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Posts Tagged ‘Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii’
Posted in My Books, tagged Breaking the Silence:A Caregiver's Voice, eBooks for Frances, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry, Watermark Publishing, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, Wordsworth the Poet, Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer on January 24, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
1941: Kapoho Hawaii
Two young ladies, recent graduates from Teachers College, University of Hawaii, are sent on their first teaching job to Kapoho School.
They were in the same Chinese sorority on campus so they were not complete strangers. Beatrice Ing’s father, after checking out the site of the school, bought a hand gun for his daughter and taught her how to use it should anyone try to rape her in a place so isolated from civilization. Teachers were housed in buildings called Teachers’ Cottages, about three miles from the village.
Pina Tam, her roommate, would be my sister Janet’s 2nd grade teacher. Kapoho School consisted of three classrooms with two grades combined in each room. They began teaching in September and two months later, their lives changed as did the rest of Kapoho and the world. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Beatrice’s gun was immediately confiscated as were all weapons in the village. It was returned to her before she left the islands at the end of the school year. She would never teach again.
Kapoho School was closed and became the headquarters for the Army. Beatrice and Pina were housed in the principal’s home, the Campbells, and taught in the then Japanese Language School. Their lives, like the villagers, would be closely monitored by the military.
Beatrice and Pina and their fellow teachers spent all their salary on school supplies. They drove out to Hilo every weekend and bought crayons, coloring books, and cheese and olives, to educate the palate of the children. The children turned their noses up at cheese, but olives would become “holiday food” reserved for Christmas and New Year’s Day in many of the homes.
I was five then. My bachelor uncle spent many an evening at the cottages, under the pretense of taking papaya and bananas to the young teachers for their breakfast.
My book, Kapoho, Memoir of a Modern Pompeii is published.
Beatrice read of the book in the Honolulu paper and ordered a copy from Barnes & Noble and asked her daughter to pick it up.
We met over lunch last November in Honolulu and she confirmed many of my memories after Pearl Harbor. Beatrice still plays the stock market and just recently gave up her driver’s license. She held my hand and said, “I never thought, in my lifetime, that I would ever meet a real author.”
She took the lei I gave her to the gravesite of her husband and left it there in a heart shape. “You are the only one I know who will know the stories I have about Kapoho,” and so we talked and shared stories.
Pina’s daughter, too, got in touch with me and a few weeks ago, both women met after all those years in Kapoho. They are 96 years old today. Pina is doing well, inspite of her dementia.
I celebrate and honor both women today.
Pina Tam Lee and Beatrice Chang Ing
96 years old. 2013. Honolulu Hawaii
Posted in Hawaii, Memoirs, My Rants About Something, tagged December 7 1941 . 442nd and 100th Battalion of Hawaii, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
A very young woman, perhaps in her 20′s, asked me today, “What do you think of today? It’s December 7th.” I told her I am consciously avoiding the subject because my public discussions in the past have resulted in negativism.
But when she said, growing up in the Mid-West, she didn’t even know of Pearl Harbor or of Hawaii until she read my Kapoho book, I felt I was being a coward by avoiding political views on December 7th. So here I am today, not as a victim but as a writer, remembering and sharing a part of history.
“Your primary responsibility as Japanese American citizens is
to promote and strengthen relations between Japan and the United States.
If, however, war breaks out between the two great powers of the Pacific,
you have only one choice and that is, to serve your country as loyal Americans.”
by Hiroshi Tahara, Principal of Papaikou Japanese Language School, mid 1930′s. Tahara died in internment camp in New Mexico, in 1945.
Pearl Harbor, 1941
Under the rising sun
The enemy came
Wearing my face.
from Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii
Immediately, a new word was added to my childhood vocabulary.
It claws my spine
It enters my body
To devour who I am.
What do you do
With Eh Jap
On your face?
I spit it out. Bull’s eye!
from Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii
“Leave,” I beg you.
My ancestors were fried.
The Arizona is rusting
At the bottom of the bay.”
My mirror whispers in sorrow,
“I can’t let them go.
We are prisoners of our face.”
frances kakugawa, unpublished
Japanese Amerian soldiers from Hawaii during WW II
The 442nd and the 100th Battallion were the units from Hawaii.
Names of Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, killed or lost in action.
A Norman Rockwell Visit
I visited Doris, a long lost cousin in Hawaii, someone I haven’t seen for over 40 years. Another cousin told me at a book signing that Doris has clipped and saved all the news articles on my books and my career since the 70′s.
