Small Kid Time
The exciting adventures of growing up in the country on the Big Island of Hawaii. From beach cliffs to mountain rainforest the country side of the Big Island provides the ultimate playground for the local keiki. Undeveloped, untouched, it’s like going back in time exploring caves, rivers, and waterfalls. A full day of fun with no school in the summer time…
District of Puna
I grew up in the Puna District, 8 miles southeast of Hilo. Just past the town of Kea’au (Ola’a to the old-timers) was a quiet and quaint farm-lot subdivision called “Hawaiian Paradise Park” or simply HPP. The roads are of crushed red cinder, ocean breezes flowing through the Ohia trees, ferns and wild orchids. From the slopes of Mauna Loa to the rugged shoreline of the Puna Coast Paradise Park was a wonderland for kids.
Exploring caves, ponds and whatever else we could find. Sometimes we would stop for awhile to pick guava, and sometimes lychee from a neighbors yard. I always had fun going down to the plantation camp. There was always something going on. The old plantation men playing mahjong, someone slaughtering a pig, or going to a Japanese (Obon) Bon Dance. We always kept busy. We even sneaked into the “chicken fights” just to see what it was like.
Everyone was friendly and always gave us food or money. One dollar would go a long way back then. My friends and I would go to Akiyama Store to buy a soda, Botan Rice candy and still had enough to chip in and buy a bag of Arare or cuttle fish.
I had a sparkly metalic purple banana seat Western Flyer Buzz bike, equipped with a super tall sissy-bar, front handle bar basket, and an extra wide smooth slick back tire. Damn, I looked good cruising down the sidewalk. Several years later it was all about moto-x, racing through the trails, undeveloped roads and canfields on my BMX bike was always a competition, but all in fun. As I got older it was all about mini-bikes and go-carts. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
During the summer months I would visit my grandparents who lived along the Hamakua Coast. It was a small tranquil plantation camp called Papa’aloa near the town of Laupahoehoe. We use to sit on the porch playing po-ke-no or sakura (hanafuda) waiting for Takemura (I believe that was his name) the candyman to come by. Grandma always waited for the fishman to stop by with the days fresh catch. It was every Wednesday that we waited for the rubbish truck. I was always fascinated by the hydraulic lift that lifted the 55 gallon metal rubbish cans high into the air.
One thing I didn’t care for, but cherish the moments now that I’m older is sitting through grandma Helen’s TV shows. As a kid, time stood still watching Lawrence Welk. “Is it over yet?”, “Can we wait on the porch?”, finally… we get to go outside and pop firecrackers and shoot off bottle rockets. Who’s got my (green coil) misquito punk?!
We used to ride an old swing made up of two pieces of rope and a board that hung from an avocado tree branch, which my tata Vincente built. Kickball games could really raise the competition level even though we played in a small front yard not more than 20 feet in diameter. Kicking the ball over the road was an automatic home run. I remember how free I felt riding down the hill with my cardboard box at nearby Papa’aloa Park. My cousins would take me up the river to a place called “5 dollar” pond just to swim in the ice cold water and hangout. On the way back we would climb trees to pick mango, lilikoi, and mountain apples for a quick snack before dinner.
When we needed money we would shoot mynah birds and doves with our b-b guns and sell them to the Filipino men. Pockets full of change we would head down to what we called “makapa” store to buy beef jerky and soda. I later learned that wasn’t a very nice name. With so many activities, it’s amazing that we still had time to join the “Summer Fun” program participating in arts and crafts and going on beach excursings. The innocents of being a kid just wanting to explore the world and having fun. Au-Good!