Harry Alama was born in 1958, and began coming to ‘Ewa Beach with his family in the mid-1960s. Harry’s family secured leases on three lots from the Dowsett-Parish family and built homes along the ‘Ewa Beach coast in the late 1930s, early 1940s. When the war broke out they were unable to return to the shore, but after the war, they settled back in. In the early 1960s, development was coming to ‘Ewa Beach and the family decided to give up some of the leases—those are the lands that were later associated with Ted Farm and family.
Harry shared detailed recollections of residents in the One‘ula-‘Ewa Beach area.
The following topics are among those that he discussed during the interview:
• His dad was a fisherman. The family regularly laid nets and fished in the paipai style. Palani, kala, ‘ō‘iō, ‘āweoweo, ‘ū‘ū (menpachi), he‘e, and weke were among the fish they’d catch.
• In the area of One‘ula and Hau Bush, they would catch crabs.
• He and his family collected various limu, among them were huluhulu waena, manauea (ogo), and līpe‘epe‘e.
• Recalls sugarcane fields all behind the ‘Ewa Beach regions, and the occurrence of ponds with fish inland.
• Described One‘ula as once having significant sand dunes. The environment has changed, and he considers one source of the problem being development of the reef runway and the deep-draft harbor.
• Names various surf spots and speaks about the ‘Ewa Beach Surf Club.
Interviewee Harry Alama (HA)
Interviewer Leimomi Morgan (LM)
Place ‘Ewa, O‘ahu
Date February 16, 2014
LM: Okay, so here with Harry Alama, and I guess we could just with you going as far back as you can to your connection to ‘Ewa.
LM: Kinda like the questions I sent you.
HA: My connection to ‘Ewa Beach goes back to the family of Bernhard Gustave Cordes, and that’s my father’s uncle. My father’s name is Bernhard Gustave Alama, so he was named after my dad’s uncle. And his wife, Aunty Louise, worked for a lawyer, and the lawyer used to get involved in land deals. And so, through her they acquired the lease for the beachfront land.
LM: And what was her name?
HA: Aunty Louise Cordes, that’s his wife.
LM: Ohh, okay.
HA: So, this is Sonny, this is his nickname is nickname is Sonny, Uncle Sonny Cordes. So, most people know him as Sonny. And, Uncle Sonny worked for Aloha Motors, he was a car salesman for Aloha Motors, and his oldest sister is my grandma. And the family was real close. My grandmother and my grandfather really kind of supported most of the younger siblings.
LM: And they were the Alamas, too?
HA: My grandfather’s an Alama, my grandmother’s a Cordes.
LM: What kind of name is that?
HA: Cordes is German. My great-grandfather’s name was Gustave Cordes, and he came to Hawaii from Germany in the 1800s. He came from Bremen, Germany. One of the stories I was told was that he was a part of the Royal Mounted Guard that worked for the queen, and that after she was overthrown, he didn’t have a job, so he moved out of town, he moved all the way out to the west side, and squatted. So, he married a Hawaiian lady, and her name is Mary-Ann. I was told that it was Mary-Ann Kahalewai, but the records say Mary-Ann Ulili.
LM: They always had all kine different names. Ulili?
HA: Yeah, but I think her middle initial was K.
LM: Ohh, okay. So maybe that was her name…
HA: My dad’s oldest brother left Hawaii in 1938, and what he told me one time, he came in 1986, he came home, and it was I think his 76th birthday. And, he came to my house with my dad, and we talked a lot. He was really book-smart about the culture, he was actually close to my great-grandparents, he lived with them, and then they died. But, he told me…
LM: What was his name?
HA: Teddy, Theodore. My dad’s oldest brother. Theodore Ma‘ili Alama. I lost my train of thought.
LM: Okay, sorry! So… Mary-Ann Kahalewai Ulili and Gustave Cordes, that was your great-grandparents. And then, they had…
HA: They had Bernhard Gustave, and Mabel (my grandma) is the eldest daughter of the Gustave Cordes family. So, they had like 7 children. My grandma was the first born. She was born like in 1892.
LM: Okay, so, Bernhard Gustave Cordes and Aunty Louise, but you called him Uncle Sonny, they had…
HA: Yeah, this is the family. They had one daughter who was Sylvia. Mabel is my grandma, my grandma is his oldest sister. There’s also a Theodore Cordes, Uncle Teddy Cordes, which is all different. My dad’s brother told me that my great-grandmother, Mary-Ann, was married before she married Gustave Cordes. So, I’m thinking that Ulili was her married name. ’Cause it’s in the record books, Gustave Cordes and her, their marriage is recorded and it’s on record. So if you look it up, you’ll find it, and any reference to her is under the Ulili.
LM: Okay, so, if we could just connect it down to you through the Alama.
HA: Okay, so my dad’s mom is Mabel Cordes, and she married Aina Alama.
LM: And so she was the German, but part-Hawaiian.
HA: She’s half-German, half-Hawaiian. But my grandfather is half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian.
LM: Ohh, I see. And then they had your dad?
HA: So, they had 8 kids. And I think they had 7 in her family (Mabel). But my dad was number 5.
LM: And then your dad’s name…
HA: Bernhard Gustave Alama. So he’s close to Uncle Sonny because he was named after Uncle Sonny.
LM: Ohh, I see, okay.
