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URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING: The Average American is a Wimp Today: Health Hazards that Never Bothered Us as Kids Growing Up in Hawaii

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The Average American is a Wimp Today: Health Hazards that Never Bothered Us as Kids Growing Up in Hawaii

By Dr. Bob Uda, PhD, CM, CHSP, ILO
The Cyber-commentator©™
February 11, 2015


Growing up in Hawaii during the 1940s and 1950s was a life unlike that of today.  We never worried about diseases, illnesses, and poisons.  Apparently, our bodies were able to withstand things that cause today’s kids’ health to go into tailspins.  Things have changed so dramatically over the past half century that we now have ailments, syndromes, and illnesses not even invented in those days.  Do you remember when General George S. Patton, Jr., slapped that soldier in the face because he suffered from shell shock?  Patton considered the soldier a coward.  Today, the military calls it post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Today, we are nothing but a bunch of wimps with numerous allergies and other disorders and syndromes.  I cover a list of these items in the ensuing paragraphs.

Typical recreation at the beach today.

DDT Spraying.  In Kailua, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, the Kawainui Swamp was a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  During the hot summer months in the 1940s and early 1950s, swarms of mosquitoes would infest the Keolu Hills community of Kailua.  Hence, ever so often, a DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane insecticide) spray truck would drive through the streets in Keolu Hills spraying DDT mist throughout the community.  We would run through the mist clouds and inhale the gas like it was no big deal.  However, since scientists have found out how bad DDT is to our food and health, they do not spray it anymore into the atmosphere.  However, the DDT never bothered us any at the time.  Dilution must have saved us.

Slop Man.  In those days, pigs ate slop.  Slop is any food, rotten or otherwise, thrown out from the dinner table and/or refrigerator.  We placed a five-gallon bucket on a shelf outside of our house.  Anything thrown out from preparing meals or leftover from meals went into this slop can, which accumulated for the week.  Flies would get into the slop can and lay their eggs.  Worms would grow in the slop.  The slop man would come by each week and take this can of rotten smelling slop and pour it into a large tank on his truck.

The slop man would boil this slop to kill the germs and worms, cool it off, and feed the sterilized slop to his pigs.  This was when pig’s meat was delicious because the pigs ate slop.  Because the Board of Health does not allow pigs to eat slop anymore, the slop collecting business went under.  At any rate, there was not much future in it.  Nowadays, pig farmers feed their pigs grains such as corn, wheat, and barley.  That is why pig’s meat is not as tasty today as it was in the old days.

The same applies to chicken eggs.  In those days, chickens ran around the yard eating all kinds of insects, worms, seeds, dog doo-doo, and whatever else they could find.  The eggs they laid were very tasty.  Nowadays, chicken farmers feed their chicken only chickenfeed comprising corn, barley, and other grains.  Hence, their eggs are bland tasting.  Even chicken meat, like pig meat, is not as tasty as it used to be in the caveman days.

Eating Raw Foods.  For some reason, we never worried about trichinosis, worms, or anything like that.  I loved to eat half-cooked meat and vegetables.  I remember eating bacon half cooked, pork chops half cooked, and chicken with red blood in it.  We ate raw eggs mixed in hot rice and soy sauce.  Of course, steaks always were bleeding, though I enjoy my steaks medium rare.  However, I still will eat rare steaks and burgers.  We survived.

Worms.  Why, I remember my mom picking out dead fish worms from some delicious, huge mullets that my father had caught, and she had steam baked them in the oven.  It was no big deal then.  Worms have high protein content.  As long as we cook it to death, they could not harm you.  It is just the idea of dead worms sticking in your teeth.  It is particularly disgusting when you smile and people can see dead worms stuck to the spaces between your front teeth.

Worms in raw fish.  Yummy!

Do you remember watching television movies called “Survivor”?  Those people ate maggots, ants, cockroaches, mice, rat, snakes, and you name it.  As any survivalist will tell you, we can safely eat most animals, insects, and plants.  That’s how we survived when we were growing up in the caveman days.  We never worried about any of the germs and diseases that we are so scared about today.  Salmonella, listeria, e-coli bacteria, and campylobacter: What are they?  When we were growing up, we never bothered them, and they never bothered us!

