Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
What does Labor Day mean to you?
To me, it means THREE DAY WEEKEND! And in a sense, it also means the end of summer to me. It must be from us MLCers small-kid-time upbringing when Labor Day meant that school was going to start on the following day. That’s not how it is anymore and I kinda feel sorry for today’s kids who have to start school so early in the summer.
So I use Labor Day to mark the turning point from Summer to Fall (technically, Fall starts on 9/22). I’m looking forward to the colder climate for places to visit in the upcoming months.
I suppose we should use Labor Day to look back at all the jobs we’ve worked at during our lifetimes and see how far we’ve come. I started out cleaning our church once a week for $50 a month. Then I got my first “real” job as a lot-boy earning $2 an hour. I consider it a “real” job because I had to punch in and out on a real time-card and I had taxes taken out from my earnings.
I’ve come a long way since then – as I think we all have. From working part-time at a family or friend’s store or working the summer jobs at the cannery to living the 8:00AM – 5:00PM grind (5:00AM to 8:00PM if you live Leeward side and worked in town).
What does Labor Day mean to you? Memories of going back to school. Memories of waking up to go to work (for you retirees). Memories of your old jobs. The ones that you loved the most. The ones that your hated the most. Share your “labor” memories with us.
*SPEAKING OF WHICH – an editor of a major Hawaii magazine asked me whether any of the MLCers out there would be willing to share their “working cannery” stories for an upcoming feature. You can be anonymous or you can have your name printed in the magazine if your story is used. Email me your stories along with or without your name. It’s open to everyone here – even those who don’t post comments but might have stories to share. Let’s say – by September 10, 2014. No shame! You can be famous! No need be fancy. The more local the better. And submit more than one story if you remember more later! Stories such as: Working “the line” as a trimmer. Jamming the Ginaca machines. The lunch room. The socializing. The mean ladies. The first aid center. The smell of cooking pineapple. Catching bus to/from work. And if you were lucky enough to “pick pineapple” – share your stories about working in the fields. Maybe at night. Sleeping in the dormitories. Working alongside the mainland kids in the fields. Give it a go!
Can you think of some buildings that are still around – but not the businesses that your remember?
Sometimes, I’d like to be able to return to these old places that I used to pass by or even had spent time there. Like your old elementary school. Schools are one thing that hardly change. It may be spruced up a bit and perhaps the colors of the building changed – but the overall structure is still the same as your remember it – after all these years.
Sometimes, the structure is still there – but not the business as you remember.
Here’s one to share. Maybe a number of you will recognize it and the business that once stood there.
Anyone know what business was here?
Pan Am Building. It still says PAN AMERICAN on it.
McCully Chop Sui – The sign and the building is still there
Ala Moana street level – the ceiling is still the same. That’s about all.
Anyone remember the old KPOI studio?
Here’s yet another one – Toppe Ada Shoppe
Actually, this building is gone. This is an older picture from Google Earth. I just wanted to include it for posterity.
What other buildings are still around – but not the business that you remember? Sometimes it’s nice to just walk around an old familiar building and reminisce of how that building was a part of your life. Like your old Japanese school.
Here’s a picture of what it looked like in 1985, just a couple years after it changed owners.
But the new owner spruced it up and give it the bright yellow coat of paint – but still kept it with that rustic Mom ‘n Pop store look.
And of course when you see benches in front of one of these tiny stores, it can only mean one thing;
Yup, shave ice.
There’s just something special about a mom ‘n pop store. Maybe it’s the plain unfinished concrete floor, or the racks with just a couple/few cans of this and that. Or it’s that certain laundry detergent fragrance mixed together with the smell of the wooden building. And no air conditioning of course.
And the candy rack! Nothing beats a Mom ‘n Pop store candy rack.
But alas, nothing lasts forever… Not six months after John’s store was featured on KITV’s Where You Live, there was another report done about how John’s store will be up for sale. John’s store will probably just become another piece of history.
In Kailua, we really didn’t have any Mom ‘n Pop stores – in the real sense of a little store smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood. About the closet we had to a Mom ‘n Pop store was the Kuulei Malt Shop which was located in a row of stores in Kailua Town. It was our shave ice stop after coming home from the beach. And I distinctively remember their candy rack against the back wall.