HA: So, getting back to the ‘Ewa Beach story. Uncle Sonny, the extended family… Back then, the families were really tight. We used to all get together with my grandparents’ generation, so there might be like 30 people. Because you have their grandparents, and then their children, and we were like the little children. But, that extended ‘ohana on the Cordes side, one of my dad’s uncles his name is Tommy Chong. He worked for the Damon Estate, so Uncle Tommy was the Damon Estate driver and mechanic. And that was the job that his father had, his father was the original chauffer back when it was horses, so Uncle Tommy worked for Damon. And, another man, his name is Jackie Roxburg, he worked for Damon and he was the landscape guy, he was the gardener. He took care of all the gardens. Way back Moanalua Valley, before it became what it is, Moanalua was all the way to the ocean, yeah. That ahupua‘a goes from the mountain to the ocean. So the lower part of the ahupua‘a is where… what is that place called? What is that area below, it’s all developed.
LM: Yeah, yeah… umm… Māpunapuna.
HA: Māpunapuna! Yeah, okay, that’s the lower part of Moanalua Valley. Before that was developed it was just all wetlands. And, I guess the Roxburg family, they kinda took care of all the… my mom said it was really beautiful just to have… like you ever been to the Pagoda Restaurant?
LM: Umm hum…
HA: It’s like that. It’s all water, but on top the water everything was built on stilts.
LM: Ohh, that’s like Waikiki.
HA: So, it’s hard to imagine, but that’s why over there always gets flooded. ’Cause it’s naturally like a wetland. Like Waikiki, if they didn’t have the canal, it would be a problem. So, Uncle Sonny and Jackie Roxburg, who was a member of the Damon workers. And, I’m not sure about this part… but their third house, that was Kui Ching, was another uncle. He owned Tire-Recap Service. Tire-Recap Service, they kinda worked hand-in-hand with Aloha Motors (Uncle Sonny was a car salesman at Aloha Motors), so those three people got leases for the land [in ‘Ewa Beach]. So, if you start at the very first house, where the old road started, the land before that was all owned by the Parish family now, but before that it was the Dowsett family. Like by Punahou, that Dowsetts, they were ranchers, they owned the land up to Fort Weaver Road, and then they ended up buying it all the way along Pāpipi Road to where the end of the houses were. And so, Mrs… her name was Parish, she passed away already. She owns that land. Kepā Maly did an interview with her, there’s a thing about One‘ula that he did. So there’s a great article, she explains the land that her grandparents owned. And, so after that, the ‘Ewa of Campbell Estate had the land for all the sugarcane. But, it was intermixed with lots of ranchers. So, from where the Campbell Estate land was, they leased out the land, and the first lot was leased to Mr. Francis Ching. He’s another old ‘Ewa Beach family, the Chings. And so, Francis Ching had the first lot, and the next lot was leased to the Matsunaga family, and the Matsunaga family is Emma and Eddie. And then the third lot was Uncle Sonny’s house, the fourth lot was Jackie Roxburgh’s house, and the fifth lot was Kui Ching’s house. So, those three lots, they got together as a hui, and they’re all one acre lots along the ocean. They’re one acre, pretty square almost, one acre. And, my grandfather and Uncle Tommy and all of the relatives, they built the houses, the three houses. And so from 1940, I heard ’39, ’40, I don’t know exactly the time, they built those houses, and they used to go down there and it was just the beach house, you know a weekend thing. And during the war (WWII), the government took the houses away and the ocean was barb-wired up, so they couldn’t go down there during the war. So, from ’41 to ’42, 1942–1945, they couldn’t go down there. And then sometime, I guess around 1960, Jackie… they were already telling him that there was gonna be a big development, so Jackie decided they weren’t ever gonna be able to buy the land, so he gave up the lease. And, that’s when Ted Farm got it. But, my grandparents, my grandfather and the family, Uncle Tommy, they’re the ones that actually built those houses. Then across the street, on the mauka side, those were all big lots, like 4 acre lots. And, I didn’t the people there too well. I knew the people that lived right across the street from Uncle Sonny’s house, that was the Tanaka family. And, I knew um because there was a store called Tanaka Store, and the daughter was my classmate at elementary school. So, I knew them. And then, their nephew, whose family actually owned Tanaka Store, he and I became friends because he used to make surfboards. He’s like maybe 10 years older than I am, but he used to make surfboards across the street from where the beach house was. And, I got two or three surfboards from him. We’re friends till today.
LM: What’s his name?
HA: Tanaka. Isaac Tanaka. He’s in that thing [Swaylocks blog online] under “Ike.” His login is “Gutrs” ’cause he owns a gutter company.
LM: Ohh, okay.
HA: So, during the years from I guess ’50s on to about 1965, the beach house was, I don’t know what was going on. But there was a family that used to go down there a lot, and their name is Philips. And, sometime from the late ’50s till ’65, the used to actually take care of the house. And they live in ‘Ewa Beach. And those brothers are all about 10 years older than I am, down to about 5 years. And their connection is the dad was a police officer, and the police used to buy all their cars from Aloha Motors. Aloha Motors was one time a really big company, they used to occupy the land at the convention center. So, anyway, in 1960, the land that’s right across the street from ‘Ewa Beach Shopping Center, the old ‘Ewa Beach Shopping Center, they developed houses over there. And, that was one of the first places that they actually, the developer went in and built the whole community. So, you just paid your money and then you bought a house. And, then before that, ‘Ewa Beach, you bought a lot, and they you had to get somebody to build a house. So it was little bit more involved, little more hassle. My dad, my grandfather was a project manager and he was also a surveyor for the Army Corps of Engineers, and because of that, he was involved in building all the harbors. And, he took my dad out the Big Island, I think it was probably the ’46, 1946 tidal wave, and showed him the damage. So, my father would never buy a house that was in the tidal wave inundation zone. When they built that subdivision, that new subdivision, it was in the safe zone. And it was low enough in price that he could afford to buy a house, so they bought that house over there. They were just starting to build it, so you had to like sign up. So he qualified, he bought the house, and we moved over there about 1960. And, I’m sure that he bought the house there because it was also close to the beach house. But in 1961, we were sent to Germany, my father was in the army. And, we went to Germany, and we were away till 1965, so in 1965, he came back to Hawai‘i, and that’s when we started going to the beach house. So, my first memories of the beach house were from 1965, my first memories of ‘Ewa Beach are from 1965.
