Thinking back of yesteryear as I often do, I was thinking of places that I used to frequent often. However, unlike my old schools – that are still around – many of the places that were once a part of me are gone. I sometimes wish that they were still around so I could revisit them and reminisce of the good times that I had there.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Think back of this place.
Don’t you wish that you could go back there and just walk around the old Honolulu Stadium and recall all the good times there. High school football games, Islander baseball, Demolition derby, maybe even a Billy Graham crusade. How nice it would be to visit the place on a day when it’s empty – just to walk around and let your mind wander, to smell the old wood and to see the shadows through the old wooden bleachers.
Another place that is gone is where I had my first job – at Windward Volkswagen in Kailua. The old shop building is still relatively the same, but the front has been rebuilt – nothing close to what it looked like when I was there. And the old Universal Motors building next door where I used to spend my days detailing, washing, and prepping new cars is just a memory. Although I spent only six years there, they were the years that I was in high school and college – which is two full chapters in my book of life.
A lot of these places – where I spent a huge part of my life at – are naturally places that I worked – as I just listed above. Another place that is almost gone is the old Honolulu Advertiser building. Just a small part of the building remains. But three-quarters of the property is gone – given way to two condominium towers and a parking structure. Gone is the “dock” facing the old parking lot where we spent many hours talking story, warming up in the morning sun, and passing by celebrities as they entered the side door to get to the newsroom. I sure hope that the last of the historic Advertiser building is preserved.
Here’s a few other places that I’ve worked at where the buildings are still there – but the businesses had relocated.
HFM (Hawaiian Flour Mills)
This place was yet another chapter in my book of life. I spent all my evenings here for five years working as a computer operator. Great memories from the warehouse guys having their Friday pau hana parties in the back of the warehouse to quiet evenings all by myself in a huge warehouse when I was the only one working the night-shift. Getting out of there a midnight was pretty creepy.
And here’s another building that I spent seven years going to daily for work.
This is the building where Hawaiian Dredging and Construction used to be located. I remember going there after it was taken over by Side Street Inn and I was sitting at a table where my old office used to be. I remember the view out the window looking straight at the old Snorkel Bob’s shop. Looking out that window brought back so many memories.
But it’s not just my old work places that I miss.
The old KCC Pensacola campus. It was one of the best times of my life going to school there. From the portable buildings with no air conditioning to the student lanai where smoking was allowed to the sweet scent of the Pak Lan trees that bloomed in the early mornings. Oh how I would love to walk around the asphalt walkways between the portables once again. Now, all that’s left is the old business building.
Many a nights (and some days too) were spent at this place.
Friday nights – second shift – which sometimes didn’t get started until almost 10:00PM. By the time league play was done, it was almost 1:00 AM. But instead of going home, I used to hang out there. Maybe throw a couple more games, or play Ms. Pac Man for a couple of hours, or just sit around and watch the night owls bowl. Stepping out into the silent darkness at 3:00AM was kind of serene. Spooky, small kine. But the night was so quiet at that hour.
Okay, I skipped one of the most obvious ones – Ala Moana Center. Yes, the original framework of the old center where we grew up with is still there. But it’s been built over and on top of. No longer does the warm sunlight bask down on you as your walk along the center mall. The Sears and Penneys department stores are gone. I think that Macy’s is the only original structure of the old Ala Moana that’s left. We’d better enjoy it while we can…
How about you? What places – that were so much a part of your small-kid-time – are no longer around? Or rebuilt into something that no longer resembles that building you used to frequent. Share your memories with us.
And I’m not talking about KB Toys, Kilo Byte, or Kobe Bryant. I’m talking – Korean Bar. Okay, okay, gotta be politically correct – Hostess Bar. @Seawalker had suggested this blog post for da boys as he has lots of stories to share.
Actually, I don’t have much knowledge about this kine of stuff – just the stories I heard.
Ironically, we were just talking about this stuff a few weeks ago at our Fantasy Football wrap up party. I was asking how much a “neko-hana” costs nowadays. And to my surprise, I was told that it’s still $20. REALLY!?! Back in the 70’s when I used to… I mean from what my friends told me – it cost $20 to buy a drink for the hostess. And it still costs the same today? What, inflation didn’t hit the KB?
