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Thread: Storytime

  1. #41
    Dad and the April Fools’ Day Tsunami on April 1, 1946

    Part 2: The Rest of That Day

    Dad and his Dad, my Grandfather, went up to Hilo High School later that day because Dad was a student there, and Grandfather was the librarian. They were told the school was closed because they were planning to use it as a hospital. (The school was open again the next week, because they didn’t’ need the hospital rooms they thought they would.)

    However, at the school was a whole bunch of trucks that were going down to Ho’olulu Park, where the Civic Auditorium is now. So Dad and Grandfather got on one of the trucks, and rode down there. Dad remembers being put to work in one of the warehouses that were across Manono Street from Ho’olulu Park at the time. The land around the warehouse was swampy ground at the time, because it was still draining from the tsunami. Dad was stacking canned goods on scrap lumber shelves, along with several others. Grandfather was supervising them. About 10% of the cans had no labels telling what was in them. Those were priced extra cheap – maybe 5 cents for something that would normally cost 50 cents – because you didn’t know whether you were getting string beans, Campbell’s soup, or canned peaches. There were some cans that were much larger, because they held ten servings of soup instead of just three. These were more expensive even with their labels missing, both because they were bigger, and because you knew it was some kind of soup: chicken noodle, chicken rice, tomato, or vegetable were the main types of soup in the big cans, so you didn’t even have many varieties of soup they could be.

    As the month wore on, things got more organized at the warehouse. At first, anyone could buy the cans. Dad’s family didn’t because they didn’t need extra cheap food, but they were free to. Later, the County of Hawai’i worked out a system of permits to show who was eligible, so the cans would go to people who needed them.

  2. #42
    Dad and the April Fools’ Day Tsunami on April 1, 1946

    Part 3: The Days After That

    The next morning, Dad tried to go down to Moses Company, the department store where he worked. Both Waianuenue Avenue and Kalakaua Avenue were blocked off by caution tape and barricades. Dad was turned away at the police station on Kalaukaua Avenue because he was just a teenager, and had no proof that he worked at Moses Company. Dad went back home, and tried to call Moses Company.

    Later, in the afternoon, Dad was able to go to Moses Company. They had him working in the Home Appliance Department, cleaning up appliances. He was mostly scrubbing equipment with sodium cyanide. It was legal back then for a sixteen-year-old to work with sodium cyanide, tho now you would have to be at least 18.

    Dad only worked with the home appliances for a few days. As soon as he could, Charlie Mattos, Dad’s boss, moved Dad back to the piano department. That department was lucky to be on the second floor. They only had to throw away one piano because it got wet, and they were able to salvage parts from that one. They still had to clean up messes on the floor and such, but it only took them a couple of months to get back to normal operations.

    The three departments that required a lot of work to clean up were the Home Appliance Department, the Stationery Department, and the Music Department. Once Dad was moved back to the Piano Department, he pretty much stayed there while folks got the rest of the store in order, and cleaned up the street so cars could pass.
    Last edited by Anne Elizabeth Baldwin; 04-09-2017 at 02:27 PM.

  3. #43
    Daytrips Dad’s Family Took

    Around the Island

    My Grandfather decided to drive around the island. They left at four or five in the morning, wound in and out of every valley along the Hilo-Hamakua Coast. They stopped in Waimea for a picnic lunch Grandmother had fixed. They skipped North Kohala, and went along the Mamalahoa Highway – today’s upper route – thru a lot of barren lava flows and barren country. They went thru Kailua` Kona over all those rough roads. They went by South Point, and came back up and around. They stopped at Volcano for a late supper of hot dogs and hamburgers, and came back home after nine o’clock at night. It took them fourteen hours to go around the island. That’s how it was before Dad left for the mainland. When he came back, it took more like eight hours. Now he thinks it takes under six hours.

  4. #44
    This isn’t really a story in that it doesn’t have a plot, but some of my cousins were asking about Dad’s siblings. So here’s what Dad had to say about each. {Smile}

    Dad’s Siblings

    The Boys

    Lester, Clyde, and Dad each had their own jobs when Dad was a teenager. Dad’s Dad – my Grandfather – told Dad when he was a teenager that he couldn’t afford to support him. Dad had to get a job to buy his clothes and other stuff he wanted. His parents still provided food and shelter, but that was it.

    Lester was six years older than Dad, so the age difference kept them apart as children, especially once Lester joined the army when Dad was a teenager. Lester was quite interested in radio when Dad was a teenager. Dad wasn’t radio-oriented.