However, today, it is a very different story.  To wit, when we went to Hawaii for a one-week vacation at the end of March 1999, we stopped at the Costco store in Hawaii Kai (at the time, I did not know that my high school buddy Rodney Inefuku lived just a few miles away).  I bought two 3½-pound bags of poi, a half-gallon of Kim Chee, and a half-gallon of lomilomi salmon.  By myself, I ate every bit of the seven pounds of poi, two quarts of Kim Chee, and two quarts of lomilomi salmon . . . all within seven days!  Nobody else in my haole-ish (haole is the Hawaiian word for “white”) family like that kind of food; hence, “I ate the whole thing” all by my lonesome.

Yes, “I cannot believe I ate the whole thing.”  I ate it for breakfast.  I ate it for lunch.  I ate it for dinner, and I ate it for a midnight snack.  They were surely “dixilicious” ono!  I left the poi out on the kitchen counter instead of refrigerating it.  Hence, it started to ferment and to become sour.  Oh!  It tasted sooooo good.  I love “sawa” (Pidgin English for “sour”) poi.  Somewhat later, after we went home to California, my wife, Karen, bought me some frozen poi and frozen kalua pig.  After boiling the poi and heating up the kalua pig, I feasted on them.  Unfortunately, I must have eaten spoiled kalua pig, and it probably carried salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, and/or e-coli bacteria.  Well, to make a long story short, I developed a severe case of Montezuma’s revenge (i.e., a severe case of diarrhea) on Saturday.

Thinking that my body was just not used to eating Hawaiian food, I ate the rest of the poi and kalua pig on Sunday.  Montezuma’s revenge all over again!  You would think I would have learned after running to the bathroom all day on Saturday.  Thus, I ran to the bathroom all day on Sunday also.  Some people are slow learners.  Well, I ate the whole thing, and the whole thing fought back!  When I was a kid, I ate anything—“no sweat.”  Nowadays, I have a haole stomach because, with a haole wife, all I eat is haole food.  “Stomach no can take it any mo.  Me wimp.”

Montezuma’s Revenge.  Every time I eat foods with many hot chili peppers in it, I get Montezuma’s revenge.  Like, for instance, I had Mexican food for two nights in a row for dinner.  I usually put a lot of that delicious hot sauce on my Mexican food.  Oh, Montezuma’s revenge hits me two nights in a row!  The next evening, my wife prepared us some barbecue beef tips for dinner.  The barbecue sauce works a reverse reaction on my intestines.  Montezuma’s revenge is the result for the third night in a row!

If I eat a lot of Kim Chee, I get Montezuma’s revenge.  If I eat hot Thai food, I get Montezuma’s revenge.  If I eat Japanese food with that hot green mustard (called wasabi) and shoyu (i.e., soy sauce) on it, since my body is like a haole bod (i.e., “bod” is short for “body”) because my wife mostly cooks haole food, I get Montezuma’s revenge.  If I ever want to clean my system out, I do not need Ex-Lax or an enema.  All I need to do is to eat any variety of hot, spicy foods.  It works as a laxative to me.

Spotted Eggs.  We used to buy spotted eggs from the Chicken Farm in Keolu Hills and eat them because they were cheaper than the higher quality, unspotted eggs.  Hey, we were a family of nine people, so we had to eat on the cheap.  Spotted eggs are those with bloody spots within the egg yolk.  You know what that means; don’t you?  The eggs probably were germinated, and baby chicks started to form.  However, we ate those eggs, and we are still here.  In fact, they tasted good!

Asbestos.  I remember when working on construction projects with my dad in the 1950s, corrugated asbestos sheets were used for roofing and walls (sometimes).  We cut these corrugated asbestos sheets using an electric rotary saw.  In the cutting process, asbestos sawdust would fill the air.  We only wrapped a rag or handkerchief around our nose to keep large amounts of asbestos sawdust from entering our lungs.  It was no big deal then.  However, today, we don’t even use asbestos materials for construction.  The past few decades spawned an entire asbestos removal industry to remove the toxic materials installed in the 1940s through the 1970s.

