... Maui visit ...
It all started during my time on Maui …
During the time I grew up on Maui, one of the first associations I can recall was with family there. I was never one to understand those sorts of things – it was the traditional back then to address all older male individuals or close male associates as Uncle as a sign of respect and deference in informal situations, whether they were related or not – so for a kid who was accustomed to only having two members in the family (my Uncle John and Grandma Ida Moniz), I was totally oblivious to the real family relationships to which I was exposed.
I recall moving a few times before settling down in Dream City … a development in the central valley. It has become a huge residential area that almost connects Kahului to Wailuku. At one time, we lived in a huge house behind what eventually became the Maui Soda Company. The floors creaked, the roof squeaked each night as it cooled down, and all of us kids (Eric, Elliot, and myself) thought it was haunted, but we were too afraid to speak of it openly. I believe it was eventually torn down.
At the time, dad owned a 1949 Ford – the turtle-looking car that might have inspired the VW Beetle … lol … that would have been one of the few ideas the Germans engineers ever took from America since the war … (grin). I remember while getting out of that car once in the front of that big house, Eric slammed the door on my hand, knowing full well I was coming out that side. Fortunately, the automotive tolerances in those days left a little to be desired, so my finger was just severely pinched to the point of turning blue and swelling up, but it never tore the skin, and I was never in real danger of losing it completely. It did still hurt like the dickens! Of course, Eric was wise enough, even at that age, to act innocent and claim no knowledge of me coming out that side of the car… (sigh)
After moving to Dream City, each of us was given a bicycle by Santa over the next couple of years. During the time I was expecting mine, I envisioned a sleek, ten-speed English bike like Melvin Young owned. Well, my dad, unknown to me, did a little research on a good dependable bike that would last for years in spite of daily use by a kid without any knowledge of bicycle mechanics or preventive maintenance. So, I ended up with a two-speed Roadmaster monstrosity that no one I knew had ever even heard of or seen in their bicycle circle of friends … (sigh)
A TWO-speed bicycle, for crying out loud … what was that … ? slow and snail-paced … ? (grin) Of course, during the ordering and purchasing process, I was not permitted to go measure for it; so I ended up with a bike that was just about two inches too big for me. In my initial attempts to ride the thing in our back yard, shifting my body from side to side in order to push each pedal to the bottom of its cycle, I fell quite often (how fast can a kid go on grass and deep sand on a bike with pedals he can’t reach?) – to which my dad would throw in a few snide remarks to motivate me to do better – like, I guess you’re too young to ride a bike … or I thought you said you could ride a bike? – and make our father-son interactions that much more memorable… (sigh)
In a little while, I was cycling all around the neighborhood and within several blocks of the house. Eventually, I made my way down to KAC … which in the lazy linguistic tradition of the Hawaiian culture, became more popularly known as KC … Only until years later did I learn that KC was a shortened version of KAC, which itself was an abbreviation for Kahului Athletic Center. I spent many hours at the KAC. It was a Salvation Army Center with pool tables, table tennis tables, speed bags, and a small weight room in the corner. It was accompanied by a four-lane bowling center with manual pin setting machines. The center was run by Eddie Kalani, a gentile man with a bum leg, which I believed was a result of his service during World War II. Everyone respected him for his calm demeanor and fair decisiveness in any controversies that arose during our games and competitions.
I still recall pin setting for Mr. Tanaka, our grade school principal, who used to throw a bowling ball just as hard as he could as quickly as he could during his turn on the lanes. I soon learned to pick up a few pins, then return his ball as I finished up and moved out of the way … none of us ever wanted to get caught in the pit when Mr. Tanaka was up on the lane… (grin) If any one of us returned his ball first, he ran the risk of getting caught in the pit as Mr. Tanaka delivered his ball… it normally landed half-way down the lane and sprayed pins everywhere very quickly upon impact. Each pair of lanes had a pass-through to the other lane … it didn’t take long to learn to stay out of either pit when Mr. Tanaka was up – he occasionally sent a pin careening into the other pit, not a good surprise if anyone was in there.
We earned ten cents a game and tens cents a bowler… for a series of three games and four bowlers on each team, that was $4.80 … big money in those days… (grin)
I was also able to visit with Uncle Stephen Moniz. He was the one who introduced me to plastic model building. We started with smaller, easier projects, and worked our way up to more intricate kits. He was the most patient, understanding, and helpful relative I remember from those days. I would go over after lunch on a Saturday, and we would work on a model until just before dinner time when I would have to leave for home. We would open the kit, inventory the parts, separate the parts that we thought we might need for the steps we planned to accomplish that day, work on it without a rush or any sense of urgency, clean up afterward, and put the kit away to dry for the next opportunity. Never once did I ever go there when he had completed any step without me … I cannot recall any of the projects we ever completed. I only remember his patience, gentleness, and sincere willingness to spend as much time with me as was necessary to do things right and complete each project in such a manner as to give me a sense of pride in what I had done to help him build it.
My one regret over those days is that I never was able to remember to thank him for the time he took from his own life to enrich mine with such wonderful memories. Not long after, he divorced his wife and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he lived for 20 years before returning to Maui.
Back then, I found it strange that someone could leave Maui and stay away that long before coming home.
I didn’t plan to … move away from Maui right after high school graduation in 1966 and never return … it’s just the way it turned out…