seven random things, hometown edition


A little while ago, the lovely and talented Susan Taylor Brown presented me with this wonderful Stylish Blogger Award! The alphabet soup kitchen helpers and I are tickled pink that Susan finds our aprons and oven mitts worthy of recognition ☺.

This award comes with these responsibilities:

1. Thank and link to the person(s) who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to five blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

For my seven random facts, I decided to focus on my hometown of Wahiawa on the island of O’ahu. I lived there for the first 25 years of my life, attended two elementary schools, middle school, and high school there.

Whenever I go back to visit, I am struck by how ramshackle and sad it looks. It’s a small country town that time forgot and I only have a handful of relatives still living there. But this is where I spent my childhood during a time when you could walk or bike almost anywhere, hamburgers cost 25 cents, and big excitement was seeing a new Elvis movie at the Wahiawa Theatre with my cousins.

SEVEN (MOSTLY FOOD) MEMORIES and the photos that prompted them:

1. I loved my second grade teacher, Miss Tomita, who had short perky hair and wore flats like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I think she liked me, too, until she overheard me call her "Miss Tomato" while joking with friends. Even then, I was all about word play and food.

I attended Wahiawa Elementary School for grades K-3.

2. At Ka’ala ES, I suffered a grievous injustice. *shudders* I used to sit next to Arleen S. every day in the cafeteria. We always bought our lunch (excellent shortbread cookies!). One day we had peas, which we hated. We were trying to think of a way to make them disappear, since we couldn’t go out to play until we ate everything.

Well, Arleen hid a couple of peas in my still-full milk carton, and when I expressed my disgust, the on-duty teacher came over to investigate. She saw the peas and scolded me for playing with my food — then assigned me to detention for a week! Arleen, giggling, got off scott free. Though it was humiliating sitting in detention with all the troublemakers in school, the greater injustice was that Miss Maeda didn’t give me a chance to explain. I never ate lunch with Arleen again.

3. For a couple of years, Gail H. was my very best friend. We always walked home from school together and stopped at B-Sweet, a small candy store, where we stocked up on orange sherbet, cracked seed, shredded mango, Red Whips, and the best rainbow-flavored lollipops in the world. We had fun joking with Bill, the owner, who lived above the store with his parents and daughter. Then we went to my house, where we listened to the Everly Brothers, paraded around in my mother’s high heels, and devoured our snacks.

B-Sweet has been closed for years. Bill’s mother used to sit outside and greet us kids.

4. I didn’t attend church as a child, but as an adult, I served for a brief time as Youth Advisor at Olive United Methodist Church. Had fun doing Halloween Haunted Houses, Mother’s Day breakfasts, and playing piano for the choir. 

5. Enjoyed many a bowl of Korean dumplings at Seoul Inn (now called Seoul BBQ). Of course they were never as good as my Grandma’s or mother’s, but it was a treat to eat out once in awhile. Still remember the crumpled bits of dried seaweed, sliced fried egg garnish and the tasty chicken broth.

Seoul Inn with the orange double door entrance.

6. With Leilehua High School I came full circle, since after college I was a substitute teacher there for awhile. I especially enjoyed subbing for Mrs. Ishimoto, because I loved her speech class. To this day I do not like public speaking, but during my junior year, "Ish" inspired me to channel my inner drama queen with original oratory, humorous interp, dramatic interp, and extemporaneous speaking.

Leilehua High School entrance.

Speech Tournaments were always nerve wracking, and during my original oratory once I actually forgot my speech right in the middle. Luckily I recovered after a few panicky seconds and finished okay, receiving higher scores than I did for what I thought was a better performance later (no mistakes).

7. The Wahiawa Public Library is my favorite place, where the most significant, life-changing things happened. It’s where a kind librarian once handed me Oliver Butterworth’s The Trouble With Jenny’s Ear, and said, "I think you’ll like this one," where I discovered the Little House Books, all of Beverly Cleary, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Little Women, where I spent countless hours doing homework and research, where the big world outside my little town opened up with possibility.

Wahiawa Library still looks the same after all these years.

  Front circulation desk.

Children’s Section.

Hello Truman’s Aunt Farm!
Wahiawa Library is also where I returned last October, to find one of my books on the R shelf next to Jenny’s Bear, Sara Lewis Holmes’s Operation Yes not too far away, along with two Grace Lin books. My excitement at seeing Sara’s and Grace’s books was greater than for seeing my own, because I felt like I was nine years old again, and I wanted to shout: "Look, look! I know them!" Who’d have ever thought I’d find Sara and Grace waiting for me in Wahiawa? When I was little, I never thought authors were real people. The library will always be a place of magic.

Hello Operation Yes!

Year of the Dog right next to Year of the Rat!

Thanks for the award, Susan! Since I’m working on food memoirish stories and essays now, I enjoyed this little trip back in time. I gotta write about that candy store. And do you think I should write a lunch pea story to get back at Arleen? ☺

♥ Friends, if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. I’d love to hear seven random things about you and your hometown, or anything else you feel like sharing. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.