Another old structure bites the dust

Several weeks ago a college friend of my dad’s shared this article about the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, saying that some of the photos reminded him of photos I’ve posted about our farm. The history related in that article is the general setting of my great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ lives in Hawai’i. And it reminded me about their kuriba, the mill.

One day we drove down the road a few months ago and noticed the old Murata kuriba was finally smashed down. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why it wasn’t done decades ago. I wrote a little about the kuriba in “The Old Days on the Murata farm” and “More on the Old Days.” When I see these two photos, taken about four years apart, what strikes me is how much more lush the recent photo is. The 2019 photo was taken in January, the dry season.

Normally we’re always driving by, and there’s no good place to pull over so I could take a photo. The recent photo (above, on the right) was taken a few days ago, when we walked along our road to attend the bon dance at Daifukuji temple. It was the first bon dance at Daifukuji since the pandemic, and the first one in the afternoon, not evening/night. (This is just a random photo of mine and not necessarily a good, representative one. See Reiko’s blog for more coverage, but she was busy dancing so probably didn’t take as many photos as she’d have liked. If you use Google Chrome, it’ll offer to translate the Japanese.) I loved seeing people all over the temple grounds. Youngsters, oldsters, locals, visitors, people dressed in kimono, yukata, happi coats, etc. Dancing, sitting on benches, on the ground, observing from higher up at the temple entrance. My friend and I took a wild guess, “300 attendees?” A true community event.

The temple is just 0.6 miles away, but it’s a curvy road, mostly with no shoulder. It’s pretty dangerous to walk just half a mile. Usually when we walk on any road, we walk facing traffic. With this road, we cross the road several times depending on the shoulder or lack thereof, and keeping in mind how visible we’d be to drivers. We have a section of guardrail on the road curve bordering our farm. It is not infrequent, every so many months, that accidents still happen where a vehicle meets that guardrail or the rock wall on the opposite side of the road.

It’s almost 3.5 miles to Konawaena school. One year in her school age years, Mom had to walk home from school each day; it took an hour. Back then the road didn’t have anything close to the vehicle traffic it now has. You hardly ever see children walking to school here anymore; it’s too dangerous.

When Mom and I were just chatting on the phone, she mentioned that when she was growing up, she and most of her peers didn’t celebrate birthdays, or maybe they did with just their families. Everyone was too busy with their family coffee farms. It’s interesting that the progeny of most of those families are now enjoying relative prosperity. Most no longer do manual labor. Few kids, if any, do manual work most of the day to help support the entire family. It’s a time of plenty, at least one car in every household (maybe one or more for each driver), fast food, mobile phones, the internet, social media, and inexpensive, frequent flights to and from the mainland.

Hawai’i has the highest life expectancy of all the states, at 80-81 years (different sources report slightly different numbers). It’s not uncommon to hear about centenarians or people in their 90’s. I think of Mrs. Teshima. In just the past week or two, several unrelated groups of visitors from California, all planned to eat at Teshima restaurant, a local institution, just south of Daifukuji. In the past few years, I’ve been eating there once or twice a week, usually for breakfast. From West Hawaii Today on 10/24/2013, “Mrs. Teshima, a well-known fixture in the Kona community who exemplified altruism, hard work and entrepreneurship, died Tuesday [10/22/13]. She was 106.” I found an article from this year, also from Images of Old Hawai’i, about Teshima’s.

For those of you who live here or who’ve been here, or been to Teshima restaurant, you might be able to follow my train of reflections. For the rest of you, maybe you’re reflecting on your own “old days.”

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