As Frank Moy sees it, being born in and growing up in a Chinese laundry is, in some ways, like living on a Hawai‘i plantation.

“Labor-intensive, low pay, long hours, strict rules and hard work. I knew as a young kid I was not going to work in a laundry like my father, my father’s brother, one of my brothers and my father’s cousins,” Moy said in an email interview.

Virginia residents Frank Moy and his wife, Marcia Mau, have been close friends with Hawai‘i plantation historian Barbara Kawakami since the 1990s, when she published her first book, “Japanese Immigrant Clothing in Hawai‘i: 1885-1941.” They are now making ongoing donations to support the preservation of thousands of hours of videotapes that “Rice and Roses” producer Chris Conybeare and director Joy Chong-Stannard captured on Hawai‘i’s plantation and labor history for the University of Hawai‘i’s Center for Labor Education and Research.

Conybeare said the collection is the only extensive visual collection of plantation and labor life in Hawai‘i.

“While the (‘Rice and Roses’) program may have featured 30 seconds of somebody from a plantation, the actual interview may have been two hours, and we kept the whole thing, so the collection contains the best visual record of plantation and labor history that exists,” Conybeare explained.

For Moy, it represents the story of immigration to America, which he says is important to himself and to Hawai‘i.

A retired federal employee, Moy has his own connection to Hawai‘i.

“Fortunately, my father retired and closed the laundry and I went to George Washington University engineering school,” he said.

“After graduating in 1965, I went to work for the Department of the Navy for 31 years and retired as the civilian deputy program manager for all Navy boats, including the ferry boats which used to go back and forth to Ford Island before the causeway was built and the tourist boats which go to the Arizona Memorial,” Moy said.

Moy, who serves as his own family’s historian, and his wife have already made two gifts to CLEAR’s project. They plan to continue their donations for five years.

“I think those who saw ‘Rice and Roses’ tapes back in the 1980s and today’s generation will see how important it is to preserve Hawaiian history through these tapes,” he said.

“CLEAR will be better able to fund the costs and expenses related to CLEAR’s plantation histories projects and productions, including digitization of the ‘Rice and Roses’ programs,” said Moy. “I make this gift in recognition of Barbara Kawakami’s work.” — Richard Borreca


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