Come see us at the annual
Hawaii Book & Music Festival!
Saturday, May 18 (10AM – 5PM)
Sunday, May 19 (10AM – 6PM)
Honolulu Hale Grounds
This year, our booth has moved and we’ll be right next to the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities Pavilion, where all weekend long, authors and experts will talk about “Telling Lives” in a series of discussion panels centered on the theme of memoir and biography. Several of our own Watermark Publishing authors will be taking part on the panels, and if you’re interested in publishing your own memoir, come talk to us about our new imprint, Legacy Isle Publishing!
Our booth is located in the new “Hawaii Publishers Village” so you can shop not just our books, but the rest of the local publishers’ as well. This is a wonderful opportunity to score great deals, support the Island publishing industry and discover new books from local authors! We already said “great deals” but we just can’t emphasize enough the fantastic bargains you’ll find on books! (Scroll down to the end of this post for a special coupon offer from us.)
Here’s a look at which of our authors will be taking part in the Festival and where you can find them:
Makia Malo with Pamela Young & Jeff Gere
My Name is Makia: A Memoir of Kalaupapa
Sat., May 18 | 10AM
Talk-Story and Reading
ALANA Hawaiian Culture Pavilion
Andrew Catanzariti, illustrator
Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!
Sat., May 18 | Noon
Children’s Book Read-Aloud
Illustrating Children’s Books Discussion
Keiki Read-Aloud Pavilion
Gail Miyasaki & Ted Tsukiyama (Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board)
Japanese Eyes, American Heart — Vol. 2
Voices from the Home Front in World War II Hawaii
Sat., May 18 | 3PM
“Living Memory — Honoring the Past”
Telling Lives Discussion Panel
Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities Pavilion
Showman of the Pacific: 50 Years of Radio & Rock Stars
Sun., May 19 | 3PM
“Perfect Pitch — Telling Musical Lives”
Telling Lives Discussion Panel
Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities Pavilion
And, as promised, here’s a special savings coupon for you! Bring it to our booth on Saturday, May 18, or Sunday, May 19, and we’ll give you $10 off your $25 purchase. (Sorry, but the discount does not apply to purchases of our super bargain priced used books, and cannot be combined with other offers.)
Can’t make it to the Festival? We’re sad to hear we won’t see you. But you can still get a 25% discount on our books by shopping online during the HBMF week (May 13 through 19). Free shipping on all orders over $25. Use coupon code HBMF13 at http://www.bookshawaii.net. (Excludes our used book selections.)
Happy Earth Day, everyone! We are celebrating by announcing the winners of the Wordsworth the Poet “Poe-TREE Contest!”
In the Wordsworth Poe-TREE Contest, students were asked to write a poem celebrating their favorite tree, following the model of Wordsworth the Mouse and his friends in the book Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! The young mice in the story campaign to save the trees in their community by writing poems reminding all the neighbors about the special qualities of the trees around them.
Poems were judged based on creativity, poetic merit and how well they conveyed what makes the trees special to the students. The six contest winners will receive a copies of each of the three books in the Wordsworth series, a gardening tool kit and a Koa Legacy Tree from the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, donated by Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.
K-5 Division Winners:
Makayla Rose Molden (age 6, Kapolei, Mauka Lani Elementary), untitled
The Mountain Apple tree is yummy to me.
The fruit is up so high to knock it down is a game I try.
I collect the fruit and make apple pie.
Eli Wolfe (age 5, Honolulu, University Laboratory School), “Banyan Tree”
I like to climb the
I can climb to
You should try it too
It is so fun.
Grade 6-8 Division:
Min-Hua (Cindy) Tsou (age 11, Kapolei, Kapolei Middle School), “Red Maple Tree (Acer rubrum)”
A bright, scarlet leaf blew by.
A red lobed leaf fall and fly.
It can be red, yellow and even green.
Red maple trees makes a beautiful scene.
It grows in the north, with it’s flower blooming back and forth.
A red maple tree brings red, bright shines.
A red maple is of course, very fine.
