Stories from My Childhood

“I remember days when we were younger…”

Growing up in the shadows of the old Honolulu Stadium in McCully was special. It was a place & time that no longer exists. I remember catching crayfish in Duck Pond, riding bike through my neighbors’ clotheslines, Checkers & Pogo, pinball at the Bowl-O-Drome, neighborhood okazuyas, Hawaiʻi Islanders baseball, Chunky’s Drive-in, Kikaida, and the manapua man. We would play all day and go to anyone’s house for lunch (oftentimes saimin & baloney sandwiches.) Ahh, memories.

“So long ago it seems it was a dream…”

Dad loved watching sumo on channel 13, KIKU tv.

Too bad for sis.

During commercial breaks, it was ON. I was Takamiyama. I would advance with hand thrusts while doing the referee’s call, “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!”
Gale would say, “I’m not playing. I’m not playing.”
More attacks, “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!” “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!”
Out of frustration, Gale would unleash a combination of hand thrusts, slaps, and windmills at me.
“Woh,” I said. “I’m not playing.”

Kam School
Growing up, my best friend was Nathan (could only pronounce his name as “Natan.”) We’d play football, baseball, marbles, and burn beetle bugs with magnifying glasses. His sister was my first crush.

One day, looking sad, he said, “I’m moving schools. I have to go to Kam School.”
I said, “Then I’m going with you.”
He said, “You have to be Hawaiian. But all you need is a ‘pinky tip’ of Hawaiian blood.”

The next day, we came up with a plan. We would become blood brothers. I ran inside the house and grabbed two pins from mom’s pin cushion and dad’s cigarette matches. We crawled under the house and lit a match to sterilize the pins. We poked our pinkies and rubbed them together. Blood brothers!

Then I heard dad yelling, “What da h*ll are you doing?!! You trying to burn down da house??!”

Nathan ran, “I gotta go home.”

I stayed. I got dirty lickings. Dirty lickings with Hot Wheel tracks.
I cried, but it was worth it. “I’m going to Kam School,” I thought to myself.

Plumeria Tree
We had a plumeria tree in our backyard. It bloomed dark-pink flowers, almost fuchsia.

One day, sis and I were up in the tree. Being the inquisitive boy that I was, I pulled on a large branch, generating a ton of torque. I sorta let go. The inconsiderate branch then catapulted my sister over the fence and onto the sidewalk. She fell flat on her back. I turned pale. To my surprise, Gale instantly sprang to her feet and ran down the sidewalk (like hair on fire) and into the house. It was the loudest wail that our neighborhood has ever heard.

I slowly made my way across the yard towards the house, dragging my feet one-slipper-at-a-time through the grass. I heard dad yelling, “What da h*ll??!!” Tears started flowing down my cheeks. She came home later that afternoon from Queen’s with a broken collarbone. As for me? Not as lucky…

Postscript: Only a couple of years ago, sis and I were reminiscing about that day. I recalled every single detail as if it happened yesterday.

Gale said, “Wait a minute. You mean I didn’t just slip off the tree on my own??”
I said, “Um. Oh gosh. Y’know it happened so long ago. It’s all kinda fuzzy to me…”


(To be continued.)


Went to an all-day ITD meeting today. One of the sessions was about finding your “piko,” or “center,” or “sense of place.” We all created these circle maps. Mine was the only one that included a place & time.

After thinking about it, I realized that I included the time because this “place” does not exist anymore. And that’s what makes my my childhood so special to me….

Growing up in McCully in the 70s was amazing. I remember the Hawai’i Islanders, Bowl-O-Drome, the manapua man, McCully Chop Suey, Kikaida, my Schwinn Stingray (with the banana seat,) J. Aku Head Pupule, carnivals, and my friends’ pretty sisters.

Seems – like – yesterday….

And seems like it was just – a – dream….

Fave Shirt

Every guy has a favorite piece of clothing. It may be a cap, a pair of jeans, or a pair of kicks. For me, it’s this old flannel shirt that I bought 30 years ago from Liberty House. It’s well-worn, but still in great condition. And soooo comfortable. It’s been to YMCA sleepovers, camping trips, football games, and even Europe. It has gone out of style a few times, only to come back more fashionable than ever.

Don’t know what I’d do without it. Looking forward to wearing it for another 30 years….

