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Nostalgic Reminiscences: Growing Up in Hawaii in the Good Old Caveman Days

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Nostalgic Reminiscenses: Growing Up in Hawaii in the Good Old Caveman Days

By Dr. Bob Uda
The Cyber-commentator©™

Kailua Beach at Sunset

All you Hawaii kanes and wahines out there come join me on a saunter down memory lane.  This moment in time is for nostalgia and reminiscing of those good old days while growing up in Hawaii during the 1940s and 1950s—the caveman days.  Here we go!

Main intersection of Kailua Town

The Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) insecticide trucks spraying mosquito poison to get rid of the mosquitoes from the Kawainui swamp.  It is surprising that we survived those chemical warfare agents.  We would run through the DDT clouds breathing in all that poison.  I am surprised we survived.  The slop man coming by to pick up and empty our fly-infested slop cans each week.  In those days, pig farmers fed stinking slop to pigs.  The slop is what made the pig meat dixilicious or should I say ono-licious?  Our enjoyment of kalua pig would be the Muslims’ nightmare.


Bob Uda in the caveman days, circa 1947

Television (TV) had many black-and-white (B&W) shows (about 13 stations).  No color TV back in the late 1950s.  Large, tall TV antenna on top of every housetop.  The huge Fabian concert (Remember “Turn Me Loose,” “Hound Dog Man,” and “Tiger”?) at the Honolulu arena where we used to see great wrestling matches (Mr. Moto et al.).  Japanese bon dances in Kailua where the Campos Dairy cow pastures used to be.  Campos Dairy and Lanimoo da cow.  Delivering papers (Honolulu Star Bulletin) to the homes in Campos Dairy pastures, dodging cow pies, and sometimes stepping in them.  Lots of maggots and flies thrived on fresh cow pies.

The Kailua Quarry pulverized coral rock into small pebbles to use in concrete, which generated much dust that covered the cars.  Catching aawa-awa and Samoan crab in the river by Kawainui swamp.  Listening to “The Shadow Knows” on radio.  Yes, this was even before television.  Mom used to listen to “These are the Days of Our Lives” on radio for years before it went on television.  Station KULA.  Listening to “Alley Oop, Oop” on the radio while driving down Kalakaua Avenue.

Waikiki Beach with the Punch Bowl Volcano in the background

Andy’s Drive Inn had those $.15 hamburgers.  Great!  Kailua Theater was a great hangout.  Playing match/no-match with voting cards.  Drinking 7-ounce bottles of Coke.  Pounding soda bottle caps flat, drilling hole in center, putting strings through hole, winding up string by spinning the flat cap in a circular motion, then pulling on string, which made the flat cap spin like a band saw.  Could cut pretty good too.

Reading Alfred E. Newman, “What, Me Worry!” Mad Magazines.  Mic-key M-o-u-s-e Club on TV.  Face cards pinned onto bicycle wheel spokes that made a motorbike sound as you rode your bike.  Skateboards shaped like an “H” going down steep streets in Keolu Hills.  Soapbox derby racers riding down the steep streets in Keolu Hills.

My soapbox derby racer and 1954 Plymouth in the background

Gathering honeycombs from wild honeybee hives in the mountains.  Playing bang-maké in the guava patches and in Indian Valley in Keolu Hills.  Going to Mango Field to pick delicious Hayden mangoes by the burlap bagfuls.  Mom dried them out and made mango seed from green mangoes that we had picked.  Eating mucho guavas and mangoes with salt.  Eating lilicoi fruit and mango with soy sauce.

Remember Piggly Wiggly supermarket?  The delicatessen next to Tony Saifuku’s home where you can get good Japanese food.  Getting $.50 haircuts.  Riding down the flumes in the taro patch in Kaneohe.  Walking in waist-deep water and mucho mud planting taro in the taro patches.  Driving past the heiau (spooky) next to the Pali Road as you enter Kailua town.  Flipping coins at Kailua High School (KHS), getting caught, and receiving the paddle on the butt from the vice principal.

Everyone saying “Make A” whenever you did anything embarrassing (The “A” stood for Ass).  Husking dry coconuts in five seconds using the construction pick with the flat surface end planted firmly in the ground, jamming the coconut into the pointed end of the pick, and twisting to tear off a piece of the husk.  Drinking coconut water.  Ummmm, delicious.  Grinding the coconut using a specially made tool with sharp teeth.  Squeezing the ground coconut to collect the white milk.  Mom making haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding) with the coconut milk.  Oooooh, so ono (Hawaiian for delicious)!

