Gloria R. Kobayashi
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
The first story in “Aloha ‘Äina, Volume II, More Big Island Memories” is titled “Architect Extraordinaire.” It highlights the life of Frank Arakawa, who was Hawai‘i County’s deputy engineer from 1915 to 1942. His daughter, the late Marion Arakawa, wrote the story. Frank Arakawa was an architect who designed many of the buildings in Hilo with iconic columns — buildings such as the Hilo High School auditorium, Hilo Intermediate School gymnasium, Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin and the B.P.O.E. (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) building. He also designed buildings on the Honoka‘a and Ka‘ü high school campuses and at the Manago Hotel in Kona. Unfortunately, Arakawa was never recognized for these memorable works because he was interned on the Mainland during World War II and never returned to Hawai‘i.
The second story, “Nobujiro Hakoda of Kona: a Self-made Man,” is told by his son, the late Milton Hakoda, and written by Momi Naughton. It relates how Hakoda-san paid to come to Hawai‘i from Fukuoka, Japan, as an independent traveler. However, he was placed on a ship bound for Kahuku, O‘ahu, with other contract laborers. Hakoda spoke no English and was forced to work on the plantation. He managed to escape, however, and walked to Honolulu, where he boarded a ship to Kona and lived out the rest of his life.
Also included in that first chapter, titled “Community Builders,” are Teddy Mukai’s story about her father-in-law, Seichi Mukai, and his role in the establishment of the Hilo Municipal Golf Course. Another story, this one by Mary Namahoe is about her father and grandfather, both of whom were highly respected ministers at the historic Haili Church in Hilo. Namahoe recalls that her father was the first principal of Kaümana Elementary School, then became a lawyer and district court judge, until the parishioners of Haili Church asked him to become their minister when Namahoe’s grandfather, Stephen I. Desha Sr., passed away.
The chapter titled “Courage” includes Michie Kuwaye’s story, “Incredibly Patriotic Inouyes,” about 14 members of their one family who have, or are serving, in the U.S. military. Coincidentally, this story appeared in The Hawai‘i Herald’s 2014 Big Island edition.
In the chapter titled “Encounters,” Sadami Hamamoto, who passed away last October, shared her story about having just graduated from high school in California when World War II broke out and about being sent to the internment camp in Rohwer, Ark. “Libeka,” by Maggie Chillingworth, is a love story about her great-grandmother, Rebecca Ioela Macy, who led Isabella Bird on a trek to Waipi‘o Valley during a storm in 1872.
“Aloha ‘Äina, Volume II” also features a great collection of light-hearted stories. Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro shared his humorous insights on life in Hilo in two stories — “A Rain Falls in Hilo . . . and Falls and Falls,” and “A Jew is a Haole is a Haole.” Harold Murai’s “Life’s Simple Pleasures,” about surfing at Honoli‘i, and “Ohmos Come Sugah,” detailing a memorable ride down a sugar cane flume, were both written in Pidgin English. Former Hawaii Public Radio contributor Rochelle DelaCruz remembers her grandmother in a memoir titled “Cozy.” She also shared a piece she wrote for Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Christmas Talk Story, titled “The Jade Ring.”
I spent quite a bit of time looking for artwork to complement the stories in Volume II and found some great treasures. Kay Yokoyama’s family allowed us to use six of her well-known paintings, including the cover art, “Early Morning Hilo Bay.” Other noted painters shared their work, as well, including Linus Chao, Ken Charon, Benjamin Diama, Arthur Johnsen, Kathleen Kam, Edwin Kayton, Richard Mortemore, Gerald Murai, the late Mike Sakamoto, Robert Thomas and Harry Wishard. Besides precious family photos, commercial photographers Danny Escalona, Claudia Hagan, Ed Goldstein, Andrew Hara, Archer Kelly and Bruce Omori lent their photographs to the project.
Finally, paintings by Young C. Park and a woodcut print by Tommy Jitchaku, which were done while they were students at Hilo High School in the 1930s and ’40s, were found and added to the book.
I’m very proud of all of the stories and artwork in this book and am grateful to the writers, poets and artists for sharing their work. I hope you enjoy this collection of Big Island memories.
Gloria R. Kobayashi was the editor for “Aloha ‘Äina, Volume II, More Big Island Memories.” She retired as the librarian of Waiäkea High School.