One Mom ‘n Pop store that I remember and is still around today is Ruger Market. I used to stop in there for their boiled peanuts and Icee. This was way before they became air conditioned. And their stew bowl. Broke da mout. I gotta make it a point to stop by for their stew.
And another Kapahulu Mom ‘n Pop store that I remember was the Campbell Stop and Shop on Campbell Avenue.
Here’s one that I remember that was located in the middle of a neighborhood on Laimi street in Nuuanu. We used to go there after surfing and skateboarding to cool down with ice cream or soda. It’s been closed for a long time, but you can still see the bench out in front. I can only guess that it was called Laimi Market.
What Mom ‘n Pop stores do you remember? Some are still around today. Some, just the building with stories to tell.
A coworker was sharing with me the other day how a mosquito decided to attack her at 2 something in the morning. That got me thinking of how I used to battle a mosquito in the room.
There was nothing worse than climbing into bed and just about to nod off into la-la land and hearing that faint, high-pitched buzzing sound getting closer and closer. I would listen to it until it sounded like it was right on my ear. And when the buzzing stoped – which I took as a sign that the mosquito landed – I’d slap the side my ear hoping to kill that bastard.
Then I wouldn’t hear anything for a bit – maybe because I whacked my ear a bit too hard – and thought that I had killed it.
Then about a minute later, I’d hear that faint buzzing again and we’d repeat the whole dance all over again.
It just dawned on me that maybe the mosquito wasn’t even close to my ear. I just assumed it was because that buzzing was so DAMN LOUD!
Anyway, after the second swat, I told myself that if I hear it again, I’m going to have to get out of bed and take drastic measures. Sure enough, I can hear that buzzing getting closer and closer like a dive-bomber swooping in for a meal.
That’s it! Time to bring out the big guns. I walk out to the kitchen (making sure I close the bedroom door behind me so he doesn’t escape), and I reach for the:
Good ol’ Johnston’s HADABUG. I slip back into my room, unload a generous amount of HADABUG around my room, step out with the door closed behind me as I return the HADABUG back to the kitchen.
By the time I get back to my room, it’s all peaceful once again. A bit chemical smelling – but no buzzing mosquito. HADABUG has never let me down when it came to getting rid of a mosquito. And growing up 2 houses away from the Kawainui marsh, aka “da swamp” – we had our share of mosquitoes, let me tell you!
I remember when we used to go to Kailua Drive In theater, my dad used to bust out the mosquito punk.
And not just any kine. He had the good stuff!
My dad would light it up and put it on the middle hump in the front seat of the car. As my friend said “That couldn’t have been good – burning that stuff in an enclosed area”. Luckily, I always had to sit in the back seat so I didn’t inhale too much of that stuff.
And who remembers this!
Special thanks to OceanLover for this picture.
I remember when we could hear that pffft, pffft, sound of the “mosquito man” coming around our neighborhood somewhere around the 7 o’clock hour. We’d have to quickly close all our windows – while we watched with envy – all the other neighborhood kids riding their bikes or running behind the truck while dancing in the smoke.
Talking about “That couldn’t have been good” – that was DDT that they were playing in. DDT! A banned pesticide. It is colorless and almost odorless, but I remember the smell. It was probably the oil mixture that they used to create the smoke to disperse the pesticide.
I wonder how those neighborhood kids are today…
How do you deal with mosquitoes? Have any good mosquito stories to share? Or maybe you’re one of those who mosquitoes just don’t bother. Lucky you.
It’s about that time for a music entry. I’m looking for names of foreign cities, countries, provinces, etc. Whether in the song title, lyrics, or band name. It’s not necessary to list a link to the song, but if you want – that’s cool with me. And no problem if you list something that someone else had already listed.
So, let’s get the ball rolling record playing:
China Girl – Davie Bowie
Guantanamera – The Sandpipers. Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch, but the song is actually about a girl from Guantanamo. But mostly, I like the part where the girl is singing back up while the guy translates the poem that this song was based off of. What parody song was this tune used for?
