Kalani, Albert (Part 2)

Source: Waipi‘o Māno Wai an Oral History Collection by The University of Hawai‘i Ethnic Studies Program


Albert Kalani

Albert Kalani, Hawaiian, was born in Kona on October 14, 1908, one of four brothers. He attended Kalaoa Elementary, Konawaena Intermediate and Konawaena High School. He is fluent in the Hawaiian language. Before moving to Waipi‘o in about 1930, he was a cowboy at Huehue Ranch, a construction worker in Puna and on Maui, and a fisherman back in Kona. In Waipi‘o he worked in the Aioka and Ahana poi factories, and also raised his own taro until about 1960. In 1933, he married Mabel Kaaekuahiwi. They had two children and adopted two more. Mrs. Kalani passed away in 1976. Albert was also employed by the Depression relief agencies and the Parks and Recreation Department (1938 to 1970). In 1952 he moved out of the valley to Kukuihaele, and in 1963 he moved to his present residence in Honoka‘a. Interviewers Vivien Lee(VL) and Yukie Yoshinaga (YY)

VL: And what kind of job did you do at that time?

AK: Work in the patch, help my father-in-law in the patches. The taro patches, all my father-in-law’s see. So, I used to help him. And no pay, just help. If he love enough to give the daughter some money, well. But most of the time, I was just helping. And then get part-time Ahana, like that, get the part-time job. Then, after that, then that’s when I started get me FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) with UPW. Work three days, then I went four days, like that. Right after that , I think my father-in-law felt sorry for himself for the way he treated me that when I went stay with them, I was doing almost everything. That maybe he didn’t want with me to be a husband for the daughter but, I think he saw what I did. Helping my wife all around the house, and all everything. Because when I married my wife, where Peter (Kaaekuahiwi) is now (in Waipi‘o) and all over there, all not like now, all but bushes. I the one that take care all that. I cleaned everything there with my wife. We worked hard for take care the place.

VL: Did you folks have a garden?

AK: We had a garden. We have flowers; all anthuriums, we buy ti leaves, plant ti leaves, you know these colored ti leaves. Roses, all. We beautified the place. But the water, we had flood. The water went right under the house there, went almost to the ceiling (of the basement). Half of the basement was all full with gravel.

VL: When was that?

AK: About somewheres in the 1940s.

VL: The same flood that damaged the poi shop (1941)?

AK: Yeah. The store was right below this side, right above Peter’s there. The store wash out. The, I built that cement wall over there. I did all that work myself and my in-laws.

VL: Did you have vegetables in you garden?

AK: We had vegetables, we plant vegetables in the yard.

VL: What kind?

AK: Oh, that Chinese cabbage and all those. Lettuce, spinach, beans, and all those kind vegetables. Nice garden, nice garden. I raised chickens, I raised pigs.

YY: What were your folks using for water at the time?

AK: That time we were using spring water. Right in the back there get the spring. Did Peter show you? Right in the back, that’s the spring water; we used that as a water, and we bathe there same time. Of course, that spring is big and the spring near. Then we dip up a place, a big place to wash. You bathe in there. After we build that house now, then we make where we build up a shower and all that inside, and a outside shower and all that.

VL: What about your other food, where would that be from?

AK: Well, we come to Kukuihaele for all these other kind of foods. You come out, most time the main important things is your salt, your sugar, maybe you need rice, all those things, eh? That’s the most important thing you need in Waipi‘o. And the rest, you don’t have to. IF you want some canned stuff, you buy canned stuff. But we do buy canned stuff. We come up Kukuihaele for those things. Or Honoka‘a here. We come, we changed vegetables for foods, because I had nice vegetables, those days. We bring ‘em to Honoka‘a—cucumber, all that.

VL: You would bring from your garden? And what, sell it?

AK: Yeah, to the store, yeah. Because the store owner, Awong. Alfred Awong, sometimes he come down, he see. He tell, “You bring this up to my store.” (At Honoka‘a) So I bring up to the store.

VL: And would you just exchange for something else?

AK: Yeah. Well, I give whatever vegetables I get and I take whatever things I want. Well, with the balance we get some money back.

VL: What about in your free time, what would you do?

AK: Go out fishing. Go down fishing, me and my wife used to go fishing. We always go out fishing.

