Sunday, January 14, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 14, 2001

Hawai'i Ways, Hawai'i Days
Small-kid time packed with play

By Victor Yamashiroya
Special to The Advertiser

Small-kid time in the ’40s and ’50s brings back vivid memories of when life was so much simpler. It seems that we all experienced the same kinds of adventure and games as children growing up then.

I still remember going to the local gas station to buy a gallon bottle of kerosene for our two-burner stove. The stove was indispensable for cooking our meals and for making hot water. The hot water was used for our baths. We filled a tarai (big tub) with equal amounts of cold and hot water to get the temperature just right.

We did not have the luxury of hot water coming through our plumbing in those days. Occasionally we would go to the furo-ya (Japanese bath house) for our baths. Do you remember when the toilet’s flush tank was above our heads? And using cut-up newspaper or the soft paper used to wrap fruits instead of toilet paper? The wrapping paper was much easier on the ¯kole.

The games that we played to my wonderment were played by almost every kid, whether you were from Oahu, Kauai, Maui or the Big Island.

We played chase master, using empty tobacco bags filled with cloth to chase down our opponent, used clothespin guns with the red beans from the elephant tree pod as ammunition, cut rubber strips from inner tubes (the red tube worked best) to make slingshots, fashioned medals from soda bottle caps by removing the cork and sticking it back in between our shirts and the cap and built a tin can (corrugated roofing) boat to go sailing in the river or stream. Remember patching the nail holes with tar that we peeled from the streets when it was hot?

We played with marbles a lot those days, and I recall putting our marbles in a circle and flicking the bumbula (big marble) into the pile and knocking the marbles out of the ring. We got to keep what we knocked out.

Remember the wooden tops that we made from scratch? We would use a sharp nail for the spindle and try to split our opponents’ tops.

Many of us carried pocket knives to carve a sliver of meat from a piece of dry abalone and share with our friends. Remember buying a bag of cracked seed and, after eating the seeds, chewing the brown paper bag that had held the seeds because the syrup on the bag was the best part? After eating a popsicle, we would see if we won a prize that was printed on the stick. I also recall that sometimes there was a prize under the cork of the soda water cap. It was such a delight when we won a prize.

I remember picking ogo (seaweed) at Kewalo and what is now called Kakaako Waterfront Park. Ogo was so plentiful then and could be picked almost anywhere on the island.

Victor Yamashiroya lives in Waipio Gentry.

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