I was back digging through some of the last unexplored piles of my mothers papers, clippings, and other items stacked haphazardly in boxes, or just left in piles, in a storeroom off the garage in the old Kahala house where my parents lived for over 70 years.
And, in the process, I turned up another treasure, a few pages of typed notes on Hawaiian medicines, based on conversations with her mother, Heleualani Cathcart Yonge, just two months before she died in the summer of 1959. There are also references to additional details gathered from a a few family friends (you’ll see some of them mention in the notes).
There are at least 17 plants listed, with brief notes on how they were prepared and what they were used for. Some are relatively familiar today, such as Noni, but others obscure.
Here’s a sample from my mom’s notes:
Many years ago when my father was very ill and there wasn’t a Dr. in Honolulu that could find anything wrong with him, some friend of my mothers made an api or tonic to build up the general health. This is my mother’s description: Ingredients were coconut, noni, ini and the juice of the red & white striped sugar cane. This was all ground or p ounded and the juice forced out. All of the refuse from the ingredients was tied in a bundle and disposed of out in the ocean by one person with no one else around (hold-over from kahuna days).
Did it work? She doesn’t say.
And don’t miss the anecdotes on the last page, drawn from my mother’s memory of a summer spent with the Whittington family in Kau (there were a couple of Whittington girls among her friends while at Kamehameha. My mother graduated in the Class of 1931.