LM: How old were you?
HA: I was seven. Seven years old. I had just made seven. And, we came home in the end of September, so I started 2nd grade in ‘Ewa Beach Elementary School. Then we started to go down to the beach in the summer, the beach house. And at the time, nobody was living there, it was just a weekend house. My father, Uncle Sonny asked my father and my father’s brother if they could fix the house up because my grandmother’s younger sister had moved back to Honolulu from Moloka‘i. She spent most of her life living on Moloka‘i. And she moved back to Honolulu and she was living down by Kapi‘olani Boulevard on Fern Street. She wasn’t doing too good. She was having bad asthma. I think it’s just that you go from a really country, rural world to the city, it’s just hard. So, Uncle Sonny let her stay at the beach house. And she moved in down there around ’67–’68. And she lived in the beach house till she died in 1974. And Aunty Girlie, she kinda was our surrogate hānai grandma. ’Cause my grandmother moved to the mainland I think just after I was born, just before I was born. She moved to the mainland and she never came home, she just came home for vacations. But Aunty Girlie, she took us in as her grandchildren. And she was only a mile away, and I spent all my time at the beach house. So, she’s the one that used to tell us all the stories about her grandma, which she always said, Mary-Ann Kahalewai. If you talk to the Kahalewais, they’ll tell you that we’re related to the Cordes family. So, I believe Aunty Girlie’s stories were true. So, Aunty Girlie, whose name was Wilhelmina, she was a real tom-boy. So, Uncle Sonny and all the brothers, there was Sonny, Wilhelm, and Teddy, they all respected her, ’cause if not she’d give um lickings. So she lived at the beach house for a good 5, maybe 6–7 years and she was as much of a grandmother to me as I’ve ever had in my life. I really love her. So, I used to spend all of my free time over there, my dad used to spend all of our time over there. Even if it was like this [rainy] weather, we’d be at the beach house. And it could be storming rain and we’d be there in the house, just sitting there while my dad would be there. And so Aunty Girlie would tell us all this stuff. She had like a little farm there, she came from Moloka‘i. Her daughter and her son-in-law worked for Hawaiian Airlines, and he was a pilot, so he used to bring back all kind of animals. He used to bring back goats and things. He used to hunt there all the time. He brought back two baby goats, so we had a male goat and a female goat, and so they had milk, and then they had ducks, and chicken. And two houses down where Uncle Kui’s house was, when Uncle Kui passed away, the lady, his ex-wife, Aunty Ah Lan, she was related to my father but I don’t know how. She decided to rent the house out, so she rented it to this guy who started raising pigs. His name was Alfred AhLoo. So, those are all kind of animals. Alfred had a cow at one time. And then, Ted didn’t, he didn’t have pets. Animals were always for food. But, he had raised some things, he had a horse because his son, his brother-in-law was drunk one night and he promised to get a horse for the youngest son. And so, when the time came that he was supposed to, the son said, “I thought you gonna buy me a horse?” and he actually bought him a horse. And then, when the ranch that was kind of taking care of the horse, when they closed up, they brought the horse down to the beach. But, we never rode it, it was kind of an old horse.
LM: Because these were all acre lots, that’s why?
HA: Yeah. And, almost every single lot, except for Uncle Kui’s lot, the land, they didn’t even use it all. The corral was small, it wasn’t a big corral. And behind, there was a water tank and pump. But, by the time we came back from the mainland, they weren’t using the water tank anymore. There were two wells. The Matsunaga family had a well and the Roxburg family had a well, but the water was brackish water so we couldn’t drink it. So the water was only useful to irrigate the grass, and the land that I would say, a good quarter of the lots were just kiawe. Haole koa and kiawe. Just, you know, just real wild. And only the close part to the water was where we had opening area. And Uncle Sonny’s was probably the one lot that had the most open area. And that was good so Aunty Girlie had lots of space. The two goats were like, they were a combination of like watch-dog and grass-cutters, ’cause they eat grass. That was a really good time. I really had a good time there while she was alive. She passed away in September of ’74, and then after she passed away, Uncle Sonny decided to just come down every weekend, ’cause he was kinda getting old already and time was short. And then, after he died, his daughter Sylvia, who never, ever came down to the beach, she started coming down. And she came down every weekend until she had to give up the house. So, over time things evolved, but by then I was already married, then. I moved to town in 1982, so I’ve been living in town since ’82. I only come out [to ‘Ewa] to see my mom and dad and go beach. My father passed away in 2006.
LM: Who is your mom?
HA: My mother’s name is June. She’s from Japan.
LM: Ohh, okay.
HA: But, during the summers, from about the time we were 4th grade, 3rd or 4th grade, we didn’t go to summer fun anymore. We went to the beach. And my mom would drop us off, and Aunty Girlie would take care of us, and we would just spend all day at the beach, go swimming all day long. We would hang out with Aunty Girlie, she would tell us stories about all kinds of stuff. She taught us basically what to do and it was good that she had kids around ’cause most of her grandkids were all Kailua side, or Maui, or Moloka‘i. So, we spent a lot of time down there. Seen it change, seen it change a lot.