Back in the day, there were the two famous KBs with dancers: Arirang on Kaheka St. and Stop Lite on Kapiolani Blvd. I remember when my friend’s brother-in-law and his coworker from Maui came to Oahu for some training, we were going to take them out one night. When we asked them where they wanted to go, they immediately answered “Stop Lite”. Whoa, even the outer island guys know about that place. I won’t get into all the details about the cigar, boiled egg, or roll of quarters. I’ll let the guys share their memories in the comments section.
But beside the bars with the “exotic dancers”, there were also the purely KB hostess bars. No stage with a pole or loud music. No karaoke as back then if you wanted to karaoke – you had to go Kengo’s. Nope, it was just dark booths with ashtrays on the table. And girls who sat down next to you when they brought you your drink. And their neko-hana that you paid $20 for. So I heard.
I always told my friends when they wanted to go dat kine bar that I will go only if I get to sit on the inside of the booth – so I don’t get hustled. Eh, $20 used to be two full tanks of gas back then!
I recall one of my friends became a regular at one of the KB’s on Kapiolani. He was dating the owner or something. So he invites us over and to impress us – he orders champagne. Okay, a $20 neko-hana is nothing compared to a $100 bottle of champagne. And before they open the bottle, they pound the top of the bottle on the stained carpet floor – so when they pop the cork – about half the bottle flows out as foam. There goes $50 – staining the carpet. So he tells them to bust out another bottle. My friend thinks he’s impressing us. I’m thinking he’s nuts!
What was funny was when the champagne cork pops, you see all these hostesses heads pop up from the booths like Meercats – all looking around to see who’s busting out the C-notes to buy champagne.
And one last story I heard about. A couple of guys went to this KB in Kailua. And Kailua was not known for bars, much less a KB. Anyway, after buying the hostess a couple few neko-hana, one of the guys was having his way with her – IYKWIM. After awhile it was getting hot and heavy in the booth with hands exploring all over each other until… SURPRISE! She was a he! They booked it out of that place so fast!
Okay, those are all the stories I know. Which I heard about from others. Because I didn’t go dat kine places. Now you share your memories. It’s okay – we won’t judge.
MLC reader Scott emailed me in response to an old post:
I had one of those “remember when” thought come into my head the other day and came across your Midlife crisis website. I found it by googling “golden gate nickel machine”. I read the article and found so many similarities in our experiences with nickel machines. I tried to respond to the blog but the link does not seem to work.
Way back in the early 70’s, I spent much of my childhood in McCully where my relatives owned Pollo’s market and Bert’s Café on McCully Street. In Bert’s Café, there sat two nickel machines “for entertainment purposes only”. One of the machines was the Golden Gate machine pictured in your article. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time. I would sit at the last barstool on Saturday mornings for hours watching player chance their luck at this game. Most of the players seemed to be construction workers that swore a lot and pounded the glass. I never got how they pounded the glass hard enough to make noise and not break. My father was also a good player but I always felt uncomfortable when he won because my aunty had to pay him from the restaurant register.
The Golden Gate machine was by far the favorite there. I remember that I like the OK game more than the Gate game. Only 2 in the orange scored as 3. I think you needed 3 in the purple for the Gate game. I wish I could remember all the different games and strategies of the game – what I would give to play this game now…. I did get to play this game on Holidays when the restaurant was closed. Me and my cousin would sneak in and play 5 cent games. Four points for 3 in a row!
Looking at the photo brings back so many memories of the countless hours sitting and watching people play this game. My father has since passed away but I know that he would just love to see the photo of the Golden Gate machine.
Thank you for my trip down memory lane.
Thanks for sharing your nickel machine memories with me, Scott. I’m more than happy to rerun the Nickel Machines post for you!
Do You Remember… Nickel Machines
Remember when we were kids – we had to be 18 years of age or older just to play pinball machines? And I’m not talking about just nickel machines – but any kind of pinball machines.
But we’re here today to talk about nickel pinball machines – or Bingo Pinball as it’s called on the web.
For those who aren’t familiar with the difference between nickel machines and regular pinball machines – you could win money from nickel machines (yes, it was a form of gambling and yes, it was illegal).
Nickel machines didn’t have flippers, flashing lights, or ringing bells. Just 25 holes numbered from 1 to 25, bumpers, maybe a couple of rollover buttons, and the home puka at the bottom to shoot the ball again. They looked like this:
The concept was to get at least 3 balls in a roll or colored section depending on the game. There were odds for getting 3 in a row, 4 in a roll, and 5 in a roll – also known as a “barrel”.
