Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Once There Was a Kapoho

Once there was a Kapoho
Where children played barefooted
Until the evening sun disappeared
And kerosene lamps and gas lamps
Beckoned each child home.

Once there was a Kapoho
Where outhouses and water tanks
Prominently stood as sentry guards
And `ohi`a firewood sent signals above rooftops,
Announcing a hot furo for the tired and the toiled.

Once there was a Kapoho
Where mothers pumping sewing machines
Marked the end of summer;
Homemade clothes and one-strapped schoolbags
For the first of September.

Once there was a Kapoho
Without television but battery-run radios
For "The Romance of Helen Trent,"
Dr. Malone and Arthur Godfrey.

Once there was a Kapoho
Without washing machines
But wooden washboards against concrete tubs
And slippery, muddy denims boiled in Saloon Pilot cans.

Once there was a place
Without shopping malls and Liberty House,
But catalogs from Sears and Montgomery Ward,
Dream-makers, before turning into a Charmin or MD.
Once there was Christmas without lights.

Yes, once there was a place
So simple and free
Where children swam in Warm Springs
And fished in Green Lake,
Played marbles and Ojame
And Steal Steal Stone.

Once there was a place
Where life went on without questions.
Sons went off to war,
Teachers taught the 3 Rs
Parents were the PTA
And children pledged allegiance.

Yes, once there was such a place
Until MADAME PELE said, "No more!"
And scattered all the children
Like stars in the universe,
Echoing Thomas Wolfe,
"You can't go home again."

Copyright Frances H. Kakugawa
First published in the Honolulu Advertiser,
November 21, 1999

Frances Kakugawa
Frances Kakugawa is a published poet (four books) and has written articles and stories for journals, etc. She is a retired teacher and, in her own words, "a struggling flutist." She worked as a live-in maid as a college student and learned what life was like outside Kapoho. She learned to set a table with silverware instead of red chopsticks as in Kapoho. She still has dreams of Kapoho as it was before Madame Pele's visit. Frances currently lives in Honolulu. The dessert she's holding at her birthday dinner at "A Pacific Caf?" is named Pele's Comet.

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Updated: 24 May 2000 (SRB)