Family tidbits: More Waipahu history

My sister, Bonnie, filled in more information about this image, which was among the photographs of Waipahu in the 1940s posted here yesterday.


Bonnie recalls that some of the links my grandparents, Duke and Lani Yonge, had with the area:

Yes, the stacks belong to the Waipahu Mill. It was at the top of Depot Road, with the bottom being at Pearl Harbor. The building in the foreground is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, on the makai/Ewa corner of Depot Road and Farrington Highway. The vacant land you see between the camera and the church, and to the left of the church was once (maybe was then) our grandparents’ property. There was a cane field between the house and the highway, with cane sold to Ewa Plantation. I remember that I questioned why not the mill right in Waipahu. I don’t know whether it was because the folks from Ewa would come and harvest the cane and haul it away, while Waipahu would not, or if Ewa paid a better price, but I do remember asking — so Ewa plantation sticks. Seems strange when the field was in sight of the mill, but … who am I to question??? The school and parking lot for the church now front on the highway.

I don’t remember when our grandparents moved to their “new house” up on Farrington Hwy. I am thinking that they moved about 1947.

I do remember that our grandparents were the first house after the bridge over the stream on the mauka side, and that they originally owned 4 or 5 house lots. They built on one, or maybe they took up two. They sold one to the Yokono family, who owned the little grocery store in Waipahu where our grandmother alway shopped.

The Yokonos were a part of the hui that formed the Star Market chain. The first store was in Waipahu town, on the opposite side of Depot street from the old store and in the block between the highway and the mill. Seems to me like the store in Kahala was another very early store in their chain — but I may not be remembering well.

Across Farrington Hwy was the library and the telephone company switch building. Waipahu High School was just Ewa of the phone company, on the corner of Farrington Hwy and the little road that went past the Jones house and down around to where the old house was located behind the Catholic church. Now it connects with Depot Road. I don’t remember that it did 60 years ago. Not far beyond the high school, Kunia Road intersected Farrington Highway.

How did I get here? Was just going to tell you that this is a photo showing the back side of the Catholic Church. Oh, and that the priest and our grandfather were drinking buddies! He was, after all, raised Catholic, even though he was never a practicing Catholic as an adult.

4 responses to “Family tidbits: More Waipahu history

  1. I believe the Yokonos were owners of the BigWay Supermarket chain. I don’t recall a Kahala store but they had one in Manoa and Wahiawa where my father worked.

  2. Ian…what wonderful memories your mom’s pictures bring up for me. I was born in 1943 in Waipahu (like your sister) and lived there throughout the 40’s and 50’s.
    The sugar mill was used until 1970, when Ewa Plantation was purchased by Amfac, Oahu Sugar’s owner. Also, as the previous commentator noted, the Yokono family started Bigway Supermarket, not Star as Bonnie thought. I know because my mom worked there for many years.
    Thanks again for sharing the pixs.

  3. I went to St. Joseph’s School from 1958-1964. The building in the foreground was the priests’ home, the church in front of it. Farrington Hwy. runs right in front of the bell tower in the picture.

    There was a paved area to the left of the church building, then the kindergarten classroom and cafeteria building. Then a wide blacktop and the first through third grade buildings. Fourth grade was in portables at the far left of the property line, just before the river.

    There was a footbridge over the stream which students took to go to the library. Just past the library was Waipahu High School (which later became Waipahu Intermediate).

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