LM: And so, does your mom still live in the house in ‘Ewa?
HA: She lives, yeah same house I grew up in. She’s never gonna leave there. It’s got too much emotional… it’s actually, there’s a lot of aloha in that yard. She has the best mangoes, I mean it, she has the best Haden mangoes that I’ve ever tasted. And at one time she had the best limes. The lime tree got messed up from white flies, so it’s only about 3 feet tall now, used to be really big, but it still has really good fruit. I love the limes. And, everything my dad planted grew really well. But then he decided to concrete over the whole front, so a lot of the stuff we dug out. You know, I think there’s just a lot of love in that yard, so if she goes, I don’t think the trees are gonna be the same. There’s something there.
LM: Yeah. So, in the blog, Swaylocks, you guys talk a lot about this surf club that you guys had…
HA: Yeah, like for us, for my father the ocean is about fishing.
LM: So your dad was like a fisherman?
HA: My dad loved the ocean, but he was past playing in the ocean. And so, that’s what we did, we played in the ocean. My dad liked to catch fish. But, what we used to do is we used to catch fish with nets, so we would do the paipai nets, and what happens is they’d be sitting down and maybe watching the water and somehow they can see the fish. And, they could see the fish, I guess their tails or something. So they would wait and wait, and we’d have everything ready, and then all of a sudden they’d go, “Let’s go!” and we’d all get together and they would take a big, huge airplane inner tube with the net, and they’d lay it out. And once they got it laid out, then they’d make us line up, and all of the kids would jump in the water and we would swim out and we would splash and splash and we would make a lot of noise. And then, in about 5 minutes, they would start pulling the net in, and you either catch, or you don’t catch. And most of the time we’d catch limu. ’Cause ‘Ewa beach is known for its limu, yeah? So we would spend the next hour cleaning the net of all the limu. And the fish in ‘Ewa beach that we used to catch were huge. Like the fish eyes like this big, the net [about 4 inches wide].
HA: So, if the fish isn’t that big, it’s gonna go right through. So fish like palani and kala, they’re generally pretty good sized fish. We catch awa and ‘o‘io, and you’ll see some pictures in that blog if you actually look. The fish, generally like this [3 feet] long. And, it was either awa, ‘o‘io, and kala. Kala and palani were like this [2 feet] long. And then, sometimes we’d catch sharks. Wouldn’t be on purpose, they’d just get caught. So that was the main way of fishing. And then the next level of fishing would be to go out in the water with scuba tanks. And so, they would go, and it was always only the men. So, we didn’t do that till we got older, like high school age. But they would go out and they would be gone for an hour, maybe two hours, and they would come back and they would have a lot of fish. And the fish would be like ‘āweoweo or menpachi. Sometimes weke, occasionally they’d catch the squid. But they would be going way out, so normally you don’t get the squid way out, it’s usually close in. And then, we would catch crabs. Outside of the place called Hau Bush Beach, now everybody thinks this [points to the map] is Hau Bush, this is not Hau Bush. Hau Bush is over here [more towards Pu‘uloa]. So between One‘ula park, over here there’s two really big parks. One park was the Del Monte park, which is the one next to it, and this is called CPC and that was for California Packing Company. And then ‘Ewa Plantation had a park, which was right next to Uncle Kui’s house. And ‘Ewa Planation park is where the Hau Bush grew, around the garden there was an area [about 12 feet long] that was from here to where that man is [pointing], it was Hau Bush trees. And they had a metal frame, and so the Hau Bush grew up along this metal frame. You could picnic underneath there and it would like a natural shade. And then next to it there was a metal area, where you had open air with metal (??). And then after that was the Del Monte park. The Del Monte park had small, little cottages like 10 by 10 and like 5 or 6 of these cottages. I guess people could stay overnight and go fishing. Outside of that, they had really good fishing, crabbing. We used to go crabbing when I was really young. In one hour we could get a 5 gallon bucket of white crab. And that’s only the male adults. We throw away all the little guys, we put um back in the water, and any of the women, the female crabs, you put it back in the water. You only take the big males, and if you do that, you still get a big bucket. Sometimes you even get two 5 gallon buckets. Come in, and we eat crab, the whole family, maybe like 20 of us, we eat crab for like till you get stuffed. So we did that every weekend. Uncle Kui would make a big, they had this big wok, and he would make chow fun every Saturday for lunch. And then whatever fish and stuff we catch, they had a stove outside and they could fry up like the ‘āweoweo, menpachi, pan fry um, right there. We had it good, man. We had it real good. And then everybody got old. ’Cause Uncle Kui was my dad’s uncle’s age, and he passed away first. And then one by one all the uncles. So, if you look at all the beach houses, the first house is the Ching family, and they were kinda, they had fence along their property, so they were kinda isolated. And he didn’t live there, he rented it out, he had 5 houses on it. He rented out all 5 houses. And then you had Aunty Emma’s house, and then you had Uncle Sonny’s house, and then you had Jackie’s house, which became the Farm’s house, and then you had Uncle Kui’s house and the ‘Ewa Plantation, so there was another fence over here [pointing on the map]. So these four houses were like one ‘ohana, and every weekend if Aunty Emma wasn’t there, then her nephew, Mr. Matson, Bill Matson, he would come. And Uncle Bill had three sons, Billy, Michael, and Matt. And so he’d come down with his three sons and his wife Aunty Maude and they’d stay there the whole weekend. And then we would be at Uncle Sonny’s house until Aunty Girlie moved in. And then, Uncle Ted was living here by the time we came home from the mainland. And he would be there and his wife’s family is the Awai family from Hale‘iwa, and on weekends, quite often, they would all come down. And that family included the Rosehill family and the Awais, and then he had a whole bunch of friends, like the Young family, which was Alfred Young, we called him Uncle Ah Hung he would come with his kids. And sometimes the Lee family, they all had kids about the same ages. We all went to Kamehameha at the same time, we’re all 5–10 years in age difference, so multi-generational families. And then Uncle Kui who kinda was just him and his wife, so between these four houses we could have like 20 people spending the weekend. What we used to do is we only spent the day there, we would get down there like 8 or 9, and we would leave around 9 or 10, go home sleep, come back the next day. And everybody else would stay. And it was kinda how we spent our weekends. When Aunty Girlie came and lived there, we would go to her and stay there, hang out, and even if it was raining, we would come down and we would hang out. And sometimes, my brother, sister and I, we would be wearing blue jeans and jackets, and we’d be walking outside, but we’d still be there. Just a really good time. And then, at the very end over here [pointing on the map], there was a chicken farm right here. That was owned by Mr. Joe Park. The Park family, interestingly, Joe Park’s brother, Harry Park, and my father we really good friends. I’m named after Harry Park. So, we got to know Joe Park pretty well. His daughter Robin is my brother’s age, and we’re all calabash cousins. So, all of this area, we pretty much, to us it’s just all a big family. That’s kind of it. Anything else you want to talk about? Oh, the surf club?