See the red, yellow, and green numbers on the bottom of the board? Those represented getting 3, 4, or 5 in a row. Now to start a game – it cost only a nickel. But you’d get the lowest odds. And in order to get the odds up higher, you had to pump in more nickels. The thing is – you didn’t know how many nickels it would cost. Sometimes the second nickel would bump the odds up one step. Sometimes it’d bump up only one color of the odds up. And sometimes it didn’t do anything. So you end up pumping more and more nickels until the odds were to your liking.
Also, pumping in nickels not only bumped up your odds but also bumped up the A-G letters (located above the odds). Usually the A, B, C, and D would come out all at once, but the E, F, & G cost more nickels. Again, it wasn’t a set amount. You just had to keep pumping the machine.
The A-G would slide the screen to allow you to play colored sections – besides just the up, down, and diagonal lines. And you’d have to make up your mind of which screen you wanted to play before shooting your 4th ball. Unless your ball hit the “rollover” buttons that allowed you to move your screen after the 4th ball or even after the 5th ball.
Lost yet? Then you will be after this.
Then there is the OK letters (located on the left of the A-G letters). If those 2 letters lit up, then it would give you an extra game – IF you got the 2 required balls in the OK section. And the odds for the extra game would depend on how high the green odds were when you played the OK game.
Shall I talk about the First, Second, and Third Extra ball too?
Okay, since I mentioned it. See, after your game of 5 balls was done, you could also pump nickels to get extra balls. Again, only the machine knows how many nickels it’ll cost you. Sometimes after pumping in 3 nickels, the First light goes on. Pump more nickels and the Extra light goes on. Pump even more nickels until the Ball light goes on – or give up and start a new game – throwing away all the nickels you’ve already pumped into the machine trying to get the extra ball.
I remember one time on the first nickel I threw in to chase for the extra ball – all 3 extra balls were given to me. That was just one time, though.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Because there were no flippers on these machines – you had to shake the machine and use the bumpers to try to get the ball in the hole that you want.
Shake a little to hard and you “tilt” the machine. Game Over. Lose Money.
There were many variations of these machines. Some didn’t have A-G screens, but instead had the 4 numbers on each corner that you could rotate, like this machine:
And some had multiple cards that you played instead, like this one:
But my favorites were machines with the OK games: County Fair, Laguna Beach, and my all time favorite was Golden Gate:
This machine had not only the OK game, but the Gate game too.
When I was just a little kid, my dad used to take us to Pali Lanes bowling alley as he bowled in the Friday night second shift. I used to stand outside of the little room with all the nickel machines and watch the guys from the first shift play. Just from observation, I figured out the game. I also learned a lot of swear words. And I found out what that weird sound that I’d hear every once in a while was – the guys slamming the glass on the nickel machines.
When I finally turned 18 years old – it meant that now I could play nickel machines. My first taste of it was at Holiday Cue in the room located directly behind the desk.
Then later – I found this little back room in Moiliili called Rudkin Amusements. I used to play there all the time. Especially because Rudy gave a little bonus – cash out 600 points or more and he’ll throw on an extra 100 points on the machine you were playing.
I also remember playing a few times at a place in Kakaako called Warehouse #9. I think it’s now called Velvet Touch. Don’t know if it’s still operating.
And because it was illegal to win money – as that would be considered gambling – the trick was to say that my machine is broken so I’d like a refund of the points I’ve accumulated. 😉
Hmm… No wonder I like Vegas so much.
Did you used to play nickel machines before? If so, where did you used to play at? What were your favorite nickel machines? Ever got a “barrel”?
MLC reader – James Higa, DDS – sent me the following email:
I was in a social club in the 1975-1976 time period. I went to UH then to dental school. When I returned to Hawaii in 1985 and asked my high school aged patients what social club they belonged to, they had no idea what social clubs were. I was so shocked to find out that something so prevalent disappeared so quickly. Do you know why social clubs ceased to exist? Did something happen to stop social clubs? Haven’t found anyone who knows. I thought you’d be a good resource. Thanks. I was referred to your blog by a friend.
Follow up email: I talk about social clubs with my patients and reminisce quite often. It was a fun and innocent time. Car washes and picnics were fun also. Hope someone knows how social clubs went away. Maybe it just faded away due to diminishing interest? It’s just hard to believe that something so wide spread would end so abruptly.