Emerson Goo (age 12, Honolulu, Niu Valley Middle School), “Forest Guardians”
Sentinels at watch
Forest guardians holding
Grade 9-12 Division:
Sophie Corless (age 15, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Northern Highlands Regional High School), “The Lemon Tree”
The cool sticky air clings to me;
my bare feet squelch in the grass
just after the rain shower.
The lemon tree stands in the back corner
towering over the garden, and has a prevailing presence.
Under the tree lies my step ladder,
with my initials carved in the leg.
The wicker basket dangles
on a tiny branch at my height.
I have my technique down,
twist and snap over and over again.
Even the bees and ants are fixated on my movements,
their fragile wings and tiny legs
seem to stop to observe.
Little droplets collect in the pores of the rind,
making my hand cool,
droplets of lemon juice ooze through the pores
and run down my hand to my wrist and to my elbow,
stopping and then dripping off.
By the end I am covered in a mixture of rain and lemon,
dried and sticky.
With every lemon I snap off,
the branch snaps back and sprinkles me with rain.
I swear I hear my sweltering forehead
sizzle against the cool droplets.
In the kitchen I squeeze every last lemon,
popping the juice into the pitcher with the yellow flowers,
along with a fistful of sugar and a splash of water.
I crack the ice tray in half, scooping out the cubes.
The first sip makes my face contort
into an uncomfortable position,
one you can’t avoid,
but the last is always the sweetest.
Zoe Edelman Brier (age 18, Allendale, New Jersey, Northern Highlands Regional High School), “Veins of Color”
I remember maple Leaf picking
with my father before the bus
came to ship me off
to a grey school building
with a grey blacktop
and grey windows.
The colors of the Leaves
were brighter than anything
I’d ever seen, standing out
against the blah of morning.
even through fog,
the Leaves shown like bright beacons
of change and hope for the future.
the Leaves would vein and crinkle
in red and orange and yellow,
mixing in a thin canvas.
My father would sit me on his shoulders
and have me reach the highest branch
possible to get the best Leaf
to press in a book that I still have
12 years later, the colors frozen in time,
unbrowned and delicate, red stains
clashing with the dark green of Leaf.
Congratulations to all our winners! Go give your favorite tree a hug!
Watermark Publishing and Alan Wong’s Restaurants are pleased to collaborate with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i to present an event honoring mothers (and all those other women who raised us) and their role in our food heritage.
Inspired Food: The Roots of Hawai’i Cuisine, a brunch & talk-story with Chef Alan Wong & Arnold Hiura will take place Saturday, April 27 (10AM – 1:30PM) at the JCCH Manoa Grand Ballroom. This limited-seating event will include a talk-story presentation by Chef Alan and Arnold on the roots of Hawai’i cuisine and the roles their own mothers’ food played in their lives.
This will be a fun and unique way to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early — ahead of all the crowds!
This event is a fundraiser for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i; proceeds from ticket purchases benefit the Center. Seating is limited to 200 guests; individual tickets are $125, or reserved tables of 8 can be purchased for $2,000.
Each ticket includes:
- Brunch (tasting stations by Alan Wong’s; entrée selections prepared by Pagoda Floating Restaurant; coffee by Pavaraga Coffee and chocolate truffles by Choco Le’a)
- Choice of either Chef Alan’s The Blue Tomato: The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong OR Arnold Hiura’s Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands
Table purchases also include reserved seating; open seating for individual tickets. To purchase tickets, call (808) 945-7633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chef Alan and Arnold will be autographing books following their presentation; additional copies of their books will also be available for purchase, to help benefit the Center.
Get a good start in the Year of the Snake by learning more about how to apply feng shui principles to your life! Clear Englebert, author of Feng Shui for Hawai‘i and Feng Shui for Hawai‘i Gardens will be giving the following lectures in the upcoming months:
The Kealakekua Public Library will present a free one-hour lecture on the principles of feng shui on Wednesday, March 20 at 5:30pm.
The lecture will address the differences between schools of feng shui, explain chi energy and how to attract and maximize its beneficial flow. Englebert explains why some energy is considered negative and how to deflect it. Additional lecture topics include furniture selection and placement, locating powerful spots within a room, and dealing with clutter. Tips for relationships and prosperity are emphasized, and examples specific to Hawai‘i homes allow a clearer understanding of how to apply the principles in the Islands.