HA: The surf club is not from One‘ula, the surf club is from the other end, and those guys… so the guys that started the surf club, they’re all like 1960s graduates of high school. So, you have names like the Sadowsky brothers, there were several of them. You have names like the Moody, the Moody brothers. I think there’s three or four of the Moody brothers.
LM: Yeah, you list all of them in your blog.
HA: Yeah. So the original members of the ‘Ewa Beach surf club would be the Sadowsky brothers and the Moody brothers, the Silva family, they have a store called Silva Store and it’s on ‘Ewa Beach road. And you got this man, Lester Inamoto, and a few other guys. And they kinda just created this club, apparently they were all really good surfers. But they were before my time. They were from the other side of ‘Ewa Beach. We stuck to this side, which was really just four beach houses. I knew all these kids that grew up here, but on that end, I only went there like when I was between 7th and 9th grade. And it’s really down here, see Fort Weaver Road, it goes down and it turns into ‘Ewa Beach Road and then the houses along the water. So, a lot of these guys, they graduated between 1965 and 1971. Some of them were like ’73 or what not. But because I went to Kamehameha, I didn’t really hang out on this side too much.
LM: So did you know Mark [Kahalekulu] at Kamehameha? What year did you graduate?
HA: Mark is a ’74, I’m a ’76. My brother’s a ’74. So, Mark, and my brother, and two other guys went to Kamehameha from ‘Ewa Beach. And they all had to board. At one time Mark was one of my closest friends. We spent a lot of time together from about 1972 till around 1976 when I started working full time.
LM: Did you board, too?
HA: (Shakes head “no”) When I went to Kamehameha they changed, the expanded the bus service.
LM: Ohh, so they had just changed it, like right before you.
HA: They did, they said they didn’t want another Alama up there. (Jokingly)
HA: Nah, I think that because we paid for the buses, it made more economic sense because they could expand the school and have more kids versus just having boarding students. But I think boarding students was probably better. So anyway, they created that ‘Ewa surf club with those guys and they actually did really well in the contests, but again like I said it was kind of before my time. But, I’d say a good handful of those guys were as good as anybody else on O‘ahu as surfers. And they even won like the ‘Akahi International Surf Contest, John Sadowsky and they said Lester [Inamoto] was one heck of a surfer. And several of the other guys. I knew a couple of the ones that were younger, a family that has been in ‘Ewa Beach a long time is the Eaton family. And you may have gone to school with a couple of them.
LM: I’ve just heard their name a lot.
HA: Cal’s kids and Clayton’s kids, they’re about your age. The youngest one is I think my daughter’s age. And Cal is three years older than I am, so I knew him both from Kamehameha and from the beach. His brother is five years older than he is, so I only know him from the beach, and I didn’t know him very well at all because he moved out of ‘Ewa Beach when I was still in high school. But I just remember him because he’s just this really big, spooky guy. And the other families, like the Philips family that used to watch the house, Tommy has quite a good memory about stuff, and they still like on Pāpipi Road. But they kinda moved down to ‘Ewa Beach in ’58 or so. Guys like Mark [Kahalekulu] I didn’t realize how long his family’s been here. Other families that would be like good value is the Mitsiatsu family. And, I think Myron still lives in ‘Ewa Beach, John moved to Mililani. But if you go back and you look at the interview that Kepā did with the Parish lady, she talks about the Mitsiatsus and they were here way back. They used to make charcoal or something. So, their connection to ‘Ewa Beach goes way back. They’re another family that had quite a bit of land in ‘Ewa Beach. But I don’t know exactly where they got the land. And then of course the Parish family who are the descendants of the Dowsetts. If you look at this map, the Parish family, they’re all this side where ‘Ewa Beach Road goes like this, that then there’s Parish Drive like down here, and then the Mitsiatsu family, see this big open lot, that’s their lot. But they owned all this land over here. They made houses and sold it. They’re an old time family. We all grew up together, we all know each other and they’re very involved in little league baseball when I was a kid. I’m not too sure about other really old time families. Most of the people lived along here, along here, and then along the beach, there’s two roads. One called Pōhakupuna, that’s the road that Mark’s family. And then the other is Fort Weaver, so this came in later, so we had the two roads. Fort Weaver went all the way to Iroquois Point and then Pōhakupuna went all the way down, and then they built all these other houses. And see that park right here, my dad’s house is like right there. I think it’s the white roofed one. That’s where I grew up there. So, this was the first increment. From here, along this street, this is the first increment and then this is the second increment [pointing on map]. Might be like second, third. So when I grew up ‘Ewa Beach consisted of these houses, and these houses, and then the houses that were hereSo when I grew up ‘Ewa Beach consisted of these houses, and these houses, and then the houses that were here…
LM: Along the beach.