VL: What kind of fishing?

AK: Down the beach, poling, throw net and all that. I learned how to throw net, I mend my own net and all those things. Those days I can mend my own net, learned how to.

VL: You learned that in Kona?

AK: No, I learned that in Waipi‘o. I never use that in Kona, but I use most poles of hand lines on the canoe, or something. But throwing net, I never did learn in Kona. I learned that over here.

VL: How did you do it?

AK: I asked somebody to lend me the net and they show me how to use it and throw it, and I practice. And I asked my wife’s grandfather how to ment the net; he shows me. Because every Sunday, he comes down with us, talk story like that. And then, after lunch, he goes back. Every time he comes down I always be with him, talking Hawaiian with him. He’s very fond of me, my wife’s grandfather.

VL: When your pole fishing, what kind of bait did you use?

AK: We use that Waipi‘o shrimps or crab or tako, whatever. Oh gori, sometime we use.

VL: Did you go fishing at night?

AK: Yeah. I used to go fishing at night. Bamboo and throw net too, in the night.

VL: The fish that you caught, did you ever have extra?

AK: Oh, we always have extra.

VL: And what would you do with that?

AK: Whatever friends come by, we give.

VL: Just give?

AK: Yeah, just give. Waipi‘o, all the people in Waipi‘o, if I go fishing you come by, I have the fish there, you can help your self to the fish. You go home, with fish. Everyone in Waipi‘o same, you know. Because they don’t want to sell. You tell ‘em you give the money, he tell, “No, no, no, no, you take the fish.” Even when we used to go out in the canoe, when they come back, you reach there, you just hold the canoe come back, you get lot of fish. He doesn’t buy the fish. We had one old Japanese man, he collects the fish because he had to make little money for himself, eh? So he gets the fish from the fishermen, then he come up peddle around the village.

VL: Who was that?

AK: Nakanishi, I think was his name. Japanese man, old man. Come up sell the fish.

VL: Would you buy it?

AK: Yeah, people buy it. But he’s old so. We buy too. Sometime I don’t go down fishing, maybe that day I don’t go. He come sell his certain fish, I buy, my father-in-law buy.

VL: How much did it cost?

AK: Very cheap. Sometimes one long string is only $1. Get about 15 fish inside, for $1. Everything was cheap.

VL: Did anybody else peddle any other kind of food?

AK: No, no. Food, you mean? No.

VL: How about anything else, any other peddelers?

AK: I guess everybody had everything, but they don’t peddle around.

VL: Like firewood.

AK: No. Firewood if free to anybody. You cut your own firewook. You go any place cut firewood.

VL: What else did you do in you free time?

AK: Then, sometimes I broking horse. Somebody has horses to train, I train ‘em for them. That was my line of work before so I know how. I train it for them.

VL: Tell us about you horses, that you had in Waipi‘o. How many?

AK: I had about dozen, I think. I train all the horses.

VL: Where did you get them from?

AK: Well, an old man gave me. See, this man, he belonged to Laupahoehoe; he was living Laupahoehoe, Waipi‘o, he said that when I was a little boy, he used to keep me. But I don’t remember. Then, one time, I get a chance, I went back and I asked my father if that was true. He said, “yeah, that was true.” I asked who was the name of the man. He said, “Yeah, when you was a little boy he take care of you.” And the another lady the same thing as that. She tell me when I was a little boy she was taking care of me. I not going believe that, but I ask father, and he say it’s true.

VL: So he gave you the horses?

AK: Yeah, he gave me the horses. He gave me horses, he gave me cow. He gave me one cow. All from that, I multiply all that those things.

VL: After you train the horses, what did you do with them?

AK: For our own use. You like ride the horse, get horses to ride around. Whatever.

VL: Were they ever used for work?

AK: Yeah, they work around. You like go Waimanu, you get horse. Something like that. You have to get horse to go Waimanu. Majority, I had my animals only for home use. Come up to Kukuihaele, go back for pack all the freight, whatever you have, eh. You cannot beat animal.

VL: And you race the horses too?

AK: Yeah, you just let it free in Waipi‘o.

VL: No, racing?

AK: Yeah, yeah, we have the sports, we race around. Down the beach or in the school park. We do that when we have the fourth of July celebrations or something like that. We had all kind sports.

