Aloha, my aides and I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone well. This pandemic that is turning our world upside down and inside out has forced us to alter our ways. But technology is helping us to continue with life as best we can. Mahalo for the iPhone, iPad, PC, printer, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom. All the gadgets and platforms that allow us to stay connected in this time of social distancing, isolation and ‘house arrest’ (a form of necessary and self-imposed martial law).
I’m a dinosaur when it comes to using technology as I grew up in Waimea; in the Land of the Paniolo, where Ikua Purdy and the Hawaiian cowboy were to us what Jesse James and Wyatt Earp were to our counterparts on the continent. I grew up in the ‘Land Before Time’ when we could still chase cattle and ride our horses up and down Māmalahoa Highway (no can nowadays). When the teacher (Miss Toledo) and the principal (Mr. Nakano) could give us lickings when we were kolohe. And, when we reached our gate and got off Mr. Kawabata’s bus at the end of the day, there was māmā dearest (without a yellow ribbon) by the eucalyptus tree with her stick to polish things off. After she was pau, we could do the hundred-yard dash in five seconds flat. I was born before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were “apples” in their mama’s eyes.
For school, we didn’t have the technology which thankfully today’s generation enjoys. We were required to learn the multiplication table. We didn’t have a computer to do book reports and essays, or to research, write and store all our work. We had a few pencils, a pen and six or eight composition books. That was our allocation for the school year. Our humble, little school library had about 2000 titles. We didn’t have access to google and Wikipedia. But we had Encyclopedia Britannica and Lincoln Library.
I was the editor of our school paper, The Bronco Script. A few of us had typewriters at home; Smith Coronas (museum pieces now) so that was a big help. We produced a monthly issue. Most of the time we were late putting out our Bronco Script. We sure wasted tons of paper as we didn’t have corrective tape. We printed it on gel pads or a moody mimeograph machine if ‘Miss Moody,’ (the school secretary’s fake name) allowed us to use it. It took us an entire Saturday to finish our paper for distribution on Monday morning. As staffers, we were proud of our handiwork.
Home. We grew up with the crank telephone and shared a party line. The operator at the switchboard in town listened in on everyone’s calls. Then she’d talk about some of the juicy stuff going on. Whoever she told was to keep everything in complete confidence. In our town? Yeah sure!
We didn’t have a toaster. Our toaster was the grate on our kerosene stove. Brown one side, then the other. The kerosene fumes mingled with guava jam and marigold butter; toast dunked in hot cocoa was a breakfast winnah.
TV. We had our first TV around 1960. The reception was awful. Only one channel: KGMB 9 and the signal came to us from Honolulu via Maui. Audio was good, but the picture was snowy and shadowy. Radio? Same story. We were resilient then as we are today. We coped. We had to. The world has shrunk. It has found us in our isolated corner of the Pacific. “Faith for today…bright hope for tomorrow.”