Mama_Memories


One Day At A Time

1921 July 29

Mama was born in Lahaina, Maui.  Her birth was celebrated by her parents, Kyusaburo and Akie and grandparents, Genzaburo and Natsu Makiyama.  She was the awaited next generation.  She was spoiled and pampered.

1924 March 11

Harumi was born in Lahaina, Maui.  His birth started a snowball of events for Mama, Mamaʻs parents and her grandparents.  Natsu wanted to return to Madarashima and so Genzaburo told his son it was time to return to Japan.  Akie who was born and raised on Maui did not want to return to Japan.  Kyusaburo decided to stay in Hawaii with his wife and children.  The sad turn of events, the old Japanese felial piety, atotori, and so on and all that junk kicked in and Kyusaburo was coerced into saying yes, Genzaburo could take Mama back with them when they left.  Akie was devastated, but women did not have much to say in those days.

To be continued

To be continued

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Mama’s Return to Hawaii on the SS President Cleveland 

The ship departed Kobe, Japan on 16 Mar and arrived in Honolulu on 24 Mar 1939.  On the ship, Mama was very seasick and the cabin attendant tried to help her.  He was a black man and she had never met any one who was not Japanese.  She was frightened out of her wits.  However, as the days passed, she realized that he was just being kind to her.  Everyday he brought her hard boiled eggs, crackers and tea.

Once she arrived at Immigration, she and a Chinese girl were the last remaining, unclaimed passengers.  She didn’t know what to make of it because Grandfather Kyusaburo was to come and get her.

Grandfather Kyusaburo’s story is that he couldn’t decide whether the Chinese girl was Mama or that Mama was Mama because he wasn’t allowed to talk with Mama.  True to a Mother’s instinct, Granny had also come to Immigration to catch a glimpse of Mama and approached Grandfather Kyusaburo.  Granny told him that Mama was their daughter and not the Chinese girl.  Grandfather Kyusaburo always said that no matter what Granny’s bravado had her say or do, Granny still loved the little girl who left in 1924.

Why Mama Learned to Do the Laundry

All the household laundry was sent out to Honolulu once a week with the Aloha Barbershop laundry.   One day Mother says that she had just put new sheets on her bed and was laying on it when she noticed the label on the sheet read Borthwick and not Aloha Barbershop.  She asked her Dad what is a Borthwick and he told her it was a mortuary.  She asked why a mortuary would use sheets and the story went downhill fast.  Mother asked her Dad for a washing machine.

The follow-on stories are hysterical.  One of which was the time my Grandfather Kyusaburo came home to find his daughter laying on the ground under the clothes line.  He went to see what was wrong and she sat up and said a spider tried to jump on her while she was hanging the laundry and she fainted.  Another time my Grandfather Kyusaburo came home and she asked him to buy more pins when he came home in the evening.  He asked why and looked out at the clothes line and saw each piece of laundry had at least 6 pins holding it up.  He said that he contracted with the local laundress to do most of their personal laundry.

Why Mama Decided to Learn How-to Cook
A long time before I came along, Grandfather Kyusaburo had a contract with the Shimonishi Soda Fountain next to his barbershop to provide 3 meals a day for him and his two children (my mother, 20 years old and her 13 years old brother).  According to the story, my Mother was eating her salad and found a green worm crawling in her lettuce.  She asked her Dad what it was and he said don’t worry, it won’t hurt you.  Just take it out of your salad.  Mother says that she kept wondering if she’d unknowingly eaten worms before so she asked her Dad (my Grandfather Kyusaburo) for a stove.  

The follow-on to the story gets funnier because Mother didn’t know a pot from a frying pan or even how to shop for groceries.   My Grandfather Kyusaburo says he came home from work one day and found his two children in a quandary over a can of hot spam.  They had put the can of spam into the pot and boiled it but they couldn’t get the spam out of the can because it was hot.  My Grandfather Kyusaburo says that he could have lost both children or at least they could have been hurt badly if the can of spam had exploded ‘cause he believes they boiled it on high!  Needless to say they continued to eat their main meals at the soda fountain.

Hizani Megusuri (literal translation eye drops on the knee)

The Japanese saying, hizani megusuri, non-literal translation means the absurd is the order for the cure.  My mother’s cat for a very long time used to pull her fur out whenever she was unhappy.  She spent several months out of the year nearly bald.  The Veterinarian thinking it might be a mineral deficiency prescribed a medication that was liquid and very bitter.  Mother could not get the cat to take the medication for all that she tried.  One day she hit upon the idea – cats wash themselves daily so why not paint the medicine on to her fur and she’d at least ingest some of it.  She did just that, and soon the cat’s fur was growing back.  The cat was not ingesting the medicine, she was carefully avoiding the areas that mother had painted the medicine on her fur!