She was waiting in the driveway of her home when I arrived. She showed me to the door, took her slippers off and covered them with a piece of cloth saying, “The sun will fade them .” I took off my shoes and entered her home.
Her 90 year old husband slowly walked into the room toward his wheelchair, holding on to railings and part of the wall. She brought out a platter of mochi and canned soda. Each mochi was carefully wrapped in Kleenix. She excitedly explained how she had found them at Raley’s and seemed so pleased she could serve them. I carefully unwrapped one and it was soft and good.
She took out my Kapoho book and explained, ” I rushed through this book because I couldn’t wait to read what was in it. I’m reading it over, very slowly this time. You are so smart.”
Joy. That room was filled with joy. Both their eyes were alive with presence. As Doris shared how she takes tiny scraps of material and sews them into blankets and quilts, her husband joined by looking at her with such pride, as though she was describing a Nobel Prize project.
When he told stories of how he helped to build the Wilson tunnel in his youth, she returned what he had given her earliar. This was his story to tell and she listened as though she was hearing it for the first time.
Their wedding photo, taken in the 50′s was on a wall. Her Japanese embroidery work were displayed throughout the living room. On one wall, a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle, glued and framed, a puzzle he had finished years ago. She explained the process of how she had glued the pieces together.
I sat there and thought, “There is so much respect and joy and gratitude shared between these two who didn’t have children. Conversations were based on what I would have considered trivia in my world, but they were of such significance to both. So much joy in the simplicity of things. She remembered spending nights in our home in Kapoho , eating fresh fish caught by my father. She was a Kapoho I had forgotten.
She gave me one of her home-made blankets sewn with scraps of material. I took photos and the one posted here is of significance to me. The natural physical distance between Doris and her husband and their folded hands on their laps capture the honor, dignity and respect still being lived after all these years together.
Joy in the simplest of things. HappyThanksgiving.
Posted in Events, Hawaii, My Books, tagged Being Japanese, Hawaii Volcano National Park, Japanese American National Museum, Kapoho, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Kilauea Volcano, MANAA on October 2, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles
I looked at the empty chairs in the theater, thinking, ” Kapoho girl does good if these seats are all filled today.” The seats weren’t all filled but there would have been SRO if the emotional impact of the afternoon had filled the spaces.
Once again, there were Kapoho faces from long ago. Tommy Wataru Shimizu who attended the session at Torrance Library two weeks ago was there, saying he wanted to hear me speak of Kapoho again. His family was the first to get a bicycle and his younger brother Iwao had spent most of his summers at our house. When he joined the Marines, his photo was displayed in our living room until he returned. He visited my mother with flowers when she was in the nursing facility. She no longer knew him then. He called me Pride by request, remembering how I had renamed myself, but that story is for another day.
Diane was a toddler when I knew her in Kapoho. She and mother Eva visited us often. I had a story to tell Diane. She loved grapes and called them dwapes. She told me a little secret of how she always told her mother, “I’m going to be a teacher like Frances.” She’s an actress today. So she fulfilled one of my dreams instead.
Patty Nishi bought three copies of Kapoho for the children of Ruth Uyeno who was born and raised in Kapoho. The image of Mrs. Uyeno comes to mind clearly as if it were only yesterday.
Leanne, daughter of Ella whom I had met in college, touched me deeply to know the new generation was there to nurture her mother’s friendship with me.
What a surprise to meet Facebook friend and daughter of Andy Hayashi of Pahoa, Darlyne Fujimoto in line for book purchases.
Now, if you were in L.A. to attend a wedding all the way from Hawaii, would you give up a Saturday afternoon for a lecture? My cousin’s wife, Carolyn Takahashi, did and she brought other members of her family.
Guy Aoki and loyal members of MANAA ( Media Action Network for Asian Americans) were in attendance once again as in Torrance.
I can’t thank all who came. My gratitude to the generous woman who bought a dozen copies of Kapoho for members of her book club. They meet over dessert so I hope Kapoho receives more attention than their dessert next month.
To everyone who dared to drive on the day a major freeway was closed in L.A and to the people from Hawaii who shared their stories of living in internment camps after Pearl Harbor, you have your own stories to preserve.
Ms. Alexandra Giffin, Dr. Koji Sakai and all the volunteers at the Museum made this happen.
Leslie Yamaguchi wrote the following most generous interview that appeared in the JANM newsletter.