With James’ permission, I want to throw this question out there to all the MLCers.
I too wondered what happened to social clubs. It couldn’t have been because of social media as the Internet and Facebook and chat rooms and the like weren’t invented yet. But social clubs were such a good thing! It was a good way to meet people from other schools, enjoy outings, network, and even find a girlfriend or boyfriend. In fact, I wonder how many baby boomers out there met their spouse from a social. I know at least 2 of our club members did.
Looking back, in the 60’s – social clubs were very organized, either as a club under the school or the YMCA. Then later in the 70’s – although a lot of clubs were still under schools and the Y, there were “independent” clubs – less structured clubs. Our club – Pacific Vibrations – was an independent club. But we were well behaved – even though we didn’t have permanent Advisers. We had respect for the other clubs and because none of us had a nice house to hold socials, we relied on club’s reputation. Having “a good rep” was important – otherwise word gets around and your club doesn’t get invited to socials.
Hmm, it just dawned on me – maybe it was the less structured “independent” clubs that caused the demise of social clubs. I mean, the clubs under the schools or the YMCA had certain guidelines to follow. And if they didn’t they could be shut down. So they behaved themselves. But the independent clubs could show up drunk or stoned (and some did) without any consequences – except having a “bad rep”. But that’s just one theory.
Someone told me that maybe it had to do with liability. If someone got hurt at a social – like getting hit too hard during the newspaper game, or tripping when dancing with the broomstick – they could sue the homeowners. But I find that very unlikely.
It seems that social clubs died around the early 80’s. What happened. Did the fad just run it’s course? Did guys and girls get tired of meeting each other? I doubt it. Did music change so much that dancing at socials became boring? I don’t think so. Did the malls start closing later so guys and girls could meet at malls instead? I can’t see that happening.
I know that in the early 80’s – video games became popular. Pool halls and theaters were being converted to game parlors. But I don’t think that would put an end to teenagers wanting to meet the opposite sex. After all, it was just video games.
So like James, I too am perplexed as to why did social clubs die. It was such a good thing! Any theories out there?
MLCers, I have a treat for you! Today we have a guest blogger. Jim T. emailed me this cool story and I wanted to share it with all of you. But first, a big MAHALO to Jim for being a guest blogger. Here’s a little bit about the author:
I am a native Hilo boy, now transplanted on the mainland. I am actually second generation kamaaina haole (I consider myself as Caucasian by race and Hawaiian by heart), born in Puunene, Maui back when there WAS a vibrant sugarcane town named Puunene. My mother was born in Pa’ia Maui, the daughter of the first State Senator from Maui, Marquis Calmes, when Hawaii gained statehood. Our family moved to Hilo when I was 3-4 years old and I went through public school through Hilo Union elementary and Hilo Intermediate schools, and graduated from St. Joseph’s High in 1971. Having graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington in 1975, I weathered my first marriage in Sacramento, later moved back to the Big Island where I managed Rosey’s Boathouse in Hilo in the 80’s~~I could write a BOOK about that chapter in my life. Eventually ended up back on the mainland.
Now, BACK to the Handsome One!
Back in the early 60’s, when I was in Little League playing for the Piopio Bears in Hilo, coached by Nobu Yamauchi, our team did a number of activities to raise money for new uniforms or to pay for distance-game travel. One such activity was to help assemble and tear-down the wrestling ring for Big Time Wrestling when it came to the Hilo Civic Auditorium.
This was no small task. In addition to the 15 or so Bears team members, a number of adults were hired to do the heavy lifting. The main structure of the ring was made up of huge 12″ x 12″ wood beams and steel I-beams which relegated the kids to smaller tasks, but it still involved some hard work for us kids.
During one Saturday session assembling the ring, we had pretty much completed our tasks and several of us were taking a short break about 25 feet from the entrance to the changing rooms located under the stadium seats. One of my team mates elbowed me and pointed toward the entrance and sure enough, Handsome Johnny Barend was sticking his head out of the door, complete with his shiny black velvet “stove pipe” hat, sunglasses, and puffing on a cigar. As soon as the rest of the team had become aware of his presence, he broke into his famous gruffy laugh “Arrghh-Arrgh-Arrgh!!”, and stepped out into full view. He was in his full regalia of black cape, black wrestling trunks and shoes, and walking cane. He then WALKED OVER TOWARD US in one of his exaggerated stomp-step gates that he would switch to in the ring after winning a match!