Cherokee Nation – Paul Revere and the Raiders
“And all the beads we made by hand,
Are nowadays made in Japan”
Back in the USSR – The Beatles
London Bridges is Falling Down – Nursery Rhymes
I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag – Country Joe McDonald and the Fish
“And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam”
I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley
I Am A Very Stylish Girl – Dimitri From Paris
Harajuku Girls – Gwen Stefani
You Belong To Me – The Duprees
“See the marketplace in old Algiers,
Send me photographs and souvenirs”
Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)
I’m sure that you’ve all heard that Robin Williams passed away on Monday. According to his publicist, Robin was battling severe depression of late and unfortunately, he took his own life. But we’re not here to ask why. Or to say would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. Let’s honor him by remember all the laughs he brought us.
I wasn’t a big Mork & Mindy fan. But watching his stand-up comedy routine made me an instant fan of Robin Williams. His witty and quick humor was something else. And he seemed to enjoy that quick pace. That was what worked for him. And it kept us laughing.
I wanted to share a few favorite clips of mine. But first, here’s a little montage of Robin Williams
Here’s one of his classic skits about how the Scottish invented Golf. NSFW (not much of his comedy is SFW)
And here’s a little X-Rated skit
And finally, this was my real first taste of Robin Williams’ comedy. I believe I had this album at one time. My favorite clip is at the 2:35 mark when Robin Williams does a Nadia Comaneci impersonation.
I’m going to miss Robin Williams. I feel like I had a special connection with him as we both shared the same birthdays.
Rest in peace Robin Williams and thanks for all the laughs. You are a legend.
Well, we dodged a bullet once again. Hurricane Isella was no match for Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Madam Pele protected the islands – although the East side of the Big Island got hit pretty bad. You might say that they took one for the team.
This hurricane had me reminiscing about the other 2 hurricanes that came our way – Hurricane Iwa and Hurricane Iniki.
Hurricane Iwa – Remember back in 1982, there was no internet or satellite pictures we could look at. We just took the word of the news people. I was already working by then, but I was on vacation during that week. We heard about the approaching storm and me and my friends went surfing off Kuhio beach. The surf was disorganized and the current kept sucking us out. We had to paddle in to stay at whatever line-up there was. After surfing, it was a quick bite at Rainbow Drive-In before they shut their doors. Or take-out windows in this case.
When I got home to Kailua, the winds were starting to pick up. There were gusts that I’d guess was in about the 35 mph range. We had a wooden tool shed in our back yard and there were sheets of corrugated metal on the roof held down by hollow tile blocks (the roof was leaking and this was the quick-fix). To be on the safe side I had to removed those sheets of metal. So I climbed up on the tool shed roof and started tossing down the tiles and the metal sheets. From far away, I could hear trees rustling. As it got louder, I could feel a gust of wind pick up and blast by for about 7 or 8 seconds – although it felt like it was about 15 to 20 seconds. I actually went down on all fours and held on to the remaining hollow tiles to prevent myself from possibly blowing off the roof. That’s when I knew “This was serious”.
I had to call Paula and cancel the date we had planned for that night. She understood. LOL That evening, the power went out and my mom and I hunkered down in the dining room. The one room that was in the middle of our single wall house. As the wind gusts blew by, I could see the tongue-and-groove walls flexing with the wind. The pictures hanging on the walls were rattling with the shaking walls. But the house held tight and we made it though the storm. The only casualty was our neighbor’s avocado tree that uprooted and smashed the fence. Even our tool shed was still in one piece.
Hurricane Iniki – When Iniki hit, we already had our 2 girls and was living in our single wall Hicks home. Our daughters were 2 and 3 years old. About the only thing that I remember about Iniki was that the night before she arrived, it was hot and humid. So much so that we turned on the only air-conditioner we had, located in the living room, and all 4 of us slept on the floor. Then at 6:00 AM, we woke up to the sounds of the civil defense sirens. We turned on the TV and prepared for the worse. And I had to hustle and put all my orchids and other plants away in a safe place – away from the expect winds.