The Hilo Public Library will present a free one-hour lecture on applying the principles of feng shui in your garden to create positive energy in your home and life on Saturday, April 6 at 2:30pm.
Your garden is your first and best opportunity to create positive energy for your home. Englebert explains chi energy and shows how to attract and maximize its beneficial flow, stressing the importance of the approach to the home. He tells why some energy from neighboring structures is considered negative and how to deflect it. Emphasis is placed on harmonizing the home with the surrounding landform. The examples are specific to Hawai‘i homes, and to the landscape, climate, and culture of the Islands, allowing a clear understanding of how to apply feng shui principles here. He also explains which plants to select and where to put them.
In 1985, artist Martin Charlot was commissioned to paint a 5×24-foot mural at the Kaneohe McDonald’s restaurant. The subject of the painting: proverbs and folk wisdom, brought to life in intertwined vignettes.
Martin chose to populate his mural with real people, modeling each figure in the painting on a subject he had met, many from his Windward Oahu community of Waiahole. Friends and family were asked to pose, as were strangers whose faces “had the look [Martin] wanted.” In some cases, Martin knew which proverb he wanted them to act out; others picked saying that resonated with them, as did actor (and later governor of California) Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a collector of Martin’s father (Jean Charlot)’s work. The muscular action movie star chose “A wise man is mightier than a strong man, wisdom is mightier than strength and a man of knowledge increases power.” Martin himself appears in the painting several times in tiny self-portraits. The mural became a Windward side landmark. Families would study it, looking for new details each time they visited the fast-food restaurant.
In 2007, Watermark Publishing released a hard-cover commemorative book, Local Traffic Only: Proverbs Hawaiian Style, matching details from the large-scale painting to the proverbs they represent.
Over the years, Martin had lost touch with most of the people who he’d immortalized on the wall of McDonald’s. When we released the book, we put out a call to those former models to get in touch with us and to visit with Martin at his book launch signing at the Kaneohe McDonald’s. We managed to assemble a group of individuals—who, 20 years later, had fond memories of posing for the mural and seeing themselves on the wall—to gather for a photo shoot for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
When it came time for the book signing event, the line snaked through the restaurant and people stood in line for nearly three hours to have Martin autograph their books.
Each autograph was accompanied by a little sketch of one of the proverbs. The whole experience was quite thrilling for Martin, and a walk down memory lane, not just for him, but his models as well, several of them reconnecting with old neighbors, co-workers and classmates after decades.
For more photos from the Star-Bulletin photo shoot, click over to their article on the book release.
The title of the book, Local Traffic Only, is taken from one of the details found in the mural, a tiny sign on a towering telephone pole. While many proverbs are illustrated quite literally—”He’s got the world on a string” or “Big fish eat little fish.”—children (and many adults) took particular delight in the surreal images Martin employed to illustrate other the sayings—a tree topped by a woman’s head, illustrating “You will know a tree by its fruit” (the face—and the tree—are Martin’s mother) or a doctor with a tree growing from his ear, representing “Physician, heal thyself.”
Over a hundred different proverbs are represented in the painting. Martin conceived it as:
…a work so dense with content that a restaurant customer would be unable to absorb it all in one viewing. It would be, I told Pat [Kahler, CEO of McDonald's Corporation in Hawaii at the time], “a three-hamburger mural.”
Local Traffic Only includes a foldout replica of the complete mural, as well as the detailed images to accompany the proverbs through the book.
Planning to woo your sweetie with some sweets this Valentine’s Day? Let A Sweet Dash of Aloha help you prepare treats for your honey that will keep you both healthy!
For a sweet and spicy treat, try this Flourless Chocolate Spice Cake recipe from Chef Carol Nardello. (It’s gluten-free and low in fat and sugar, but you don’t have to tell anyone!)