“You made Kapoho come alive for us again.” “You gave Kapoho back to us.” I heard this over and over. I regret not having had the time to ask each former resident, how they made their home in CA after the eruption.
Yes, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii has taken a life of its own, rejuvenating memories for residents who thought them buried under magma for good. Yes, Standing Room Only.
Frances in Torrance:
Hi Everyone, I’m Wordsworth the Poet and this is my final summer appearance because I gotta get my tail to Hawaii to prepare for my 3rd Wordsworth book that’s due in October.
The people in Torrance gave Frances a heart-warming welcome. I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. Her visit was sponsored by MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans),
The Japanese American Historical Society of So. CA ( JAHSSC) and Torrance Public Library. Guy Aoki of MANAA, Dana Vinke of Torrrance Library and Iku Kiriyama made it all happen.
I had mouse tears flowing down my whiskers when I heard how MANAA members, Johnny Lam, Miriam Nakamura-Quan and Aki Aleong donated $120 to run an ad for Frances that ran in the Rafu Shimpu, her photo and all.
If that wasn’t so heart – wrenching, I lost it all when people from Kapoho began to appear and they held Frances’ hands with tears in their eyes. They are so proud of Frances and thanked her for returning Kapoho back to them. Wow. The books were all sold out but that was nothing compared to the former residents of Hawaii who also joined the Kapoho people. Wow. Now I know why Frances writes.
Before I leave here, Frances will return to L.A. on Saturday, September 29th. She will speak at the Japanese American National Museum from 2 4 p.m.. Aloha, and see you in Hawaii in October-November.
Posted in Books & Work by Other Writers/Artists, Caregiving, Elder Care, Memoirs, tagged Alzheimer's Association, Charlottesville, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Kindle on the subway, UVA, VA, Wordsworth the Poet on September 12, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
From Wordsworth`: On the subway in NY
. I got some good news from the subway: It was my transportation for 7 days and
I told Frances, “I don’t see anyone reading a Kindle or any other e-books on the subway.
They’re all reading real books.”
Frances said, “Yes, and wouldn’t it be great if we saw someone reading one of our books?”
I went around the trains, hoping there would be at least one person reading my books but no such luck. Maybe I should ask Charlie Pellegrino or Sets to read my book on the subway.
We’re off to Charlottesville, VA where Frances has a lot of work to do.
In Charlottesville: You should have seen Frances run to catch her next flight at Dulles Airport in D.C. She could have won a medal at the Olympics!
What a beautiful city. Here are two poems I wrote during some sight-seeing:
Blue Ridge Fog
Ah Carl Sandburg,
Fog along the Blue Ridge
Comes on hippo hooves
Blocking my view.
Trees Trees Trees
Ah, Omar Khayyam,
If you were in Charlottesville,
You would have added trees
To a glass of wine, a loaf of bread and
Me beside you in Paradise Anow.
This trip is all about Frances’ work so I better do some reporting:
Frances was honored by a dinner and reception at the Univ of VA, School of Medical and Nursing last night. I’m glad I didn’t wear my Aloha shirt because
I would have been out of place. It was a fancy sit down dinner and Frances was asked to read her poetry on caregiving and to explain
how poetry can be used to humanize the medical world.
The following day, she gave a lecture , poetry reading and poetry writing workshop at a luncheon for caregivers. She read a poem from one of my books so I’m feeling good that we both made a difference.
We had to wear a different hat one evening when she read from her Kapoho book at WriterHouse and talked about memoir writing and poetry. There was someone wearing the Honolulu Advertiser shirt. Wow, I quickly asked if he knew our friend Wayne Harada and he said yes. Small small world.
We went to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson and I must say, it was a pretty emotional tour. We stood on the exact spot where Jefferson stood as he watched the U of VA being built.
I didn’t know he was responsible for this university. We both felt the presence of Mr. Jefferson throughout our visit. Except at the shopping malls, which is a must stop for Frances.
My next book is called Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! so I kept thinking how Charlottesville loves trees just as I do. My book will be out in October and I hope all the places in the world will someday look like Charlottesville.
I’m going to L.A. with Frances on Friday so I hope to meet some friends in Torrance. She’s talking about her Kapoho book.
Stay tuned, maybe there’s a poem in Torrance.
Posted in Caregiving, Events, Hawaii, My Rants About Something, Uncategorized, tagged Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii, Watermark Publishing, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer on August 22, 2012 | 7 Comments »
I have a secret but don’t tell Frances….