Just think, 50-60 years ago, it was no big deal to use asbestos.  Thirty and 40 years ago, I think we had finally progressed from wrapping a handkerchief around our noses to using a dust mask.  Wow!  How safe was that!  Today, people contract mesothelioma, which is a rare form of cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure.  Some law firms make a profitable business and even fortunes conducting class-action lawsuits against deep-pocket companies who used asbestos building materials in the edifices that they had constructed in the past.

Lead.  I remember my dad making lead sinkers for fishing.  He would melt lead by boiling it in a cast iron pot and pour molten lead into wooden molds to make these cone-shaped lead sinkers.  We used those for cast fishing.  It was no big deal at the time breathing in those lead fumes that would rise from the molten lead pot.  We had no problems handling lead products.  As kids, we even put lead bullet heads, lead balls, and other kinds of lead products into our mouths.  We siphoned high lead-content gasoline from tanks and other containers.  It is a pleasant surprise that we are alive today.

Now, the Board of Health worries about the minute traces of lead contaminants in our drinking water.  That is the main reason why we do not drink tap water anymore these days.  Natural lead particles enter underground water streams and get into our reservoirs and ultimately into our drinking water.  Hence, we survive drinking only Sparkletts bottled water these days, and we do not drink any tap water whatsoever.

Mercury.  When we were kids, we used to break thermometers to get the liquid mercury out of them.  We would then put silver coins in the liquid mercury and rubbed it in with our fingers.  The silver coins would get very shiny like chrome.  Unfortunately, after time elapsed, the shiny coins turned to a very dull silver color worse than the shine of the original silver coins.  However, what we did not realize was that the mercury that we were handling probably was not very good for the health.  Fortunately, we did not do it often enough for the potentially poisonous mercury to affect us detrimentally.  After all, we have lived all these years and are still going strong.  Knock on wood.

Sunburn and Suntan.  When I worked on construction jobs every summer for seven consecutive summers during high school and a couple of years during college, I was severely sunburned the first few days while working outside in the hot sun for eight hours a day.  Never did I ever put on any kind of Sunscreen or suntan lotion.  Stupid me!  I would just tough it out.  Stupid me!  I received mega-doses of vitamin D and ultra-violet (UV) rays.

My back was so sunburned that it would blister badly within a couple of days.  When the blisters popped, my skin peeled off as a snake sheds its skin.  After the first bad sunburn and peeling, my second layer of skin would get tough for the rest of the summer and would tan beautifully.  Boy, did I get black!  However, I was proud of my blackness.  I am astonished that I did not contract any skin cancer (i.e., melanoma) resulting from all of my childhood sunburns.  I think the high level of pigmentation in my skin literally saved my hide.

A typical beach in Hawaii.

Eating Pipipi or Sea Snails.  This is a funny story.  We were on a Boy Scout trip to the island of Kauai.  We were fortunate to have harvested a whole load of pipipi (i.e., small mollusks or ocean/sea snails) from the wave-breaker concrete wall and the surrounding lava reef.  Pipipis are delicious after boiling and eaten after extracting the cooked snail from its shell with a straight pin and plucking it into the mouth.

Anyway, we were squatting there (you know, the Filipino squat) around the campfire boiling and eating pipipis like they were going out of style.  Yummy!  Up walks a group of haole malihinis (white visitors or newcomers to Hawaii from the Mainland and other places).  They gawk at us in sheer amazement.  A brave one asks, “What are you boys eating.”  In unison, we said, “Sea snails.”  The malihinis almost gag on the spot and departed in sheer disgust.

Escargots are land snails that crawl on dirt and dirty/dusty plants.  Do not get me wrong.  I love sautéed escargot too, but pipipis are a whole lot cleaner and more delicious than escargotPipipis have clean seawater constantly running over, under, around, and through them with each arriving wave.  If you want to stay clean and get all of your scratches and abrasions healed quickly, swim often in the ocean.  It keeps you clean.  You know what it means when making the analogy to pipipis.

