RT Cunningham

My Old Hawaiian Stomping Grounds and Possibly Some New Ones

Kauai Waterfalls - Hawaiian Stomping Grounds

Although I have years of history with the islands of Hawaii, I’m definitely not Hawaiian. I can’t even be considered a “local”. I’m just an average haole from the mainland.

I attended the last few months of my 8th grade school year and a little more than three years of high school on the island of Kauai. The last time I was on that island was in 1977, when I was still 16 years of age, so I don’t remember everything.

Hawaiian Memories of Kauai

From sometime in 1974 to sometime in 1977, my parents, my siblings (and a niece and a nephew) and me spent some time on the island of Kauai. My father was a water well driller and his company paid the rent. If I remember correctly, the rent was $350 a month in 1974. I’m sure the same house today would be at least $2000 and yes, it’s still there.

My older siblings trickled back to the mainland, with only my parents, three siblings and me remaining until the end. My siblings and I were the only ones still in school when we returned to the mainland. On Kauai, we attended the Kapaa school. I don’t remember if it served all grades or not but my youngest sister was on the elementary side of the school.

There was a lot of bigotry in the school, displayed mostly by teenagers of Portuguese descent. I don’t remember having many issues with other ethnic groups. The part that bothered me was that the only difference between me and one of them was that I wasn’t born and raised there. Now, that was over 40 years ago. That bigotry may no longer exist.

My Hawaiian stomping grounds included places some people will never see. They no longer exist. One of them was the cattle ranch behind our house (even though it was off limits). From what I can see with Google Earth, it’s all housing of some kind now. We used to pick pineapples from a nearby abandoned Dole plantation. The cannery across the street was slowly converted into other things, one being a grocery store.

The Places I Remember on Kauai

The island isn’t that big. Anyone with personal vehicle could cover the entire island in a day. I remember the terms “leeward” and “windward” being used instead of east and west when describing one side or the other. Most of the population was situated on the windward, or east, side of the island.

I remember a trip to Hanalei, a trip to the Waimea Canyon State Park, multiple trips to the Wailua River State Park, including “Paradise Pacifica” (which is now Smith’s Tropical Paradise) and visits to beaches all along the shore. The most often visited beach was at Lydgate Park. One of my older brothers worked at Paradise Pacifica for a while and one my older sisters went on a date there.

Both of my parents worked, so we didn’t have a lot of time to do things as a family, except on weekends. My father liked to go fishing, forcing one or more children to go with him. He rarely caught anything – I’m pretty sure he just liked going through the motions. I don’t know if he could swim because I never saw him in the water.

Hawaiian Memories of Oahu

The only place on Oahu I set foot in was the Honolulu airport in 1974 and 1977. The Lihue airport on Kauai was the connection. The next time I was on Oahu was sometime in 1982. I honestly don’t remember the exact month I arrived or the exact month I left two years later.

I was stationed at Kaneohe Bay. It was called a Marine Corps Air Station back then but the name changed to Marine Corps Base Hawaii around 10 years later. Although it was a two-year tour, I spent six months of it deployed aboard a Navy ship. It was during that deployment, and during a port of call in the Philippines, that I met my future wife.

The Places I Remember on Oahu

A year and a half on the island didn’t afford me many opportunities to go places I would find exceptionally memorable. I moved to an off-base apartment for about a year. It was in the nearby city of Kailua. The only club I hung out at was in walking distance (I didn’t have a car, I rode buses). It was called the White Rose Lounge but today it’s called Porky’s Sports Pub & Grill, with different ownership.

I obviously remember the base, where I spent most of my time. I was with the aircraft side of the house. My old squadron flew the CH-46 Sea Knights, which were similar to the Army’s CH-47 Chanooks. They now fly the V-22 Ospreys.

A coworker at another squadron once had a hankering for Popeye’s chicken. I rode with him in his Subaru Brat to the store in Waimanalo, a store that no longer exists. Looking at a map, it seems like it’s far from Kailua. It really isn’t. It’s maybe a 10-minute ride.

New Hawaiian Stomping Grounds

Josie, my wife, and I have only been on Oahu since the end of February 2019. Our younger son, Jon, and his wife, Cathy, don’t have vehicles of any kind. Neither have driver’s licenses. Until we get a car that we can drive, we have to rely on Uber and Lyft. Consequently, we don’t really get around much.

Other than the airport, we’ve spent most of our time at Schofield Barracks (commissary and exchange) and the Town Center of Mililani (movies and other shopping). We’ll be traveling to a lot more places once either Josie or I start driving something, which shouldn’t be much longer.


RT Cunningham
May 18, 2019