HA: And right here is Campbell High School. This is North Road, so that Kulana Village thing that they built is around here. Is where they built the low-income housing. Then later on they built this really big area here called ‘Ewa Beach Estates. It’s bigger than this I think, it goes way back. And this was all sugarcane field we used to play in. And this was all sugarcane, this was all sugarcane, [pointing on map where houses are today]. There used to be, probably like over here somewhere, there used to be artesian ponds.
LM: Oh, yeah there still is I think.
HA: We used to go swimming in them. Not the salt water, the artesian ones. And it was somewhere around here, up higher. And we used to go swimming in those ponds, it was really cold water and used to have lily pads and used to have carp and we’d go swimming in there. And then way back here, way back here somewhere they had artesian ponds. This was like a big U shape, and this was like three separate ponds. We only swam in the one that was furthest, the other ponds had lots of fish and stuff and we didn’t want to go swimming in them. The first one was probably like this [points to a small area about 5 feet wide] we had a hill so we’d come down this hill, and we’d ride our bikes and we’d launch um up in the air and we’d land in the water.
LM: [laughing] That sounds fun.
LM: Do you miss it? The way that it was?
HA: Yeah, what I really miss is, before they built the bigger [housing] area, there still was a lot of open space in here. Like there’s Makule Road and stuff which was a really old road, there still was a lot of open space. In fact, the Mitsiatsus owned a lot of this and they didn’t develop it. And had really old, old buildings, and we used to say they were haunted. So, used to be spooky, you ride by it, and you might ride like the length of this building [the Zippy’s restaurant in ‘Ewa], with just kiawe trees and haole koa, and then there’d be this building but there was nobody living in it, real old, it was like for ghosts. And then, you gotta go past that to get back to the houses again. It was kinda like, everybody’d make up stories. But they built all houses on it, so along in this area, they developed it all. But when I was a little kid, they didn’t develop it, had houses in here, and had houses along the beach, and this area over here didn’t have too many houses. So, what I was getting to is they didn’t have anything. I think there was like only 2,000 houses, max, this had like 1,000 or less (one section on map) and then all this was like 1,000 (another area on map). And so, on Halloween, we would go everywhere. Just get plenty candy. And the families would know, like if you went twice, they’d throw rocks in your bag.
LM: [laughing] That’s funny.
HA: [laughing] And if you were a bad boy, guarantee, that night your mom and dad would know about it. So, that’s how you kinda take care of stuff. Everybody takes care of everybody, right? And it was good. I think a lot of the moms stayed home. Everybody, we were like I guess, I wouldn’t say lower income levels, but we weren’t like low class. You know when you’re poor but you don’t know you’re poor?
HA: You have everything you need, so it don’t matter. That’s how life was. And, most of the people worked for the military in one way or another. Either as a civilian, ’cause there was Barber’s Point, there’s Pearl Harbor, there’s Hickam, and there’s Schofield and Wheeler. So, everybody sorta worked for one of the military places, or worked for the plantations. And then a lot of the people over here, they were all business people, lotta haoles in this area. Local haoles. They were more like a different income level, a little higher income level, more business types. But we were all the same, we all grew up together, and probably the richest kid I knew was Timmy, whose father owned the bakery. But, you know, they weren’t rich, they just were able to do a lot of stuff, you know, travel every year. And I spent most of my time staying with Timmy. Timmy’s house is like right over here [pointing on map, close to his parents’ house] 5 houses away. And I really liked growing up in ‘Ewa Beach because it was small. And I used to get mad when people said I live in the country. Because it wasn’t country, like I think of farms and stuff, it was just real regular houses and stuff, it’s just that we were real isolated. But down here [by the beach] was country, ’cause one acre lots, that’s kinda nice. That part I miss, I miss that a lot. The open space, we had our own private beach. One of things that’s kinda sad is the sand movement is altered. I think it’s a combination of the reef runway and the development of the deep-draft harbor, but in front of here there is very little sand. And if you go down to the One‘ula Beach park now, there used to be big sand dunes at One‘ula, right here. Big sand dunes, like maybe 20 feet high, right along the water. And there were like craters. We used to go down here when I was like in 5th grade, 4th grade, and we used to make fires and stuff inside there at night and hang out. And dad them, they’d all be down the beach house and you know we could sneak away. There were pillboxes all along the shore, there were like 7 pillboxes along the shore. And they were like as big as a car. And there were two separate rooms. The room that faced the ocean had this long slit window for the machine gun. And then the back room was higher. The first couple were kinda buried underneath the sand, so only half of them were sticking up. And there was so much sand in there you couldn’t go in um. But as you got further down, there was less sand in um and you could actually go in um. And we used to play in there. Just really different. But, they took all of the pillboxes out, sometime, I don’t know when. They just tore um out. And then, I hadn’t gone back here since high school time, so I don’t know too much about the changes back in here. I know the road changed from going straight to having a big turn, it kinda went like this, but it used to be just one long straight road. And it was like, I can’t describe it. I guess if you go down to like Sandy Beach, and you’re driving along down by Queen’s pond, where there’s just no real roads, like that, but with really deep potholes. As big as this booth [about 4 feet by 3 feet], so it really kept the speed of the cars down.