    Clyde was always going out with other kids when he was a kid, but Dad doesn’t know where Clyde and his friends went, or what they did. They didn’t associate with Dad and his friends. Dad mainly hung out with members of Boy Scout Troop 17, and with nearby neighbors. Clyde was much more inclined to roam, so his friends were often farther away. They called him “Red” for his red hair. Dad and Clyde didn’t have much in common. Clyde was interested in mechanical things, while Dad was more interested in working with wood, and with academic subjects. Clyde was very un-academic.

    Clyde dropped out of high school to work in the canec plant, where they processed canec, a building material made out of sugarcane bagasse. It paid good money for a high school dropout, but the plant closed after a hostile takeover by a competitor.

    That’s when Clyde joined the army. After boot-camp, he was sent to Greenland for some time. When he got out of the army, Clyde went to college in California, getting a GED to replace the missing high school diploma on the way. The he dropped out of college. He did finish mechanics school when he tried that after dropping out of college. He worked for Boeing for many years as an airplane mechanic.

    The Girls


    Kitty was five years older than Dad, so they were separated by an age difference as kids. She had her own friends, including my mother, tho Mom and Kitty weren’t particularly close.

    Dad didn’t become close to Kitty until Dad lived in Corvallis, Oregon, and Kitty lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. That was just the beginning; they weren’t really close – even by their family’s standards – until he lived in Minneapolis. They lost contact again when she moved to Oregon.


    (Joan, confusingly, is pronounced with two syllables, Jo-AN, like the more common Joanne.)

    Joan and Dad were quite close as children. They shared the chores of setting up the table, then washing and putting away the dishes. They would sing together during this. But once Dad left home, Joan never wrote, so they lost touch.

  5. #45
    Daytrips Dad’s Family Took

    Puna and Kalapana

    Before World War II, the road to Puna was a dirt road. It was so narrow, if you met another car, one car had to back up until they could pull off an let the other car by. Fortunately, that didn’t happen too often.

    When Dad’s family went down there, they usually drove down thru the town of Kapoho, then along the seashore until they got to Kalapana.

    It was tough fitting all seven family members in one car, but Dad’s family did it. The car they had was an ordinary four-door sedan. It was a 1932 Ford V8 sedan that was very dark blue. It had a stick shift whose post came out of the floor. The front seat did go all the way across, as they usually did in those days. So one of the younger three kids – Clyde, Dad, or Joan – sat between Dad’s mother and Dad’s father, who drove. Kitty and Lester would get window seats in back as the oldest two kids. One of the little ones would sit between. The last little kid would just have to sit in a lap – Either Lester’s lap, or Kitty’s lap, or Dad’s Mother’s lap.

    At Kalapana, Dad’s family would go to the black sand beach, where they’d go up and down the beach. Actually, much of the beach was a long expanse of rocks. It extended to the right ľ of a mile at least. The other end was Kaimu Beach Park, and it was all sand. It was fun to play around on that beach. The sandy part had lots of coconut palms. There was a beach road that had to be rebuilt all the time because the water kept washing over it and washing it out.

    Then they had a picnic lunch before going home. Raising five kids on a teacher’s salary didn’t leave money for restaurants. Dad’s Dad had to work on just getting enough money to fill the gas tank to take the car on the trip.
    Last edited by Anne Elizabeth Baldwin; 04-19-2017 at 10:56 PM. Reason: A friend asked what Kalapana Black Sand Beach looked like when Dad was a kid.

  6. #46
    Daytrips Dad's Family Took

    Kilauea Volcano

    A trip to Kilauea Volcano – or “The Volcano” as locals usually call it – was considerably easier than a trip to Kalapana, because the road was paved, and had two lanes. It followed a different route than it does now; it’s now quite a bit straighter. Dad’s family would load the car the same way, with one kid on somebody’s lap, but they didn’t have to back up, tho they didn’t go very fast.

    Dad’s family liked to visit the area around Kilauea ‘Iki, a particular crater, because they could pick ‘ohelos, a favorite kind of native berry whose largest season is in the summer, with a smaller season in late winter. Sometimes the park would let them pick the berries, and sometimes they wouldn’t, depending on who was in charge, and who they asked. Because this was before the 1959 eruption, the crater was twice as deep as it is now, with a lot more berries.

    They would also pick blackberries in the summer. There were lots of bushes along the roads, both the main road and side roads. These were outside the park, so they could pick any time they wanted. Dad doesn’t remember having trouble with owners around there.
    Last edited by Anne Elizabeth Baldwin; 04-19-2017 at 10:41 PM. Reason: I found out when blackberry season is at Kilauea Volcano, as well as when the ohelo seasons are.

  7. #47
    Daytrips Dad’s Family Took

    ‘Akaka Falls

    Dad’s family would drive up to ‘Akaka Falls, and park where they could along the road. They didn’t have the nice parking lot they have now. They would walk down a set of concrete stairs, but most of the trail was unpaved gravel. At the bottom of the stairs, the trail gave them a choice: go straight or turn left. They always turned left because it gave them the best view of the falls. They would follow that trail, and it would cross an old wooden bridge. They’d go along a ways, and pass a grove of trees. Just past the grove, the trail would open up to a clear area with a great view of the falls.