VL: Were there prizes?

AK: Yeah. We, in the club, we making a Fourth of July program. Before we go, we go out to everybody for donation. One dollar, or whatever. Because, those days, when we go out for this, all the old people, they really wanted to donate. They give a lot, you know. And then, after we make the celebration of the day, then we have a luau after that. We kalua the pig and all that. All the family have all to eat and then go home with. So we go out, the clubs, after we hold the meeting. We have whatever money we keep, for our dues. Well, maybe we figure going spend about $400 or $300 for gifts. We go to Hilo to buy gifts. Like, those days, Kress got a lot of cheap stuff, eh. And any kind you buy. We go out buy. See, we hold the meeting, then we elect certain officers to go out to Hilo and make the purchases. Then we ask all around, all the people, the donate. They’re willing to give anything. But we don’t ask them more than what we need. We get all that. Then, when the day come, no matter, you cannot run or just walk, you have something. Everybody get something. When we did that, all the old people turn out, you know. Come out from where they stay. Most, you cannot see where they stay; they all come out. Sundays, we get games, they all come, they enjoy.

YY: What kind of games did you have?

AK: Baseball or volleyball, softball, whatever game. They all enjoy that. When we had that, they used to tell me, the older ones used to tell me, before have sports, they used to go play cards. They challenge, you know each section, he playing cards. And after that, they make party. Or, they go swim. Jump—you know they get high place, they jump in the water and challenge each other.

VL: In Wapi‘o?

AK: In Wapi‘o, yeah.

VL: What part would they jump?

AK: You know where Robert Kahele was working the taro went on my taro patch? Well before in that corner where that big monkeypod tree, that section was very deep before. Up there, and very deep. Well, that’s where they challenge. Otherwise, they have to go the other side. Way over that waterfall. That section challenge this section, or the upper section challenge. They jump more like high dive, you know. Them guys, they told me all that. And then dancing. They get that old Hawaiian dancing. Not this other kind dancing, they get old Hawaiian dancing.

YY: Ancient Hula?

AK: Yeah, ancient hula. They have that, you know.

VL: This was before you got there (Waipi‘o)?

AK: It was before I got there. When I got there, they didn’t do that any more. I learned little bit of the Hawaiian dance when I was in Kona. I did go in the class, we went up dance.

VL: What other things did they tell you they did before time?

AK: Before time, that’s the most things they told me about. That playing cards, swimming, high dive. Not they never have any others, but that the most sports they have. And the only other way they said, like you have a taro patch to clean (weed), then you have to prepare, make a food. You have to make, whatever you think you can prepare. Then, they call those to go over there and clean all the patches. They clean the whole thing one day. After that, they eat.

VL: Now who comes to that?

AK: The one want to go help. They call that Limalau, to get together and work. They had, those days, that one. But, like today, with this younger generation, you tell them, “oi, come help me clean my side.” They no like you come help clean. Well, those days they told me that they always have barrel of sour potato. They ferment the potato, that’s what they drink. They say, they have one barrel of potato or they buy a salt salmon. All the family, they come help, everyone in the family going work and eat. But the older guys drink potato but the other family eat. They help them clean the place, that’s what they do. But I didn’t see when I was down there, but they told me that’s what they used to do before.

VL: Do you know how much before that was?

AK: I think, about one or two year before I came to Wapi‘o. I almost got it, but I was little bit too late (for limalau).

YY: Even the hula, ancient hula, why do you suppose it didn’t continue?

AK: I don’t know. I don’t know why they dropped that. I don’t know why didn’t they keep up. There was a lot of good hula dancers in Waipi‘o, those days. I don’t know why they give up for. And had a Japanse man, he’s good on that. He’s a Japanese man, he’s really good on that; well, because he has Hawaiian wife, but that dance, I don’t know boy.

VL: You saw him?

AK: Yeah. Once in a awhile, we get the music for, you know, we get together for some kind of party and he dance.

YY: Who was this Japanese man?

AK: Kawashima.

VL: Suei’s father?

AK: Suei’s father. Yeah, he’s real good dancer. For that, he’s good dancer. And he can talk Hawaiian good too.

VL: How did the Japanses and Chinese and Hawaiian and Filipinos get along , in those days?