LM: [laughing] That’s good.
HA: And that’s kind of it. One thing I regret, I always thought that, if anything ever happened I could live off the ocean. But, I don’t think you could live off the ocean anymore. I don’t think that there’s enough food out there. And I don’t think the food would be fine, you could eat it all. I think a lot of it has been contaminated by ciguatera. My friends catch a lot of octopus, but not quite as much fish. And, there’s a lot of fish but they told me I can’t tell people where. [laughing]
LM: Yeah, that’s fine, I understand.
HA: I’d like to go out here one day [‘Ewa Beach] and try crabbing again, ’cause it’s been a long time. And, if they came back it’d be interesting to find out. But I don’t think people know anymore. Because at one time they built that pipeline, yeah? I think the pipe, there’s a sewage treatment plant somewhere. So they built a pipeline that goes all the way through here. It went right through here, it’s probably right around here [pointing on the map]. And it went all the way out, so I don’t know how that affected it, but nobody’s gone crabbing here since the ’80s. Might be crabs out there. Have you ever had white crab? Haole crab? Sort of like a grayish shell with little spots.
LM: I don’t think so…
HA: They get to be like this [1/2 a foot] big.
LM: Uh uh…
HA: Anything that’s fresh.
LM: You just eat it raw?
HA: Yeah, anything that’s fresh. If they’re like this big [3 inches], they make um raw.
LM: I’ve had little ones like that, like at parties and just you suck it out and it’s so good.
HA: It’s sweet, yeah? When you get the big ones, and you cook um, they’re still sweet if they’re just cooked. And they don’t smell as bad.
LM: Yeah… [laughing]
HA: ’Cause that crab has a strong smell. I mean, it’s not like a bad smell, it’s just a real strong, fishy smell.
LM: Okay, so anything else you might just wanna share, like concerns you have or…
HA: Well, no, I think, at one time, and it really has nothing to do with this thing. Like one time I was hoping that we could have a plaque down there somewhere like where all the houses were, where all the people that lived there could have their names. Like a big rock or something. From the old-timers like, I only know from the time that Uncle Sonny guys were there. But I know there’s people that might have been there like before. And from the time that our families were there till today, it went through changes as well. So, you have the original 5–6 families, and then you have all the people that lived there, renting houses, like Mr. Farm rented his house for a while. Families that lived on Francis Ching’s lot, like the Okamuras and the Huddys. I remember them when we were growing up, they were all part of this ‘ohana. And it’s sad ’cause you know when they bought the land [by the beach entrance], we had to park over here and walk all the way down. And it’s a pretty good walk. But then my friend Joey lives at the first house, his wife grew up over there. So he gave me the combination to his house, so I can go there when I want. And I been doing that for the last year. But before that, I wasn’t going down there too much. My brother would just go over here [further down west] and surf over here, but it’s really different down this side.
LM: So, you still go surfing out over here [close to where he grew up at his family beach house]?
HA: Yeah. Whenever I can.
LM: And what do you guys call it?
HA: It’s called Shark Country.
LM: Ohh, I see, that’s Shark Country.
HA: So from the end where the houses are, there’s a little point like this, you see the land goes like that?
HA: This is like a big bay that goes from here to here, the reef is like that. So, from the very end of this side, this is called the Sea Wall because there’s a little place where you can, there’s a turn around and there’s a wall, so that’s called the Sea Wall. And that is the first break. And then Shark Country and Sea Wall are like next to each other, really close. And then after Shark Country, again, because of the way the reef is, Shark Country breaks out here. Hau Bush is in here. Hau Bush is the inside break. And then you have this place called Chicken Creek. Which is because of the chicken farm, and what used to happen was in the winter, the rain would come through and then go straight through the chicken farm. And all the chicken manure would get mixed in the rain water and go out. And that’s why we called it Chicken Creek.
LM: Ohhh, ewww [laughing].
HA: Nobody ever surfed over there!
LM: Ohhh, [laughing].
HA: And next to that where the park starts is called Sand Tracks. And then after Sand Tracks, and that had the big sand dune right there, after Sand Tracks, there’s a couple of little spots that I never called anything. And then on the corner of the park is John’s, and the name John’s is from John Sadowsky.
HA: He was the number one surfer in ‘Ewa Beach in the early ’60s. John Sadowsky, he used to surf out here. I guess he used to surf out there a lot so we called it John’s. Then you got The Cove right here, and then Tree Stumps. And then after Tree Stumps, I don’t know what they call this area, and then you got Barber’s Point which used to be called Officer’s Beach. It’s now called White Plains. So, there were the different places we surfed. And I never surfed from here to here, I never surfed anywhere [pointing specific areas on map]. But, over here is the empty lot side, and there’s a bunch of different breaks. And the very end is the ‘Ewa Beach park. Pu‘uloa and Iroquois Point. But empty lots, and this area there’s a whole bunch of places to surf, but I really only surfed over here. I surfed on this side when I was 7th grade, 8th grade, with my friend Timmy. But I figured, we go all the way over here, we’d have to take our bicycles and chain it up to the fence, and we don’t live over there so when I go over here, I get fresh water, I can shower off. I can leave my clothes and change, so even though it seemed further, to me it took over as far as surfing. And to me, the waves are really nice on this side. I’m probably gonna miss, when they develop this, I’m gonna miss the emptiness that it has right now. ’Cause it’s never been quite as empty as it’s been in the last decade. Over here is pretty bad [pointing on map]. But it’s gonna move as they start opening this part up, it’s gonna move down ’cause there’s just more places to surf. This side, if they make the marina, that would be a huge thing. But if they don’t make the marina it’s not gonna affect the ocean. The land was never ours anyway. This was, that wasn’t, so when we went in here we were trespassing. So, to me it doesn’t affect me. But it affects me that there’s so many cars. In 1976 I started working at Channel 2. I worked night time. I got off at 9:30pm. When I came home after 9:30, not a single car on the road, not a single car. Nowadays, I don’t think you can be alone anywhere…
LM: There’s a lot of people.