1965 - First Japanese Book 4 Mama

September 1965 I left for college.  I guess that’s when I decided that of all the things that I could do for Mama, buying her books would make her the happiest.  There used to be a used bookstore on South King Street on the same block that currently houses the FEDEX Office.  I bought Mama her first Japanese book.  Technically, I am illiterate in Japanese.  So buying books are a challenge unless I can find a courteous Japanese salesperson.  Courteous and Japanese bookstore salesperson is usually an oxymoron, so I do my best.  This one was really good.  There was a skull and sand depicted on the cover.  I said yeowza, yeowza, a mystery book!  Purchased it with the little amount of discretionary income I had in those days and shipped it off to Mama.  Didn’t hear anything about the book, so curiosity got the best of me and I asked Mama how she liked the book.  She laughed.  I was offended.  Finally comes out that the book was a book about an archeological dig somewhere in the middle east.  Ok, that was funny, I guess.  However, not funny is the amount of money I’ve sunk into buying books for her over the next 45 years and still counting.  For the last few years we’ve been lucky to have Ellen at Hakubundo select books and ship them to her.  Costs roughly about $100 a month, but she’s happy and we’re happy.  She’s given hundreds of books to the Hawaii State Library system and we’ve had to dispose of hundreds to clear out her house and two apartments.  We usually keep the latest additions and chuck the rest.  Wish we could dispose of them in a more friendly manner like charity or something.

Obachan (30 Sep 1892 - Nov 1975)

Obachan was about as close to a Grandmother that I ever had.  She was Papa’s (my step Dad that Mama married in Dec 1965) Mother.  Her name was Toyo Miyano.  Mama did not get along with her like she doesn’t her son or me.  Mama likes things her way and Obachan was a very strong willed person.  I got along with Obachan because as usual I put all my cards on the table.  Obachan appreciated knowing what her boundaries were.  Mama never tells you the boundaries, but you sure know it when you cross it.  I remember Obachan used to make “popped rice candy” for me.  She’d keep all the old rice.  Dry them in the sun.  When I came home for school break, she used to make “popped rice candy”.  I appreciated it.  Mama hated it because Obachan would monopolize the kitchen.  Obachan and I used to sit at the dining room table and talk about stuff.  When I told her I like to make doll clothes and quilts.  She showed me her fabric stash and told me I was welcomed to them.  What a lady.  I remember Obachan asking me to marry her grandson, Paul so we’d be related.  I told her never will happen, I was too smart for him.  She said ok and never brought up the subject again.  She told me sometime in the 60’s that all the males in her family suffered from Alzheimer.  She called it ローモー “roomoo”.  The onset years were usually in their late 50’s/early 60’s.  Well, should have heeded her because that’s what happened to Papa.  He started acting strange in the 1980’s when he’d get lost coming home from work.  In those days, he used to recover, but I’m sure he was already losing his faculties.  By the time we committed him in 2002, he was really gone.  Within 6 months he didn’t know who we were or why he had to stay in the secured portion of Hale Kupuna.  Obachan, on the other hand, remained in complete control of her faculties until the day she died.

Obachan’s family:
     Obachan:  Toyo Miyano (30 Sep 1892 - Nov 1975), Niigata Pref, arrived on 8 Jul 1913 on the Nippon Maru (she was her husband’s paternal cousin and felt it was a privilege to be married to her husband who was from the “honke”)

     Husband:  Matsujiro Miyano (3 Feb 1878 - 10 Oct 1961)

          Matsuyoshi Miyano (8 May 1914 - 31 Jan 2006)

               Tochiko Inouye (4 Jan 1919 - 16 Jun 1997)

                    Ruth Y. (Miyano) Hamada

                    Paul H. Miyano

                    Jean Y. (Miyano) Sato

          Katsuo Miyano (16 Jun 1923 - 5 Jun 1950)

          Mitsuo Miyano (19 Aug 1926 - 18 Aug 2008)

               Hisaye (Mary) (Makiyama) Harunaga (28 Jul 1921 -  )

          Tadashi Miyano (9 Jun 1929 - 15 Oct 2009)

               (Wife 1)  Doris Misato Sugai (28 Feb 1925 - 10 Mar 2006)

                    Lori Sugai (from Aunty Doris’ first marriage)

                    Derek Miyano

                    Scott Miyano

                    Kent Miyano

                    Vince Miyano

               (Wife 2)  Name? Tumuning, Guam

Mama’s Friend, Patricia

Mama’s friend, Patricia who visits Mama every 2 weeks to give Mama a mani and a pedi.  Going on five years, she has been very reliable.  Certainly saves Mama from a trip to the Podiatrist every couple of months with in-grown toe nails.  Hopefully, she’ll continue indefinitely.  This past Christmas she gave Mama a very lovely zebra patterned house coat, a lap blanket and some bling-blings.  Mama likes bling-blings.  The other day she bought Mama a pair of leopard house slippers and a pair for herself.  Whenever she visits Mama, they wear the same slippers.  Pleases Mama very much.

Latest Project - Madara-shima Project

Doreen has written to the Madarashima Catholic Church (dispatched 11 Jun 2010).  We’ll see what happens.

“Hiroi sekai ni tada hitori, naze ni anata ga kou kawaii..”

Mama says she used to sing that song when she carried me around.  The first time Grandfather Kyusaburo heard her singing the song, he asked her where she learned the song.  She told him that she always knew just that part of the song.  Grandfather Kyusaburo told her that he used to sing the song to her when she was a baby.

Memories of Granny

Mama says that when Grandfather Kyusaburo sent her the record player via Uncle Yodomu, he sent a bunch of records.  The records were wrapped in Granny’s old clothing and she recognized one that she used to use when she did laundry.  Just from the behind.  It was pale brown with darker brown hash design.  She told her grandparents and they were awed by her memory.

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©December 2020 by hisiamone