets.
And your pencils?
Frances: Writing tablets still famous. You know, those black-and-white marble ones on the outside.
Donald: You carry your own ruler.
Do you know if anybody kept their schoolbag?
Donald: Schools should have. A museum where they--- (and going back to the school supplies). A six-inch ruler.
Only six-inch (ruler)?
Donald: Six-inch. Out of twelve inch. And then you keep your pencils. And your sharpener.
Frances: And you had this little container.
Donald: Little container, you put it in. Sort of close it up. And put it in your bag. And then you have the book. Tablet. Not the folder. Tablet. You know the one that look like a rock on the cover?
Yeah. And then it has the lines on both sides. Yeah.
Frances: Black and white. Composition book.
Mildred: We used to call it ÒblackÓ tablet.
Did you have to buy quite a few of them? Or just one?
Donald: Yeah. Because youÕd do a subject and everything. You would get graded. Right in the same book.
YouÕd have to have it. Yeah.
Donald: ÒAÓ is good. ÒB.Ó ÒC.Ó ÒDÓ is going down already.
How many books did you have to have?
Donald: Sometimes, youÕd have about two or three. Depends on what class youÕre in. But we didnÕt carry the books, like they carry today. We left the reading material books right there in the room. And if you needed something extra, youÕd go the library. Sometimes, as you got older, you worked in the library.
Did you used to have a book car come and bring childrenÕs books?
Frances: At the school.
Donald: Yeah. At the school.
Yeah. The Library of Hawaii, the downtown library, um, took care of that.
Donald: And that was a treat to go on an excursion and go to the real Library of Hawaii! The big white building downtown.
OK. All right, going down to the school, from what IÕm hearing, you had eighth grade? Kindergarten to eighth grade?
Ninth grade. And there may have been three classes for each grade?
Donald: Junior. Junior school. It was called.
Frances: We had three. BecauseÑ(inaudible) how they split. In your classes.
So ÒAÓ ÒBÓ and ÒCÓ reflected on what kind of student you were?
Frances: Um hmm. Um hmm.
And your grades from the previous year?
And did they----
Donald: It was a junior high school. ThatÕs why. No. What they have today.
So. By the time youÕre in seventh, eighth, ninth grade, are they already, sort of telling you what kind of jobs you might be interested in?
Donald: No. Because youÕre going up to high school. YouÕre going to finish ninth grade and then youÕre going to go to Waipahu High School.
Well. But some people didnÕt. Right?
Donald: Yeah. They finished and they went to work.
Yeah. Because if theyÕre--- there were jobs. And people wanted to work. They could do it.
Donald: Yup. And they were asked if they wanted to do that. Some of them because they had to help their parents. And as times changed, the plantation changed. They changed. But they didnÕt take you out of school, ah, right away. They would try to get you your full education. High school. And then, Waipahu was so far away. So a lot of kids went to town schools. ThatÕs why they ended up going to Kapalama. They went to Stevenson. They went to Roosevelt. A lot of them transferred to McKinley High School. Farrington came out in the thirties.
But the plantation didnÕt---- um, um, like your father. Drive the high school kids.
Donald: No. They didnÕt serve any transportation. They had the OÕahu Railway and (Land) Company, that had the bus service going around the island. And thatÕs what you called it.
But to go to Waipahu High School by bus. That must have taken forty minutes? Half an hour?
Frances: We went by bus. Yeah. Those days.
Donald: Yeah. You would, uh, make sure youÕd get the earlier one. The middle one.
Frances: No. They had school buses. In the morning, they had school buses.
Oh, they did?
Frances: In the morning, they had school buses.
So there was a bus stop where ÔAiea kids could catch---
Mildred: Yeah. There were so many places with buses.
So OR&L (OÕahu Railway and Land Company) would have buses just for the high school students. So if you were going catch it to go McKinley or Farrington, or----
Mildred No. Um, this was only for Waipahu High. They would pick us up. There was always a bus going and coming home.
Oh. ThatÕs good. OK.
Donald: Then, Waianae had just started its, ah, high school program also, you know.
Donald: Yeah. ThatÕs after Waipahu. It started much later.
World War II
Now, when the war started. Of course, school stopped for two months or more? Or did school continue? Because, didnÕt they use the schools? As they (the military) was moving in?
Donald: No. You just kept to your home. And then. I think we went to work out in the fields for the--- raising the vegetables.
Yeah. The ÒVictory GardensÓ?
Donald: Yeah. The ÒVictory Gardens.Ó And then some of us, ah, got to work on the pineapple fields. And some of us were asked to go work in the cane fields.
Frances: That was during school times. One day---
Donald: No. But when they didnÕt have, uh, school.
Was that because the workers were helping with the defense efforts? Or did they just need more people?
Donald: Actually, the first year, the school was shut down for a good six months. Because there was a lot of confusion.
Well. My understanding was that they were using the schools also as places to, you know---
Donald: Well, the military came in and they temporarily set up over there. I know up at the ÔAiea Gym, where the high school is today, the military took over that entire complex over there. And that was the (U.S. Army) Signal Corps. And up on the hillside, where you were talking about the truck that parks, below the football field?
Frances: Um hmm. Um hmm. Yeah.
