A SNEAK PEEK
AT AN UPCOMING PROJECT
This series of Hawaiian oral history interviews was conducted in Hawai`i between 1992 and 1993. The following introduction and list of interviews are a precursor to the publishing of both the transcripts of the interviews, as well as the recordings themselves. I am also including a snippet of the original recording discussing the celebration of holidays in Carol's family in upcountry Maui during the early part of the twentieth century.
These interviews express the reflections on time, place, and inner spirit of the interviewee, Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias. She is a descendant of Hawaiian ali`i and a grandniece of Robert William Wilcox, a leader within the Hawaiian Royalist Rebellion of 1895. Most of our conversations were con-ducted in a sitting room located just beyond the living room. Surrounded by antique koa furniture, heirloom furnishings and photographs, Auntie Carol held animated dialogue with family, friends, and the many guests she greeted in her busy home. Usually clad in a shortee or floor-length mu`umu`u, her warmth and enthusiasm for living were punctuated by frequent nods and a jangling of bracelets made of carved wood, jade, and/or gold with distinctive carved Hawaiian lettering. (1)
Frequent phone calls, unexpected guests, family members, and even door-to-door salesmen were all part of daily life in the nuclear family's modified tract home in Kāne`ohe, Hawai`i, on the island of O`ahu. A visitor seldom left without a tangible reminder of his or her visit. Flowers, fruit, vegetables, and preserves were but a few of the parting gifts one carried back across the Ko`olau Mountains to the hustle and bustle of the city of Honolulu, or beyond to the mainland of the continental United States. Memories of the grace and charm of past Island living floated in one’s mind for many days after a visit to the home and garden of Auntie Carol.
My own visits to the home began in the winter of 1972, following my move to Honolulu. In January, I had moved from Portland, Oregon, where as child and young adult, I had trained and performed in theatre and dance. The timing of my arrival coincided with Island celebrations of the ever-popular birthday of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns, for which I had been booked as an entertainer. At a tea sponsored by the Daughters of the British Empire, I met Carol Farias and other people who expressed interest in having their daughters study Scottish Highland Dancing with me.
Soon I was privileged to begin teaching Carol's younger daughter Lorna with another girl living in their neighborhood. In addition to providing semi-private dance classes, I briefly tutored Lorna in language arts. As the number of students I taught grew, classes were moved into performing arts studios in downtown Honolulu. Eventually Lorna and other students participated in public performances and competition in Highland Dancing, including the Hilo International Festival and Highland Games on the island of Hawai`i. Beyond gatherings in our homes, Carol and her family helped plan my wedding in 1975, providing all the beautiful lei and kahili floral designs. (2) I was especially honored when she performed hula `auana [modern hula] at our reception, one of the few times she danced after her retirement from public performance in the 1930s and 1940s.
I should note that on December 6, 1941, Carol was dancing hula at the international Hawai`i Calls radio program that was aired at the Moana Hotel on Waikīkī Beach. Between 1935 and 1975, the popular weekly program featured live instrumental and vocal Hawaiian music and appearances by entertainers from comedy, theatre, and film. In the colorfully costumed and artfully staged program, attendees also enjoyed performance of hula `auana [not traditional Kahikō]. After the Japanese attack the following morning, Carol was unable to return to her Maui home until the end of World War II. During the war years, she worked at a canteen on the U. S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor. Despite having been a professional dancer for several years, she commented on feeling shy about serving meals to the servicemen.
In 1974, I became a member of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing, Highland Division. After returning to college, I received an Associate of Arts degree at Windward Community College in 1982 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with distinction at the University of Hawai`i in 1983. The following year I became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta and undertook graduate studies in American and Asian history, while working as a graduate teaching assistant in the World Civilization program of the History Department of the University of Hawai`i.
Although Lorna Farias stopped taking classes in Highland Dancing as a teenager, I periodically saw Carol and her family for social occasions. In 1992, she expressed a desire to organize the heirlooms and library of her family and to make donations to St. Andrew's Priory School, where her cousins and other family members had attended in the early 20th Century. After we spent more than two years reviewing her family records and keepsakes, she donated most of her family library and some furniture to the Queen Emma Library at the Priory School.
These interviews were conducted as a tool to aid in locating and/or interpreting the information that was uncovered in our research. Some of our work was in preparation for writing Pā`ina (3), a book that had been intended to address noteworthy women in the Wilcox family. The project was envisioned as taking a vignette approach, encapsulating the subjects’ lives with references to their quilts, music, writing, and recipes. Unfortunately, my move to Tucson, Arizona, in 1995 and Carol's declining health brought cessation to our work and that book project has not been brought to fruition.
