Thanks for Dan Nakasone’s story (Jan. 3, 2020, edition) — so nostalgic because I, too, grew up in Wahiawä and worked in the fields during the summer for $1.25 an hour. I was so proud to treat my family to dinner at Three Coins (where Zippy’s is now) with my first paycheck.
This is how arduous it could be: During the summer, college boys were hired as lunas. I got a ride home with two of them and heard one say, “It was so hot today. It was like the Mojave Desert. The girls were hanging off the boom, crying out for water.”
Besides the wire-mesh goggles Dan mentioned in his story, we sewed extra sleeves to wear over our blue work shirts and were issued chaps that covered our pants. Of course, we wore gloves, but all that protection didn’t keep you from getting jabbed by the thorns. Women and girls took special care to wear wide-brimmed hats and kerchiefs to cover their faces. Women and girls were assigned the tedious and dirty jobs of hoe hana, stripping slips, and, at California Packing Corp. (also known as Del Monte), cutting off suckers. We were told it was because females had the patience for that kind of work. Only during the peak of the season did girls get to pick pine.
Like Dan, I had a mother who got up every morning to prepare my lunch. Wow, I don’t think I ever thanked her for all that she did.