HA: And the same thing for the freeway. At 10 o’clock at night, that road from Pearl City, as you’re coming this way [west bound], very few cars in that section from Waipahu, down. They didn’t have lights, either on the freeway. So, there’s a lot of people in Hawai‘i and my concern is I don’t think we can support the volume of people now. This is not the end. They’re talking about more houses up here [pointing on map] and they’re talking about Kaka‘ako, 500 foot towers. We’re gonna be bringing in 98% of our food to support that. I would have loved to see this been kept in agriculture, but that’s not my choice, and I can’t tell them what to do. I just feel sad about it, ’cause this was real prime ag. land, had the hot, hot sun, as long as you water it.
HA: So, it’ll be interesting. And, I’d like to see that [the Lagoon Project] when it’s done, if they allow outsiders. That would be kinda interesting to see what it looks like, but I can understand if they choose not to let anybody else in. They pay big money for those houses. I just kind of, I get a little upset that, what was once ours, it’s no longer ours. We didn’t own it, we were just using it. We used to get 7 kinds of seaweed in ‘Ewa Beach. And I don’t know what happened. It went from it being right on the ocean shore to having it go about 5 feet in, to having it go waist high, to having it go underwater. And I don’t know if they’re still there.
LM: Yeah, where’s the limu?
HA: ’Cause, my mom used to make lots of different things. The pickled one, the Japanese style. And she used to, there was one called huluhulu waena, and that one is a real fine kind. And she used to make a nori style, not nori, you could buy it in bottles, sort of a heavier, sweet shoyu flavor, and you could put it on hot rice. And then there had one that looked like, we used to call it cabbage. The leaves were really broad and they were flat, and they were brown, brownish color like ogo, that color. And they had like, you like if you go and you buy spring mix at the store and it has that one leaf that looks like the weed that grows in your yard? I can’t remember what that’s called. When I try to think of names my mind goes blank. But, that’s what it looks like. It has little edges, little scalloped like, and it has a broad leaf. But it has the same taste as other ogo, like manauea and stuff. But it just looks different. Had limu kohu if you were willing to go into the deeper water. ‘Ewa Beach has so much sand, that you spend all of your time trying to clean it. ’Cause you know, the limu kohu is a unique kind, it just gets so full of that sand that you gotta spend to so much time. I think it changes the flavor. Then my uncle like the līpepe‘e, that big, fat green one. Kinda almost as big as this, kinda grows like, kinda has like a feathery, like a mossy kinda exterior. I never liked that one. But, he liked that one. I just converted video that I had of Ted Farm, and he was doing Hawaiian foods. So I’ll try to look and see, ’cause he did mention a couple of kinds of limu that he used to catch. It’s too bad that he’s not around. Nobody knew this area better than he did. Nobody spent as much time, he lived right on that beach from about 1976, ’77 he retired, and he lived there and he fished, he lived off the ocean. And the stayed there until he passed away around 2004. I don’t think anybody knew that ocean better than he did. He knew exactly where to go to get what. And it’s too bad ’cause he was a unique person.
LM: Yeah, a lot of the stories are lost on those who have passed.
HA: Yeah, ’cause even his kids, as much as they know, they didn’t live there every day. And he did. The other guy is Joey. Have you heard of Joe Gaynor? Joey still lives there. Joe and I are elementary school classmates. And Joe married the girl that grew up in that house, the first house, the Francis Ching lot. And he still lives there. And he’s gonna be the last one. Joey has permission to stay there from Haseko. And if anybody knows what’s happen to that ocean. Joey lives in Ocean Pointe, but they still have the beach house. Joey and his wife’s name is Lori, and Lori’s maiden name is Okamura. So, they would be a really good resource. Joey, his brother-in-law John. John goes down to the beach all the time. Joey lives there. He can tell you firsthand about what’s changed. ’Cause he’s been living on that beach with Lori for about 20 years plus. And Joey’s older sister was at one time the vice president of Community Relations at Haseko.
LM: Ohhh, okay. Yeah, we’ll see.
HA: He might be able to give you stories definitely about what’s happened in this area. ’Cause he goes out in the water almost everyday. He takes out a surfboard and he’ll fish from it. He spends a lot of time. If you go to Facebook, well you’d have to be his friend I think. Oh, did you see that Pu‘uloa Forever Facebook site?
LM: Um… no.
HA: Pu‘uloa Forever, I put it up there. Do you have a Facebook account?
LM: Umm hum.
HA: I can make you a member of that, ’cause I put this up there primarily to see the stuff I shot of the reunion we had. But there’s been a lot of interesting stuff. Really, the resource to me that has everything is the Swaylocks [blog]. If you can go through everything and see the color.