There was not a single kid that was not completely beside himself in awe to be in the presence of the Handsome One! There wasn’t much of a conversation other than us shouting “Hey Barend….Howzit!!!” over each other. I seem to recall that the only thing that he actually said to us was to thank us for putting the ring together. Then, just as quickly as he had magically materialized, he spread his arms to toss his cape over his back, then flexed into a traditional body builder’s stance to show off his enormous biceps and burly barrel-chest, his cigar held between his clenched teeth, smiling and bellowing his “Aarrgh-Aarrrh-Arrgh!!!”….then in a flash of his cape, he swung 180 degrees around and was gone in a cloud of cigar smoke, leaving us in silence, fixated on the void that was a second before, made up of by a universe-sized personality. Handsome Johnny Barend was, one second THERE, the next GONE to parts unknown.
Rock legend David Bowie passed away at age 69 from cancer.
It took me a while to warm up to David Bowie. I wasn’t a fan back in his days of Ziggy Stardust.
But then I heard a song that was pretty cool, yet kinda disturbing. And after I found out that it’s a David Bowie song, I thought that he must be pretty strange himself. Then I saw his Ziggy Stardust costumes and it confirmed my suspicions. Oh, the song? Space Oddity.
So, was there really a problem with the space capsule or did Major Tom turn off all the communications himself – to float endlessly into space?
Then 18 years later there was the sequel to Major Tom’s adventure.
Towards the early 80’s – David Bowie began to mature and had a slew of hit songs – and I started liking his music. One of my favorites is China Girl (although they could’ve used a better looking girl). But it has a great beat.
But then I became a big David Bowie fan when we bought a movie for our daughters. Something called Labyrinth and David Bowie was acting as the bad guy – Jareth the Goblin King. I just loved his hair!!!
He also did a number of songs with other top rockers. Remember this one?
Or this one.
But especially this memorable Christmas tune:
Well, David and Bing are reunited once again to sing this beautiful duet. As well as with Freddie Mercury too.
We will miss you David Bowie, but you will live on through your music. Thank you for all the fabulous dance tunes, and weird stuff that makes us ponder “what is this song about?”. And your outrageous costumes. You were definitely your own person, David. One of a kind. One of a kind. Aloha.
Long time blog reader @Sally posted this beautiful write up on her Facebook page. I just had to ask her if I could post it here on MLC as anyone growing up in Hawaii can relate to it. Thank you for sharing this @Sally!
Picture courtesy of sally
Growing up, our house was “that” house. The one with the complete spread of every traditional and meaningful oshogatsu food and every uncle, aunty, cousin, family friend and their families came over. My mom, aunty, and baban were busy in the kitchen from the afternoon and did not come out until the midnight fireworks string… only to go back and continue their work.
Looking back, this was the only time I was not required to participate in any of the cooking, I was allowed to play to my heart’s content with my Baby Camels and Crackerballs and watch my three big brothers (already almost teenagers) blow up ants and green army men and throw firecrackers in the metal coffee can for “effect” … as long as I remembered that the bathroom had to be scrubbed and cleaned and floors vacuumed and mopped before midnight (the clean house for New Year thing).
After midnight I was allowed for the ride with my parents to the Shinto Shrine (I think in Nuuanu) where we did the traditional offering and blessing. I must have fallen asleep on the rides home, I don’t remember ever walking back into the house.
When we woke up New Year’s morning the living room in our small 2 bdrm house was transformed into a Japanese teahouse. All the furniture was stuffed and piled into the kitchen and back bdrm and the long Japanese style low tables (fashioned from plywood panels and short sawhorses made by my carpenter daddy) were covered with white paper from that huge roll in the sewing corner that magically never seemed to run out.
The spread along the table included the fish with the daikon net drape, roast turkey w/stuffing, ham, nishime, sushi, and all the little important, meaningful side dishes like kanten, kuromame, the special kamaboko and the balogna ring thing (what is that called?), mommy’s amazing potato/mac salad, and every other traditional thing you can imagine… it was all there. All of it was made in our little kitchen, none was store-bought.
I once asked my mom why do we (yah, “we” lol) do this every year? and she said it’s tradition, everyone does it. So then I asked “If ‘everyone’ does it, who’s at THEIR house cooking THEIR food?” cuz everyone I ever knew as family was coming and going at our house all.day.long! It was great!
