LEIS, HULA GIRLS, NO CAR!
I learned the last few months of my senior year (1958) at Millikan that my father had a new job in Hawaii and we would have to move. Although Hawaii sounded really exciting, leaving my girlfriend, my friends, my car, Millikan, the senior prom, graduation and all the work I had been doing for the school annual and newspaper took the excitement away from me. I tried talking my parents into letting me stay with a friend until after graduation. However, as I was prone to getting into trouble now and then along with the fact that Mr. Bemis, Millikan's Principal, had just suspended me for three days for cutting class, they wisely said no. They did arrange for me to graduate from Millikan by finishing my classes in Hawaii.
The old prop plane bounced up and down like two teenagers in the back seat of a '55 Ford, due to a storm most of the nine-hour flight to Honolulu. Back then the planes had to fly low and slow and each time the lightning hit, some of the passengers would scream out just like in the first "Airplane" movie. Much to my embarrassment, my stepmother was one of them. But, watching the storm from my window seat was the most awe-inspiring thing I had ever seen.
In Hawaii, we lived
up in the mountains and I had no car. I had to walk down the
hill about a half-mile to catch a city bus to go to school. What
with street names like Punahou, Likinokai Ani, Kalakaua, Kanekapolei,
etc. and what with transferring buses, just getting to school
was an adventure.
McKinley High School is over 160 years old. On the first day I could not help but notice that there were only about four Caucasians in the whole school. Being shy, but also a seventeen-year-old guy, I also noticed that the girls there were not only very pretty, but also exotic. The school was made up of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Korean, Black, Puerto Rican, Samoan, Part-Hawaiian, and a beautiful mix of them all.
HEY HAOLE, HOWZ NANI DA WAHINES
The biggest problem for me was they all spoke not only English but their own language in the hall-ways and Pidgin English as well. Although they were all very friendly and spoke to me in English, at times it had a lot of Pidgin mixed in so at first I wasn't sure what they were saying. You can only say uh so many times. The word for teacher was kahuna, Kai for ocean, makai for toward the ocean, mauka for toward the mountain. In time those strange sounds started coming from my lips too; words like ono for delicious, pau for finished, and nani wahines for beautiful women (as I said, I was a 17 year old guy).
At Millikan, the biggest problem in 1958 was chewing gum in class and guys with long hair. At McKinley, it was using Pidgin English or wearing slippers (flip-flops) in the classroom. A lot of guys would wear flip-flops to school and keep shoes in their lockers and change when they got to school. Some would go so far as to carry their shoes to school; put them on to go into the classroom; after class take them off in the hallway; walk to their next class; and then put them on again. In time I learned to love flip-flops, too.
Our P. E. coach was also the coach for the track team. I asked him if I could try out for the team, something I had always wanted to do and now that I was not involved in the school annual or paper, I would have the time. Coach Santos said, "sure take a lap and I'll time you." Because of the move to Hawaii, I only had street shoes as our things were still coming by ship. So I took my street shoes off and started running in my bare feet. After the lap, I went over to the coach and he said, "you can make the team, but you're not used to running bare foot, are you?" As he said this, he was looking at my feet so I looked down and they were a bloody mess. It turns out the track was made of ground up coral and very sharp. With an adrenaline rush from being put on the spot to run, I had not felt the pain until then. It took about two weeks for my feet to heal. I did letter and got a small M in track, which I felt good about as I started late and missed a lot of time due to injuries.