But since that’s my only memories of Iniki so it mustn’t have been too bad. And again, the single wall T-n-G wood walls were flexing, but they didn’t break.
You know, I really should add some hurricane clips to our house. Especially the side that faces the mountain as that’s where the wind is the strongest as it accelerates down the mountain slopes. Added to my “To Do” list.
As for Hurricane Isella – with the wonders of the internet and real-time satellite pictures of the hurricane, it took away a lot of anxiety seeing that the hurricane was breaking up and that we were once again spared.
What do you remember about Hurricane Iwa and/or Hurricane Iniki. Where were you when they both went down? What about other storms that stick out in your memory? Share your hurricane/storm memories with us.
Not all of the MLC readers are from Hawaii, so some of you may not know that we’re preparing for a Hurricane. Her name is Isella and she is relentless.
At 11:00 PM HST on Wednesday, 8/6/14 – Isella was about 405 miles East-Southeast of the Big Island, moving West-Northwest at 18 MPH with sustained winds of 90 MPH.
Isella was supposed to have been downgraded to a Tropical Storm by now, but she had other plans.
We’re preparing for her visit here on Oahu somewhere around 2:00AM or so on Friday morning. Hopefully she will be downgraded by then to a Tropical Storm. Or even a Tropical Depression might be nice. The latest forecast calls for Isella to past toward the South-Southwest side of Oahu. But it’s still close enough to Oahu for us to feel her wrath.
And about 24 hours behind Isella is Hurricane Julio. He is forecast to pass North-Northeast of the islands, but again, we will still feel his presence. So, if there’s no new MLC blog entry come Monday morning – then you’ll know that our power was knocked out and I couldn’t post anything. Or maybe I can squeeze a little something in with a mobile device. We’ll see.
But in the past few days, people here have been preparing for the hurricanes. They’ve been stocking up on bottled water, good ‘ol Spam, instant saimin, Vienna Sausage (which conveniently went on sale), generators, batteries, duct tape, plywood, and toilet paper.
TOILET PAPER!?! Why toilet paper? Do people “go” more when there’s a crisis? Whenever people in Hawaii prepare for an emergency, the list always includes toilet paper. I guess if the impending disaster damages the docks and Matson doesn’t have someplace to off-load the containers, then there might be a shortage of toilet paper. But I’m sure the warehouses are stocked up. And buying the smallest size possible at Costco or Sam’s Club means that you’ll have at least 48 rolls of the stuff.
And the lines at the warehouse stores were outrageous. I saw pictures of the lines to the registers were going to the back of the store, then wrapping around again. You’d think that Apple just released the new iPhone 6! Both sizes!
My friend told me that people were so desperate to buy water at Costco, that they couldn’t wait until the workers brought the skip of water down from the racks. So some guys climbed up, removed the cellophane wrapping and were tossing down cases of water to other guys below who were catching them and passing them out.
And the lines at the gas stations were super long too. Some stations actually ran out of gas!
Now, if the power goes out – what happens to all the folks who drive Electric Vehicles? Once they deplete their charge, they’re done for until the power comes back on.
And what about all of those with PV panels on their roof? How secure are those panels? I joking told people that after the hurricane blows over, I’m going to walk around my neighborhood and collect PV panels so I can build myself a PV system. Going be all different kine brands and sizes – but as long as works, right?
All joking aside – let’s pray that we come out okay with these pending disasters. It’s a bit late, but do you have any tips or safety advice to share? Here’s one – take pictures of all you big priced items and important things in your house. Should you have to file a claim with your insurance company, it’s easier to prove to them that you had a 55″ TV or a 27″ iMac.
And remember – physical things can be replaced. But not your life. Stay safe out there.
Nope, this isn’t a blog entry on how to add railings in your shower. It’s about the bathrooms that we grew up with and the things we had in it.
I grew up in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. And I swore that when I had a home, I’d have a least 1 and a 1/2 bathrooms. Luckily, we were all boys so going outside to water the papaya tree was no biggie.
