The annual LACA At Las Vegas Scholarship Luncheon buzzed with an array of excited alumni, family and friends on September 23, 2017 at the California Hotel. This year’s theme emphasized “Love and Loyalty” – Loyalty for our alma mater, Lana’i High and Elementary School and the Love for our island, Lana’i.
A traditional chant honoring the island of Lana’i was offered and is reprinted upon request:
“ Hanohano Lana’i ke kauna’oa,
Kohu kapa ‘ahu’ula kau poohiwi,
‘Oiwi nani ‘oe ku kilakila
Kehakeha i ka maka ke ‘ike aku
‘Alawa iho ‘oe I kona nani
Honi aku I ke’ala o ka palai
Ha’ina Lana’i i ana ka puana
Kohu kapa ‘ahu’ula kau poohiwi.
Honored is Lana’i by the kauna’oa,
Like a feather cape on its shoulder.
You are beautiful
Standing proudly for eyes to behold.
As you glance at her beauty
The scent of palai is wafter.
Tell the refrain of Lana’i,
Like a feather cape on its shoulder.”
A warm welcome to the attendees was extended by LACA board secretary and event co-chairman, Phyllis Coochie Tanodra Cayan. The board emphasized its focus is to sustain the two scholarship awards given annually to two deserving seniors. The 2017 awards in May went to Leonard Valdez (LACA Thomas Roy Nunotani Scholarship for $1,000) and to Ian Viloria (LACA Suzanne Pascua Damian Scholarship for $500). Folks were encouraged to donate any amount towards the LACA Scholarship Fund to continue assistance to deserving seniors to pursue their higher education goals.
Two generous donations came from Mariano and Solidad Masicampo who were unable to attend this year as they were on Lana’i visiting family; and the second donation was from the Wilkinson Family in memory of Dr. Bill Wilkinson who had passed this year.
An inspiring invocation was offered by Ruth Nakasone, LACA board treasurer. Ruth hails from the island of Kauai and has diligently served on the LACA board for many years in memory of her late husband, Hideke Nakasone, who hailed from Lana’i. A moment of silence was held in memory of all former Lana’ians, family and friends who made Lana’i the special place it is.
Authentic Hawaiian music was provided by the father-son duo of Kevin Brown and Ikaika Brown in their nahenahe style especially sweet in their renditions of “Ko’ele” and “Mele O Lana’i” during the buffet luncheon. Centerpieces were designed by board member, Monica Cockett who created a stunning white silk orchids arrangement in a glass vase with a hand etched pineapple design. Each centerpiece was sold with proceeds going to the scholarship fund. Each setting had a green and yellow favor packet comprising of a cute pair of slipper luggage tags, a notepad and a pineapple recipe book. Also, inserted in the bright yellow program was a special pin made of tiny pine cones from Lana’i, sprayed golden with green leaves looking like a pineapple. Many folks pinned it on immediately, proclaiming their “Love and Loyalty to Lana’i.” Mahalo nui loa to the creative hands of Terri Pascua, Ruth Nakasone and Monica Cockett who created the meaningful favors. This year’s green and yellow ribbon leis woven with pull tabs (mahalo Marge Asato for the tabs) adorned each attendee and were created by Norante and Marilyn Fernandez and Sue Damian. Mahalo nui loa! The Silent Auction was a bargain for the winning bidders and boasted many island favorites like Spam, macadamia nut candies, Kona coffee as well selected fashion handbags and other accessories. All proceeds from the Silent Auction benefits the scholarship fund. Mahalo Sue and her nieces, Trudi and Karol for another outstanding Silent Auction!
More kokua for the scholarship fund was raised from two raffles and direct sales of donated handcrafted bracelets, O’ahu spa certificates and assorted goodies. The yearly hand-crafted ukulele donated by Pedring Dugay was a stunning Zebra wood creation in its own case and won by Susanna Kincaid, an attendee and founding director at every LACA reunion since its inception. Other raffle items included a wooden clock and two framed etchings won by Clay Garalde and his Ohana. The Grand Prize drawing of the Five Nights At California Hotel certificate went to Janice Tung and the Redwood Restaurant Dinner Certificate valued at $100 went to John Preston Lloyd. Folks enjoyed winning prizes as well as donating with direct purchases and bids at the Silent Auction. Mahalo nui loa!
