Poem Recalls Plantation Days

Editor’s Note: The poem below was written by E. Ileina Funakoshi, who was a member of the Class of 1951 at Waipahu High School


Born in a sugar plantation with no dreams, but poverty

Transform mud, plants, paper and cans into games and toys Trapping birds and catching crayfish

There was no food stamps or welfare

But fish and clams to be had in the ocean

Then bombs fell and the music stopped

There were banners with stars in the windows

Much sorrow fell upon our plantation town.

A lot of chatter, the 442nd boys were coming home

Peace again. We would be free to do Japanese things again.

But, by then, we had grown and were leaving home.

There were no jobs, cleaning houses or yards were the options

Education is the only way out, our parents said

Left for the big country where we were still called Japs.

We were children from Hawaii

With Aloha spirit to spread among hatred

For this land has given us the strength to endure and succeed.

‘Tis no more tho — doors are locked, danger lurks in the streets

No more rose apples, ‘ohi’a, guava trees in the hills nor cane tassels waving or pineapples growing alongside the road

We have come a long way, or have we?