Takashi Kitaoka
100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)

Coffee Shop

Toraki and a Chinese cook prepare food primarily for single Filipino workers and some Japanese workers. Pastries are served at breakfast. Lunch and dinner, less patronized, feature plain American food.

Meals are charged, with payments deducted by the plantation from workers’ wages.

Toraki bakes and distributes bread to families in Hana and Nahiku. Takashi chops and carries wood for the stove, kneads bread, and waits on tables.

The Filipino workers and some Japanese [came to the coffee shop], although not too many Japanese families because they had their own homes and they had their families. The Filipinos [primarily] were single [i.e., bachelors]. Therefore, they had to have their food from the coffee shop. Although not all of them. Some of them came to the coffee shop for their meals. For breakfast, especially.

[My parents communicated with the Filipino workers] in pidgin. That’s the only language they knew outside of their Japanese.

Maybe several dozen [workers would come in at any one time] at the most. My parents [would serve them]. In fact, as we grew up, we helped them to serve their patrons.

[The hours were] absolutely terrible. [My father] used to get up at two o’clock in the morning to prepare the food. And it’s a matter of maybe fourteen, fifteen, or even sixteen hours a day. So that’s pretty tough.

Supplies

[My father] never did have to go [to Wailuku]. You get all the things that you needed from Hana — from the plantation store and from the drummers who would come. Or else, there were several Japanese[-owned] stores in Hana so that we could get Japanese goods over there.

We would order certain things from Honolulu, by boat. The boat would come maybe once a week to Hana, and we would go down to the wharf and get the ordered things. There were drummers who came from Honolulu, maybe a few times a month, and they would take care of our needs, in that respect.

Food

[There was] no menu. The people knew what we had. (Laughs)

[The food provided was] very simple. They had bread, doughnuts, biscuits, bread pudding — all of the different pastries that people liked.

[The pastries were displayed] in a place where they could see. So that when they come, they would just point to what they wanted and we would serve them.

Most of the workers didn’t come there to take their lunch, they made their own lunches. But there were some who came there. And some of them came in for dinner. Although we catered to other people. By that, I mean the [Nahiku] Ranch people, the Hawaiians, so they were pretty busy.

For those who wanted to have dinner, we would provide dinner. Mostly American stew and things like that. Steak, sometimes. Just plain American food. Because I don’t think that the people there were too accustomed to Japanese food. The Japanese food was for the family.

My father had a Chinese cook to help him in preparing the food for the workers. We had Chinese food, too, because we had this Chinese cook. He not only prepared the pastries but he also cooked for the family.

We ate our meals at the coffee shop. Of course, that was separate, too, because my mother would cook for us. Japanese food mostly. And local food. I remember we ate Hawaiian food. We had this Portuguese soup, which was very popular at that time.

Helping Out

I don’t know what to call it, but the stove was metal and we used to use wood to heat it. We had to go get the wood. We had to go buy the wood from some of the ranches up in Nahiku, which is about maybe three or four miles away.

We would cut the wood and burn it for the stove. That’s one of my jobs, to help chop the wood and take it inside the house, near the stove, so that my father could use it.

The oven [to make the baked goods] was part of the stove. So that when you burned the wood, the heat would go to the oven on the other side.

One of the chores [at the coffee shop] was kneading the bread — kneading the dough, I should say. We would do that every day, every afternoon. That was all right, that was a lot of fun. And we would wait on the tables. By that, I mean take the orders and bring it to them. That’s how we helped them.

Bango Number

[Food was paid for by the Filipino workers] on a charge basis. We would charge them on the books.

The beauty of it was that the plantation made arrangements for my father to send the bill to the plantation, and they would make the payments [from the workers’ wages]. So that the payments were guaranteed, so to speak. [That freed my father from the job of being the bill collector.]

[They went] by bango [plantation accounting and identification] number.

Hana

[My father] would bake and distribute the bread. A lot of that, maybe once a week, to different families in Hana. Or even Nahiku.

Hana had two, three, bakeries, too, but then you know how it is. He would go to the area and he knew some people there and they want his bread, so he would bake the bread and take it down there.

Takashi Kitaoka's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takashi Kitaoka.

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