Two alumni and board members of the Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center (LCHC), Warren Osako and Dan Del Rosario were the key note speakers this year. Both advocated for the work and community outreach by the cultural center especially in the preservation of early plantation documents, photos and relics. Warren talked about the early days of pineapple work – the manual labor of picking pine for the hourly pay of seven (7) cents an hour. He displayed a small yellow card for an employee that would record his hours worked which was used to calculate his pay at the end of the work week. Folks gasped at the low hourly wages for jobs working under the hot sun in the pineapple fields. In closing, Warren read the name of the long-ago employee as “Lloyd Cockett” and presented the well-worn card to an appreciative board member Monica Cockett, daughter of the late well-known Uncle Lloyd.
Dan Del Rosario spoke to the various programs that the LCHC facilitates in the community including the annual summer program for high school students. This program brings together adults with the youth of Lana’i to interact with the history and the island’s resources in shared weeks of exploration, caring for the land,and creating new stories and art inspired by the island. All Lana’i folks are encouraged to keep informed on the center’s activities via their website www.Lanaichc.org.
The second half of the program was filled with folks sharing their Lana’i memories. Monica Cockett started the sharing and told how as a child, her most disliked chore was in the morning before going to school, she had to empty out the chamber pots at the outdoor outhouse. Well, one morning she was a little late for school and just hurried up to the outhouse with the chamber pots; flung the door open and tossed the chamber pot contents in without looking. Immediately, a barrage of Filipino swear words was shouted by an unnamed Filipino neighbor! Monica didn’t look, she just ran home. Surprisingly, no one found out it was her!
Dan Del Rosario recalled a memory of the fishing shacks that once lined the edge of the now Manele Small Boat Harbor and how the old folks would huli huli turkey and at Christmas it would be a huli huli pig. He recalled his Papa and friends drinking gallons of booze or something. At Keomoku, Dan remembered his Dad digging a well with Uncle John with a debate on how deep to go. Unfortunately, they did hit salt water having gone too deep. Dan notes how kids now days will not believe spending entire summers at Naha fishpond, driving through the tunnel of low kiawe trees by putting down the windshield and ducking down in the Jeep – real Lana’i-style! His Papa’s wisdom included mana’o to “…take care the kai and the ‘aina feed us,” and he always said how lucky they were to have come to Lana’I where folks help each other and shared their fish or bananas with neighbors. This is the heart and soul of Lana’i. Dan added he understands that “…I am the way I am being from Lana’i…”
Louie Obado remembers his Lana’i days filled with riding his horse, his Harley Davidson and getting his car license (a rite of passage for many teens on Lana’i). He recalls going to White Stone and picking limu. Later, when he got out of the Army, all the limu at White Stone was gone because new immigrants has pulled out the entire limu by its roots. Aue! He also shared hanging out with Bozo on Block 35 and whenever there was some kind of trouble the cops would first go to Block 35. Evidently, the notorious kolohe boys all lived on Block 35 – the Enfields, the Tanodras, the Pagays, the Tadios!
Ruth Nakasone shared her late kolohe husband, James Hideke’s varsity letter “L” and his sports certificates earned from his achievements at Lana’i High. At that time, Ruth noted that the team captains were Larry Tanigawa, Dickie Trujillo, and Arsenio Perez under the direction of Coach Minami.
Elaine Perry was very well known as an athlete in her high school days. She laughingly shared how one day the girls basketball team was playing in the gym. Elaine was preparing to make a basket when her underwear (no elastic then) slid to her knees as she lunged and made a really good basket. Oh, how she scrambled to pull up her underwear! Another memory Elaine shared was working in the pine fields and having to use the bathroom without anyone seeing you or getting poked by the plants. She said life was wonderful and thanks God she was born on Lana’i. After graduation, Elaine continued married, raised a family and continued to play sports and travel all over the world. A particularly significant memory was at age 75 being on the National U.S.A. championship team for Senior Women and travelling to the Seniors Olympics. What an achievement for a humble Lana’i wahine!