I’m Wordsworth the Poet, the mouse who’s making Frances famous. Well, not famous famous but her third book about me is coming out in October called: Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer and she’s going to Hawaii for a month for its launch. I know Watermark Publishing is the one getting the book out but without me, there really wouldn’t be any Wordsworth books.
She’s packing for New York and Charlottesville, VA right now. Goodness, you’d think she had four sets of feet at the number of shoes she’s packing. She’s giving lectures and workshops on her caregiving books and her latest one called Kapoho: Memoirs of a Modern Pompeii. Of course my 2nd book called WW Dances the Waltz is on her agenda.
Is she taking me with her? Not a chance. She always leaves me at home. But shhhhh….guess what….I found a small space in her suitcase among her shoes so I’m going to NY.
Wow, I can hardly wait to get to NY. I’ve always heard of NY cheesecake so that’s on my To-Do List.
Since you’re in on my secret, and I know you won’t tell, I’ll send you news from NY and Virginia. Check this blog site and you will get the true mouse’s eye and ear view of NY and VA. Then on to L.A. twice before she goes to Hawaii.
I promise not to censor anything. Hope she does something exciting and “greyish”
Gotta go…am sneaking some cheddar cheese inside her shoes.
WW the Poet.
INTO THE NEXT STAGE — Surviving Prejudice, Lava, and Hawaiian Pidgin English: An Interview with Frances Kakugawa
Thu, Aug 9 2012 | 2 Comments
A few months ago, I reviewed “Kapoho: Memoirs of A Modern Pompeii,” the 10th book by poet/author Frances Kakugawa. In her series of short stories, she remembers growing up Japanese American in the small town on the east side of the Big Island, the prejudice her family faced after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the 1960 eruption that buried her hometown, and her sometimes comical plight to become a writer saddled by her pidgin English culture.
Because the author will be in Southern California next month promoting her book, I thought I’d interview her about the collection. Full disclosure: She’s my aunty, MANAA is co-sponsoring one of the events, and I wrote one of the blurbs on the back of her book.
Most stories about the effect the bombing of Pearl Harbor had on Japanese Americans are of those who were here on the mainland. I’ve read very little about those of us in Hawaii. How were the accounts of mainlanders similar to and different from your experiences?
It was more open and direct here in California. Of course, my answers are based on a child’s memory whereas the work I’ve read are memories of adults. And Kapoho was so far removed from the city as in Hilo or Honolulu.
But we were similar in having people sent to internment camps and being afraid of being attacked by other races. People anglicized their names. Hiramatsu became Hiratzka. The conductor of the train told me in Hilo at my signing that he changed his Japanese name to his mother’s maiden name, Wilson.
Not all Japanese were interned as in whole families in California. In the Miura family, only the man was interned, being a Japanese language teacher.
In your book, Mr. Naka, who spoke no English yet was so loyal to the war against Japan, saluted the U.S. troops every day. Many people would assume that if we went to war with a country, immigrants from that country would side with the enemy. Why did you think he was different and were there a lot like him?
We were all devoted and patriotic Americans. Mr. Naka’s son was one of the first to be inducted and killed. If there was any loyalty toward Japan, it was privately done. In our house, we were all Americans.
Although the military police were rude, throwing rocks at your house if your lights weren’t out, many of the soldiers helped you find Easter eggs, some became close to your mom, teaching her how to make pasta, others played cards with your dad. They were able to see you as Americans first and Japanese second?
I thought about this. Isn’t it a different psychology today? These soldiers would never harm us; they saw us as victims of the war. It must have been similar when our soldiers went to Germany and other parts of Europe. When I was in Germany in the ’60s, an old German woman began crying when she saw me, and her son told me I reminded her of the kind soldiers from Hawaii. I’m sure even today, there are many such military men and we only hear of the negative — the rapes and killings of local people. I have to believe this.
You had relatives in Hiroshima on both sides of your parents’ family. All of that history was gone with the dropping of the atomic bomb, likewise when Kapoho was covered by the eruption (and before that when people had to burn Japanese artifacts). In “Kapoho,” you said books were the only things that survived a civilization. Was becoming a writer your way of ensuring your place on this Earth wouldn’t be forgotten?
Books meant so much to me when I first learned to read in first grade. And being surrounded by soldiers and all the signs of war, I really wanted to live. And I connected to books because I knew once your name was on a book, it would be forever. I became obsessed with dying. I read poems on the fragility of life. I sang the blues.