Donald: That was the Army Artillery.
Oh. Signal Corps and artillery!
Donald: Yeah. The artillery was, uh, over there.
Frances: There was no high school over there.
Donald: Yeah. And how I know this, is that, after school, I would sell newspapers. And these were all my routes, that I used to go sell to the military.
YouÕd sell the (Honolulu) Advertiser? No, the (Honolulu) Star-Bulletin? The evening paper.
Donald: Yeah. I would sell the Star-Bulletin. Yeah. The evening paper.
So the Signal Corps would be over where the high school was.
Donald: Where the gym is.
And the artillery was--- where, again?
Donald: Uh. Up by the--- what, that Kuulima? Where the football field is?
Donald: ÔAiea (High School) football field. Not the baseball field. The football field.
Frances: Right where the ÔAiea school is.
Was the land pretty level there?
Donald: No. ItÕs modified. But it was up high.
Frances: The school wasnÕt there.
WasnÕt that cane field, and then they just cleared it, and to put the tents and the temporary buildings?
Donald: And then, there was a valley going down. Kalauao Valley going through there. And it eventually became the H-1.
It wasnÕt called ÒEnchanted HillsÓ at that time, was it?
Donald: No, no. no. No.
OK. That was when the subdivision went---
Donald: Way later. Way later.
But did they have that road going up?
Donald: Of what?
Kaamilo ? You had ÔAiea Heights Drive.
Donald: No. That was all plantation roads. No Kaamilo at that time. And Ulune. That went up over there. Uh, wasnÕt existing in the old days. Was just a plantation road.
So. One block over. Couple blocks from Kaamilo. The ÔAiea Hospital was over there.
Donald: Yeah. ThatÕs, uh, you can get to it by coming around through ÔAiea town on Moanalua Road. And then, you come around the corner. And you would hit the supervisorsÕ homes, after the ÔAiea General Store. Both left and right side. The right side was up on the hillside. And all of your plantation supervisors were assigned to the big homes up there.
So the homes that are on Moanalua Road, right before Alvah Scott School is right now. Are those supervisorsÕ homes? OK. ThereÕs quite a few.
Donald, Frances: Um hmm.
And then after that, on the ridge, is where the managerÕs home is?
Frances: The managerÕs home was.
Donald: And that was sold to the individuals. Or other people that the plantation decided to sell it too.
OK. And then when you got to the hospital, were there just homes there? Or were there other plantation----
Donald: On the right hand side, before the plantation hospital, were the---
Frances: The nursesÕ quarters.
OK. And then they were saying the nurseÕs houses--- as youÕre going down towards the hospital.
Donald: Yeah. On the bottom part. Actually the hospital was out on a, like a plateau. And then you would have to drive up on the side of the hill. And to come up, in the back of the hospital. And on that side, they had cottages for the nurses.
Frances: Where Pali Momi (Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi)
Donald: OK. At the outbreak of the war, the Navy had two locations. And actually, what theyÕre talking about is--- you know, (H.M) Smith?
Right, Camp Smith.
Donald: The Marine Corps? That was ÔAiea Hospital for the military.
(The navy hospital on Halawa Heights, known as ÔAiea Hospital, constructed in 1941 and deactivated in 1949. Throughout World War II, the ÔAiea Naval Hospital served as an interim treatment stop for thousands of wounded Sailors and Marines on their way home from the war in the Pacific. Following the battle for Iwo Jima in February - March 1945, the hospital was filled to overflowing with 5,676 in-patients.)
So, they would take the patients all the way up---?
Frances: Halawa area.
Donald: The plantation had used, along with the military. They had its operating room and everything. Well, they made the military one. Add so much, everyday. But they already started to use--- and then, they had operated on the ones that needed the operation as soon as possible. Then, reassign them to the military hospitals. Whether you go back to Hickam Field. Or you go back to Fort Shafter, where they had this old Tripler General Hospital. It existed over there. On a smaller scale.
But the bigger hospital was up at Camp Smith? And thatÕs where---
Donald: ThatÕs where the Marine Corps eventually came. And that was General Smith. HeÕs the one that made famous, something to do with Iwo Jima.
(The installation was renamed on June 8, 1955, in honor of the first commanding general of the Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific and a highly regarded Marine leader during World War II, General Holland McTyeire "Howlin' MadÓ Smith.)
I wasnÕt in the Marine Corps. You got to ask a marine about that. And thatÕs what theyÕre talking about, because ÔAiea Hospital had its own patients. And if they needed the priority, they would get the same. They wouldnÕt be kicked on the side, you know, because of their status.
So, then, Donald, the hospital that was where Pali Momi is, what that---that couldnÕt have been called ÔAiea Hospital at the same time?
Donald: That was ÔAiea Plantation Hospital. And then, eventually, it became known as Leeward Hospital.
Frances: Um hmm.
Oh. OK. And was it known as Leeward Hospital during the war?
Donald: No. The name changed after the war. The doctors got together. The doctors bought out the hospital. And they got it from the plantation. And thatÕs when everything began to change. Today, we know that, uh, the hospital is owned by Kapiolani Maternity Hospital.
Um hmm. IÕm going to stop the tape and weÕre going to take it up at another time. (End of tape one, side two)