AK: I don’t know. But everybody get along those days, down there. They all get along. Those days, when the Filipinos, or whatever, Japanese, or like that, Chinses; those days, we never had any trouble with them. Even young girls, all that, no more troubles like that. Today might be different.

VL: Yeah: I notice all the ethnic groups in this picture of Waipi‘o Club. The Waipi‘o Club, who could be a member?

AK: Anybody that wants to join. Whoever lives down there, whoever likes to join the club can join.

VL: Were there any requirements for joining?

AK: No. You want to come in, you come in; you don’t want to come in, all right. We just simply organized this thing. You see, we organized the club for something that we need to do in Waipi‘o. Might be, we need to divert the water someplace, or something like that. And then we can hold a meeting, then we can get somebody to , say, go to the Board of Water Supply and give our opinion. We need something to be done in Waipi‘o, we go up there. And we did too. When we had the flood, we did too. We diverted the water, that Hi‘ilawe Stream water. Before was going right near the school wall; we did something for that. They gave us the appropriation. We go up there, we put our problems to them and then they come out and they see. Then the Waipi‘o people get the job, no outsiders, just the Wapi‘o.

VL: So they give you the money….

AK: Yeah, they give us the money. Of course, they get the money, but we do the work, then they pay. We were good, our club, we did lot of good things.

VL: Did they send someone to direct you?

AK: Yeah, they send somebody down to direct and show you what and how to do the job. Then, maybe one of the County employees comes down as a foreman.

VL: What other kinds of things like that did the club try to fix for Waipi‘o?

AK: Most time, like the water problem, most time ask them to fix. Like that taro patches, sometimes it’s little bit too much water, all flooded the patch, all flooded. So we need somebody to go , and work, and divert the water something. Maybe we need bulldozer, or something like that. Before, we just work all by hand by ourself, see. All on our own.

VL: Would you, before you started getting together to do this and asking the Water Supply, were there times when you would just get together and go to the waterhead and fix the waterhead, or something…?

AK: Yeah. Maybe, for instance, flood coming down or road need repairing or something like that. Then we go out, “How about giving us some money to clean certain, certain place.”

And they tell you, “What part of the valley?”

“Oh we have lot of bushes and all that.”

Then they send overseers, or whatever. Engineers come down there to see.

VL: But before you asked for money, were there times you would go do it anyway, without money?

AK: No. We don’t go out and do it without any money, so we had to. Before we do anything, we ask them if we can, or if they give us the help to help us.

VL: So, before time, if flood damaged the waterhead, who would fix it?

AK: Us. We go out and fix little bit. And then, if we see we need something the County can help us do that, then we go and ask the County. Otherwise, the farmers will do it themselves.

VL: Would farmers help fix the waterhead if it wasn’t their waterhead?

AK: Every farmers help. Like the sections, we all have sections. The other sections have lot of farmers. And we on this side section we have lot of farmers. Now, when the main stream comes here, sometimes too much water go down this way. Then we all go. Maybe you the first one way up, your patch need water. They say, “Oh, the waterhead broke, you known. Better go up fix the waterhead.

And he say, “Okay we come, what day we going work? We all go up, work.” Every farmers just get to clean out.

VL: Event the farmers from the section where….

AK: Yeah, yeah, whatever farmeres in this section, we go. So we can divide the water equally. Sometimes they take too much the water that side, then we going get less water this side. So we had to get the water equally for the two sides.

VL: Who decides how much water each side gets?

AK: Oh yeah, you can see how much the water come out. If one flooded, too much water going out. When the water goes down, then you know how much water to come down, how much water go that side.

VL: What if you think this side, this section is taking too much water and the farmers on this other section aren’t getting enough. Did that ever happen?

AK: No, not too bad, though. We had happen sometime but we go p there, “Eh, too much water, I think, this side, we got to need little bit more water.” Then we block little bit so we get water. We block with stones, you know. Pile stones little bit, the water come down this side. Most time, we never had problems.

VL: Then, when you did that, did you have to ask permission from the other side?

AK: No, we just tell them, “Because our side no ‘nuff water.” To the farmers.

“Maybe you have too much water this side.”

He say, “I think so, try look up the waterhead.”

We go up look at the waterhead.