That dream of wanting to be a writer became a great tool for forgiveness. It didn’t matter how mistreated I was, I knew that someday I would become a writer so, whatever negativism I experienced, it was okay because someday I was going to become a writer. Today, everything that happens, especially the negative, I see them as great resources for a story. Caregiving for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, opened up a whole new resource for my poetry.
As someone who saw first-hand the effect war had on an ethnic population, what has been your reaction to wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan?
First, I became fatalistic and always lived with the idea of death. When the Korean War broke out, we Japanese thought it would be their turn [Korean Americans] to be ostracized, but it didn’t happen. I’ve been a strong anti-war activist with my poetry. I’m known in Sacramento as a Poets for Peace poet and am invited to read my poetry at peace events. I wrote anti-war poems during all the wars up to today.
Also, the indignities of being treated like the enemy made me very conscious of dignifying each human being, in my teaching and in life in general. I do that with my work with caregivers, dignifying the caring for loved ones with dementia.
We have not learned from history about hate. It amazes me how Pearl Harbor — that happened in 1941 — has been inherited generation after generation. So this is how America deals with war. If you attack our soil, watch out, enemies forever. But if we attack you, well, it’s a different story.
“Eh, you tink you haole?” What’s to account for this defensiveness among a lot of Hawaii’s people? It’s almost like blacks who try to succeed — they’re accused of selling out or trying to be white. It’s as if they want to remain in a lower strata of society with less options in life. Is it that they feel they’re going nowhere, so don’t want anyone else to succeed (crabs in a bucket syndrome)?
I think it was a way to keep us grounded. Don’t try to be white when you’re a local. “You think you’re better than us?” I was called a “banana” often … yellow on the outside, white inside.
Are those less successful begrudging of those who did well?
No, there is such pride in having someone succeed. Pahoa [the town just north of Kapoho to which many former Kapohoans moved after the 1960 eruption] did a community autograph party for me, so proud that I came from that area. Even today, Kapoho people tell me how proud they are of me … It’s like I’m one of their children. Remember Mrs. Tsutsui, who came to every signing, saying, “So proud to have someone from Pahoa/Kapoho be so smart”?
Frances Kakugawa, former Kapoho train conductor Mr. Wilson, and my mother, Janet Aoki, at a book-signing in Hilo.
Did you change everyone’s names in your book? Which ones did you decide to keep and why? Anyone wish you had used their real name?
I changed everyone’s name except my family’s. I’m asked today to identify Mrs. Honda [whose 5-year-old daughter died when a visiting doctor gave her too much anesthesia to remove her tonsils; for the rest of her life, the tormented Honda told Kakugawa if her daughter had lived, she would’ve looked just like her and become a writer] and my answer is: “I’m not saying; it doesn’t matter who they were.” I’m sure many people would know her by her real name.
What are the reactions from people who don’t understand pidgin English? Do they understand the humor?
They do because many have their own version of Pidgin. [It symbolizes] their own experiences of bettering themselves from where they were. So Pidgin is for many that same metaphor for that something that could hold them back.
I was especially moved reading about how both you and your mother showed your love throughout the years through gestures — her giving you taxi money and you caring for her after Alzheimer’s took over. You noticed us nieces and nephews hugging her and her hugging us back without any hesitation, and yet you felt unable to do that. I remembered after coming back to Hilo for one of my annual vacations, and I hugged Grandma, and she continued to hold me for a long time with one arm around me. What was your fear that would’ve happened had you been more comfortable expressing your feelings toward her or hugging her when she still recognized you?
It was my own hang-up. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that because it was not our way since childhood. So I was so pleased to see you and your cousins hug her… as though you were making up for what her children couldn’t do. Pathetic, but this is what culture does sometimes. Yet, it was understood that even without physical contact, there was love. We found ways of expressing that love in other ways. My generation spoke of it often — No matter how old we were, our mothers would stay up until our cars drove into the garage. Things like that. And if people were mean to us, watch out, they became their enemy, too.
What do you think of the depictions of Hawaii people through shows like “Hawaii Five-0,” “Magnum P.I.,” etc., George Clooney and “The Descendants,” where white characters dominate and locals are mostly background or supporting characters?