The French initiated escargot eating.  However, we kanakas (Polynesian people or Hawaiian persons from Hawaii) and Hawaii boys were eating pipipi way before the Frenchmen were eating escargot.  That delicacy migrated to the United States years later.  Hence, those mainland haoles who gagged at us that day are probably enjoying escargot today.  Go figure!

More on Health Hazards

My spouse has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so she has Montezuma’s revenge quite often.  That is another “syndrome” for you!  A grandchild has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and the doctors prescribed Ritalin, which was harmful to the kid.  Sometimes you may wonder if some medical doctors know what they are doing.

I remember going to Tijuana, Mexico, over 45 years ago.  We bought and ate tacos from mobile street vendor stands.  Those tacos were great, and I did not even suffer from Montezuma’s revenge.  However, today, I am unsure whether my system would be negatively affected or not by the germs in the food down there.  However, I will not even go to Mexico anymore.  It is too dangerous to go down there with thousands of people killed by the drug cartels every year.

I ate a half of an onion once before, and it really gave me Montezuma’s revenge.  I still love to eat onions, though.  Different onions affect my system differently.

I enjoyed the South when we had lived in Florida.  When I went to college at the University of Oklahoma and while traveling through the South, I really enjoyed eating meals consisting of hominy grits and a pound of pawk.  I also enjoyed turnip greens and collard greens.  Furthermore, I also love the black-eyed peas and cornbread.  I love to put a lot of butter on my cornbread.  Ohh, soo good!  My wife adds sugar to the cornbread batter to make sweet cornbread.  Yummy!

I only eat my beef cooked medium-rare, not rare anymore.  I do my eggs over-easy or scrambled, but I still like them a little soft-and-moist instead of cooked to death.  My wife cooks eggs to death killing all known germs and amoebas that are contained therein.

If you cook steaks too well done, indeed charred or cremated (as you may call it), the charring is carcinogenic (i.e., cancer causing).  Thus, if you do not die with one form of disease, you will die with another form.  I also like meat charred on the outside but medium rare on the inside by cooking the steak on a flaming charcoal fire.

Additionally, I like my cookies baked until it is crispy and sometimes even burnt.  I get to eat all of the burnt cookies that my wife forgets in the oven beyond the time they should be in there.  Thank goodness; I have not yet succumbed to any kind of cancer.


The bottom line of this discussion is that we are all wimps today.  In olden days, us kids growing up in a third-world state were able to handle anything and everything.  We did not bother it, and it did not bother us.  Today, every little booboo is difficult for our children to handle.  Allergies are rampant.  Illnesses come so quickly and easily on everyone in society.  Health hazards that never bothered us as kids are now major illnesses, disorders, and syndromes.  We survive on over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription meds (medicines).  We must toughen up, or we will have a difficult time facing the tough times ahead.  When my kids get hurt, I say, “Good, that makes you tough.”  We must avoid the loser’s limp.


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    Total 4 comments
    • Man

      DDT, asbestos and overexposure of UV gives long term cancer…. I am sure you will develop it. but why would you want to be exposed to damaging compounds?

      i mean drinking a little bit of poison might not kill you but it still isn’t wise to do it

    • retiredpatriot

      Love it. It is 110% the truth. How the heck are people now so tramitized. Gawd forbid if the ever got to return to the times before. Loved my lead paint walls and the dirt and sun never did I have a worry and healthy as an ox now. Have not had the flu since I was 21 and it’s been over 25 years. Our immune systems now are stronger for it as the kids now are sicker. . To the one poster below me
      you say why would we want ??? Well its not like we had many choes and frankly I wouldn’t change a thing and wish I could have stayed in that era.

    • Dr. Bob Uda, Ph.D., CM, CHSP, ILO

      @Man: We were kids in the 1940s and 1950s and didn’t know any better. We did not even know those things were damaging to our health. My dad lived until he was 89 years old, and my mom lived until she was 85. I am currently in my 73rd year, am in great health, and plan to live until I am 100. I bet I’ll outlive you. You want to shake on that bet?

    • Dr. Bob Uda, Ph.D., CM, CHSP, ILO

      @retiredpatriot: You have had to live through those wonderful years to have an understanding that you show in your words. @Man has no idea of what we went through, or he would not make such ridiculous statements as he did.

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