    In the clear area, there was a three-sided shed. The fourth side was wide open so you could see the falls, and there was a table and benches inside where you could eat your lunch. Dad’s mother would always spread out a tablecloth to the family could do just that. Occasionally, they’d have to share the table, but usually people were friendly, and willing to share, and even chat and get to know them over lunch. Dad’s family would finish lunch and move on.

    There was an impromptu trail were you could climb down to the foot of ‘Akaka Falls. Dad only climbed it once. You could catch the water, and you’d usually catch an ‘opae (a native freshwater shrimp), too. They poured back the water, and let the ‘opae go. The didn’t want to drink the water, anyway, because it was polluted.

    The trail continued on the other side of the hill it came down for folks to see the falls. So they would climb the other side of the hill. This was a rather steep trail, and they would climb until they reached a large slab of concrete with a railing, where they could stand and look at Kahuna Falls. Then they would continue to follow the trail on the way out. The trail formed a loop, like it still does today. They would eventually meet the fork, and then the foot of the stairs up to the road where they’d parked the car. They never left anything in the car, so nothing got stolen; tho there were thieves then, as there still are now.

  8. #48
    This isn't a story, but a note about stories that I've just finished revising. {Smile}

    I just made additions to two of the daytrip descriptions: Puna and Kalapana, and Kilauea Volcano. A friend asked what Kalapana Black Sand Beach was like, so I asked Dad today, and added his answer. I also discovered when the berry seasons were, which seemed like a neat add to their trip to Kilauea, since a big part of those trips was picking berries. {Smile}

  9. #49
    Dad on the Blister Rust Control

    Dad and the Cartoonist

    In the Blister Rust Patrol one year, there was a fellow who was a very remarkable cartoonist. He would draw cartoons of people in the camp, and he had one sitting up on the bulletin board of Dad. At that time, Dad was using one of those pith helmets because it let him push thru brush by lowering his head and going forward. So they all called him Frank Buck, after the main character in some stories about going out into Africa and finding rare animals. So the fellow drew a nice caricature of Dad as Frank Buck, and had it sitting up on the bulletin board.

    So Dad came by and saw the caricature, so he went up, and took the picture off the bulletin.

    The cartoonist must have been watching Dad, for he was mad. He was really angry. He grabbed Dad’s hand right on the picture. The fellow was trying to keep Dad from damaging it, and Dad was hanging onto it so it wouldn’t get damaged, either. So they stood there, and the fellow said, “You were going to peel that and destroy it.”

    Dad was really surprised and astounded, because it was such a good caricature. At least Dad thought it was, and still does. It was a small caricature, but anyone who saw it and met Dad would know it was him. That’s the sign of a really good caricature: you draw it up, and anyone who has ever seen that person would know who it was. So he said “No, I was not trying to do that at all. I’m going to treasure this for the rest of my life, if you will let me.”

    What really got Dad was how quickly the fellow’s mind changed. He was ready to hit Dad right in the nose when he thought he was going to destroy that caricature. Then Dad said, “No. I’m going to love this picture as part of my real collection.”

    Of course then the fellow realized what Dad was doing. Dad was appreciating the picture like the fellow wanted it to be appreciated, but Dad was doing that better. The fellow was the one who drew the picture, and he could have just drawn it quietly and then put it away, but he put it up where others could enjoy it. Dad was taking it down to save and treasure.

    Dad and the fellow were buddies the rest of the time they were at the camp.

  10. #50
    Daytrips Dad’s Family Took

    Laupahoehoe and Paauilo

    Another daytrip Dad’s family liked to take was to Laupahoehoe. They usually went there on the train, tho sometimes they took a car. There wasn’t much to see there. There was a sugar plantation school at the bottom of the hill near the beach. If you’ve seen one plantation school, you’ve seen them all. It went thru Intermediate school (junior high or lower secondary are closest). Kids who wanted to go to high school would go into town to Hilo High School.

    The town of Laupahoehoe was sprawled up the hill from the school to the railroad. There were scattered houses – with gardens behind the houses – plus a store, a church, and so on. The store was a typical plantation store – small, but you could get a candy bar or a coke, as well as other things a general store carries.
    The school got washed out in the April Fools’ Tsunami of 1946. There’s a beach park there now, with picnic shelters, a memorial to the victims of the tsunami, and the concrete foundations that are all that is left of the school.

    Dad’s family also rode the train to Paauilo, which was the end of the railroad. The train would stop at the train station long enough for folks to spread out picnic lunches before going back.

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