Traveling on buses to away KHS games against Kahuku, Waialua, Waipahu(?), etc.  Me no can remembah all.  Singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”  Raising a beef steer in the 4-H Club in Keolu Hills.  Diamond Head, Coco Head, which head is missing?  Your head.  Going to International Market Place to spahk (i.e., gawk at) wahines (women or chicks).  Watching/listening to Don Ho sing “Tiny Boobies.”  Flat Island.  Rabbit Island.  The golf course at Lanikai.  Fishing at The Point, which was the entrance to Lanikai.

Hunting mountain doves with bee-bee gun.  Catching mountain doves with wire traps.  Eating big feast of teriyaki mountain doves.  Oooono!  Dixilicious!  Especially with sawa (Pidgin English for sour) poi or hot, sticky rice.  Eating boiled taro root.  Good with butter on slices of it.  Chewing on sugar cane strips.  Whacking a meal on delicious, juicy pineapple picked from the pineapple fields.  Guarding the watermelon patches at the Uachis’ farm and eating all of the watermelon that we could ingest.

Giving tourists wrong directions intentionally.  Naughty kids we were.  Making carvings from hau trees, which was very light wood… sorta like balsa wood.  Six-digit phone number in Keolu Hills (269-221).  Home in Keolu Hills was on Hele Street.  Great home in which to grow up.  Drainage ditch in back yard would overflow every rainy season.

Kailua flood, 1951 storm

Parents ask if we want to go to Japanese school to learn how to speak Japanese.  No, we Americans.  English is good enough.  Stupid.  Now, no can speak, understand, write, or read Japanese.  Stupid!  Taking sushi and musube (rice ball) with ume (pickled plum) in center of musube to school for lunch.  Embarrassed.  Trade sushi and musube with ume in center with Haole (White) kids for peanut battah and jelly sandwich.  Stupit.  No do dat today.  It was like trading delicacies for junk food.  Stupit!

Fighting brush fires on the hills of Keolu Hills.  Digging up cans of C-rations and K-rations (uneaten) that Marines left buried shallow in their foxholes during maneuvers in the hills of Keolu Hills and Bellows Field.  Blowing up toads during New Year’s time by sticking firecrackers in both their butts and/or their mouth.  Crazy kids!  Guts splatter all ova da place.  Making and shooting zip guns—almost killing self.

Getting soft ice cream at Dairy Queen.  Putting little pieces of dry ice in da mout and acting like smoking.  Raising hundreds of pigeons, parakeets, rabbits, chickens, ducks, etc.  Ate most of them except the parakeets.  Only sold them.  Camping out in backyard and sometimes in da front yard.  Cooking food on open fire.  Whacked a meal on C-rations and K-rations.  Surprising we no keel ova from ptomaine poisoning.  Mom made beef jerky.  Taste mo bettah den dakine you buy from stoah.  Broka da mout.

Delivering Honolulu Star Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser on newspaper routes.  Some years later, the two competing newspapers merged and now known as the Honolulu Star Advertiser.  Very creative name.  Not!  Going to Maunawili for mangoes.  Riding soap box derby racers down the old closed-down part of the Old Pali Road.  Graduating from Kailua High School in June 1960 … some 55 years ago!  Driving an old ‘54 Plymouth.

Lookout at top of Pali Road

The Old Pali Road

Working on construction jobs for seven consecutive summers.  Biggest wage was $2.90/hour, which was a lot for a kid in those days.  Laid Parquet hardwood floors with Dad in evenings and on weekends.  Life was great growing up in Keolu Hills and Kailua.  Those were the good old days—never to be repeated…only can reminisce in nostalgia.  Growing up in the ‘50s was a really fun time.  I yearn for those days again.

Now we gotta deal with Obama and his “spread the wealth” nonsense!  When I went off to the University of Oklahoma (my mom and dad called it Okole-homa) in the fall of 1960, Barack Obama was not even a gleam in his mother’s eye.  I was already raising Cain when Obama was hatched.


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      You might want to correct your caption for the picture of Waikīkī. That would be Lēʻahi or Diamond Head in the background.

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