We are seated at a table with
three generations of Miuras--Aunty Yukiko Yamane, her daughter Diane Horita, and her granddaughter Christy Horita. Aunty Yuki fumb
les around in her purse, searching for her "ear" while Christy and Aunty Diane chat quietly. Born and raised on Kauai, all three are prepared to share stories from their childhood with us. Aunty Yuki begins...
"I think Kauai is special because this is where I was born," she states matter-of-factly. Gazing out the window, Aunty Yuki travels further back into the past, to her home next to the family's Miura store in Kapaa town. "Across from Miura store, there w as a monument, and that was my playground equipment when I was a kid. The base was kind of an octagon shape, and that was our chair. And there was a chain around the monument and we used to swing on that. And the park had plenty of weeds so we used to make houses out of them, you know? So we had the bedroom, the kitchen, and the parlor," she continued, her hands gliding through the air and illustrating the divisions of the house.
"And then when I was going to school, grandpa would give me a nickel everyday when I came home. Miura Store had a lot of candies and things, but I always went down the street to Higashi Store, Minami Store, and the Chinese store to buy Chinese seeds." She recalls, smiling. "I went to Iwai's bakery too. Mr. Iwai used to bake early in the morning and then close the shop. And then, down the road, here comes me and he would have to open the bakery for me. I think I always used to order some kind of pastry with custard. Later, grandpa gave me 10 cents every day. So then I could go to the Saturday matinees at the Theater. When Uncle Sonny was born though, I had to put him to sleep before I went to the matinee."
"One thing I remember about my childhood on Kauai," Aunty Diane begins, "was playing around the goose pen we had in our backyard. It was about the size of our living room and kind of far off the ground. There was a platform on each corner and a narrow s trip connecting the platforms. So we would balance on the platforms and eat Java plums, the kind that stained your shirt. And everyone else was always at the store so they didn't know what we were doing" she says, glancing at Aunty Yuki.
"I also rem ember Aunty Machan, who kind of held the family together. She invited the entire family over to her beach house almost every Sunday, usually after church. All the kids would swim and play capture the flag. At night, we would have a bonfire and roast ma rshmallows. And Uncle Dean would always tell us scary stories, so we were afraid to walk back to the house alone.
"Right across Aunty Machan's beach house there was a hilly slope. my cousins and I enjoyed exploring through the trees and shrubs. To our surprise, we came across a pineapple field lying hidden from the view of the road. Pineapples sat on each plant, row upon row. We descended the hill, thrilled to have feasted our eyes on such a discovery, but not touching one fruit from that field."
Like her mother and grandmother, Christy Horita was born and raised on Kauai. "Since my dad grew up in Lawai, we spent a lot of time at my grandma's house there. What I remember most was that we didn't need toys of our own. Now, I was a real tomboy whe n I was a kid, so keep that in mind, okay?" she warns us. "We used to go down to the reservoir and use the branches of the Hau tree to make whips and guava branches to make bows and arrows. We would also play around in the bushes and go fishing f or fish, crayfish, and prawns. It was real country living. And the people are more friendly, laid back, and accepting."
Christy, unlike many others, has returned to Kauai after attending college on the mainland. "I've been to Japan three times; I'v e been to Canada and the mainland; but I always knew I would come back to Kauai. My roots are deeply planted here on Kauai and they always will be."
You can see Christy's poem in the Community Gallery.