Bob Hirayama is proud to be born and raised on Lana’i and being able to attend school in those days. He acknowledges Mr. George Ito, who was present, as inspiring him to pursue a degree in woodwork while at a Wisconsin university. Bob thanked the old folks for teaching him a lot of things, but he especially remembers Uncle Lloyd Cockett for his aloha. Uncle Lloyd showed him all the places around the island and taught him the old Hawaiian ways to take care the island. Bob thanked his old hunting partner, Monica Cockett and friend Ted with whom he would go holoholo with Uncle Lloyd. He remembers those days filled with Uncle Lloyd’s stories and wished he had learned more then.
Irene Dalde, Class of ’58 shared her love for Lana’i and memories of playing PeeWee, marbles, hide & seek. She said when they lived on Block 35 they would hide in the “ban-yo” or bathroom house and the old man would yell at them to “Get Out.” She feels some regret that after high school it was the norm to get away from the small community. However, Irene did return to help her parents run the island’s only theater and four lane bowling alley business with a tiny restaurant and pool hall. Irene enjoyed going to the library as a teen because it was located near the gym and she could watch all the boys going to the gym! In retrospect, Irene feels very fortunate to be from Lana’i.
Pinky Blanko shared that her grandma’s house was near the chicken fight place and a big part of her growing up memories. She remembers her Grandma taking in laundry from the single Filipino men workers and how she had to iron starched clothes including the boxer shorts. Pinky reflected she learned so much about working hard from her Grandma and is proud to be from Lana’i.
Ricky Tamashiro did a replay of the “…Tamashiro to Tamashiro to Tamashiro…” sportscaster and noted that the players first names were Nelson, Wayne and Wade. He remembered the many nicknames Lana’i friends had like “Bato” “Fats” “High Blood” which was often based on a person’s character or physical appearance. He remembers growing up with the Nobui boys and the Anbe girls, going to the Buddhist church and the annual Obon Festival. One day, Ricky and his brother walked half way to church, then turned around to go home, and got lickings for not really going to church. He said he couldn’t sit for three days! Ricky reminded folks how we all grew up together on Lana’i by sharing and helping each other. He notes that the Lana’i golfers continue to kokua with the high school scholarship fund. Also, Ricky shared that the Cavendish golf course is the best in Hawaii which not much folks realize that the #6 hole is a significant challenge due to the crosswinds and that the #3 hole remains an old school remnant.
Doris Anbe shared how much aloha her family has for Lana’i. Her son came home in August, told her he wanted the wedding on Lana’i, and it was planned on two weeks notice with 18 family members in attendance. Doris was pleased with the memorable reception being held at the Hotel Lana’i and recommends the historic inn for future visits.
“Jojo” Endrina Timbreza laughingly shared her Lana’i wedding day to her second husband and classmate, Thor known as the “Ukulele Boy” in high school. Jojo said Thor insisted on being married on Lana’i at the Catholic Church to be followed by a blessing at Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Island). The wedding went off as planned. After the ceremony, the bride and groom remained to sign the certificates with the priest while all the attendees drove off to Pu’u Pehe. The priest finished the signing, and went off to drive to Manele, too. Thor and Jojo stood outside the church, and then realized that everyone had left and they had no car to go to Manele. Luckily, the late Dolpho Sanches was driving by, stopped and asked them what were they doing alone at the church. A little flustered by the oversight, they did make it to Pu’u Pehe with Dolpho’s help.
Much reminiscing was going on at each table as memories were evoked by the above speakers and or folks remembering each other’s family or neighbors. This is the essence of the annual LACA luncheon to share a meal, to share Lana’i memories and to kokua the scholarship fund. MAHALO NUI LOA TO ALL WHO MADE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE LACA SCHOLARSHIP FUND!!!
Save the date and make your travel plans for the next LACA Scholarship Luncheon in Las Vegas on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at noon at the Ohana Room, California Hotel. Registration forms are in this issue. Any questions may be directed to the LACA Board at PO Box 515, Pearl City, Hawaii 96782 or via email at info@Lanaiconnection.com.