Monday, March 06, 2006

A Belated Merry Christmas

To say that the people in Kakaako were poor would be an understatement for the majority of families. We were in a depression and Christmas presents were limited to one or two, mostly underwear, shirts or pants. My brother and sister and myself wore underwear that was made by my grandmother from flour bags.

For the group of boys that I hung around with, Christmas ran from December 26 until early January. On none school days, we would leave home early in the morning and walk to Manoa Valley where the rich kids lived. We would split into two groups, one group on each side of the street, and go through every trash can looking for discarded toys and broken bicycles, scooters, wagons and tricycles. Dolls, too, for our sisters.

We would fill our wagons with the discarded toys and pushing the broken bicycles ahead of us jubilantly head for home where we repaired and repainted the toys. We often had to cannibalize two or three bicycles to make one good bike.

Outside of a complete bike, wheels of all sizes and their axles were worth their weight in gold. We would nail the good wheels from a pair of broken skates to the bottom of a 2X4 and have a crude but reliable skateboard. By adding an upright piece of wood and a crosspiece at the top we had a scooter.

Wheels from baby or doll carriages were perfect for boxcars. The front wheels did not have to match the back wheels in size as long as they were in pairs. Apple boxes were better than orange crates for the boxcars. The cars we made were very crude compared to the boxcars of today, but they worked and brought great joy to us.

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