Nostalgia for the Tummy

We live in a food culture. There’s the Food Network and the Travel Channel. Then there are events like Eat the Street. There’s been an increase of phở shops, food trucks, Izakayas, and Korean BBQ. And we live in the age of Instagram and Yelp where we can participate in building a foodie community.

But as good as today’s food gets, it can never come close to our childhood memories. Growing up, I remember picnics at Ala Moana Beach, baloney sandwiches with mayonnaise, family dinners at the Flamingo Restaurant, won ton mein at McCully Chop Suey, the popcorn at Sear’s Ala Moana, the hamburger steak at Washington Saimin, Naka’s delicatessen, and the neighborhood ice cream truck. Ahh, memories….

But here are my Top Ten Nostalgic Foods:

10.) Chicken Alice’s on Ke’eaumoku was amazing. We would pick up a couple of boxes of spicy chicken wings on our way to a UH football tailgate party.

9.) Zippy’s gravy rice hit the spot! When you were poor (and in high school,) this 35¢ bowl of sustenance was a life saver.

8.) The “Back Store” hamburger was the absolute best I’ve ever had. Many a student at Washington Intermediate got hijacked to satisfy the appetite of a “moke.”

7.) The shrimp tempura at Edo Shokudo was huge and delicious! Great family memories at this little restaurant.

6.) Honolulu Stadium’s saimin, boiled peanuts, corn-on-the-cob, and Frosty Malts were the highlights at Hawai’i Islanders baseball games. I can still hear Howard’s (stadium vendor) voice….

5.) Before Waiola Shave Ice took over, it was Alice’s Market. I remember the shave ice, cone sushi, manapua, chocolate milk, and pickled mango. Even that hard stick of gum in a pack of baseball cards was good.

4.) I loved Chunky’s Drive In. So much so, that I was their very last customer. I waited until 6pm on their closing day and ordered my last veal cutlet. Tear….

3.) My Auntie Kay from Kaua’i always used to bring us a box of Hanamaulu Café Chicken. It was the best. She was the best.

2.) Part of my “hanabata days” was spent at my Obaachan’s saimin stand on Beretania Street (next to the old Empress Theater.) The best saimin, BBQ sticks, and all the Coke bottle caps that I could fit into a brown paper bag.

1.) Mom’s home cooking. She would come home from work and whip up some of the best meals in no time flat. I remember her meatloaf, shoyu chicken, pork chops with cream-of-mushroom, ham shank with cabbage, and sukiyaki. She was also known for her macaroni salad. She would boil potatoes and add a can of crab meat.


I know I will have this again someday in Heaven….

Before Social Networks….

….there were social clubs.

Way back in high school, guys and girls used to form their own clubs and attend “socials” on weekends. Socials were like small parties at people’s homes. Each club would create cards and hand them out to other clubs. If you had a good reputation, they would pass on your card to their friends. This is how you got invited to more socials. Here’s what our card looked like….

Please don’t call the numbers (unless of course, you’re inviting us to a social.)

So here’s what a typical social was like. First you would pile in as many guys into one car. Us McKinley boys would be looking spiffy in Angels Flight pants, and reeking Jovan Musk Oil. Then we would drive down to Pearl City McDonald’s to meet the girls. We would have a mixtape of Journey and REO Speedwagon blasting on the Pioneer tape deck. Then we would follow the girls’ car to somebody’s house.

First we would start with introductions, usually some kind of name game where you whack each other with rolled-up newspaper. Then we would have refreshments. For some reason, the socials that we thought wouldn’t be so good, always had the best food. After that, we would play these icebreakers and party games. The girls enjoyed planning them, and we absolutely hated playing them.

Then it was time to dance. Slow dance. One guy would hold onto a teddy bear, and he would cut-in by giving it to another guy. If no one cut-in on you, you could be dancing all night with the same girl. Did you know that “Reasons” by Earth, Wind & Fire (live version) is 8:23? That’s a long song….

Finally, we would close the evening in a “friendship circle,” the kind where you can twist somebody’s arm.

After the social, we would go cruising down Magic Island, Point Panics, and Diamond Head. We would always end up at McCully Zippy’s. Remember the “gravy rice” for 35¢? I remember carnivals, Kalapana, proms, middle-comb, Morgan’s Corner, puka shells, and baby Löwenbräus.

I love social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but ya can’t beat the social clubs of the good ol’ days. We were Pure Energy….