Flourless Chocolate Spice Cake
Makes 8-10 servings
Recipe by Chef Carol Nardello
- 15 oz. garbanzo beans
- 12 oz. gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 4 eggs
- ¾ c. Splenda
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
For a silky smooth-textured cake, squeeze beans between fingers to release skins and discard skins before rinsing and draining. Place chocolate in small saucepan and melt on low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and eggs and process until smooth. In a small bowl, combine Splenda, baking powder, cinnamon and cayenne. Add mixed spices to bean mixture along with cooled, melted chocolate. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides of food processor bowl to incorporate all of the chocolate, mixing well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes or more before inverting onto a serving platter.
See if your sweetheart can identify the hidden ingredient.
A Sweet Dash of Aloha is available in bookstores and online. Use coupon code SWEET throughout the month of February to take 30% off your entire order* when you purchase a copy of Sweet Dash at our online store, www.bookshawaii.net. FREE SHIPPING on orders totaling over $25.
We are saddened by the loss of one of our most charismatic authors, Eddie Sherman. At age 88, Eddie passed away on Tuesday. He is survived by his wife, Patty, to whom he dedicated his memoir, calling her “my inspiration and the love of my life.”
Eddie always had the best stories, and it was great fun to hear him tell them. We can still hear his raspy voice reading aloud from his memoir, Frank, Sammy, Marlon & Me: Adventures in Paradise with the Celebrity Set. Here’s a taste, the introduction to his memoir relating his own introduction to the celebrity scene he spent decades chronicling. And wouldn’t you know it, it involves him holding a beautiful movie star.
Do you remember the first time you met an honest-to-goodness, larger-than-life celebrity? Some people may have a story like that to tell. Maybe it involved bumping into an inebriated Hollywood star at a Los Angeles nightclub or getting a basketball legend’s autograph at a book signing.
I’ll have to wager, though, that my first encounter with a celebrity was more intimate than most. After all, it’s not every day that you get to hold the derrière of a ravishing major Hollywood actress.
I guess I’d better explain.
The year was 1942 and I had just been given an honorable medical discharge from the U.S Coast Guard. I dislocated my left shoulder during basic training in Algiers, Louisiana. The Coast Guard refused to operate because I had a history of previous shoulder dislocations and, in fact, I had surgery on my shoulder before entering the service. I argued that since they examined and accepted me, why shouldn’t they be responsible for fixing my shoulder? But my efforts fell on deaf ears.
Here I was, just seventeen years old, and my dream of serving in the military was already dashed to pieces. I hopped on a bus back to Boston, my hometown, with no job prospects and only a few dollars in my pocket. At least I had permission to wear the Coast Guard uniform for a couple months.
On my way home, I decided to stop in New York for a day or two. I had never been there in my life. All alone in the Big Apple! I felt like just a tiny grain of sand on the huge beach of mammoth Manhattan.
Most people in New York have this in common: they walk. A lot. Everybody does it, and so did I. It was exhilarating! The sights, sounds, smells and feel of New York—everything was just throbbing with excitement.
While I was strolling along in the Times Square area, a car suddenly pulled up to the curb. A man leaned out the window and yelled, “Hey, sailor. Would you come over here for a minute?”
So I did. “What’s up?” I asked.
The gentleman told me he was a publicity man for a motion picture company. A major film star was arriving at Grand Central Station, he said, and he was trying to round up as many military folks as possible for a photo session with her. He gave me a few dollars for a taxi and told me exactly what track the train was coming in on. Then the car sped off.
I had nothing better to do, so off I went to meet a movie star. The greeting party was easy to find—it was quite a crowd—and all branches of the services were represented.
There were about thirty of us in all.
And suddenly there she was: Merle Oberon, stepping off the train—beautifully dressed, oozing glamour and sophistication.
She was one of the major screen stars of that era. I had seen some of her films and was a big fan. I especially enjoyed her in Wuthering Heights. She was so sultry and exotic looking. I had never before seen a famous film star in person. This was exciting!
Before Oberon got off the train, the man who asked me to come to the station came over and selected a soldier and myself to be the ones to make a “seat” for Oberon. I’d like to think it was my chiseled good looks that landed me this opportunity, but more likely it was because I was one of the smaller guys in the group.
The soldier and I locked wrists. As Miss Oberon was brought to us, we lowered our hands and she sat on our little “seat.” She put her arms on our shoulders and smiled broadly as we lifted her up.