Early New Year’s morning my daddy took me with him for a ride to the ice store. Have no idea where that was but we bought blocks of ice to put in the laundry tubs to ice pick away at and that’s where all the beverages went. One side for Diamond Head soda and the other side for Primo and Olympia beer.
As I got older (aka high school) my interest turned to the Sunshine Crater Music Festival. My friends would come over and we walked to Diamond Head to act like underaged Asian hippies in leather visors and thought we were groovy.
Mom got sick in 1973 and passed away in 1975, daddy tried to keep up the tradition and I tried to help but it was too hard. All those people didn’t show up, I guess they thought we weren’t doing it. Looking back, Daddy was sad and disappointed altho’ he really tried and all he asked me to make was the ham.
A couple of years later it was daddy’s turn to be cared for and when he passed away in 1980 I didn’t really know where to go. I don’t even remember what I did.
The tradition ended but not the memories. Man, we had major grindz that I did not appreciate back then but I can see it very clear and taste every morsel.
I had to put this memory to words, I might someday forget and who is going to care anymore?
Hoping for everyone a safe, happy, prosperous, amazing 2016!
Thanks again for sharing your small-kid-time oshogatsu memories with us, @Sally.
Another year has come and gone. Time to reflect on the past year and be hopeful for the upcoming year.
Reflecting on 2015. Made some new friends at work, at play, and on Facebook. And of course, on this blog! We made our usual treks to Las Vegas to visit our deposits. We took a trip San Francisco. Something about that place just lures us back. We went on our first ever boat cruise – an Alaskan cruise. Can’t get anymore MLC than that! Actually, it got us hooked. Already looking at other cruises. We said good-bye to our dear Hawaii ’72 friend, Melvin. We settled an ugly family dispute over my mom’s trust. When it requires legal action – there are no winners. It’s just sad that it had to come to that.
Hoping for in 2016. Our continued good health and safety. I hope to start an exercise regimen as my doctor has been after me to lose at least 10 lbs. And when I look in the mirror, I have to agree with him. Planning to visit New York as I’ve never been any more East than Nevada. Go figure. Plan to visit Vegas too, of course. And maybe squeeze in another trip to San Francisco. I heard that the city is changing with all the high-tech companies moving in along with their highly-paid, young workers. The artisans and musicians are slowing being pushed out. I want to remember San Francisco as the hippy gather place it once was.
Another change that I have planned for 2016 is that my posts on MLC will be more random. Rather than having new posts appear every Monday and Thursday, new posts might appear whenever. So you’ll need to keep checking in to see whether a new post has been added. But that’s not the reason for the change. I didn’t like the fact that my Sunday and Wednesday evenings were restricted to staying home to post a new blog entry.
As for resolutions… I told myself a few months ago that I plan to NOT buy any new shoes in 2016. I have more than enough pairs of shoes. BUT if a too-good-to-pass-up deal comes along – all bets are off!
So, what’s your thoughts about 2015? How about your hopes for 2016? Dare to list any new year resolutions here? he, he.
Well, another Christmas is in the books. The season seems to get shorter every year.
And just when I’m getting used to writing 2012, I’ll have to start remembering to write 2013 soon because here comes the new year. Ready or not!
And that got me thinking about New Year traditions.
One of the New Year traditions that won’t be much of a tradition anymore are firecrackers. The good ‘ol Duck brand firecrackers.
Boy, I remember seeing my uncle getting one of these boxes of firecrackers for Christmas and thought “Ho, he’s the luckiest person in the whole wide world!“. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of these cherished boxes of Duck brand firecrackers. Truthfully – maybe it has to do with becoming MLC – but I think firecrackers are too loud now. When I was younger, the louder – the better. But now – it hurts my ears. (Wow, I’m really sounding like an old-fart). Just give me some penny rockets.
Another tradition is pounding mochi. We never did that in our family – but there are a lot of people who’s families gather together between Christmas and New Years to pound mochi. But it’s also a way to bring the friends and relatives together.
How about sashimi. Regardless of the price – gotta have some red fish for good luck.
Actually, eating sashimi isn’t really that high on my New Years traditions list. For one thing – the price is ridiculous. And I suppose because we eat poke and nigiri sushi year-round, it’s not like it’s only available around New Years time. But if it’s there – I’m on it! Especially if it has shredded daikon (to soak up the wasabi/shoyu).