But in that one bathroom that everyone shared, I remember a lot of things we used to have in there. The soap next to the basin was Ivory. Nothing else but plain old white Ivory soap. And in the shower was Dial bath soap. Mom used to buy different color ones, but it was always Dial soap. I remember the foil wrapper with the clock on it.
One time at a church camp out, one of the members was a merchandiser and he brought all kinds of tiny sample soaps. That was my first time I tried something other than Dial soap. I tried Camay and Cashmere Bouquet. Ho, I was smelling so nice! In fact, Camay is one of my favorite bar soaps today. I tried Safeguard when I slept over at my cousin’s house. I didn’t care for it.
Toilet paper – MD. Always MD. I ofter wondered whether there was any other brand. It was always the 2 girls on the 4-pack of MD Tissue. Remember when they came out in different colors to match the decor of your bathroom?
We grew up with Ipana Toothpaste. Strictly Ipana. I don’t remember what it tasted like, so it must not have been good. I remember when Sunstar Toothpaste came out. I begged my mom to buy it promising that I’d brush my teeth more. And I remember it tasting good. It tasted something like Fusen bubble-gum. I still remember the jingle: “There’s Sunstar – Strawberry, There’s Sunstar – Banana, With less foaming action, And more cleaning power, Children love – Sunstar”
Moving on… Dad’s shave cream. Nothing else but Rise – Menthol. In the familiar blue can. And his double-edged razor. I used to use his shave cream and razor blade every now and then when I was in the 9th grade. I didn’t know he knew I was using his razor until that Christmas I got a Gillette Trac-II razor kit from him. But I still used his shave cream.
Hair oil. Once I stopped getting buzz-cuts, I wanted my hair to look cool – like all the other older kids in the 60′s – so every morning before school, I had my mom “do my hair”. That consisted of mom loading up with head with Seventeen Brilliantine. Then I switched over to better smelling Three Flowers Brilliantine. My hair smelled so good! See, Kailua didn’t have many old Filipino men so I didn’t know that Tres Flores Brilliantine was what they used too.
Then as I got older, I graduated to Brylcreem and Score hair cream.
I was lookin’ slick! Literally.
And of course, to wash all that product out of my hair – I used Dial soap. Too much testosterone in the house for us boys to use hair shampoo. “We man. We use soap.” That is until I started surfing and wanted to get all that sand out of my hair. And being that it was the 70′s – I had a lot of hair on my head with the long-hair hairstyles. I started off using Clairol’s Herbal Essence shampoo because I thought the hippie girl on the label looked cool and since I wanted to be a hippie (that’s for another blog), I started using it. And then the fragrance started growing on me and I liked it.
By then, me smelling flowery didn’t bother my older brothers. And they didn’t tease me as they accepted me as being metro-sexual. Of course that word wasn’t coined yet at the time so they probably called me other names. But I didn’t care. In fact, I even moved on the other terrific smelling shampoos.
Yup! Gee, You Hair Smells Terrific. I loved this stuff. Talk about Flower Power!
I remember one time I was with my friends and we were standing in line to buy tickets for the Farm Fair at McKinley High School. A girl that I knew was standing in front of me and I could smell this shampoo coming from her hair. Since she didn’t know I was standing behind her, I went close to her ear and said “Alli, gee your hair smells terrific”. She turned around and laughed.
Well, that’s pretty much all for the MLC Bathroom that I grew up in. What was in your MLC Bathroom, growing up?
Today’s blog topic is courtesy of Keoni. Thanks Keoni!
Now, normally it might be a Thursday 3, but I got carried away with more that 3 favorite school subject(s) – as witnessed below. Feel free to add your own Favorite school subject(s). *btw Keoni, I knew that when you said “subject”, you meant like a subject that you learn. But I couldn’t think of one… j/k
Favorite Subject: Lunch. Not so much the school lunch, but the socializing after eating lunch. Talking story, recalling the weekend, teasing each other, cracking jokes… lunch period was always too short.
Favorite Phase (Elementary, Intermediate, High): Gotta be High School. Elementary School was all about following orders – like just another brick in the wall. Intermediate School was the self-conscious years – worried about what others are thinking about you (when they really weren’t). But High School was when we knew who we were and who we identified with. And the ones that hung around us accepted us for who we were as we accepted them for who they were.