She smelled like flowers. So delicate and dainty! Camera flashbulbs went off like fireflies.
“It’s a real pleasure to be holding you, Miss Oberon,” I said.
“I have enjoyed your movies.”
“Thank you,” she replied, smiling sweetly.
And then, just like that, it was over. Oberon was quickly escorted out of the station to a waiting limo.
I never got to meet Merle Oberon again. As fate would have it, however, this chance encounter was just a preview of things to come. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d someday cross paths with the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Rocky Marciano. I never imagined that I would someday go sailing with Albert Finney, and become buddies with guys like Sammy Davis, Jr., and Marlon Brando.
But it all happened. These stories, and many more, are all here in this book.
Eddie, it’s been a real pleasure knowing you. We have enjoyed your stories.
Join us at the January 2013 M.I.A. Art & Literary Series evening on Monday, January 21 at Fresh Cafe’s Loft in Space (831 Queen St.), 7:30pm – 9:00pm, to hear readings from Don’t Look Back editor Christine Thomas and contributing writers, Timothy Dyke and J. Freen. The event is free and open to the public.
To whet your appetite, here’s a teaser taste of the three authors’ stories. (Click through for longer excerpts.)
Timothy Dyke’s story, “No Look Back,” inspired the anthology’s title. His take on the legend of Māui the Fisherman:
I’m trying to construct a tale about my friend, Logan Cabrera. It’s difficult for me to look back at all the events that happened between us and find one clear instance of narrativelaunch. I could begin on the day we met, or on the day I was born. I could focus on the way the trouble started. I could start with the morning I came out of the closet. I could begin today and move backward.
Back in the day, there was a high school teacher and a former student. Once upon a time, I drove the kid out to Sand Island when he was strung out on OxyContin. I could begin with the moment I picked up the telephone. I could describe the afternoon in Phoenix when I watched him snort heroin through the shaft of a ballpoint pen. Or I could start, as I often do, by wandering off on a tangent connected to some recent conversation from English class.
I teach an elective for high school seniors called “The Bible as Literature.” Early last semester, I was talking to my students about the story from Genesis about Lot and his wife. I find that story hard to analyze, and I was asking the kids in my class to explain specific plot points. Some of them have it in their heads that God destroyed Sodom to purge his land of gay people, and while I wasn’t necessarily trying to contradict their upbringings, I was attempting to steer them toward a more nuanced interpretation.
“Hey,” I asked my class as we got to the part where Lot’s wife turns to a pillar of salt. (She would have been fine if Lot had resisted the temptation to turn around and check on her.) “Doesn’t this remind you of the Greek myth of Orpheus?” They looked at me with mild recognition. “In Greek myth, Orpheus goes down to the underworld to rescue his lover, Eurydice.” I saw a kid move a thumb toward his iPhone, but I ignored him. “Do you all know this story?” Most did, but some didn’t, so we etched out important details: Orpheus is allowed to take Eurydice from Hades, but he’s told that when he exits the underworld, he’s not to look back at her. He starts walking and, as he gets anxious, he turns around to gaze behind. Eurydice disappears, never to return again. Erica, the girl with the mushroom design on her hoodie, announced that a Māui story went the same way.
J. Freen’s modern version of the legend of O‘ahu Nui, the Cannibal King, and the ‘Ai Kanaka has been popular at our past reading events:
Try GoogleEarth 1188 Bishop Street, Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Take off from above the mainland, cross the Pacific in a second or two—makes you kind of dizzy the first time. Before you know it you’re above the harbor, coming in, coming in, mouse in hand—hold it—hovering above the office tower on the corner of Beretania and Bishop, at the gateway to the city’s financial and legal district. Lots of stuff goes on here, interesting stuff, but to find out you need to climb out of your computer screen, put on some clothes, some shoes, and hit the street for real.
It’s a toasty January morning in the city. You feel the sun on your face. You are standing on the corner, looking up at the steel and glass tower. In front of you is a short, dark-haired fellow dressed in a bland aloha shirt and neatly pressed slacks—the uniform of the local businessman. His name is Case Izumi. Follow him. He won’t notice you because, actually, you’re still back home, staring at the screen, dressed only in your underpants. I was just kidding about making you do anything realworld today.