One tradition that we started after Paula and I got married was to put up kadomatsu at the entrances of our house for the New Year. But I don’t go for the big cut pieces of bamboo and pine wrapped with the rope. I just go for the simple branches of bamboo and pine that’s already half dead when I buy it from the supermarket. So I try to hold out until New Year’s Eve to buy it so it’s relatively fresh when the midnight hour comes – only problem is that sometimes it means that I have to run from Liliha Times to Liliha Foodland to Don Quijote to Beretania Times to all around town to find it.
But this year – my procrastination paid off. Since I didn’t trim the matsu trees – there are long “antennas” sticking out. And Paula’s non-invasive bamboo plant proved to indeed be invasive so we have a lot of bamboo to use. So this year, I’ll be making our own kadomatsu to bring in the New Year.
What are some of your New Year traditions? Cleaning the house? Washing the car? Making Portuguese bean soup or Ozoni? Visiting relatives? Going to Chinatown markets? How about some old traditions from small-kid-time that are no longer followed? How do you prepare to ring in the New Year?
First of all, I want to wish all the MLCers out there a very MerryChristmas!
Did you have any small-kid-time traditions? Maybe some that you might’ve passed on to your children. And some that just faded away as time went on.
One tradition that carried on is opening presents on Christmas morning.
I knew some kids that got to open their presents on Christmas eve night. But we didn’t want to do that. The logic was that we’d start playing with the toys and wouldn’t be able to sleep. And Christmas morning would’ve been junk because there wouldn’t be any presents to open. But we did have a tradition of opening one present before going to bed on Christmas eve night. And we always chose the present from a certain auntie that always gave us clothes. Again, the logic was to open a non-playable, unexciting present so we could go sleep sooner which would make Christmas morning come that much faster.
As I was talking with my daughter, she said that she remembers looking though the Christmas tree for the cards which is something that I passed on to my kids. We used to place all our cards inside the Christmas tree between the branches. In fact, you can see a few in the picture above. But with the thick fancy trees they have nowadays, we had to make sure that we looked good to make sure all the cards were found!
Something different was when we were small, we only had to wait until everyone was awake and then we would open our presents. My daughter was saying that they had to wait until we woke up, drank our coffee, read the newspaper – and then they could open their presents. Talk about making them suffer! And she said that we’d turn the TV on to channel 12 – which was the TV guide back then – to listen to Christmas music as they opened their presents. But daughter #2 confessed to me that ever since she learned how to wrap – or should I say, re-wrap – presents, the wait was no problem as she already knew what she was getting. Naughty kid, that one.
Another small-kid-time tradition that I remember was going to church service on Christmas eve night. What made it so fun was that it was a candle-light service. That meant that we got to hold lit candles during the service. And you know how when you’re a kid and you’re suddenly given permission to play with fire… And just like the offering plate, the ushers would walk down the center aisle and light the candle of the person on the end, and that person would light the next person’s candle down the row and so on. And when the lights were turn low and we could see the glow of the candle while watching the wax melt down the sides hitting the protective cardboard barrier – that was the best.
And I still remember that all the Christmas songs in the hymnal were on pages 50 though 60. Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Hark the Herald, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, What Child is This, etc.
Going back to small-kid-time Christmas morning – not really a tradition, but I remember that all – I mean ALL – the store were closed on Christmas day. And that meant that the toys that didn’t come with batteries had to wait until the next day when we could buy some batteries. Otherwise, scrounging around the utility and junk drawers to try and find some batteries laying around. The flashlight was always a good place to check for some C or D sized batteries. But that was the pits yeah, reading on the box “Batteries Not Included”.
Another tradition that we had – that has since faded away – was mom cooking a turkey for Christmas dinner. Sure, we just had turkey about a month ago for Thanksgiving, but Christmas turkey dinner was a tradition. Today, it’s chop suey joint luncheon with the family and the uncles and aunties.
And since my kids are no longer kids, present opening doesn’t happen until after lunch when we gather at the in-laws house. We open gifts, take some pictures, then allow the MSG nap to overcome us. That’s our new Christmas Tradition.
What are some of your small-kid-time Christmas traditions? Do you remember some from when you were just a kid? Are there some that you’ve continued with your kids? Maybe some new traditions that you have now. Share your Christmas traditions with us.
But most of all – Have a Safe and Memorable MLC Christmas!
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.