Yes, the video is terrible. But the story is interesting.
On Thanksgiving, just before we faded into a food coma, I looked across the wreckage of the meal and asked my mother a few questions about the “old days”.
My mom is 96, turns 97 next May, and she graduated in the Kamehameha of 1931.
My iPhone video is out of focus. Her memory is not.
I asked about the Kamehameha Schools song contest, which is featured in a current set of broadcast ads. She responded, and added some comments about Kamehameha’s suppression of most things Hawaiian at the time.
Click for the video. Transcript follows.
Q: Did they have a song contest back when you were there?
It was only the girls. It wasn’t coeducational in my day. They were separate schools. There was the boys school, on the campus of Bishop Museum. THere was a preparatory school, an elementary school for boys, but no elementary school for girls, and that was where Farrington High School is. Add the girls school was on the Makai side of King Street, facing, now, Farrington High School.
Farrington was not built until…
Q: Where the housing is now?
All that housing, the whole block down, was the girls school. It was a big, big campus.
Q: Until when?
1931. I was in the last class that graduated from that school. The next September, the girls school had moved mauka. It was the first one there, the boys school didn’t move for a number of years.
The song contest. DIfferent girls classes competed. We didn’t have anything with the boys.
Q: Did they teach Hawaiian then?
Everything Hawaiian was suppressed.
Q: Even hula?
You weren’t allowed to speak Hawaiian, you weren’t allowed to dance the hula. But you could sing Hawaiian, because that’s what the tourists wanted, and they brought tourists to… But they educated you, we used to say, to be “good little haole servants.”
They taught you housekeeping, waiting on tables, cooking, and they..when I went to the university, I found I didn’t have any knowledge of what I should have had in math. we just didn’t have any. It was “arithmetic”. They didn’t prepare you the way schools are supposed to prepare you today. Just housekeeping.
Q: How many people went to college?
I don’t know. Not very many.
I don’t know when they started the coeducational, I’m not sure. The first girls on the mauka campus were still segregated, and I don’t know how many years later the boys finally moved up there. Then they put in an elementary school, coeducational. Up there. Everything is up mauka now.