His finger is on the button for floor number 21 and up we go. Suite 2110 is to his right, the door with the tasteful sign that reads: Alvin Alakawa, Attorney at Law. Push the door open, and the warm and pleasing face of the receptionist greets the visitor.
Her name is Kilikili, which means “fine misty rain” in Hawaiian. The kind of rain that often fills Nu‘uanu, the big valley behind downtown, in the morning and evening of a day like today. Kilikili’s last name is Pulena, a famous name in Hawai‘i, the family name of a long line of kings and nobles. She is proud of this but more proud, truth be told, of her two sons, Kai and Kawika, aged six and seven—kids she has raised as a single mom ever since their dad took off and left her to fend for herself, which she did, landing a job with big-time attorney and politician Al Alakawa. For six long years now she has been Al’s factotum, a fancy Latin word that means slave treated like dirt.
Editor Christine Thomas was inspired to assemble an anthology of re-invented Hawaiian legends when she discovered that a story she had in the works bore similarities to an old Hawaiian myth:
Pua taps on the redwood door of Kai’s room, and then shouts her brother’s name loud as she walks in. The room is dark, the afternoon sun blocked by a coarse bamboo shade; when she rolls it up, Kai’s deep voice cracks, asking her to close it again. She hears but acts like she doesn’t, leaning over the bed to peer at his face, casting a new shadow over him. She keeps her voice crisp, not wanting to betray worry or acceptance of what could still just be elaborate self-pity.
“What you doing? I have for go school or work ev-ery frick-in day and you just lying in bed whenever you like. No fair.”
“How ’bout I lie down and you go serve grumpy mainlanders at that dumbass Convention Center. ’Kay? Get up or you going be late.”
The mattress dips as she squeezes in beside him and then shakes as she forces a laugh. But when humor provokes no movement or response, the knots return to Pua’s stomach, tentacles tightening. Tutu leans her head in, then vanishes.
“You okay? Should I be worried?”
“It’s nothing. Just go. Go to work.”
“Tutu says you’re not eating. And you sit in here all day, see nobody or even talk. I mean, alone time is one thing, but…”
“You need to eat, Kai. Get fresh air.”
She stares at the ti leaves outside the window, can almost feel the heat soaking into the soft fibers. She gets up and turns on some music. Still nothing.
She is definitely going to be late, and if it’s even one minute they dock her pay. So she asks the inevitable question, utters the name she thinks will rouse her brother and allow her into his thoughts.
“Is it Eliza?”
So begin many of the stories in a newly released book by Japanese Americans living in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Japanese Eyes, American Heart: Voices from the Home Front in World War II Hawaii gathers dozens of deeply personal stories, many of them never before published, that reveal the hardship, sorrow and anguish—as well as the pride, compassion and even joy—experienced by islanders of Japanese ancestry. This second volume of Japanese Eyes, American Heart, chronicling the experiences of those left at home, complements the memoirs of nisei soldiers—men who served with gallantry and distinction on the war front—presented in Japanese Eyes, American Heart: Personal Reflections of Hawaii’s World War II Nisei Soldiers, first published fourteen years ago.
Everything changed for all residents of the then-Territory of Hawaii as the devastating attack sparked the entry of the United States into World War II. But for Hawaii’s Japanese, who made up some 40 percent of the population, the ensuing war with an enemy who looked like them cast suspicion on aliens and American citizens alike. These stories of quiet strength and enduring resiliency, collected by the Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board, give rare insight into the seeds of change that transformed postwar Hawaii and define the legacy of this wartime generation.
Below is an excerpt from Japanese Eyes, American Heart—Vol. II, a portion of Jane Okamoto Komeiji’s recollection of the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing and its aftermath. The book is available for purchase at our website, www.bookshawaii.net, and will be arriving in local bookstores by Christmas.
December 7, Morning
Walking on Nuuanu Avenue to Sunday school at Honpa Hongwanji Temple on upper Fort Street, I saw the look of fear and shock on the face of a 12- or 13-year-old boy, as he blurted out the news of war to my friend and me:
“Eh! War! Honest, for real!”