That’s a Hawaii mentality, as far back as I can recall: Mainland is better, smarter, and of greater value. We look to the mainland first before involving the locals. When I was teaching, we paid heavily for mainland expertise over the locals. Once I went around the islands with a mainland couple doing workshops. They were paid a thousand dollars a day, per diem, with plane fare and hotel, while I got only plane fare. Guess what? I am now living in Sacramento, so I’ve upped my ante. I’m seen as a more valued and even more capable lecturer now. Funny, huh? I’m still the same person.
Media, movies, and books (written by whites) gave us the message that the mainland was synonymous with whites. Whites were seen as being superior to locals … the true sugar plantation syndrome. And not too many left the islands during those years.
Can you talk about recently going back to Kapoho and meeting new residents and their reaction to your book?
I’m very impressed and humbled by the New Kapoho. They came out saying they want to know of the old Kapoho because they want to retain what was there. They are intent on honoring the old human values. One said they’re opening their roads so anyone can use them to go to the beach. They have thanked me for this book because until now, they knew nothing about the land on which they are living.
The amazing thing, which pleases my publisher, is this book is being read by people in the Midwest all the way to New York. I’ve had readers tell me how the outhouses and kerosene lamps brought back their own memories.
Tell us about how you’ve helped people deal with being caretakers of loved ones through writing poems about their experience.
Poetry writing allows us to really find our true voice and to make sense of what’s happening. Otherwise we live on the external level of caring for someone, which can become a mundane day-by-day drudgery. Poetry helps us to reflect and dig beneath the surface. And the wonder of it is, it’s not only about being a caregiver, but it makes us focus on the ones being cared for. Being a poet/caregiver makes a world of difference.
There was a male caregiver who was caring for his mother. When he came to my session, he was thinking of killing his mother and himself because he was totally exhausted and depressed. He wrote one poem in 10 minutes, weeping so much he couldn’t read it. It was all about feeling (pages 149-150 in “Breaking the Silence.”) During the next few nights he wrote over 30 poems and today, he is in control, a compassionate and loving caregiver.
I am on my third and fourth poetry writing support group and I’m having 100 percent success in helping caregivers rise above the burden of caregiving. Imagine this … this most devastating disease becomes a great source for the arts. And it helps caregivers preserve their loved ones and themselves in poetry. At the end, caregiving becomes a gift. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Writing allows us that tool to help ourselves until there is a cure.
You’ve also started a memoir writing group in Sacramento.
These people read “Kapoho” and felt a need to tell their own stories. This book is generating a great interest in preserving their stories for the future generations. “Kapoho” seems to have awakened this idea that their lives are of interest and importance to others, too. My simple writing style also gives the message that “hey, I can write, too.”
Kakugawa will discuss some of the experiences that led her to wanting to become a writer at a book reading and signing at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library in Torrance (co-sponsored with the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California and MANAA) on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. (for more information, contact me at email@example.com) and at the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. [contact JANM at (213) 625-0414]. To reach the author for lectures and workshops — or to just say hi — contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on her life and work, go to her website, http://www.francesk.org.
Get me a Motorcycle
And so my friend Mary and I ventured out into the country, on our way to Pope Valley.
We had no plans from Sacramento to Pope Valley, except to stop where the spirit drove us.
“This place is usually busy with bikers,” Mary explained. “They’re noted for their egg rolls. Let’s drop in.” Not even a motorcycle in sight.
Turtle Rock is a bar located somewhere, nowhere on earth. It’s one of those places that appears in black and white in old photographs of time past.
Oh my. The ceiling was covered with dollar bills. Hundreds and hundreds of dollar bills hanging like Charlie Brown’s tails of kites that never made it. There were messages, phone numbers and words of wisdom on each dollar.
Fascinated, I took a crisp dollar out and Pete, owner of the bar handed me a black felt pen.
What can I write over George’s face? I wrote Aloha. Kapoho. If I owned a motorcycle, I would have written my phone number.
(IF you haven’t noticed, Kapoho is the place of my birth in remote Hawaii and is also the title of my newest book: Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii.)
Owner Pete practically jolted me out of my skin when he said, “Kapoho? I know that place.”
His wife is from Hawaii, his mother-in-law retired as a music teacher from Iolani School where one of my nieces was a student. We “talked story” about the connections between us and I felt I was on the old wooden porch of our house in old Kapoho. The Big Island, island of my birth, is his favorite. He promised to purchase my book for his wife. Wow.
I ate one of the famed egg rolls. It’s broke da mouth good, as we say in Hawaii.
So bikers, look for my dollar bill and ask owner Pete to tell you about Kapoho. He may even lead you to the nearest book shop.
Capell Valley Rd