As with any oral history interview, the flow of my conversations with Carol took many unexpected turns. This, coupled with interruptions [not always indicated in the recordings or the transcripts] may account for some flaws in transcription. Close representation of the flavor of our talks has been retained whenever possible, including the use of commas with colloquial pauses and hesitations, especially when further dialogue follows. The interviewer does not speak Hawaiian, and despite utilization of standard reference materials, errors in Hawaiian vocabulary or definition have surely occurred. When found, they have been corrected, except where the transliteration truly represents the interviewee’s speech patterns.
Variations in pronunciation may be rooted in dialects once spoken on the different Hawaiian Islands. Such differences are also reflected in food, as in Caroline Farias’ explanation of lau lau making on Maui versus that on O`ahu. The most frequent variation of articulation was in Carol’s pronunciation of her elder cousin’s nickname Kilani, which alternates between Kilani and Ki-i-lani. (4) For consistency, the spelling of her full name [Uwaikikilani] has been used as a guide for employing the former diminutive in these transcripts.
Without diacritical marks, Hawaiian words can have multiple definitions and may vary in pronunciation. With the unfortunate decline in Hawaiian language usage in the latter Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, origins and subtextual interpretations of many individual and family names have been lost. Most are presented here without diacritical marks and any definitions are based on Carol’s comments, interview context, and common usage. Diacritical marks are often utilized with historical figures, whose nominative representations may have been standardized.
Initial editing of the transcripts of these interviews was done between 1993 and 1995. Since then, I have periodically updated aspects of this work, and donated a few copies to public and private libraries in Hawai`i. With changes of margin, type style and size, and augmentation to insert Hawaiian language diacritical marks, some errors may have occurred. Only a few edits have been made to the interviews, with limited corrections to vocabulary or its spelling. Song lyrics spoken and sung by Carol were transcribed phonetically; they seem to be variations of popular Hawaiian music. As my knowledge of the Hawaiian language has increased, I have added diacritical marks to words I recognize.
Initially recorded on double-sided cassette tapes, these conversations were converted to MP3 files for the new audio book. I have tried to retain the flavor of my visits with Carol while enhancing the quality of the sound production. Unfortunately, I cannot ask questions that did not occur to me at the time of the interviews, nor can I correct Hawaiian vocabulary [such as pa`ina] that I failed to pronounce correctly during these recordings. Finally, while I am responsible for all the errors that have been made in this project, I wish to express my gratitude for the voluminous research on the Hawaiian language performed by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert.
For consistency, I have continued to offer an index for each interview, although they are now placed prior to the interview to aid readers in understanding the content that follows. The indexes include key topics and proper nouns, with bracketed brief explanations and indications of relationships to Carol and her family. Comprehensive explanations of terms with a single asterisk [*] are provided in the Master Index at the back of the book. Definition of other non-English and specialized vocabulary with a double asterisk [**] is located in the Glossary. A brief summary for pronouncing the Hawaiian language is offered prior to the Glossary to enhance the reader’s sense of the rhythm of the dialogue.
Desiring to accord proper attention and respect to her elders and culture, Caroline Farias expressed concern that many people do not appear in the broader context of their lives. Despite this, I feel her observations of people and events are enriching to those of us who have the opportunity to share in her recollections and glimpse the rainbows that filled many of her days.
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson Tucson, Arizona, August 2017
(1) A jewelry form known as Hawaiian heirloom jewelry.
(2) Please note that there is no letter “s” in the Hawaiian language. However, since this material is published in English, the rules of English grammar have been observed for possessives and pluralization.
(3) The working title of a book that was to be based on the memories of Caroline Farias
(4) The diminutive form of address for Eleanor Uwaikikilani Wilcox Carney
Conversations with Auntie Carol
Interview I, October 30, 1992 Hawaiian Quilting in the Maui Wilcox Family
Interview II A, May 5, 1993 Trinity Episcopal Church by-the-Sea
Interview II B, May 5, 1993 On the Grounds of the Koa House
Interview III, May 26, 1993 From Maui to O`ahu
Interview IV A, May 27, 1993 John DeLima andLife After Marriage
Interview IV B, May 27, 1993 Hawaiian Quilting and Other Handicrafts
Interview V A, July 28, 1993 Johanna Wilcox
Interview V B, July 28, 1993 Frances DeLima
Interview VI , August 5, 1993 Holidays in `Ulupalakua
Interview VII, November 24, 1993 Pā`ina
Jeanne's Notes, May 5, 1993 On the Road to Haleakalā
Conversations with Auntie Carol
A Series of Hawaiian Oral History Interviews with
Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias
Researched, Conducted, and Compiled By
publication desired for 20018
Copyright 2017© Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
Click below to hear a sample of Auntie Carol's discussion of the Holidays in `Ulupalakua in the early 20th century...