My response was, “No try fool me!”
“Try turn ’round. See da smoke. Get fire ovah deah. Da enemy wen trow bomb.”
Turning around, we did see smoke in the direction of Liliha Street. But my reaction to the possibility of war was one of disbelief. “Can’t be—but that smoke? Maybe it’s a house on fire.”
When we got to Sunday school, the usual crowd wasn’t there. Most of the students had been sent home by the priests. “Maybe there really is a war,” I thought. I borrowed the office phone to call Mother, just in case she hadn’t heard. I told her not to leave our living quarters above the store and that I would come home right away.
That being done, I joined the small group of fellow choir members who were hanging around. Somebody said that there was a fire at nearby Leilehua Lane; another, that he thought he had seen the hinomaru (“red circle,” the rising sun symbol of Japan) on an airplane wing; and still another, that he had heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
One of the boys asked whether anybody wanted to go to see the fire at Pearl Harbor. He had just gotten his driver’s license the week before and was anxious to show off. It was a rare treat to go for a ride, so we all jumped into his car. He drove us to a peninsula in Kalihi from which “battleship row” at Pearl Harbor was clearly visible.
Across the water in the harbor, we saw a long, wide curtain of black smoke, interspersed along the waterline with flecks of reds and yellows. Frankly, I was disappointed. I had expected to see roaring flames, brightly colored flames, like those I had seen during a River Street fire. (I found out later that oil burns black.) The black smoke curtain did look ominous. That couldn’t possibly be maneuvers. I guess it is a real war and Japan is the enemy, I thought. But, at the same time, I recalled that the representatives of the Japanese and U.S. governments were still talking. I was puzzled. No, I didn’t want to believe that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor and that we were at war with her.
On the way home, we drove on King Street through Kalihi, Palama and on to Aala, where they were to drop me off. The streets and sidewalks were quiet and empty, except for speeding cars, all going in the Pearl Harbor direction. There were no Sunday strollers and no stores open. Aala Park, too, was deserted: no Sunday evangelists at the corner, no games of sipa sipa (a Filipino wicker ball kicking game), no baseball games and no crowd at the bus stop. The Aala Market parking lot was empty.
Of course, I caught hell when I got home. “Where have you been? You called to tell me not to go out and that you’d come home right away! That was over two hours ago!” Mother yelled. I had never seen her so angry.
After a quick and silent lunch, we sat around the tabletop radio and listened to the repeated reminders: “This is the real McCoy and not a maneuver.” Intermittent announcements called for all military personnel, police, fire, medical and first aid workers to report for duty. Trucks and drivers were needed at Pearl Harbor.
The rest of the population were told to remain indoors, not to use the telephone unnecessarily, to fill containers with water, to have evacuation bags ready, and, most importantly, to stay tuned to the radio for further directives. There were to be a curfew and a complete blackout all night from dusk to dawn. The urgency in the announcer’s voice and the constant repetition of the messages increased my anxiety.
We had an early dinner, wiped ourselves and got ready for the night; we couldn’t take our usual tub baths because the tub was filled with water for emergency use. We lay our futon (bedding), one for each person, on the tatami (straw mat) floor. Our shoes were left at the entrance, ready to quickly slip our feet into. We went to bed, not in our pajamas, but in our street clothes. Our flashlights, one for each person, and our jackets were placed above our heads.
As nightfall came, my anxieties increased. Mother and I could take care of ourselves, but could my brother, age 11, and sister, 13, do so if we became separated? Would the enemy return tonight? By air? By sea? We lived in the block next to the train depot and only a block away from Piers 15 and 16. We were sitting ducks!
If they came by air, we should run downstairs into the store and hide under the counters. If they came by sea and landed, they would certainly enter the building through the store on the first floor. Hiding under the counters was not an option then. Perhaps we should hide in the storage areas on the mezzanine and second floors. But what if the building were bombed and collapsed? Thoughts like these repeated themselves in my mind like a broken record, as I lay wide awake, unable to sleep.
Adding to the eeriness and attendant fear was the quiet outside. The weekly Sunday Filipino program from the Aala Park bandstand featuring the familiar voice of Sally Dacoscos was not heard, even when the windows were opened. All we heard was the sound of high-speed cars or an occasional “Halt! Who goes there?”