Elementary school was structured. Intermediate school was awkward. High school was cool.
Favorite Days: My favorite school days were the 1/2 days before Christmas vacation and before summer vacation. The 1/2 day before Christmas was exciting not only because of the 2 weeks without school, but because of the anticipation of opening gifts for Christmas and popping firecrackers for New Years. It was usually a party day.
And the 1/2 day before summer vacation was the best one – because we were about to embark on 3 months of no school! And tests were done, books were turned in, the desk and cubbyhole was cleared out, and it was pretty much just a do-nothing morning until 11:00 when school was out for summer!
Favorite Teacher: With apologies to my other good teachers, I’d have to say that my favorite teacher was Mrs. Loo – my 12th grade Business teacher. Not only because she pulled us out of class after 3 months to work on a special presentation, then let us cruise for the last 3 months after the project was over – but she talked me into pursuing a career in what was called “Data Processing” at the time. That advice was life-changing for me. I followed though with it and it served me well throughout my career. And I owe it all to Mrs. Joan Loo. *I wonder what she’s doing nowadays…
Favorite Worker (janitor, school administrators, SASA, office staff, librarian, cafeteria ladies, health room nurse, etc.): When I was in elementary school, I made good friends with the janitors. I don’t know why, but I liked talking to a couple of them. One was named Francis – a big burly guy who didn’t talk much but would always acknowledge my greetings. And the other one was named Perry. He was a short guy, who normally had stubby whiskers around his face and spoke in mostly one-liners. He kinda reminded me of a local version of Redd Foxx.
Favorite Playground Equipment: Let’s see… there were the swings, sliding board, monkey bars, uneven bars, jungle gym. I have to say that it has to be the Merry-Go-Round. The one we had looked something like this, but without the seats:
The merry-go-round was surrounded with a groove in the dirt from all the kids holding on to the side and running in the circle to get it going fast. Sometimes when the girls got on, we’d run on the outside to get it going fast. But instead of jumping on, we’d stop and stand just in reach of it and as it was spinning, we grab the bars as they passed and whip it faster until the girls were crying to stop making it go so fast and to let them off – all the while, holding on for dear life.
Sometimes when we’d be riding it and it was going around super fast, we’d hold on to the side bars and hang off the edge while just barely letting our butts drag in the dirt. And when it was time to stop it, we’d all drag our bare-feet on the dirt to slow it down. And after a heavy rain, the merry-go-round would have a moat surrounding it from the deep groove in the dirt.
Favorite Hangout Spot: “The Benches” in high school. There was a long lanai from C-Building leading to the cafeteria on a slight decline. One each side of the lanai were benches, tiered due to the sloping walkway. That was our hangout. We sat on the benches on each side of the lanai, facing each other where we talked story, flicked popsicle sticks at each other, and watched as people paraded down the gauntlet of friends.
Favorite Lunch: The fish burgers were pretty good, but I’d have to go with the hot-dog pizza. Square Sicilian style pan pizza with bread, tomato sauce, cheese, and slices of hot-dog. Sometimes it called for a second lunch. At 25¢, can’t go wrong!
Favorite Memory: Going to High School on those super cold winter mornings. Everyone’s bundled up (for Hawaii standards) and the morning dew still on the grass, leaving tell-tale marks of where people had walked. The air was crisp and filled with the fresh grass smell from the surrounding pastures. So country…
Okay, those are my Favorite School Subjects. List yours. And remember, you don’t have to follow my subjects. Come up with some of your own. Maybe like: Favorite school day of the week or Favorite classmate. Or how about Favorite snack from the Booster club? And thanks again for the blog topic, Keoni!
Rodney Lee is a Baby Boomer - and proud of it. Rodney started the Midlife Crisis blog back in the days of The Honolulu Advertiser and ran it for about 3 years. After The Honolulu Advertiser shut down, Rodney decided to continue his blog here at Midlife Crisis Hawaii. New blog entries are added every Monday and Thursday.
So join Rodney as he reminisces about the good ol' days.
Midlife Crisis Hawaii - where the memories live on.