Takashi Kitaoka
100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)

Community

Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese, and a few Hawaiians populate Kaeleku plantation camp in Hana district.

Most travel is by horseback.

The coffee house, a restaurant, plantation store, blacksmith, and movie house serve camp residents. Movies, shibai [Japanese drama], Fourth of July and ethnic events provide recreation.

A plantation doctor lives in Hana, three miles away. About every six months, a dentist stops by the area.

Kaeleku

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[Kaeleku] was a compact community and everybody got along very well. There was good association, good camaraderie with all the different races. For example, with the Filipinos, with the Hawaiians, with the Portuguese. Very few Hawaiians worked for the plantation. Of course, the Portuguese had the better jobs, they were the lunas [overseers], so to speak. And we got along very well.

Well, I guess we were about the same [as other plantation people]. I can’t think of anything special about being the son of a coffee-shop owner.

[Kaeleku] was another plantation town but it was part of Hana. It was in Hana district. You see, the Hana district extended from Keanae on one side to Kaupo on the other side. That would be maybe twenty or twenty-five miles apart.

[My father’s coffee shop] was right at the entrance to the — you don’t call it a town, it was a camp.

Plantation

There was the plantation[-owned] store and that was the main store that provided most of the needs of the community. I would say that there were about, oh, three hundred or four hundred workers there [on the plantation]. That’s about all.

The majority of [them] were Filipinos, a good number of Japanese families, some Portuguese, very few Hawaiians.

[The workers lived in] one camp, and they lived in plantation houses provided by the plantation. That’s rent-free as I understand it.

Nahiku Ranch

[Nahiku Ranch was] about three or four miles away. There was quite a bit [of mixing between the ranch and plantation people].

When the ranch people drove the cattle to Hana, they would, on the way down stop, for meals. On the way going back, they would stop again to have their meal. It was mostly pastries and things like that.

During the weekends, they would mix. They would come down and associate with the plantation workers in games, like softball and things like that.

Most of the ranchers were Portuguese. Of course, they had hired hands like the Hawaiians and they helped them, too. But I would say that majority of the ranchers were Portuguese.

Transportation

[Transportation] mostly was with horses. There were very few cars, automobiles. I rode on the horse [a lot].

Prior to my time, my brothers went to school on horses. They went to Hana School on horses. Although in my time, we rode the school bus that was run by a private person.

I know that we had about two horses. We used that horse for traveling, to go fishing, whenever we needed transportation, we would ride the horse.

My parents [took care of the horses] and the kids helped.

I must tell you, at one time I fell off the horse when I was a kid. I wrenched my wrist. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t tell my parents about it, but I got by. The saddle became loose and so I fell down. But luckily I didn’t get hurt, I just wrenched my wrist.

Medical Care

For medical care, there was one doctor. He was a plantation doctor and he lived in Hana. Hana was about three miles away. So he took care of everything. As a matter of fact, although he was hired by the plantation, he took care of the entire community.

The doctor [also took care of women giving birth]. But, they had midwives, too, at that time. They helped to take care of the births.

We had no dentist. It was just absolutely terrible. The dentist would come from Kahului or Wailuku, I don’t know which, about once in six months, and we would be treated. He would be there for a few days, so we would get our dental treatment there.

Now, if you had a toothache in the interim, there was no hope. The only way was to go to a medical doctor and have that tooth pulled out. That was the cure for it back then. That happened to me.

Businesses

There was another restaurant, too, in our town. I don’t know if they had any kind of [bill payment] arrangement with the plantation because all I know is that we had that arrangement.

There was a blacksmith; there was movie house; and, of course, the plantation store. That’s about all. Everybody went [to the movies]. Most of the people went there weekly. There was no other form of entertainment.

We could go [to the movie house]. Once a week, on Saturday night, we would have a movie. It was run by a private person, and the charge was ten cents per [child]. I don’t know how much the adults paid.

In fact, I had a lot of fun going to the operator of the movie camera to help him rewind the films and all that kind of stuff.

It was a small house. Bigger than the ordinary house but then I would imagine it would take in about fifty to maybe a hundred, at the most, people. We have these plantation chairs, I imagine, wooden chairs.

[We saw] Westerns, mostly. Some dramas. And, of course, we had the news [like the newsreel]. No Filipino movies, as I recall. There were some Japanese movies but very rare.

You talk about entertainment, they had this Japanese shibai where the people would, Japanese people, would act in drama, so to speak . . . in the plantation camp someplace. There might have been a few people who came in from the outside, but most of the [actors] were local people.

[In Hana,] there was this well-known, famous, Hasegawa General Store. There was the [T.] Okada Store, there was the Sumida Store, and there was a Chinese store, as I remember, run by a Chinese fellow by the name of Mr. Lung. And there was only one barbershop, as I recall.

Celebrations

We would have all of the Japanese celebrations in those days. Japanese would observe all of the Japanese festivities. The Filipinos would have their own, Rizal Day, for example. That’s the way it was.

We would, on the Fourth of July, have the whole community down in Hana and have a community affair where there would be footraces and things like that. That would be all day, and my father would go down there and sell hot dogs for the whole group.

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

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