Day 2: December 8
After breakfast on December 8, Mother went to Aala Market to buy some canned foods for emergency meals. It was there that she learned that two of our neighbor merchants had been taken into custody a few hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. The men had not returned home last night. Both their families and neighbors were asking, “Why were they taken away? Where were they taken? Are they still alive?”
The two men were successful businessmen and much-respected community leaders. When Mother told us about them, I immediately thought of her. Mother was a successful businesswoman. She had also served as president of her Buddhist temple’s women’s group. Now another fear arose in my mind, a fear that Mother would be taken away and perhaps even killed. What was going to happen to my siblings and me? We had friends, but no relatives on Oahu. Would I have to go to work to support myself and my siblings? Who would hire me, a 16-year- old student? Could I work in the store and get paid? I had been helping in the store when it was busy. I could wait on customers: Show them what they were looking for; measure, cut or wrap the purchases; figure out the cost; punch the cash register and make change. But I couldn’t possibly manage the store as Mother did. If I worked with fewer responsibilities for less pay, would I be able to support myself and my siblings?
Day 3, Day 4, Day 5: December 9 – 11
With each passing day the initial shock lessened and we gradually adapted to wartime conditions. We also reluctantly recognized but tried to dispel the suspicion cast over all Japanese, citizens and aliens alike. There was no differentiation made between the Japanese in Hawaii and the Japanese in Japan. “Once a Jap, always a Jap” was heard often. The message was clear. Anything Japanese was frowned upon and looked upon as “un-American.”
Mother, whose language was Japanese, increasingly interspersed her speech with English words. She, who had always worn a kimono, began wearing dresses hastily made for her. Finding shoes to fit her narrow feet and high arches was another matter. She had to endure wearing ill-fitting shoes.
Japanese knick-knacks, books, photos taken in Japan were burned, torn or put away. The Shinto shrine and picture of the Emperor and Empress of Japan were taken down from their high perches. Also removed from the walls were Japanese artwork and calligraphy scrolls. However, the Butsudan (Buddhist altar) and the portraits of Father in his grey suit and another of Uncle Eikichi in his kimono and haori (Japanese coat) were kept in place.
Needless to say, I didn’t speak Japanese outside of our living quarters. However, once we were at home, Japanese was my language when communicating with Mother. It was a necessity.
Material things could be discarded, but doing away with the Japanese language and customs meant that the issei had to abandon their ancestors and heritage. Nevertheless, they tried. In contrast, the nisei, having been born and educated in America, did not face these acculturation problems to the same degree.
* * *
Jane Okamoto Komeiji went on to graduate from the University of Hawaii in 1947 with a degree in psychology. In 1958, she received a professional teaching certificate and in 1971, a M.Ed. from UH-Manoa. She taught in the state’s public school system for 20 years. In 1983, she became the first retired classroom teacher to be appointed as college coordinator for student teachers. An avid researcher and historian of the Japanese in Hawaii, she is the co-author of Okage Sama De: The Japanese in Hawaii, 1885–1985 (1986, updated 2008). She chairs the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Historical Gallery Committee and helped to develop its permanent exhibit, Okage Sama De, a chronicle of the first 100 years of the Japanese in Hawaii, which is currently being updated to include third, fourth and fifth generations of Japanese Americans. She serves on the UH College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series, and the Hawaii Hiroshima Heritage Study Group, which presents statewide genealogy workshops.
When it is all over
I will shout so all can hear.
“We put up a great fight, didn’t we?
We didn’t just sit back and cower with fear,
We didn’t just sit back and curse this thief
As he quietly stole into our lives.”
This final poem in our series of posts to bring attention to National Alzheimer’s Awareness and National Family Caregivers’ Month is from Mosaic Moon. Author Frances Kakugawa continues her imagery of Alzheimer’s as a thief, one to be fought against bravely, and with dignity.
In addition to the graphic posted below, we created a video to go along with Frances’ reading of this poem at a presentation for the Hawaii Child & Family Services organization. To see more videos for Frances’ readings, visit our YouTube channel or her blog.